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On Earth Day: An ambitious pledge and a big challenge

What does Derek Chauvin's conviction mean for the other former officers charged in Floyd's killing?
Image: Smoke rises from the Duvha coal-based power station owned by state power utility Eskom, in Mpumalanga province, South Africa.
President Joe Biden will announce the most ambitious emissions-cutting goal the U.S. has set to date at the start of a virtual climate summit Thursday. Mike Hutchings / Reuters file

Good morning, NBC News readers.

It's Earth Day. This morning we're looking at President Joe Biden's ambitious climate pledge at the start of his summit with world leaders. And how the pandemic might have shown us a way forward — as well as the challenges ahead — in the push to curb emissions.

Here's what we're watching this Thursday morning.

Biden will commit to halving U.S. emissions by 2030 as part of Paris climate pact

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The U.S. will aim to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 as part of its renewed commitment to the Paris climate agreement, President Biden will announce Thursday.

Biden will make the pledge when he speaks at the start of the White House's virtual climate summit with world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, that starts this morning.

The summit is the Biden administration's first big step toward reasserting U.S. leadership on the climate issue and it will press the world's largest emitters, all of whom were invited to the summit, to make equally ambitious cuts.

It also comes at an interesting moment in time for the environmental movement: Global emissions and pollution plunged last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet, while heartening, the environmental reprieve isn't expected to last. There are already signs that as countries try to return to a new normal, economic activity — and all the emissions and pollution that go along with it — will creep up again.

And if the pandemic revealed that we are capable of cutting carbon emissions, it also highlighted the sheer scope of the problem.

Thursday's top stories

Illustration shows the back of a police officer drawing his gun from his holster.
Clay Rodery / for NBC News

Most officers never fire their guns. But some kill multiple people — and are still on the job.

As cities grapple with high-profile killings by police and protesters fill the streets to demand justice, police reform advocates are beginning to ask: "How many people can a police officer kill before they’re held accountable?" By Tim Stelloh | Read more

What Derek Chauvin's conviction means for other former officers charged in George Floyd's killing

"It shows the strength of the prosecution's case against a jury of his peers," one lawyer said. "It's bad news for the other co-defendants." By Daniella Silva | Read more

China behind another hack as U.S. cybersecurity issues mount

Cybersecurity company Mandiant said a program that businesses often use to let workers remotely connect to their offices, had been compromised. The campaign is the third distinct and severe cyberespionage operation against the U.S. made public in recent months, stressing an already strained cybersecurity workforce. By Kevin Collier | Read more

OPINION: Castro is finally gone. Biden needs to act.

A new leader in Havana provides an opportunity for those advocating for major change — largely the nation's youth — to push for reform more forcefully. By Elena Sheppard | Read more

These states are trying to ban or curtail the use of 'vaccine passports'

The Biden administration has said it won't build a national vaccination app, but private companies are racing to create digital "passports" that show proof of immunization. Nevertheless, these states say they won't have it — even if it's unclear how some of the orders will be enforced. By Chloe Atkins | Read more

BETTER: Are you stress eating? How to spot and prevent this habit

If stress sends you straight to the bottom of a tub of ice cream, here are some tips to help you combat emotional eating. By Keri Glassman, R.D. | Read more

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Also in the news ...

SHOPPINGHow to reduce face mask pollution, according to experts.

One Spring thing

Every spring Idaho rancher Frank Shirts and his sheep dogs guide their flock across Highway 55 into the Boise foothills.

This year a record number of onlookers gathered to watch, many lining up on both sides of the highway, to see nearly 2,600 ewes and lambs make the crossing.

Watch video of the annual rite of passage here.

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Thanks, Petra