Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

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

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

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

GLASGOW, Scotland — President Biden's declaration Tuesday that Xi Jinping has “walked away” from an opportunity to help save the planet showed the intensity of the simmering rivalry and mutual distrust that have been lingering in the back of the COP26 climate summit.

Why it matters: The U.S. and China combine for nearly 40% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, meaning that any major climate breakthroughs require both superpowers on board.

  • But the rivalry that characterizes the rest of the relationship also made its way to Glasgow, with Biden scolding China for not showing up and Chinese leaders suspecting the U.S. can't actually deliver on Biden's promises.

Driving the news: Speaking to the press before departing Glasgow, Biden said that in skipping COP26, Xi — who has not left China for 21 months due to the pandemic — had made a “big mistake.”

  • “The single most important thing that’s got the attention of the world is climate, everywhere from Iceland to Australia. It just is a gigantic issue, and they’ve walked away,” Biden continued. “How do you do that and claim to be able to have any leadership mantle?”

The other side: Chinese leaders, meanwhile, suspect that Biden is making promises America won’t keep, Li Shuo, who is based in Beijing for Greenpeace, told Axios.

  • “What you have in China is more and more implementation but the headline targets are not up to the ambition that we need. What you have in the U.S. is completely the opposite,” Li said.
  • “You have all the ambition in your targets, in your rhetoric. You’re not necessarily implementing that because you are constrained domestically by your politics.”
  • And while Republicans in Congress contend that the U.S. shouldn’t act if China won’t, Li says, a growing chorus in Beijing argues that Biden is politicizing the climate agenda to constrain China’s development.

The backstory: Xi opted against both traveling to Scotland and offering new pledges to cut emissions, which arguably undermined the summit before it even began as China is easily the world’s top carbon emitter.

  • Biden, meanwhile, offered big initiatives during the world leader portion of the summit, which ended on Tuesday — even though his struggles on Capitol Hill threatened his climate agenda and reverberated in the halls of the conference.

The state of play: The Chinese delegation was virtually invisible during the opening days of the summit, but climate envoy Xie Zhenhua is in Glasgow and will play a key role in negotiations over the next two weeks.

  • Xie and Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, know each other well, and met one-on-one before the summit began.
  • Kerry has proposed that U.S. and China engage on climate as a “critical standalone issue,” but Chinese leaders have rejected that framing. Meanwhile, there’s strong resistance in Washington to giving China leeway on other issues to garner cooperation on climate, Axios’ Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian reports.

Biden rejected the idea that the U.S. should only accelerate its climate action if China does as well, saying the U.S. should act “because we want to be able to breathe and we want to be able to lead the world.”

  • And U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted on Tuesday evening he was pushing China to move its target for peak emissions from “before 2030” to 2025 — a pledge that would profoundly change the outlook after Glasgow.

The bottom line: The world can’t address the climate crisis if China and the U.S. aren’t moving in the same direction, Li said, but “they don’t necessarily have to move in the same direction holding each other’s hands.”

Go deeper

"Don't Look Up" skewers our response to climate change

Cate Blanchett (L), Tyler Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from "Don't Look Up."

"Don't Look Up", the new movie directed by Adam McKay of "The Big Short" fame, is the most ambitious, acerbic and powerful climate change and media satire ever made.

Why it matters: Pop culture depictions of climate change can start conversations and change minds, potentially clearing the way for more policies to combat the problem, or on the other hand, hardening opposition against cutting emissions.

World opposition leaders to speak at “Summit for Democracy”

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Opposition leaders from Belarus to Venezuela and Hong Kong will speak during the inaugural "Summit for Democracy" this week, according to an official schedule obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The Biden administration has timed the summit with the rollout of a number of pro-democracy initiatives, including the first-ever U.S. government strategy for countering corruption.

California father and son accused of "reckless arson" in Calder Fire

Firefighters at the Caldor Fire along Highway 89 west of Lake Tahoe, California, in September. Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California officials said they arrested a father and son Wednesday on suspicion of starting the Caldor Fire, which threatened the Lake Tahoe area as it burned for over two months earlier this year. They deny any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: The wildfire was the 15th-biggest ever recorded in California, razing more than 1,000 structures, forcing thousands to evacuate and injuring five people as it burned across nearly 222,000 acres of land in El Dorado, Amador and Alpine counties.