The United States will cut greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels in the next decade as part of a major international climate change treaty, the White House said on Tuesday.
The targeted emissions cuts come as other nations work on their own proposals toward a global plan to fight climate change, and have been anticipated since the U.S. and China announced a major agreement that included a Chinese pledge to curtail carbon emission increases by 2030.
“Climate change is real, it is being driven by human activity, and it is not a problem any one country can solve on its own,” Brian Deese, a senior advisor to the president, wrote in a post on the website Medium. "The goal will roughly double the pace at which we're reducing carbon pollution through cost-effective measures using laws already on the books."
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The U.S. plans to reach the targeted cuts by setting high fuel economy standards for automobiles, introducing new rules to limit methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, and pushing for more efficient buildings and appliances.
The announcement was praised by environmental groups who said it set the stage for international climate talks due to take place in Paris this December.
“We are confident that the U.S. commitment can be met -- and even exceeded,” Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “Doing so, though, will require several critical steps: setting a stronger carbon pollution standard through President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, enacting other greenhouse gas reductions, limiting methane leaks from production processes and investing in clean transportation instead of letting big oil plunder our precious oceans and landscapes.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) took aim at the administration's initiative on Tuesday, calling proposed EPA regulations that would affect the oil and gas industry "job-killing" and "likely illegal."
"Considering that two-thirds of the U.S. federal government hasn't even signed off on the Clean Power Plan and 13 states have already pledged to fight it, our international partners should proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal," McConnell said in a statement.
--- NBC News Staff