What happened
Delegates from 187 countries broke an impasse at the end of a conference in Bali on Saturday and agreed to negotiate a new accord on cutting greenhouse gas emissions over the next two years. The document dropped a call for specific cuts in worldwide emissions, which helped keep the U.S. at the bargaining table, and for the first time demanded that developing countries try to find ways to limit their emissions. (Los Angeles Times, free registration)

What the commentators said
How disappointing, said The New York Times in an editorial (free registration). The Bali conference “could have brought important progress on climate change” if the U.S. had provided “the leadership the world needs” instead of dragging its feet. The obstructionist Bush administration delegates didn’t budge an inch, except to agree to further talks—and it took “enormous effort” to pry even that tiny concession out of them.

If only the U.S. representatives had mustered the courage to hold firm, said Scott Johnson in the blog Power Line, instead of “caving in to a mob of louts and bullies.” Buckling under the “global warming hysterics” satisfied the “mob,” but the “road map” to a formal climate treaty will surely prove about as successful as the one to bring peace to the Middle East.

The consensus in Bali “is that U.S. action—certainly, meaningful U.S. action on climate change—may be years away,” said Joe Nation in the San Francisco Chronicle. So if the U.S. is to do its share, it’s up to the “climate junkies” in the states to show the federal government the way.