Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyOvernight Energy & Environment — White House announces new climate office New White House office to develop climate change policies Kerry: Climate summit 'bigger, more engaged, more urgent' than in past MORE says the administration's recent proposal to cut carbon pollution from the nation's power plants is about leadership.
"The president knows we have to show domestic leadership," McCarthy said during an interview on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher."
"This is about leadership. This about US being a leader on this issue and we believe and we already know it's going to leverage a much better opportunity for a global solution," she added Friday night.
McCarthy was responding to assertions by opponents of the new rules, who say the U.S. should not act on climate change policies when other countries such as China and India are continuing to build coal-fired power plants.
McCarthy argued: "But if the US doesn't act what voice do we bring to the table to drive that larger solution."
Heading into the 2015 Paris climate talks the U.S. has been including climate change as a central talking point in most diplomatic talks.
Leading up to the administration's announcement on the new carbon standards, global leaders were keeping a watchful eye on the specifics of the rules.
Energy experts said that global leaders are looking to the U.S. to lead on climate policies. Leaders from the European Union, and India applauded President Obama for taking an aggressive step but said more needs to be done.
"We are dealing with the most difficult, contentious, public health challenge of our time," McCarthy added.