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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration offered new details this morning about the big, virtual climate summit Thursday and Friday and signaled they expect new emissions reduction and climate finance commitments from multiple countries.

Driving the news: The administration said 40 heads of state would attend, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.

  • They unveiled a lineup that also includes high-profile names, such as Pope Francis, Bill Gates, the heads of NATO and the World Bank, corporate executives and more.

Why it matters: The White House is trying to reassert U.S. leadership on the climate issue and encourage other countries to make commitments to slash emissions before 2030.

The intrigue: On a call with reporters this morning, officials laid out the summit agenda, but did not say what additional commitments the U.S. will be making on the emissions or climate finance front.

  • However, it is widely expected the U.S. will commit to reducing emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, which would put the country near the top of the pack when it comes to emissions targets.

What they're saying: "We expect action at this meeting. We're looking for people to make announcements to raise their ambition to indicate next steps that they intend to be taking to help solve the climate problem and to work collectively to do so," a senior administration official told reporters.

  • The administration is also looking to use the summit to showcase its all of government approach to climate — the event will include not only the heads of environmental agencies but also officials like the secretary of defense and the director of national intelligence.

The big picture: The summit comes just after the European Union agreed to a provisional deal overnight on sweeping climate legislation that aims to slash the bloc's net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% compared to 1990 levels by 2030.

Quick take: Biden administration officials can use the deal to show that other countries are acting as President Biden presses Congress for huge new investments and unveils a non-binding target to steeply cut U.S. emissions this decade.

  • "Our political commitment to becoming the first climate neutral continent by 2050 is now also a legal commitment," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.
  • In addition, China, the world's largest emitter, announced that President Xi Jinping would attend the virtual summit despite deep tensions with the U.S.
  • Separately, the U.K. also announced tougher emissions goals this week, targeting a 78% cut by 2035 compared to 1990 levels.

What we're watching: All eyes are on other countries — notably Japan and Canada — to see if they unveil new targets, and other nations' moves made to date are not necessarily because of the U.S. return to the world stage.

  • The U.S. goes into the summit with a credibility gap after former President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement. Biden moved to rejoin on his first day in office.

Go deeper: Carbon emissions are roaring back from COVID-19

Go deeper

Apr 21, 2021 - World

China's Xi accepts invitation to Biden's climate summit

Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend President Biden's virtual climate summit this week, according to China's foreign ministry.

Why it matters: It'll mark the first time the two leaders have met face to face — albeit virtually — since Biden took office. China and the U.S. are the world's two largest carbon emitters.

Greta Thunberg to testify before House panel on Earth Day

Climate activist Greta Thunberg in Berlin in August 2020. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance via Getty Images

Climate activist Greta Thunberg will testify before the House Oversight Subcommittee on the Environment on Thursday, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), chairman of the panel, announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The Earth Day hearing — titled “The Role of Fossil Fuel Subsidies in Preventing Action on the Climate Crisis" — will coincide with the White House's climate summit, which is expected to showcase a new 2030 U.S. emissions-cutting target.

Go deeper: What to expect from this week's White House climate summit

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 21, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The finance sector links arms on climate

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A big, UN-backed umbrella group of banks, asset managers, investors and insurers launched Wednesday to boost private clean tech finance and press polluting industries that use their services to cut emissions.

Why it matters: The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) is the broadest financial industry effort yet on climate change.

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