How has President Obama agreed to cut carbon emissions with bitter opposition in the legislature cemented by last week's midterm elections? And why is China suddenly ready to compromise on the issue of climate change, on which it has defied the international community for years?

The answer, for better or worse, is that the climate change targets agreed to by the United States and China are well on their way to being achieved absent any official agreement.

In the U.S., new standards on automobile efficiency and EPA regulations governing power plants, which will soon go into effect, put the country on the path to cutting emissions fourteen to sixteen percent below 2005 levels by the year 2025. This is precisely the target stipulated by the new bilateral climate change agreement.

In China, population experts predict that its population boom will peek by 2030. This is the same year its carbon emissions must peak according to the new climate change agreement.

Still, observers say a public declaration to cut emissions is better than the status quo. Harvard Business School professor Robert Eccles comments during his Big Think interview that China is better suited than the U.S. to lead on climate change because it currently lacks the regulatory infrastructure (unlike more developed economies) that would otherwise constrains its actions.

Read more at the Daily Beast

Photo credit: Shutterstock