Your Friday Briefing

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We’re covering Australia’s refusal to cut carbon emissions and the rise in Covid cases and deaths in Britain.

Australia is the world’s third-largest exporter of fossil fuels and one of the last holdouts among developed nations to commit to net zero emissions by 2050.

With just days to go before a major U.N. climate conference opens in Scotland, Australia has refused to strengthen its 2030 target or make plans for transitioning away from fossil fuel production.

Coal mines and gas fields are still being opened and approved. Tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry last year alone were worth more than what Australia spends on its army.

“The government and the opposition are captured by the coal and gas industries,” said Adam Bandt, the leader of the Australian Greens and a member of Parliament from Melbourne. “It’s a version of a petro-state.”

Growing backlash: Polls show that a strong majority of Australians want climate action even if the costs are significant, and want the government to stop approving new coal mines. Several states, including New South Wales, have committed to net zero emissions by 2050.

COP26: Prime Minister Scott Morrison only recently agreed to attend the climate summit after criticism from Queen Elizabeth II and a crowd-funded billboard in Times Square that mocked his reluctance to address climate change, calling him “Coal-o-phile Dundee.”

Related: U.S. intelligence and defense agencies issued reports warning that the warming planet will increase strife between countries and spur migration.


For the last four months, Britain has run a grand epidemiological experiment, lifting virtually all coronavirus restrictions, even in the face of a high daily rate of infections.

The rapid rollout of vaccines, leaders said, allowed the freewheeling approach to be safe.

But that theory is being put to the test. Cases, hospital admissions and deaths are up, and the effect of vaccines is beginning to wear off. More vaccinated people seem to be getting infected, a shift from a few weeks ago, when schoolchildren made up the bulk of cases.

“Everything is hitting us at once,” said Tim Spector, a genetic epidemiology professor at King’s College London. The sudden resurgence is a rude jolt for a country that believed it had put the worst of the pandemic behind it.

Details: New cases surpassed 50,000 on Thursday, an 18 percent increase over the last week. The number of people admitted to hospitals rose 15.4 percent over the same period, reaching 959, while 115 people died of Covid-19, an increase of almost 11 percent.

Government response: Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “the numbers of infections are high but we are within the parameters of what the predictions were,” adding, “We are sticking with our plan.”

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:


Women are trying to crack traditionally male-dominated professions such as civil aviation, but they are quickly finding out that schools stand in their way.

Across China, women’s education levels have soared; female undergraduates now sharply outnumber males. But women still face significant barriers getting into training and academic programs. Some programs accept only men or cap the number of female applicants, and women often have to test higher than their male counterparts to be accepted.

Growing feminism in China has clashed with the Communist Party’s campaign for social control. Activists have been censored online when bringing up gender bias.

“I don’t understand why they don’t even offer those academic opportunities to us,” said Vincy Li, who spent a year studying for police academy exams. Only 4 percent of women got in, and they had to score far better than male applicants.

Details: Civil aviation-related study programs often specify that they seek male applicants only, except for flight-attendant training. Military and police training academies publicly impose gender quotas. Some art schools have imposed 50/50 gender ratios to curtail the growing share of female students.

Asia Pacific News

Over the past decade, the waters around Cape Cod have become host to one of the densest seasonal concentrations of adult white sharks in the world. The annual returns are a sign of a recovering ecosystem. But the sharks’ summer residency in New England overlaps with tourist season. This puts large numbers of people in close contact with a megapredator and has upended assumptions about using the water.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Melina

P.S. “Call and Response: The Story of Black Lives Matter” is a visual book by Times journalists for young readers. Here’s how it came together.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about police union practices.

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

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