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Will the Historic Climate Accord Survive the U.S. Political Process?

While environmentalists were hailing the historic carbon emissions reduction agreement between the leaders of the United States and China, the world's two largest emitters, Republican leaders wasted no time in slamming the accord.
November 13, 2014, 11am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"I was particularly distressed by the deal that he has apparently reached with the Chinese on his current trip, which as I read the agreement requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years, while these carbon emissions regulations are creating havoc in my state and other states around the country," said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), expected to become the Senate's new majority leader in January, reports CBS News.

Under the agreement, China, which is still building coal plants and seeing rising emissions, does not commit to a specific percentage cut (while) the U.S. will speed up the rate at which it cuts pollution, aiming to reduce emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025.

"McConnell cited the deal as evidence that the president has no plans to move toward the middle to work with the new Congress, which will be under total Republican control for the first time during his presidency," reports CBS.

"The United States will be required to more steeply reduce our carbon emissions while China won't have to reduce anything," said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who will chair the Environment and Public Works Committee next year, writes CNN's Jeremy Diamond.

As noted Wednesday, "the White House thinks the U.S. can meet these targets without new legislation," which means relying greatly on EPA regulations. Considering that environmental regulations are already a top priority for the new Republican majority, the new climate agreement may serve to intensify the "war against the Obama administration’s environmental rules," as noted here Tuesday.

"The agreement does not require congressional ratification, but a senior Obama administration official said 'leading climate deniers' in the GOP could try and stop the initiative through legislation," writes Diamond.

As the White House Blog by John Podesta and John Holdren indicates, the president feels strongly on this topic and may see the agreement as transcending the political issues that will arise with Republicans from his signing the agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

President Obama believes we have a moral obligation to take action on climate change, and that we cannot leave our children a planet beyond their capacity to repair.

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Published on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 in CBS News
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