September 23, 2014 / 5:45 PM / in 3 years

Obama says global climate deal must include emerging economies

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday a new global agreement on climate change must include strong commitments from emerging economies and move past the rich-poor country divide that has hampered progress in United Nations negotiations.

United States President Barack Obama speaks during the Climate Summit at United Nations headquarters in New York, September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Obama addressed the U.N. climate change summit with a statement meant to build political momentum for a global deal on climate change in 2015 and a list of commitments his administration has made to address.

He said a “global compact” needs to include strong commitments from some of the world’s emerging economies because the amount of greenhouse gases they emit increases as their economies grow.

“This time we need an agreement that reflects economic realities in the next decade and beyond,” Obama said.

“It must be ambitious because that’s what the scale of this challenge demands.”

Obama said that prior to taking the podium, he met with China’s vice premier Zhang Gaoli and they agreed that the world’s two biggest emitters “have a responsibility to lead.”

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) is greeted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon (R) before addressing the Climate Summit at United Nations headquarters in New York, September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

China surpassed the United States in 2007 as the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter.

Following Obama’s remarks, Zhang said China would aim to cap emissions or have them peak “as early as possible.” The issue is critical to U.N. negotiations. Some Chinese government advisers said this could happen after 2030.

The minister also said China would double annual financial support for a fund specifically created for developing countries to help other developing countries become more resilient to climate change.

Leaders mostly did not disclose specifics about the plans they are due to unveil next year, ahead of Paris climate talks scheduled for December 2015.

In response to a request by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for some indication of country plans, Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK is aiming to cut its greenhouse emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and to push the European Union to target a 40 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2030.

Some leaders announced financial commitments to help smooth the path to a 2015 agreement, with French President Francois Hollande saying his country would inject $1 billion into the Green Climate Fund. South Korean President Park Geun-hye pledged to contribute up to $100 million to that fund and Mexico said it would kick in $10 million.

“We will push everyone, large and small, rich and poor, into a 2015 global agreement in Paris that will deepen our initial efforts and break through challenges,” said Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; additional reporting by Maria Caspani; Editing by Ros Krasny, Howard Goller, Toni Reinhold

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