We’re covering new commitments to combat climate change and India’s record number of Covid cases.
New climate pledges
President Biden kicked off a two-day climate summit on Thursday by announcing an ambitious plan to cut U.S. emissions at least in half from 2005 levels by 2030. Canada and Japan also announced new targets to reduce planet-warming gases.
Speaking at the virtual event, President Xi Jinping said that China — currently the world’s biggest greenhouse gas polluter — would “strictly limit increasing coal consumption” in the next five years and phase it down in the following five years.
Neither China nor India made new climate commitments, but Mr. Xi offered more specifics into Beijing’s plan to reach net carbon neutrality by 2060.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged that, by 2030, Canada would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent to 45 percent from 2005 levels. Canada is the only G7 nation whose greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the Paris Agreement.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced that Japan would cut emissions by 46 percent from 2013 levels by the end of the decade, nearly doubling his country’s target for cutting carbon emissions.
The U.S. climate goal: Mr. Biden’s plan includes one of the more aggressive near-term targets among wealthy nations, although the cuts are arguably not quite as large as what the European Union and Britain have promised. We looked at how the U.S. stacks up globally.
You’re muted: The virtual summit showed that even the world’s most powerful people are not immune to Zoom-induced glitches.
India’s record-breaking Covid surge
India set a global record for new coronavirus infections after an outbreak there exploded over the past two months, with reports of superspreader gatherings and oxygen shortages. More than 310,000 new infections were reported on Thursday, the most recorded in any country on a single day.
Even with the astronomical toll, experts say the cases and deaths might be undercounted.
Maharashtra, the populous state that includes Mumbai, has been the hardest hit. The state’s leader has ordered government offices to operate at 15 percent capacity and imposed new restrictions on weddings and private transportation to slow the spread of the virus.
The picture is staggeringly different from early February, when India was recording an average of 11,000 cases a day.
Vaccines: More than 132 million Indians have received at least one dose, but supplies are running low and experts warn that the country is unlikely to meet its goal of inoculating 300 million people by the summer.
Impacts: The steep rise in cases is the single biggest challenge to India’s economic recovery, the head of the Reserve Bank of India said.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines pose no serious risks during pregnancy, an early study suggests.
Nepal’s former royals were among the people infected with the virus after the crowded Kumbh Mela pilgrimage in India.
Russia pulls back some troops from Ukraine
In a sign of a possible de-escalation, Russia’s Defense Ministry on Thursday ordered a partial pullback of troops from the border with Ukraine.
After a buildup of troops there alarmed Western leaders, the Russian defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said the units deployed at the border were part of a test of Russian military readiness that was now complete and that they should return to their barracks by May 1.
But the plan includes leaving some armored vehicles in field camps near the Russian border with Ukraine’s Donbas region. Satellite images have shown hundreds of trucks and tanks in the area.
Response: President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who on Tuesday warned his country about the possibility of war, said he welcomed Russia’s move. He said it would reduce tension.
THE LATEST NEWS
News From Asia
High-profile business leaders in China like Jack Ma are lying low after being detained, sidelined or silenced as the Communist Party moves forcefully to keep companies in line.
As China stifles dissent in Hong Kong, news outlets have been ordered to pay steep fines, and their journalists have faced imprisonment and threats.
Rescuers in Indonesia are locked in a race against time to save 53 people on board a missing submarine, Reuters reports. Their oxygen supply will last only until Saturday.
Taiwan offers newlyweds marriage leave after they tie the knot. For extra days off, one couple had four weddings and three divorces in rapid succession.
What Else Is Happening
More than a century after the Ottoman Empire’s killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians, President Biden is preparing to declare on Saturday that the atrocities were an act of genocide.
Chevron, the oil and gas giant, is leading a sophisticated lobbying operation in Washington to try to head off sanctions on Myanmar’s state-owned oil and gas company, which is financing the ruling junta.
When Thomas Pesquet, a French astronaut, heads to the International Space Station this week, he will be taking Earth’s gastronomical delights with him: beef bourguignon, lobster, almond tarts, all prepared by Michelin-starred French chefs.
A Morning Read
Ahead of the Oscars on Sunday, our critic has predictions on who will win. Watch for Chloé Zhao, the first Chinese woman and the first woman of color to be nominated for best director, to pick up the prize for “Nomadland,” he writes.
If you’ve seen a lot of the contenders, test your knowledge with our annual quiz.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Wearing masks outdoors
As more people are vaccinated against Covid-19 and sunshine beckons us outdoors, one question may be nagging at you: Do we still need to wear masks outside? Experts who spoke to our wellness reporter suggested the following:
Use the 2-out-of-3 rule
To lower risk for Covid-19, make sure your activity meets two out of the following three conditions: outdoors, distanced and masked.
Outdoors + Distanced = No Mask Needed
Outdoors + No Distance = Mask Needed
Not Outdoors + Distanced = Mask Needed
When outdoor risk is lowest
Walking your dog, riding a bike, hiking on a trail or picnicking with members of your household or vaccinated friends are all activities for which the risk of virus exposure is negligible. In these kinds of situations, you can keep a mask on hand in your pocket.
When outdoor fun moves indoors
Often it’s the indoor activities associated with outdoor fun — like traveling unmasked in a subway or car to go hiking, or dropping into a pub after spending time at the beach — that pose the highest risk.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
This breakfast udon’s jammy seven-minute egg and wilted spinach are substantial, but you can add slices of pan-fried tofu or tempura vegetable to transform it into dinner.
What to Listen to
Classical music podcasts have begun to flourish. Here are a few to start with, including an Audible Original narrated by Yo-Yo Ma and featuring some of his new recordings.
What to Read
Jhumpa Lahiri wrote her latest novel, “Whereabouts,” in Italian and translated it to English. Translation, she said, “is a kind of radical re-creation of the work.”
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Pitcher of hoppiness? (four letters).
And here is today’s Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Melina
P.S. The Times won top honors for headlines from the American Copy Editors Society.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about why a gun law failed in an Indiana mass shooting.
You can reach Melina and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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