EPA Chief Counters Republican Critics of U.S.-China Climate Deal

Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) — The Obama administration’s top
environmental regulator sought to counter criticism from
Republican lawmakers that a U.S.-China climate pact requires
little of China while forcing steep U.S. emissions cuts.

Gina McCarthy, head of the Environmental Protection Agency,
said China needs to take immediate steps to burn less coal and
increase its use of renewable energy to meet its goal of capping
carbon emissions by 2030.

“This is a big change that requires a lot of action to
turn their economy around,” McCarthy said today at a breakfast
meeting with reporters in Washington. “They need to make an
immediate shift.”

Culminating months of behind-the-scenes negotiations,
President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a
joint pledge last week intended to spur international talks on a
climate pact. The U.S. agreed to cut emissions 26 percent to 28
percent by 2025 from its peak in 2005. China didn’t agree to cut
emissions, but did, for the first time, pledge to end the growth
in its emissions before 2030.

Steep cuts in the U.S. compared with a cap in China were
seized on by Republicans as a sign that the U.S. is taking all
the pain, while China won’t need to do anything for years.

“In the president’s climate-change deal, the United States
will be required to more steeply reduce our carbon emissions
while China won’t have to reduce anything,” said Oklahoma
Republican Senator James Inhofe, in line to head the Environment
and Public Works Committee in the next Congress. “A promise to
peak its carbon emissions only allows the world’s largest
economy to buy time.”

No Delay

McCarthy said at the breakfast, hosted by the Christian
Science Monitor, that China can’t delay if it intends to cut
emissions while fueling economic growth. China also agreed to
get 20 percent of its energy from non-fossil sources by 2030, a
step that will require massive investments soon, she said.

Separately today, McCarthy said the agency will issue plans
to limit methane emissions by Dec. 21, and said she is confident
Obama wouldn’t let congressional Republicans gut EPA funding or
roll back environmental regulations its pursuing.

“The president has been very clear in supporting this
agency,” she said. “He’s made very clear what his priorities
are.”

To contact the reporter on this story:
Mark Drajem in Washington at
mdrajem@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jon Morgan at
jmorgan97@bloomberg.net
Steve Geimann

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