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UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

High-level talks in New York City and Washington this week will provide more signals about what might get done — or not — at the critical United Nations climate summit this fall.

Driving the news: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres will convene a closed-door gathering of leaders Monday morning on the sidelines of the U.S. General Assembly.

  • The meeting will focus on the gap between current climate commitments and what is actually needed to rein in global warming.
  • There are growing concerns the climate summit set to begin in Glasgow on Oct. 31, which more than 100 heads of state now plan to attend, could fall well short of what's needed to meet the Paris Agreement's temperature targets.

What they're saying: "We need to rebuild trust between developed countries and developing countries if we want to rescue COP26," Guterres told GZERO World's Ian Bremmer on Sunday.

  • "We are on the verge of an abyss. And one thing is clear, if you are on the verge of an abyss, you must be careful about your next step," Guterres said.
  • A chair's summary of the confab will offer clues about country positions going into the final sprint to Glasgow.

Meanwhile, Johnson will also visit Washington this week, where climate will be a major topic of discussion with the Biden administration.

Go deeper

Obama to attend UN climate summit in Glasgow

Former President Barack Obama speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Obama Presidential Center at Jackson Park in Chicago on Sept. 28. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP

Former President Barack Obama will travel to Glasgow next month for the UN climate summit, CNN reports.

Driving the news: Obama will meet with young climate change advocates and "urge more robust action going forward by all of us — governments, the private sector, philanthropy and civil society," according to an Obama spokesperson, per CNN.

What the initial UN Climate Summit attendance list reveals

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The UN Climate Summit set to begin Oct. 31 in Glasgow will bring an unprecedented combination of leaders for such an event (even Pope Francis!), and the likely absence of vital players — notably Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

Why it matters: The speeches and backroom meetings at COP26 between leaders on the summit's first two days will set the tone for the rest of the gathering. These will be moments when countries showcase any new pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the Paris Agreement's targets.

Mind the emissions gap

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The sprint to secure more stringent emissions reduction commitments ahead of the COP26 summit has petered out well short of the finish line, a new United Nations report out this morning concludes.

Driving the news: The "Emissions Gap" report offers a clear comparison between where emissions need to be to reach the Paris Agreement's goals, and where they actually are. It takes new and preexisting emissions pledges, called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), into consideration.