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China, U.S. join climate deal; Obama hails work to save planet

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for photographers as they shake hands before their meeting at the West Lake State Guest House in Hangzhou in eastern China’s Zhejiang province Saturday.

HANGZHOU, China >> Setting aside their cyber and maritime disputes, President Barack Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping on Saturday sealed their nations’ participation in last year’s Paris climate change agreement. They hailed their new era of climate cooperation as the best chance for saving the planet.

At a ceremony on the sidelines of a global economic summit, Obama and Xi, representing the world’s two biggest carbon emitters, delivered a series of documents to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The papers certified the U.S. and China have taken the necessary steps to join the Paris accord that set nation-by-nation targets for cutting carbon emissions.

“This is not a fight that any one country, no matter how powerful, can take alone,” Obama said of the pact. “Some day we may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet.”

Xi, speaking through a translator, said he hoped other countries would follow suit and advance new technologies to help them meet their targets. “When the old path no longer takes us far, we should turn to innovation,” he said.

The formal U.S.-Chinese announcement means the accord could enter force by the end of the year, faster than anticipated. Fifty-five nations must join for the agreement to take effect. The nations that have joined must also produce at least 55 percent of global emissions.

The U.S. and China together produce 38 percent of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

The White House has attributed the accelerated pace to an unlikely partnership between Washington and Beijing. To build momentum for a deal, they set a 2030 deadline for China’s emissions to stop rising and announced their “shared conviction that climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity.” The U.S. has pledged to cut its emissions by at least 26 percent over the next 15 years, compared to 2005 levels.

The meeting of the minds on climate change, however, hasn’t smoothed the path for other areas of tension. The U.S. has criticized China over cyberhacking and human rights and voiced increased exasperation with Beijing’s growing assertiveness in key waterways in the region. Most recently, the U.S. has urged China to accept an international arbitration panel’s ruling that sided with the Philippines in a dispute over claims in the South China Sea.

China views the South China Sea as an integral part of its national territory. The U.S. doesn’t take positions in the various disputes between China and its Asian neighbors, but is concerned about freedom of navigation and wants conflicts resolved peacefully and lawfully.

Meeting with Xi after the announcement, Obama said thornier matters would be discussed. He specifically cited maritime disputes, cybersecurity and human rights, though the president didn’t elaborate during brief remarks in front of reporters at the start of the meeting.

After several hours of talks, the White House said Obama told Xi the U.S. would keep monitoring China’s commitments on cybersecurity. The leaders also had a “candid exchange” over the arbitration case between China and the Philippines, the White House said.

The ceremony opened what is likely Obama’s valedictory tour in Asia. The president stepped off Air Force One onto a red carpet, where an honor guard dressed in white and carrying bayonets lined his path. A girl presented Obama with flowers and he shook hands with officials before entering his motorcade.

But the welcome didn’t go smoothly. A Chinese official kept reporters and some top White House aides away from the president, prompting a U.S. official to intervene. The Chinese official then yelled: “This is our country. This is our airport.”

Throughout his tenure, Obama has sought to check China’s influence in Asia by shifting U.S. military resources and diplomatic attention from the Middle East. The results have been mixed.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal the White House calls a cornerstone of the policy, is stuck in Congress. Obama planned to use the trip to make the case for approval of the deal before he leaves office in January.

Climate represents a more certain piece of his legacy.

Under the Paris agreement, countries are required to set national targets for reducing or reining in their greenhouse gas emissions. Those targets aren’t legally binding, but countries must report on their progress and update their targets every five years.

Xi said he acted after China’s legislature voted Saturday to formally enter the agreement. In the U.S., Senate ratification is not required because the agreement is not considered a formal treaty.

Li Shuo, Greenpeace’s senior climate policy adviser, called Saturday’s declarations “a very important next step.”

If the deal clears the final hurdles, he said, “we’ll have a truly global climate agreement that will bind the two biggest emitters in the world.”

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      • Sorry to break this to you but Sometimes love does fail, and yes, understanding the climate and changes that are occur are beyond my comprehension and they are far beyond yours, Mr. Obama, and all the scientists,as well. Then we get jerked around by the Leviathan because of the unintended consequences from such grand plans like saving the world. The President is ignorant of how little he knows about what he imagines he can design. That’s why I stick with my label of a wannabe superhero.

