US, China bring climate pledges to the local level

US, China bring climate pledges to the local level
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Dozens of states, cities, counties and provinces in the United States and China are announcing pledges Tuesday to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.

The pledges are meant to help each country achieve the pledges they made to each other in November of last year, as well as the pledges they made to the United Nations as part of the negotiations toward a global climate pact.

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The promises range from Seattle’s plan to be entirely carbon dioxide-neutral by 2050 to Hainan Province’s goal to stop increase its emissions before 2030. They are due to be made final Tuesday at a Los Angeles meeting of municipal leaders from both countries, organized under the agreement President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping made last year.

Vice President Biden is planning to speak at the event Wednesday, where he'll talk about the local pledges and other climate topics.

The White House said the pledges are one of the first steps toward implementing last year’s pact, in which the United States promised to cut its greenhouse gases 26 to 28 percent and China agreed to stop increasing its emissions by 2030, the first time China has ever said it would limit its greenhouse gases.

“Having made those ambitious targets and put our two countries … in a leadership role on climate change, this year needs to be a year of implementation, a year when our two countries demonstrate our commitments to implementing and executing against those goals with ambitious, concrete steps to reduce our carbon emissions in a way that moves our economies forward,” top Obama adviser Brian Deese told reporters Tuesday.

It also serves as an important indicator that the United States and China intend to make due on their pledges, which congressional Republicans and other opponents of Obama’s climate agenda have panned as overly ambitious.

Such an indicator can be a key to convincing world leaders to make strong commitments and fulfill their goal to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

To that point, Deese defended Obama’s 26-to-28 percent pledge.

“We’re quite comfortable that, if you look across the range of actions that the administration has already undertaken or has announced our intention to undertake, that there is a path to hitting the targets that we set,” Deese said.

“That will require continuing to be diligent and aggressive about implementing the policies that we’ve put in place.”