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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the media at the Informal Leaders Roundtable on Climate Action at UN Headquarters. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

A closed-door, head-of-state level meeting at the United Nations Monday with nearly two-dozen leaders and emissaries showcased the rifts between countries on core climate policy issues.

Why it matters: These gaps must be narrowed during the next few weeks in order to avert a failed U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow.

State of play: The meeting, called by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, featured an unusually candid exchange of views between world leaders, a member of a climate negotiating team who observed the meeting told Axios.

  • Wealthy nations' failure to deliver on their 2009 pledge of $100 billion in annual financial assistance to the developing world — first promised in 2009, emerged as a major source of distrust and anger, the member said.
  • Jochen Flasbarth, Germany's deputy environment minister, told the AP the meeting was “very frank and outspoken — not polite."

Threat level: There are huge gaps remaining between the emissions cuts countries have pledged to make and what is needed in order to keep the Paris Agreement's 1.5°C (2.7°F) target viable.

  • The U.N. warned last week that if all current emissions pledges are fulfilled, the world would still warm by 2.7°C (4.9°F) above preindustrial levels by 2100.

What we're watching: President Biden is scheduled to speak at the U.N. at 10am ET, and he is expected to announce additional U.S. funding.

Go deeper

New Zealand passes "world-first" climate change disclosure law for banks

Commerce and consumer affairs minister David Clark and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, in 2018. Photo: Mark Tantrum/Getty Images

New Zealand passed a "world-first" law requiring financial institutions to disclose and act on climate change impacts concerning their businesses, officials announced Thursday.

Why it matters: About 200 of the "largest financial market participants in New Zealand" will have to "disclose clear, comparable and consistent information about the risks, and opportunities, climate change presents to their business," per a statement from commerce and consumer affairs minister David Clark.

Study: More infectious diseases inevitable due to climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Climate change is creating ideal conditions for infectious diseases to spread more quickly, according to The Lancet Countdown's annual climate report out Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's just one of the increasingly urgent threats to human health emerging from global climate change.

The big picture: Climate studies show that extreme weather events — such as more powerful hurricanes, heavier rainstorms, larger wildfires and hotter and longer-lasting heat waves — are worsening worldwide due to the burning of fossil fuels for energy, Axios' Andrew Freeman reports.

  • These events have had serious impacts on the health of entire regions and the vulnerable causing preventable deaths, food and water insecurity and the spread of infectious diseases.
Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 20, 2021 - Energy & Environment

UN: Fossil fuel output plans would crush Paris hopes

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A United Nations report warns that governments and fossil fuel companies are planning levels of oil, natural gas and coal production that are "dangerously out of sync" with holding global warming in check.

Driving the news: "[T]he world’s governments still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and 45% more than consistent with limiting warming to 2°C," it states.