Obama stakes final 2 years on climate change

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Obama stakes final 2 years on climate change
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (C) gestures as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) shakes hands with Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Zhang Dejiang during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama is on a state visit, after attending the APEC summit, during a week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. (Photo by Petar Kujundzic -Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama reviews an honour guard with Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) at a welcome ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Zhang Dejiang during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama is on a state visit, after attending the APEC summit, during a week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. (Photo by Petar Kujundzic -Pool/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) accompanies U.S. President Barack Obama (R) to view an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. U.S. President Barack Obama pays a state visit to China after attending the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) attend a meeting with Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Zhang Dejiang (2nd R) at the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama is on a state visit, after attending the APEC summit, during a week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. (Photo by Petar Kujundzic -Pool/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with China's Premier Li Keqiang during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama is on a state visit, after attending the APEC summit, during a week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. (Photo by Petar Kujundzic -Pool/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (centre L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) attend a meeting with Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Zhang Dejiang (centre R) at the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama is on a state visit, after attending the APEC summit, during a week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. (Photo by Petar Kujundzic -Pool/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama attends a meeting with China's Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama is on a state visit, after attending the APEC summit, during a week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. (Photo by Petar Kujundzic -Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One shortly before departing from Capital International Airport in Beijing on November 12, 2014, on his way to attend the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Myanmar after a state visit following the APEC summit in Beijing. Myanmar kicked off on November 12 its biggest gathering of world leaders since shedding junta rule but concerns over the pace of democratic reforms are expected to surface at the two-day event featuring US President Barack Obama. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with China's Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama is on a state visit, after attending the APEC summit, during a week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. (Photo by Petar Kujundzic -Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) takes part in a bilateral meeting with China's Premier Li Keqiang (R) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) and US Secretary of State John Kerry (green tie) step out from the Great Hall of the People following a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State John Kerry toasts with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a lunch banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER /POOL (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping drink a toast at a lunch banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER /POOL (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) returns to his seat as Chinese President Xi Jinping applauds after they drank a toast at a lunch banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER /POOL (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) and China's President Xi Jinping (R) arrive for a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama, center, is seated during his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. With Obama are U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and National Security Advisor Susan Rice, right. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama, center right, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and Chinese Presient Xi Jinping, center left, are seated with their respective delegations as they meet at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
US President Barack Obama (R) walks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a welcome ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, smiles after a group of children waved flags and flowers to cheer him during a welcome ceremony with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. When Xi Jinping took the reins of a booming China two years ago, President Barack Obama saw an opportunity to remake America's relationship with the Asian power. But even after Obama's unusually robust efforts to forge personal ties with Xi, the two leaders are meeting in Beijing amid significant tensions, both old and new. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
A Chinese honor guard prepares to welcome U.S. President Barack Obama outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (L), Chinese President Xi Jinping (2L), Jinping's wife Peng Liyuan (C) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) watch a fireworks display during the APEC Leaders meeting November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (L), Chinese President Xi Jinping (2L), Jinping's wife Peng Liyuan (C) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) watch a fireworks display during the APEC Leaders meeting November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) attend a family photo ceremony during the APEC Leaders meeting November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (R), Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) attend a family photo ceremony during the APEC Leaders meeting November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: Chinese President Xi Jinping (C), Brunei Sultain Hassanal Bolkiah (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) attend a family photo ceremony during the APEC Leaders meeting November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (L), Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) watch a fireworks display during the APEC Leaders meeting on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) attend a family photo ceremony during the APEC Leaders meeting November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) poses with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan (R) as he arrives for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit banquet at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) is welcomed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan (R) as he arrives for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit banquet at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (L), Chinese President Xi Jinping's wife Peng Liyuan (C), and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) watch a fireworks display during the APEC Leaders meeting on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, who is hosting a welcome dinner for APEC leaders at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in Beijing, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. At right is Peng Liyuan, Xi’s wife. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, who is hosting a welcome dinner for APEC leaders at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in Beijing, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. At right is Peng Liyuan, Xi’s wife. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- With limited time still in power, President Barack Obama is staking his final two years on climate change, pushing the issue to the front of his agenda as he seeks to leave an imprint on the world that will endure after he's gone.

It's a strategy rooted not only in Obama's long-stated concern about global warming, but also in political reality.

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.

"President Obama has made no secret that his climate crusade will proceed irrespective of what the American people want or what other global leaders caution," said Laura Sheehan of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which represents the coal industry.

Sheehan said Australia, whose prime minister rose to power promising to gut a hated carbon tax, is a "prime example" of lessons that some have learned but Obama has ignored. She warned the deal with Beijing, which allows China's emissions to keep increasing until 2030, will stall America's economy while China's continues to grow "thanks to affordable, reliable power."

Climate change advocates said the deal with China is paving the way for a successful global climate treaty that nations are aiming to finalize next year, because it ups the pressure on reluctant, developing nations like India. They argue a successful treaty is the world's best chance to avert the worst effects of global warming. Facing dim prospects for Senate ratification for a new treaty, the administration is considering strategies where the agreement could be labeled a voluntary expansion of a 1992 climate treaty, relying on joint political pressure to ensure countries comply with certain parts.

Yet on the domestic front, it's unclear how much more Obama can do alone.

Obama said his administration shaped its new goal to cut emissions at least 26 percent by 2025 based on existing legal authorities, rather than relying on future action from Congress. But Obama has already picked the low-hanging fruit: pollution limits on U.S. power plants and emissions standards for cars and trucks, to name the big ones.

Still, White House aides said Obama has enlisted his Cabinet secretaries to hunt for further steps he can take before the clock runs out on his presidency in early 2017. They pointed to increasing renewable fuels as one example. And on Monday, the White House launched a website- toolkit.climate.gov - to give state and local officials access to federal resources to combat the impact of global warming.

As Obama competed for a second term in the White House in 2012, he told his top aides he considered climate change to be a key piece of unfinished business, said Stephanie Cutter, his deputy campaign manager. If he won re-election, he told them, he would take on climate head-on.

"He sees climate policy as good economic and health policy, but also a moral obligation to future generations - including his own daughters," Cutter said.

Yet even some of Obama's existing steps could well be repealed by ascendant Republicans in Congress, who also have plans to stop the president from going any further. Republicans are finding common cause with many Democrats in trying to force Obama to approve Keystone XL, a proposed pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. And with the GOP set to take over the Senate in January, Republicans are already pursuing a concerted effort to gut his Environmental Protection Agency's rules on power plants, although Obama counselor John Podesta predicted they won't succeed.

"The president will complete action. It's a top priority of his," Podesta said Monday. "And I don't believe they can stop us from doing that."

Obama Boldly Pushes Agenda Forward After Election Losses
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