Reaching for a successful end to global climate talks, Vice President Joe Biden will call on other nations to commit to ambitious cuts in greenhouse gases at a gathering of U.S. and Chinese leaders on Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Biden's address to the U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit was designed to lay the groundwork for Chinese President Xi Jinping's highly anticipated visit to the White House next Friday, where he'll meet with President Barack Obama and be honored at a state dinner.
The White House said Obama and Xi planned to discuss the outcome of the summit, which aims to build pressure on other major polluters as climate negotiators rush to finish a major global climate treaty ahead of a U.N. summit in December in Paris.
Biden was also to pay a visit Wednesday to a solar power trade show in Anaheim, California, that organizers say is the largest in North America.
In tandem with his visit, the Obama administration was designating more than $120 million for new and existing clean energy projects in 24 U.S. states, the White House said. Some $32 million will go to the Energy Department's SunShot research and development program to make solar technology cost-effective.
The California swing comes as Biden is deeply immersed in deliberations with his family and advisers about whether to run for president. In recent days, Biden has opened a window into those deliberations, describing his lingering doubts about whether he has the emotional strength to mount a viable campaign just months after his son, Beau, died from brain cancer.
"Nobody has a right in my view to seek that office unless they're willing to give it 110 percent of who they are,'' Biden said last week, adding that he'd "be lying if I said that I knew I was there.''
At the same time, Biden has kept up an intensive travel schedule, crisscrossing through Florida, Georgia, New York and now California, stops that have done little to quell speculation that he's laying the groundwork for a potential campaign. On Thursday, Biden planned speeches on transportation and sexual assault in Ohio and Michigan — two battleground states that will play key roles in electing the next president.
Biden's visit to Los Angeles will put him in the same corner of California as the pack of Republican presidential candidates, who are gathering Wednesday night for their second televised debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. Biden lashed out directly at Republican front-runner Donald Trump on Tuesday night, telling Hispanics at a reception that Trump's "sick'' message of xenophobia "will not prevail.''
"This will pass — the Trump stuff and that stuff that you're hearing on the other team,'' Biden said. Although he was greeted with chants of "Run, Joe, Run,'' he brushed them aside and said, "Oh, no, no, no, no.''
China's climate pledge
Ahead of Biden's appearance at the climate summit, the White House announced that 11 Chinese cities and provinces would cap their emissions earlier than China's national goal of 2030. Beijing and Guangzhou, two of China's largest cities, pledged that their carbon dioxide emissions will peak by 2020, with other major cities like Shenzhen following in later years.
On the U.S. side, cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston were announcing a series of commitments to reduce emissions, mandate use of renewable energy sources and cut fuel consumption.
"For the first time, you have major Chinese cities and provinces linking up with major U.S. cities, states and counties to commit to ambitious new targets for emissions reductions,'' said Brian Deese, Obama's senior adviser for climate and energy.
Last year, the world's two largest polluters clinched a groundbreaking agreement on emissions during Obama's visit to Beijing. The U.S. pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions up to 28 percent by 2025, compared to 2005 levels. China's emissions are still rising as the country rapidly builds new coal plants, but the country vowed that it will peak by 2030, if not sooner.