The U.S. and China have agreed to do something we hadn't dared hope for.

Here are eight reasons why the world is now a better place.

1. After not doing anything about it for decades, China and the U.S. have agreed to tackle a big problem.

The two countries are the world's biggest producers of the greenhouse gas CO2. They signed an agreement to cut CO2 and other emissions that cause climate change.


Here's the tweet from the White House:

2. This is the first-ever pledge like this from China, and it's ambitious — to get 20% of its energy from non-greenhouse-gas-emitting sources by 2030. Here's the fact sheet from the White House with a few more details.

3. Here in the U.S., lots of politicians have pointed to China as the reason the U.S. should not sign climate treaties. What will opponents of climate change action use as an excuse now? Check out this spot-on video from Climate Desk of what the excuses sound like:

4. The agreement means a lot of support for ongoing U.N. climate talks aimed at a worldwide deal on lowering emissions set for Paris 2015.

5. This kind of commitment means a big boost to investors and green energy markets around the world. According to the fact sheet: "It will require China to deploy an additional 800-1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero emission generation capacity by 2030 – more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to total current electricity generation capacity in the United States." Whoa. That's a lotta business.

6. The agreement also points the way to more China-U.S. cooperation in the future. The agreed-on collaborations include the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, phasing out other pollutants, launching a Low-Carbon Cities Initiative, promoting trade in "green goods," and supporting pilot programs that demonstrate clean energy on the ground.

7. China's environment is a mess, so this investment in cleaner energy is a great thing for their air, land, and water.

8. The U.S.-China deal builds on commitments President Obama made in 2009. We aren't starting from scratch here, and this agreement helps reinforce steps we've already taken. According to Secretary of State John Kerry, since Obama took office, wind energy production in the U.S. has tripled and solar energy has increased by a factor of 10. But others point out that's not enough. This new agreement keeps us moving in the right direction.

So, this new U.S.-China deal isn't binding, and already critics are throwing around words like "charade," but a quick look at the Twittersphere shows that for all of us wondering if we were ever going to see strong leadership on climate change from the biggest contributors, this is a very welcome and hopeful surprise.

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Unilever and the United Nations

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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