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Lofty Climate Goals Get Reality Check at Global Summit

  • Planet remains on path to catastrophe after UN conference
  • Leaders including Xi Jinping only offered incremental steps
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 video conference in Paris, on Dec. 12.

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 video conference in Paris, on Dec. 12.

Photographer: Yoan Valat/AFP via Getty Images

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Five years after the world signed the landmark Paris Agreement to avoid dangerous global warming, political momentum is building. But the lack of near-term detail means the planet is still on track for climate catastrophe.

The six-hour Climate Ambition Summit on Saturday threw the problem into sharp relief: activists were eager for China to put some meat on the bones of its bold 2060 carbon neutrality pledge. They were disappointed. One country after another failed to raise the bar, as leaders offered only incremental steps.