      • President?

        We haven’t had one of those in more than seven years and seven months.

        What we have had instead is a preening pretentious clown prince prancing about this way and that as if to remind us what utter fools we were ever to have lofted him into a high office for which he is demonstrably unqualified.

        The fault is not his, but ours.

      • The greatest issue/problem of the countries bordering the South China Sea was not highlighted on this visit, territorial sovereignty. The problem is also of vital interest in the Pacific Theater of operation of Our Naval Forces as well as to the global shipping industry. This issue appears to have been avoided by the “lame-duck” president. Instead a lesser than controversial problem was discussed and negotiated to cover his last hurrah, buss-man holiday trip on Air Force 1.

  • Congress won’t commit to a climate change agreement but hopefully the next president will continue this agreement.

    It would be embarrassing for the u.s. to be first among 55 Nations to drop out of the agreement.

    It is important for future generations that this planet not become a desert and millions died for lack of water.

    Also billions and billions of dollars of hurricane damage around the most populated belts of the planet will lay waste to the land.Luckily.

    Clinton supports this agreement while Donald Trump couldn’t care less.

    • Lack of water? Wiliki, I thought global warming or climate change was going to melt polar ice caps and glaciers and cause sea levels to rise resulting in some islands disappearing beneath the waves and large coastal areas being permanently inundated. If this theory is right, there will not be a lack of water; there will be too much water. Yes, it may be salty, but desalination plants can fix that.

      • Every time you write a comment, I feel more and more sorry for you.

        How, exactly, is a desalination plant going to help Colorado, for example? Or Nebraska? Or Kansas? Or interior Africa? Or anywhere else that is located hundreds of miles from a plant or coast?

        Good grief … can’t you at least try a little bit?

        • Good grief, Klastri. How do you think oil-producing countries get much of their crude oil to shipping ports or to end users located hundreds of miles away? They use something called “pipe lines.” Have you ever heard of them? They work very well for oil, so why wouldn’t they work for water? Incidentally, it is the same way water treatment plants currently get water to end users – through water pipe lines. Good grief, Klastri, don’t you ever engage your brain before commenting?

        • You have to forgive Klas-less, Ronin, because he graduated from some law school summa cum s t u p i d, has never recovered, and as a result now thinks he knows everything.

          This is not to say he has no value. This pretentious, preening peacock is way more entertaining than a cast iron bulldog door stop, albeit not as useful. He does not merely demonstrate ignorance, he celebrates it.

    • Clinton supports this agreement while Donald Trump couldn’t care less.

      ANOTHER reason to vote for Trump!

      Anyone who uncritically accepts this glo-bal-ony man made planetary warming poppycock causes one to wonder if perhaps Darwin was wrong about the survival of the fittest.

      If homo sapiens accepts en masse utter hooey as the basis for a new religion of sheer quackery, maybe it is best for the sharks and cockroaches to take over.

  • Obama trying to mend his earlier mistakes.

    We would be ahead of the game if Obama didn’t cave in on the Chinese solar trade tariff that even US solar companies did not want.

    Just shows that Obama and the commerce dept. did not do their homework and was careless in siding with German Solarworld AG when it was the wrong thing to do, affecting climate change goals, and the American solar industry.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-08-18/obama-s-green-dilemma-punish-china-imperil-u-s-solar

    • Watching our preening, pretentious clown prince “president” prance about this way and that on the world state, one is reminded of Jim Carrey’s portrayal of Andy Kaufman doing his “Mighty Mouse” routine on stage in the 1999 comedy-drama film “Man on the Moon”

  • Can’t blame the Chinese airport official for getting ticked off at Susan Rice as she attempted to ride the limousine parade from the airport. He probably thought she was part of Obama’s kitchen staff.

  • It just occurred to me it would humorous if the Chinese president were wearing one of those “I’m with stupid” t-shirts with the arrow on it. It also would have worked well if the Iranian president wore one when Barry enabled him to go nuclear.

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