Thursday Briefing

The Climate Ambition Summit at the U.N. Credit…Sarah Yenesel/EPA, via Shutterstock

Climate and Ukraine at the U.N.

The U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, convened a special summit yesterday in New York designed to shine a spotlight on the most ambitious global leaders on climate policy. The leaders of the U.S. and China, the world’s biggest polluters, did not get a turn at the microphone, and the summit yielded little in the way of new announcements of climate action.

Also at the U.N., President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine presented his 10-point plan to end the war with Russia and called for Russia to be stripped of its veto power. “It is impossible to stop the war because all actions are vetoed by the aggressor,” he said before the Security Council.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, was not present for Zelensky’s speech. When Lavrov spoke later, he justified his country’s invasion, reiterating claims that the West had staged a “coup” in Ukraine to install a pro-Western president. Zelensky had left the chamber by then and was not present for Lavrov’s remarks.

What’s next: Zelensky is heading to Washington today. His visit comes as dozens of Republicans are opposing President Biden’s latest request of $24 billion for aid in Ukraine’s war.

On the ground: These maps show the progress of Ukraine’s counteroffensive so far — and how far it still has to go.

A photograph released by the Nagorno-Karabakh human rights ombudsman of damage in the capital.Credit…Agence France-Presse, via Nagorno-Karabakh human rights ombudsman

Azerbaijan reclaims Nagorno-Karabakh enclave

Azerbaijan said that it had restored full control over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway Armenian enclave. The development could create thousands of new refugees and spell the end of decades of Armenian efforts to assert sovereignty in the mountainous Caucasus region. The area is home to tens of thousands of Armenians who stayed after a 2020 cease-fire.

Addressing his nation, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan asserted that pro-Armenian authorities surrendered after two days of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh region. “Karabakh is Azerbaijan,” he said, putting his fist in the air.

Effects: The return of the enclave to Azerbaijani rule is likely to alter power dynamics in the South Caucasus. The Armenian separatists’ surrender could hasten the decline of Russian influence in the Caucasus, where the role of Moscow as an arbiter in the decades-old conflict made it a pivotal power.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who said the changes would be more “sensible.”Credit…Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Rishi Sunak weakens U.K. climate targets

After years of claiming leadership in the international fight against climate change, Britain’s government said it would weaken key environmental pledges, promising lower costs for Britons ahead of a looming general election. The new policy risks alienating large sections of the electorate at a time of growing public awareness of global warming.

Brushing aside sharp criticism from business leaders, environmentalists and some of his own Conservative lawmakers, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he would stick to Britain’s overall goals for achieving net zero by 2050. He would do so, he said, in what he described as a more “sensible” way that did not “impose such significant costs on working people.”

Details: Sunak said that he would delay a ban on the sale of gas and diesel cars, lower targets for replacing gas boilers and propose no new measures to discourage passengers from flying.


Around the World

Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times
  • A 150-year-old giant banyan tree in downtown Lahaina, Hawaii, is showing signs of recovery after being burned during the Maui fires.

  • A police officer in Britain has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a Black man in London last year.

  • At least 77 people died in a fire that tore through a dilapidated building in Johannesburg three weeks ago. Read the stories of some of the victims.

  • Canada’s accusation that India killed a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia has revived long simmering tensions within Canada’s Indian diaspora.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
  • President Biden met with Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time since he again became Israel’s prime minister. They discussed Saudi Arabia and Israel’s judicial overhaul.

  • Federal Reserve officials left interest rates unchanged and released optimistic forecasts that showed inflation fading more swiftly this year.

  • Smoke from increasingly frequent fires has started to undo decades of gains in air quality. The problem is expected to worsen, according to new reports.

  • A judge in Delaware rejected a request by Hunter Biden, the U.S. president’s son, to make his first court appearance remotely.

What Else Is Happening

  • In an ongoing monopoly case, Google said that switching to a new default search engine was simple. Our tech columnist found that doing so wasn’t so easy.

  • Prominent novelists are suing OpenAI, accusing the company of infringing on their copyrights by using their books to train its ChatGPT chatbot.

  • Seven works by the Austrian artist Egon Schiele were handed over to the heirs of a previous owner, who was murdered by the Nazis in 1941.

  • The discovery in Zambia of handcrafted logs that are nearly half a million years old has drastically pushed back the historical record of structural woodworking.

A Morning Read

Credit…Illustration by Denise Nestor

Language was long understood as a uniquely human superpower, one that enabled Homo sapiens to write epic poetry and to send astronauts to the moon. What if language extends to other animals?


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: His first in-depth interview since leaving Manchester United.

The goal-scoring goalkeeper: Ivan Provedel’s Champions League goal for Lazio.

Frantic Grand Prix races: Formula 1 needs more, and it might just get them.


Credit…Noah Throop

How rap is written today

When rappers write songs, they’re as likely as not to use no actual writing at all. Much of modern rap music is composed via an improvisational studio technique known as “punching in” — a freestyle approach to every line, one at a time, until a song is fully formed.

Is this technique good for the music? The jury is out, even within hip-hop. In this behind-the-scenes video, we track the generational shift.


Credit…Christopher Simpson for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

Make mapo tofu at home.

Read the works of J.M. Coetzee. Here’s where to start.

Find an older role model to improve your perspective on aging.

Clean your yoga mat.

Play the Spelling Bee. And here are today’s Mini Crossword and Wordle. You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. “The Run-Up” podcast plans to answer readers’ questions about the 2024 election. Submit yours here.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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