< Two weeks ago, Obama watched his prospects for realizing his goals on education, wages and immigration all but evaporate as voters handed his party a stinging rebuke in the midterms, putting Republicans in full control of Congress for the remainder of his presidency. But on a trip last week to Asia and Australia, Obama sought — and found — fruitful opportunities to make a lasting difference on global warming.
In China, traditionally a U.S. adversary on environmental issues, Obama set an ambitious new target for cutting future U.S. emissions as part of a landmark deal in which China will also rein in pollution. In Australia, he pledged $3 billion to help poorer nations address changing temperatures while prodding Australia’s prime minister to stop questioning the science of climate change.
“We’re showing there’s no excuse for other nations not to come together,” Obama said in Brisbane, where he also pressed the issue with leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies.
The emphasis on climate isn’t all by choice.
Although Obama has long sought to rally action against climate change, White House aides say the issue has become even more attractive after the election because it’s one where Obama has considerable leverage to act without Congress. Foreign policy is largely the domain of presidents, and at home, Obama has aggressively used his regulatory power to curb greenhouse gas emissions over fierce objections from Republicans and the energy industry. >