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Biden says climate crisis is undeniable after Hurricane Idalia damage

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about recovery efforts in Maui, Hawaii, and the ongoing response to Hurricane Idalia, in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday said no one could deny that the world is facing a climate crisis, after Hurricane Idalia plowed through the Big Bend region of Florida and forced millions of residents to evacuate.

"I don't think anybody can deny the impact of the climate crisis anymore," Biden told reporters at the White House. "Just look around. Historic floods. I mean, historic floods. More intense droughts, extreme heat, significant wildfires have caused significant damage.”

Biden has made combating climate change a key goal of his presidency, setting a target of halving U.S. emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels, and enacting hundreds of billions of dollars in tax credits to promote electric vehicles.

Some Republican lawmakers, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is running to win the Republican presidential nomination, continue to oppose a slew of measures aimed at curbing emissions.

DeSantis in May signed a sweeping law barring state officials from investing public money to promote environmental, social and governance goals and prohibiting ESG bond sales.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy called "the climate agenda" a "hoax" during last week's GOP debate.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell on Wednesday declined to blame the storm on climate change, but said her agency was seeing a sharp increase in the number of severe weather events.

On Tuesday, she told reporters that extreme storms were part of a "new normal" that Americans are facing, adding that investments in resilience and mitigation were critical to prepare for future storms.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Andrea Shalal and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Andy Sullivan)