The plan announced Tuesday night for the United States and China to join forces in the fight against climate change is a big deal. It sets a new, more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target for the US (although the target will only bring emissions slightly below 1990 levels, which isn’t as aggressive as climate scientists have advocated). It establishes a goal for China to get one-fifth of its power from low-carbon sources by 2030. And it lays out what both countries will bring to the table at next year’s international climate negotiations in Paris. That should help other countries set their own goals, and it increases the likelihood that the talks will be productive.
The deal could also be a big win for the clean energy sector. It calls for more funding for research and development projects focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean vehicles. It also includes a major new pilot project in China to study carbon capture and sequestration, the controversial technology that—at least in theory—could help China curb its emissions while continuing to burn coal for electricity.