Touting deal with China, Obama raises pressure for UN climate pact

President Obama and China's President Xi Jinping said Friday that they are committed to reaching an international agreement on climate change later this year. 

China is planning a new set of policies to address climate change and global warming, including a cap-and-trade carbon emissions trading system that will go into effect by 2017, according to the White House.

Obama said the agreement should be a signal for the rest of the world to tackle climate change.

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“When the world’s two biggest economies, energy consumers and carbon emitters come together like this, then there’s no reason for other countries, either developed or developing, to not do so as well,” Obama said during a Rose Garden press conference with Xi on Friday.

Last year, the U.S. and China agreed to a major climate deal that would see the two countries — the world’s leading carbon emitters — work to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The United States agreed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025 and China said it would cap its greenhouse gases by 2030.

Officials announced Thursday night that China would institute a cap-and-trade system next year for its power, building and steel sectors. 

The system is designed to help China meet its carbon reduction goals, and Obama equated it to his administration’s climate rule for power plants, which targets emissions from the U.S. electricity sector. 

China also said Friday it will contribute more than $3 billion in financing for developing countries to adapt to climate change. The countries also committed to further negotiations before the Paris climate talks in December. 

The announcement comes as world governments turn their focus to climate change ahead of the U.N. conference. Officials hope the talks will yield a major global agreement to reduce carbon emissions and begin diminishing the impact of climate change. 

Republicans in Congress are skeptical of the potential success of the climate talks and especially China’s commitment to combating climate change. 

The GOP and industry groups have often pointed to high-polluting China to rebuff the Obama administration’s climate efforts as insufficient on an international scale.  

But Obama said Friday that the two countries’ focus on climate should give new credibility to the climate talks.  

“The historic climate change announcement we made last year in Beijing has encouraged other countries to step up as well, increasing the prospects for a stronger global agreement this year,” he said.