The US Clean Power Plan, new rules and regulations that will focus on reducing pollution from the nation’s power plants, is the type of environmental agenda that all countries should be setting. It’s unfortunate such action has taken so long in coming from the world’s economic leader.

The plan, which was announced on Monday by US President Barack Obama, is a step in the right direction. Power plants will have to attain even lower levels of carbon dioxide pollution, with the country as a whole committing to cutting emissions levels by 2030.

Obama calls the plan the “biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken,” but the dramatic language will not alleviate the resentment many feel regarding the US’s previous track record on climate change policies.

Had the US sought to lead the way on environmental change back when the world was trying to adopt the Kyoto Protocol in the 1990s, such a dramatic step would not be needed now.

Some may point out that US actions are “better late than never,” but under the new limits, late is still the key word. US states, which can seek up to a two-year extension without penalty, are expected to delay, despite incentives for early compliance ahead of the 2022 deadline.

The US needs to abandon its half-hearted approach to such reforms. Only a committed agenda will have any chance of convincing the world’s emerging markets, where pollution reforms are even more urgently needed, to follow suit.