The U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen has ended with a nonbinding accord that some commentators see as a symbol of "a new world order."
According to the Associated Press, the accord urges deeper cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases, but it is not legally binding. Among the major polluters, the European Union has committed to cutting emissions by 20 percent by 2020; Japan to 25 percent, if others take similar steps, and the U.S. agreed provisionally to a 3 to 4 percent reduction.
Meanwhile, China offered to rein in its greenhouse gas output by 40 to 45 percent, and India, Brazil and South Africa committed to their own voluntary targets.
The deal also calls on rich nations to provide up to $30 billion during 2010-2012 to help developing countries adapt to climate change.
The Washington Post suggested that the deal — which was brokered by Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and all but rubber-stamped by other participants —may provide a glimpse of how issues from world trade to nuclear proliferation will be negotiated in the coming years.
"Coming into this conference, it was about 193 countries, and coming out of it, it clearly came down to a conversation between the leaders of those two superpowers," said Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Fund, quoted by the news provider.
Back on Capitol Hill, many Democrats stressed it was a "hopeful" sign to see China and India get on board. However, Republican Senator Robert Bennett of Utah said he didn’t think "they got anything in Copenhagen that will encourage anybody, except Jim Inhofe," in reference to the Oklahoma Republican who calls global warming a "hoax" and opposes any emissions cuts, according to TheHill.com.