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Hillary Clinton Attacks Climate Change Deniers For 'Pretending We Don't Have A Crisis'

06/09/2014 15:55 BST | Updated 06/09/2014 16:59 BST

NEW YORK -- Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nomination for the 2016 Presidential election, has attacked climate change deniers, calling global warming the most "consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face as a nation and a world."

Speaking at a Clean Energy summit in Las Vegas on Thursday, the former Secretary of State said that the "data was unforgiving… no matter what the deniers try to assert," adding: "Ice caps are melting. Storms, droughts and wildfires are wreaking havoc."

The former First lady, who said this week that she would decide on whether to make a presidential bid in the New Year, also lauded the positive impact clean energy could have on America’s recovering economy.

"I think that the hardest part for me of this whole false choice debate that has been going on way too long, is that aside from the deniers and the special interests and all the other folks who want to pretend that we don't have a crisis, is the fact that we are leaving money and jobs behind," she said.

"We're leaving money behind, because I have no doubt that our commitment to a clean energy future will make America more competitive, will give us back an export edge on taking a lot of the technology that we either invent or that we make more readily usable as a key part of our global economic position. And I think it's just tragic that there are so many jobs in doing what we need to be doing anyway."

Rand Paul, a likely Republican candidate for the Presidential nomination in 2016, was quick to attack Clinton, suggesting on Friday that her comments showed she "lacked the wisdom" for the top job.

"For her to be out there saying that the biggest threat to our safety and to our well-being is climate change, I think, goes to the heart of the matter or whether or not she has the wisdom to lead the country, which I think it’s obvious that she doesn’t," Paul told Fox News, the Rupert Murdoch-owned GOP mouthpiece, which has a trenchant history of peddling climate change denial (see video above).

In July, the octogenarian press mogul told Sky Australia that the world should be "sceptical" about climate change. He said: "Climate change has been going on as long as the planet is here. There will always be a little bit of it. We can't stop it, we've just got to stop building vast houses on seashores. The world has been changing for thousands and thousands of years, it’s just a lot more complicated today because we are more advanced."

A bi-partisan report on climate change published in the US in June revealed the price of global warming, which it said would run to many billions of dollars over the next 25 years, particularly in property loses, declining crop yields and a greater demand for electricity due to rising temperatures.

The commission that produced the report, chaired by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and George W. Bush’s former treasury secretary Hank Paulson, painted a devastating picture of the costs of climate change on US businesses, and was designed to move to debate away from the highly polarised politics that blight the issue and onto the economic risks.

Judging from the sharp lines drawn by Paul and Clinton this week, that shift seems very unlikely to happen.

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