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As climate action becomes a question of geopolitical competition, the world’s major economies look ready to finally take serious steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, left, and Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment of China Zhao Yingmin, second left, arrive for a press conference at the COP25 climate talks summit in Madrid, Spain,Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019.

Credit: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

For the world’s climate activists, the last half of 2020 has been both the best and the worst of times. Even as the pandemic raged, at the September meeting of the United Nations General Assembly Chinese leader Xi Jinping unexpectedly pledged to make the world’s second-largest economy carbon neutral by 2060. Weeks later, Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, one-upped Beijing by pledging…

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