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A session of the 2018 UN General Assembly. Photo: Alexander Shcherbak/TASS via Getty Images

The decisions reached this month by two Indian states, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, to stop building new coal plants align with a renewed call by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to end all such construction by 2020.

Why it matters: India's pipeline of planned new coal plants ranks second in size only to China's. These commitments by its state governments come ahead of next week's Climate Summit at the UN General Assembly, where countries will face strong pressure to back off support for expanding coal facilities.

Details: India has historically resisted global calls to halt coal expansion.

  • The commitment by the heavily industrialized state of Gujarat — whose 15.8 GW coal fleet is larger than the U.K.'s — was quickly followed by a similar pledge from Chhattisgarh, home to the country's third largest coal reserves.

Context: Guterres has used the conclusions of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports to press for a transition away from coal.

  • As one form of leverage, he may deny South Korea and Japan speaking slots at the summit because of their financial support for new coal plants around the world, according to the Financial Times.

What to watch: As the UN begins to draw a clearer line between countries supporting the Paris agreement goals and those ignoring them, more world leaders may soon announce plans to end coal expansion. A yet greater step, which Guterres has also called for, would be new limits on existing plants.

Justin Guay directs global climate strategy at the Sunrise Project and advises the ClimateWorks Foundation.

Go deeper

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.

1 hour ago - World

Top general: China's hypersonic missile test "very close" to a "Sputnik moment"

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Wednesday that China's test of a hypersonic missile is "very concerning" and "very close" to the kind of "Sputnik moment" that triggered the Space Race during the Cold War.

Why it matters: The comments by America's top uniformed general underscore the depths of U.S. concerns about China's rapid military expansion and development of advanced weaponry.

Climate reckoning for oil and gas CEOs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Top executives from ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell will face a reckoning on Capitol Hill Thursday, as they're grilled on evidence that their companies knew for years that their products were driving climate change but chose to downplay or deny it.

Why it matters: The hearing before the House Oversight Committee will be the first time these executives have been brought together to provide sworn testimony regarding what they knew about the ties between their company's products and climate change, and when they knew it.