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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The scramble is intensifying to lay the groundwork for achieving tangible results at a key United Nations climate summit just seven weeks away.

Driving the news: UN Secretary-General António Guterres and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will convene a heads-of-state-level gathering Monday on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

  • The meeting "will address the gaps that remain on the actions urgently needed from national governments — especially the G20 — on mitigation, finance and adaptation," a UN advisory states.

Of note: Reuters reported Monday night that the U.S. and European Union are seeking to unveil a joint pledge to cut emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, by one-third by 2030.

  • The story calls it an effort to "galvanize other major economies" ahead of the November summit in Glasgow, Scotland. The White House did not confirm the Reuters story to Axios.

Why it matters: The reported methane deal and UN meeting are the latest signs of the diplomatic scramble ahead of a summit where success is not guaranteed.

  • U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry and Alok Sharma, the U.K.'s top climate diplomat, have both visited China — by far the world's largest emitter — this month for talks.
  • Kerry went to India, the world's third-largest greenhouse gas emitter after the U.S., this week. All eyes will also be on the G20 heads of state meeting in late October.

Threat level: The run-up to the summit, called COP26, has been rocky.

  • A G20 meeting in July ended without agreement on a phase-out in domestic coal-fired power generation or funding for such plants abroad by nations including China, the world's biggest coal user.
  • It's also not clear whether developed countries will make good on a longstanding pledge to mobilize $100 billion per year to help other nations fight climate change.

The big picture: The summit comes as global emissions are rebounding from the pandemic alongside the use of coal and oil.

  • The International Energy Agency projects that global oil demand will exceed pre-pandemic levels in the second half of next year, while OPEC yesterday estimated that 2022 demand will surpass 2019 on a full-year basis.

Yes, but: Despite the Biden administration's diplomatic efforts, the U.S. ability to make good on its own emissions-cutting pledges is unclear, with much of that left up to Congress.

Go deeper: Christian leaders appeal for action on climate change during upcoming summit

Go deeper

Biden admin announces tougher fuel mileage standards

Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday it will tighten pollution standards for cars and light trucks in an attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles.

Why it matters: Transportation overall is the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, so tougher standards for passenger vehicles are a major part of efforts to curb CO2 output.

Updated Dec 16, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on sustainable investing

On Thursday, December 16th, Axios energy reporter Ben Geman and business reporter Hope King dove into the forces driving investments in climate tech and looked ahead to the ESG trends shaping the market for 2022, featuring Moody’s Climate Solutions global head Emilie Mazzacurati and S&P Global Sustainable1 president Richard Mattison.

Emilie Mazzacurati discussed the most tangible outcomes from the COP26 climate conference, how these outcomes will impact sustainable investment, and how to ensure corporate sustainability commitments are actually implemented.

  • On the impact of companies setting forth climate pledges: “Setting aside those technical aspects, we found that even the companies that have set targets are not going far enough and that if all those companies reduced emissions, they would be on track supportive of a world going towards 2.1 degrees Celsius on average. So still well above where we want to be.”
  • On transparency to prevent corporate greenwashing: “So the type of things that we might look at over and beyond the actual targets themselves are governance. Is there a board-level oversight of climate risk? What’s the role of the management? Is climate integrated into risk management?”

Richard Mattison described the state of the current climate investment environment, the makeup of upcoming standard disclosure requirements, and the best and worst case scenarios in measuring companies’ progress on their sustainability commitments.

  • On the need for more specificity in climate investment pledges: “I don’t think we really have enough understanding of what the near-term plans need to look like. We don’t even know what a good transition plan looks like…I think there’s a never before seen scale of collaboration, in particular between banks, asset managers, and companies on really what a good transition plan looks like towards net zero.”
  • On best case scenarios for progress on sustainability commitments: “There is robustness and credibility in the processes used to gather that information and interpret that information. And that process means that the information is actually at the core of a scale flow of capital towards sustainable outcomes, and that we are starting to see a real difference in the real world with respect to some of those climate disasters that I was talking about before.”

Axios HQ General Manager Jordan Zaslav hosted a View from the Top segment with Head of iShares Americas at Blackrock, Armando Senra, who spoke on the impact of ESG commitments on the investment landscape.

  • “When you think of ESG, environmental, social, and corporate governance, those factors have a real impact in asset pricing in capital allocations. And therefore, what is really important there is to understand that as you’re building your portfolio, this is not just about your values or your preferences. This is about the outcomes that you are expecting in your portfolio and how you have to account for the impact and the opportunities that these factors will have in your portfolio.”

Thank you iShares for sponsoring this event.

Updated 57 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump dogs “dull” DeSantis ahead of potential 2024 matchup

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Donald Trump is trashing Ron DeSantis in private as an ingrate with a "dull personality" and no realistic chance of beating him in a potential 2024 showdown, according to sources who've recently talked to the former president about the Florida governor.

Why it matters: The two are among the most popular Republicans in the country, and as the former president eyes another run in 2024, he's irked by DeSantis' popularity and refusal to rule out running against him.