Climate Deal with China: U.S. Makes Cuts, PRC Can Increase Emissions for 16 Years

The current ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), panned the characterization of the pact as a landmark achievement.

"When the president talks about lowering global carbon emissions - what's he's really saying is he wants to push through his failed cap-and-trade policy that will make energy prices skyrocket here at home,” said Vitter. “There's nothing ‘breakthrough’ about Obama's attempt to pass failed policy, or having China tell us that maybe in 15 years they’ll try to reduce their emissions.”

Industry groups jumped in on the chorus of criticism, with American Energy Alliance president Thomas Pyle calling the "back room" deal with China "a perpetuation of the status quo disguised as meaningful policy change."

"While China makes empty and non-binding promises that it 'intends to try' to halt its emissions growth a decade and a half from now, President Obama promises to accelerate the pace by which his policies raise our energy costs and harm our economy," Pyle said. "…India, one of the fastest growing emitters, is noticeably absent from this deal because its leaders refuse to sacrifice its economic well-being at the altar of climate change."

The Sierra Club applauded the president and called China's part of the deal "a huge step forward that signals a historic shift away from dirty fossil fuels."

“By setting their sights high, the U.S. and China are showing that they are serious about taking action on the climate crisis, and that together, the international community can beat back climate disruption," Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in a statement.

Democrats were mixed on the deal. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) called it "a very important step forward on climate change," adding, "of course, these commitments have to be met."

"I wish Mitch McConnell would, you know, stop keeping his head in the sand when it comes to climate change. It's costing us billions and billions of dollars a year already. And let's get to work," Van Hollen said on MSNBC, referring to "billions of dollars in the form of extreme weather events that are making things like Hurricane Sandy more intense in terms of the damage they do."

Coal country Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), though, said he needs to assess "what the true implications will be on the front lines here at home."

"I am encouraged that the Chinese are willing to come to the table and that the Administration has recognized the importance of investing in research for clean fossil fuel technology," Manchin said. "That being said, we cannot enter into an agreement that asks little of the Chinese, while simultaneously promising more than we can achieve domestically with our current technology.”