PARIS - Former US president Jimmy Carter on Tuesday urged his country and China, two of the world's biggest fossil fuel polluters, to take the lead on halting climate change.
If the two economic and political giants could agree on a way forward, the rest of the world would likely follow their lead, the statesman told AFP on the sidelines of a climate change discussion with students at the Paris Institute of Political Science.
"If we could put those two together as leaders of the Western world and the developing world and get them to agree on almost any formula for long-term and effective correction of the deterioration of the environment... I think the other countries would follow their leadership," Carter said.
He said he had encouraged Chinese President Xi Jinping along these lines, and has had discussions with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Carter took part in the Paris meeting on Earth Day as a representative of The Elders, a grouping of global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007 to promote peace, justice and human rights.
He told the students that climate change threatened world peace.
"If we don't address the global warming issue, we are going to see rapidly increasing conflict around the world.
"As people grow more desperate for food, for clean air and water, there is going to be increasing violence within countries and between countries." The next 18 months will be crucial to determine the success of efforts to halt global warming "or catastrophic failure", said the Nobel Peace laureate.