The scramble to lay the groundwork for tangible results at UN climate summit is intensifying

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.

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  • 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.

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

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