Not only has President Obama largely avoided the global-warming debate during his presidency, he blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from setting new rules to cut smog levels. Meanwhile, global emissions of carbon dioxide increased 5.9 percent last year, the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution, the New York Times reported. Still, columnist Thomas Friedman praised Obama for a little-noticed deal that could have a huge impact. All the top U.S.-based automakers agreed to improve the fuel efficiency of their fleets each year from 2017 until 2025, when the fleets will average 54.5 miles per gallon (twice the current average). "The new vehicles sold over the life of the program — including its first phase between 2012 and 2016 — are expected to save a total of 4 billion barrels of oil and prevent 2 billion metric tons of greenhouse-gas pollution," Friedman wrote. "This is a big deal — a legacy deal for Obama that will make a significant, long-term contribution to America's energy, environmental, health and national security agendas."