U.S., Argentina take steps to tackle climate change

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama and Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri agreed on Wednesday to take joint steps to fight climate change including working to cut carbon emissions from air flights and integrating solar and wind power into electricity grids.

Smoke is released into the sky at a refinery in Wilmington, California March 24, 2012. REUTERS/Bret Hartman

Obama is visiting Argentina for two days to reset diplomatic relations and strengthen trade ties, marking a rapprochement after more than a decade of sour relations.

The two countries committed to signing last year’s Paris global climate agreement as soon as feasible and Argentina plans to enhance its contribution under the plan, a fact sheet on the agreement said.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders to sign the Paris agreement in New York on April 22.

In addition, “the two governments will cooperate on scaling up renewables, including through U.S. assistance on market reform, system optimization, and integrating renewable energy in the power grid,” said the fact sheet, issued by the White House.

The countries, both of which are big oil and natural gas producers, also agreed to “promote safe and responsible development of unconventional oil and gas resources.”

The United States will coordinate visits by Argentine officials to U.S. shale gas fields and other unconventional petroleum drilling sites, the agreement said.

In the bilateral announcement, Argentina said it would strengthen the national climate change plan it submitted as part of the U.N. climate agreement.

Obama has said the United States remains committed to carrying out its own national climate strategy, despite a Supreme Court ruling last month that froze a key regulation to curb power plant emissions.

Obama said despite the legal setback he is “very confident” that the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan is on “strong legal footing.” [L2N15Q34T]

Reporting by Jeff Mason in Buenos Aires and Timothy Gardner and Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Editing by Frances Kerry