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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

This will not be a historic year for making progress on addressing climate change — it can't be, with the Chinese premier Xi Jinping refusing to make new pledges and not even showing up at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. But that doesn't mean the summit was a wash.

Why it matters: Substantial progress has already been made at this year's summit; it's worth taking a minute to celebrate three of the most important wins for the planet.

  1. The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, a group of private-sector investors, launched in April with $5 trillion committed to "achieving net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest." That number has already ballooned to $130 trillion — enough for the private sector to be able to play its part in getting the world to net zero, per the alliance.
  2. More than 100 countries, including the U.S., have now signed the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to slash emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas by 2030, and which on its own could reduce warming by 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2050.
  3. Leaders representing more than 85% of the world's forests — even including Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro — pledged to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030.

The bottom line: Promises can be broken — but they're also the only real hope for effective and lasting change. Now that the pledges are in place, they can be built on at future summits, and they can be used to shame those who fall short.

  • Fear of humiliation has proved to be a surprisingly effective tool when it comes to getting world leaders to stay true to their promises.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Nov 24, 2021 - World

U.S. unveils invitation list for Biden's "Summit for Democracy"

Expand chart
Data: State Department. Axios Visuals.

Taiwan is among the 110 delegations invited to President Biden's "Summit for Democracy" next month, according to a list released by the State Department on Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Taiwan's inclusion is sure to infuriate the Chinese government, which views the self-governing island as a breakaway territory and opposes any attempts to legitimize it on the international stage.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 10 mins ago - Health

Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travel bans and border closures prompted by the Omicron variant likely won't fully prevent its spread, but that won't stop countries from leaning on the measures.

Why it matters: The rapid speed at which countries turned to travel bans with the emergence of Omicron indicates border controls will increasingly become a weapon against infectious disease — whether or not public health experts agree they are effective.

30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

GOP fights itself on shutdown politics

Reporters question Senate Minority Whip John Thune before the Republican Party's weekly lunch on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are scrambling to reach a deal with a bloc of 15 Senate Republicans threatening a government shutdown to force a fight over the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The push to defund the mandates — by holding the short-term government funding bill hostageis largely symbolic, and highly controversial within the Republican Party. A shutdown as early as midnight Friday could trigger everything from national park closures to delays in receiving Social Security checks.

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