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White House says climate deal will stand the test of time

White House says climate deal will stand the test of time
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The sweeping climate agreement reached in Paris over the weekend will last beyond the Obama administration, the White House predicted Monday.

“We will see in the years ahead that there is a powerful economic incentive in the United States for us to follow through on our commitments and make sure that other countries are doing the same,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “That will create a tremendous opportunity for American businesses.”

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The climate deal — a landmark agreement in which nearly 200 nations agreed to begin reducing their carbon emissions — was a top priority for President Obama.

Republicans have roundly criticized the deal as bad for the economy and say it should have been sent to the Senate for ratification as a treaty.

The agreement isn’t legally binding, which means a Republican successor to Obama could undo much of it.

But Earnest dismissed that possibility on Monday. He said much of the formal pledges Obama made as part of the Paris deal are already beginning to kick in, including regulations on power plant emissions the Environmental Protection Agency finalized this fall. 

He said the agreement will mean big business opportunities for companies working in the renewable energy sphere and that those companies might push back against future efforts to undo the deal. 

“The president has long recognized that reaching an agreement like this, ultimately, can be a very powerful benefit for the U.S. economy,” Earnest said Monday. 

“Ultimately you have companies here in the U.S. that have made important investments and important gains in renewable energy and now they have customers all around the world, because now we have countries all around the world that are seeking to invest in technologies to meet the goals they have laid out.”

United Nations negotiators in Paris clinched the climate change deal on Saturday. Under the deal’s terms, nations will look to cut their greenhouse gas emissions to begin tackling climate change. The United States, for example, will look to cut its emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.