President Obama will focus on climate change before and during next week's G20 Summit in China, where he is likely to announce major new actions on implementing last year's Paris accord, according to a senior adviser.
Climate change will be high on the agenda when Obama sits down with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top officials going into the major meeting of industrialized nations, Brian Deese, the president's senior climate adviser, told reporters Monday.
Regional news reports in recent days have indicated that the leaders will discuss ratifying the Paris deal while attending the meeting of the Group of 20 industrialized countries Sept. 4-5.
"We've made the commitment that we will join in 2016. And we've made the commitment to do that as soon as possible this year," said Deese. The U.S. and China have signed the Paris deal agreed to by nearly 200 countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, but they still must take the formal step of joining the agreement before it can go into effect.
"With respect to exactly when, I don't have any announcements on that front. But we've committed, and we've been working on that issue," Deese said. He would not confirm Chinese news reports that the two leaders will announce their ratification of the Paris deal ahead of the summit. The announcement could come as soon as Friday, according to reports.
On the way to the G20 meeting, Obama is slated to give a keynote address at an annual environmental conservation summit hosted by Democratic Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada at Lake Tahoe on Wednesday. A central theme of this year's Lake Tahoe Summit will be climate change.
"For the past 20 years, the annual Lake Tahoe Summit has taught us that together we can overcome obstacles to creative positive changes for the protection of this extraordinary resource," said Jennifer Taylor, executive director of the Clean Energy Project, one of several conservation groups attending the meeting. "Now it's time to come together again to fight the ultimate challenge and detrimental economic impacts of climate change."
President Obama will also travel to Honolulu, Hawaii, the same day to deliver remarks at the Pacific Island Conference of Leaders and the IUCN World Conservation Congress where climate change and the Paris deal are also likely to be key topics.