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U.S.-China pledge on carbon emissions draws cheers, jeers and skepticism – Part 1

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    The announcement from Beijing today captured the attention of scientists, diplomats and lawmakers alike. China and the United States agreed on a fast-track effort to pump less carbon into the atmosphere.


    This is an ambitious goal, but it is an achievable goal.


    It was an unprecedented announcement from the world's two biggest economies and carbon polluters. President Obama promised that, by 2025, the U.S. will cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by more than a quarter, below the levels of 2005.


    It puts us on a path to achieving the deep emissions reductions need by advanced economies that the scientific community says is necessary to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change.


    The U.S. was already on track to meet an earlier goal of lowering emissions 17 percent by 2020. China, in turn, agreed today to cap emissions by 2030. It was a first for Beijing, although President Xi Jinping referred to it just once.

  • PRESIDENT XI JINPING, China (through interpreter):

    We published a joint statement about dealing with climate change and together announced our individual action goals for after 2020.


    It remained unclear exactly how each country will achieve the goals, but the announcement set the stage for negotiations on a new global climate pact next year in Paris.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon lauded the agreement during a visit to Myanmar.

  • BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General, United Nations:

    I urge all countries, especially all major economies, to follow China and the United States' lead and announce ambitious post-2020 targets as soon as possible.


    On the other hand, the head of the U.N.'s panel of climate scientists said the deal will not be enough to avert the worst of global warming.

    And, in Washington, soon-to-be-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell charged the president's plan will mean higher energy prices and fewer jobs.

  • SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, Minority Leader:

    I was particularly distressed by the deal apparently he's reached with the Chinese on his current trip, which, as I read the agreement, requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years, while these carbon emission regulations are creating havoc in my state and other states around the country.


    The U.S. and China also reached agreements on trade and military cooperation this week. But tensions remain over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, as well as cyber-security and human rights.

    Some of the contention came through at today's rare joint news conference. On pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, President Obama called for freedom of expression and fair elections. But Xi condemned the demonstrations, and warned they're no one else's business.

  • XI JINPING (through interpreter):

    Hong Kong affairs are exclusively China's internal affairs, and foreign countries shouldn't interfere in those affairs in any form or fashion.


    At another point, New York Times reporter Mark Landler pressed Xi about restrictions on American news organizations in China.

  • MARK LANDLER, The New York Times:

    In the spirit of these visa — reciprocal visa arrangements that you have agreed to this week with businesspeople and students, isn't it time to extend that sort of right to foreign correspondents who seek to cover your country?


    Xi initially ignored the question, even removing the earpiece feeding him translation. Later, he blamed the restrictions on unfavorable coverage of China, and he said the party which started the problem should be the one to resolve it.

    From Beijing, President Obama flew to Myanmar to meet with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. We will explore the ins and outs of the climate agreement and of broader U.S.-China relations after the news summary.

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