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Los Angeles, Beijing agree on plan to promote clean air as part of Obama-Xi deal

Los Angeles, Beijing agree on plan to promote clean air as part of Obama-Xi deal
As two cities that have struggled with poor air quality, Los Angeles and Beijing have a "visceral connection," Mayor Eric Garcetti said. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Mayors of a dozen cities in the U.S. and China are nailing down agreements to team up in the fight against climate change, starting with a plan forged over the weekend between the officials of Los Angeles and Beijing to collaborate in promoting clean air in their cities.

The final deals will be unveiled Monday and Tuesday as the municipal leaders spell out how they plan to help meet goals set last fall in a landmark climate agreement between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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The deals will be signed and announced as part of a climate summit convened in Los Angeles by Mayor Eric Garcetti as part of a group attempt to push other world leaders to set their own plans and put them in motion.

"It's great when national leaders set big goals like this," Garcetti said in an interview Sunday. "But if you don't have local leaders carrying them out, they're just words on a page."

The Los Angeles agreements with the cities of Beijing and Shenzhen don't contain new targets or more rigorous timelines than the national leaders laid out, according to copies obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

But administration officials say the municipal agreements prove that officials at all levels of government are already at work to meet the goals laid out by Obama and Xi -- evidence they hope will inspire other world leaders to set ambitious plans in motion.

The agreements in the works between several sets of cities, states and provinces will stand as the first results of Xi's state visit to the U.S. that begins this month.

As two cities that have suffered from poor air quality, Los Angeles and Beijing have a "visceral connection" that helped them forge their deal, Garcetti said.

"Maybe if those relationships at the local level are strong," he said, "they'll move policy at higher levels."

Advisors to the president say the action plans show that city and state officials are getting ready to execute the surprise agreement the world's two biggest economies worked out last fall during Obama's trip to Beijing.

The two agreed that the U.S. would lower its emissions as much as 28% from 2005 levels by 2025, and that China's emissions would peak and then decline no later than 2030.

The U.S. plans to meet its goals mainly through regulations on car, truck and power plant emissions, and China will rely on large-scale changes like a new cap-and-trade system.

But advisors to the president say the agreements show systemic support and commitment to the leaders' agreement and thus will help them make good on the targets they announced last year.

The presidents will talk about climate change more when they meet during Xi's visit to the White House in two weeks and may find a way to sharpen their deal.

Now that both have made the cause a priority, both sides have an interest in urging other nations to step up their commitments in advance of an international climate summit in Paris in December.

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In the meantime, the deal between Beijing and Los Angeles commits both sides to cooperating on low-carbon urban planning, low-carbon transportation, environmental technology and economic development.

The Garcetti administration also worked out a deal with Shenzhen to work together on low-carbon initiatives in vehicle fleets, green buildings and renewable energy.

The two sides will launch joint green initiatives to encourage trade and investment in green technology, design and engineering companies in the two cities, according to the agreement.

Several other cities participating in the summit are expected to unveil similar agreements this week.

For more White House coverage, follow @cparsons.

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