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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Get ready for lofty statements, urgent calls for carbon-cutting progress, new pledges — and known unknowns about how much concrete action will follow — at President Biden's global climate summit this week.

What we're watching: The White House will showcase a new 2030 U.S. emissions-cutting target and unveil plans for billions of dollars to help developing nations fight climate change, according to Bloomberg.

  • A White House executive order aimed at bolstering U.S. policies on climate-related financial risk could also emerge this week.
  • Outside the U.S., some countries that haven't yet disclosed revised Paris targets may do it this week (lots of eyes are on Japan) and make other commitments.

Reality check: Emissions targets are simply aspirations, even if they provide some impetus for concrete new policies.

Meanwhile, various companies will unveil new sustainability pledges around the summit and Earth Day, which is Thursday.

  • It's already starting: Amazon Monday morning announced investments in several new utility-scale wind and solar projects and said it's now Europe's largest corporate renewable power buyer,
  • The Wall Street Journal reports BP is vowing to largely end burning of natural gas that's a byproduct of Permian Basin oil wells.
  • The company plans to spend $1.3 billion on infrastructure to enable the changes, according to the Journal.

Go deeper

The U.S. credibility chasm on climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The biggest hurdle for President Biden in winning new emissions reduction commitments at this week's White House summit is America's on-again, off-again history of climate change efforts.

Why it matters: The global community is off course to meet the temperature targets contained in the Paris Climate Agreement. The White House wants the summit Thursday and Friday to begin to change that.

U.S. and China agree to take joint climate action

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry waves as he arrives at the Elysee Presidential Palace on March 10, 2021 in Paris. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Despite an increasingly tense relationship, the U.S. and China agreed Saturday to work together to tackle global climate change, including by "raising ambition" for emissions cuts during the 2020s — a key goal of the Biden administration.

Why it matters: The joint communique released Saturday evening commits the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases to work together to keep the most ambitious temperature target contained in the Paris Climate Agreement viable by potentially taking additional emissions cuts prior to 2030.

Major satellite program launches to hunt for methane, carbon "super-emitters"

Map of part of the Permian Basin, showing methane emission hotspots in red. (Carbon Mapper)

A new era in monitoring compliance of environmental regulations is quickly approaching, signaled in part by plans announced Thursday to deploy a network of satellites that can pinpoint sources of of methane and carbon dioxide emissions.

Why it matters: The new nonprofit, known as Carbon Mapper, aims to launch its first satellite in 2023 that can detect methane super-emitters and track carbon emissions. If successful, it could transform the way policymakers regulate greenhouse gas emissions and also generate a wealth of data for public use.