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Photo credits, clockwise from top left: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images; Amy Harder/Axios; Stephanie Keith/Getty Images; Viewpress

Dueling plotlines dominated the UN climate summit: Newly revealed ambition from countries and companies, and palpable anguish — distilled in teen activist Greta Thunberg's speech — that it's not nearly enough.

The big picture: The summit brought a burst of new commitments and initiatives. These include dozens of nations pledging to strengthen their plans under the Paris deal, new commitments to the multilateral Green Climate Fund, and asset managers committing to carbon neutral portfolios by 2050.

  • Reuters has a tally here, and the UN's summary is here.

But, but, but: Several of the world's largest nations either did not bring new pledges — including China, by far the world's largest carbon emitter — or didn't go as far as advocates hoped.

  • The Union of Concerned Scientists' Alden Meyer accused most large nations of "dodging their responsibility to step up action as is essential to address the climate emergency we now face."
  • "Advocates and diplomats who have been following climate talks for years said they were disappointed," the New York Times reports.

Of note: At midnight, President Trump mocked Thunberg in a tweet that puts a highlighter pen over the split between the U.S. government — which offered no pledges — and advocates.

The intrigue: The chasm between the summit and advocates' goals was apparent when Big Oil CEOs defended their strategies at a rare, invite-only forum on the event's sidelines.

Driving the news: The CEOs of ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron and others gathered under the umbrella of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, an industry group investing in emissions-cutting tech. 

  • A common theme at the nearly 3-hour event: Tackling climate change is more complicated and slower than the urgent message radiating from activists and world leaders nearby at UN headquarters.
  • Exxon CEO Darren Woods typified the industry's steady-as-she-goes view of energy transition that activists call wholly at odds with the seismic changes needed. “I don’t see [the transition] as a threat,” Woods said. “It’s an evolution of the industry."

Between the lines: The execs largely agreed natural gas will play a key role for decades to come, which is increasingly at odds with what climate scientists say is needed to aggressively curb emissions.

  • “It’s likely to play an even larger role in the future,” Chevron CEO Michael Wirth said. “For the foreseeable future the realistic scalable and affordable way to build out a reliable grid growing renewable power is likely to be with natural gas.”

Go deeper ... Greta Thunberg to world leaders: "You are failing us" on climate change

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.