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Kerry: US, China Find 'Common Ground' on Climate Change

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech at the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in Lima, December 11, 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said a landmark U.S.-China agreement on climate change is a "historic milestone" in the fight against global warming.

"The United States and China, two countries long regarded as the leaders of opposing camps in these negotiations, have now found common ground on this issue," Kerry said. "That is a historic milestone and it should send a clear message to all of us that the road blocks we've hit for decades can be removed from our path."

Kerry spoke Thursday at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, where representatives from 200 countries began critical negotiations at the beginning of December on a new climate treaty to reduce global warming. The new treaty would replace the Kyoto Protocol, the global agreement that expired in 2012. The meeting in Lima sets the stage for a binding treaty next December in Paris.

Last month, China and the U.S. - the world's top polluters - signed an agreement in which the U.S. committed to reduce emissions between 26 percent and 28 percent by 2025. And, for the first time, China put a timetable on its actions, saying emissions would peak by 2030.

Kerry also said Thursday that every nation on Earth has a responsibility to fight climate change - not just big polluters like the United States and China.

Developing nations insist wealthy ones must bear the burden for fighting climate change.

Kerry, however, said more than half of the carbon emissions that are causing the Earth to warm come from poorer countries.

He said it is imperative they act, too and embrace what he called the energy sources of the future over the ones of the past. Kerry said there is no time to sit around and go back and forth over who is responsible for cleaning up the atmosphere.

Analysts say the U.S.-China deal is a strategic move that could energize other nations to do more to halt global warming.

Delegates in Lima are looking for an agreement to cut greenhouse gases blamed for causing global temperatures to rise.

Scientists warn that more extreme droughts, floods and rising seas are on the way unless fossil fuel emissions are reduced.