Friday, November 14, 2014

U.S.-China climate change deal already facing challenges

Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday, November 14, 2014

A landmark agreement on climate change between the U.S. and China, the world’s top two polluting nations, faced immediate challenges from experts who warned that it would require an overhaul of China’s economy and from Republicans in Congress who vowed to undermine the deal.

President Obama’s ramped-up push on environmental issues set up a clash with GOP leaders, who blasted the far-reaching agreement with China as bad for business and promised to try to block the regulations necessary to meet its targets for curbing carbon emissions. Administration officials asserted that they would not be deterred.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke out about an agreement President Barack Obama reached in China on climate change.

The standoff was the clearest sign yet that Obama plans to prioritize his agenda Ñ and his legacy Ñ over hope of sowing goodwill with the incoming Republican-controlled Congress. Even as both parties promised to heed voters’ calls to find common ground after last week’s midterm election, the White House and Republican leaders have since drawn lines in the sand over immigration as well as environmental policy.

The China pact signaled that the president “has no intention of moving towards the middle,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told reporters Wednesday.

Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, likely to succeed Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) as chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee in the Republican-led Senate next year, called the deal a “nonbinding charade.”

“I will do everything in my power to rein in and shed light on the EPA’s unchecked regulations,” he said. Inhofe, perhaps Congress’ most prominent climate change skeptic, has long criticized the Environmental Protection Agency.

Administration officials touting the deal appeared unfazed by Republican promises to