Agreements that emerge from international summits often are met with a shrug. Not so the surprise deal between the US and China on climate change. Writers at Grist, Mother Jones, and Slate all use the phrase "game changer" in describing this one. The big takeaway numbers: The US set a more ambitious goal of cutting emissions up to 28% by 2025, while China for the first time said its emissions would peak in 2030 and then decline. By then, Beijing plans to have 20% of its energy coming from zero-emission sources. The broader point, though, is that the world had little hope of making progress on the issue if its top two polluters weren't on board. "It’s impossible to overstate the deal’s significance for the rest of world," writes Eric Holthaus at Slate.
Keep in mind that these aren't treaties, but statements of "intent," observes Ben Adler at Grist. There's also lots of "wiggle room" in the goals, but all of that is OK, he adds. "The US and China are the world’s two biggest economies, and showing that they will play their part in reducing emissions is essential to getting an international agreement at the next round of big climate negotiations in Paris in December 2015," he writes. "Now the prospects are looking a lot better." Republicans already are firing back, with Mitch McConnell arguing that "our economy can’t take the president’s ideological war on coal," reports the Hill. But much of the new agreement centers on initiatives between the two countries that don't need Senate approval, and the Mother Jones piece lays out some specifics. (Read more climate change stories.)