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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Pledges to end net emissions by midcentury are now commonplace for big countries and companies, but several looming summits are putting a fresh focus on a much closer horizon.

Driving the news: U.S. officials intend to unveil a 2030 greenhouse gas emissions-cutting target under the Paris deal by April 22 — the date of a big summit Biden is hosting.

  • And more broadly, the next major UN climate conference in Scotland late this year is aimed at showcasing nations' updated medium-term pledges — and how they'll breathe life into them.
  • China, the world's largest emitter by far, is under lots of scrutiny because it has not yet unveiled policy specifics behind its vow to have its emissions peak before 2030.
  • Nikkei Asia reported Tuesday that Japan plans to unveil a more ambitious 2030 target before the G7 summit in June.

Where it stands: John Kerry, President Biden's climate envoy, used a multilateral meeting Tuesday to call for countries to show "concretely" how they'll meet those midcentury pledges with nearer-term steps.

  • "The scientists tell us it just doesn’t work to issue a mid-century goal without reducing sufficiently between now and 2030," Kerry said at the annual Ministerial on Climate Action hosted by China.
  • "Without that, and without a miracle, it’s as highly improbable as it is highly implausible that you could ever get to 2050 net zero in a way any country would ever choose," Kerry said.
  • Separately, new analysis from the investor network Climate Action 100+ finds that among scores of the world's largest carbon-emitting companies, there's a "critically important" need for "more robust" medium-term targets (i.e. the 2026-2035 range). Reuters has more.

The intrigue: A deeply reported Washington Post story gets to the dilemma facing U.S. officials — crafting a 2030 pledge over the next few weeks that's ambitious but not just a paper tiger.

  • That's especially tricky because while Biden is looking to leverage executive actions at agencies government-wide, his push for deep cuts will require lots of help from the narrowly divided Congress.
  • "Nobody will be satisfied with good targets without anything backing it up," Laurence Tubiana, a former French climate diplomat who now heads the European Climate Foundation, tells the paper.

Why it matters: Any hope of meeting the Paris Agreement's longshot target of limiting warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial means steep cuts need to be happening now.

  • The UN's science panel estimates that a path toward that goal would mean greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 need to be 45% below 2010 levels.
  • UN officials made that point when releasing a late February report finding that medium-term pledges thus far don't create anything close to a pathway to those cuts.

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Why it matters: While those members are barred from politicking with official funds, the firms have expertise in boosting elected officials' images for political gain and are in high demand for both campaign and government work.

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Schumer pushes for doomed filibuster changes

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer addresses reporters Tuesday. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told the Democratic caucus Tuesday night he plans to propose instituting a one-time "talking" filibuster requirement, and bypassing the 60-vote threshold for major legislation, to pass the party's election reforms package via simple majority.

Why it matters: While Schumer acknowledged both votes are expected to fail — and some vulnerable Democrats up for re-election feel it will put them in a tough spot — he argued it's worth putting members on the record for historic legislation.