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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday that Beto O’Rourke’s new climate change plan isn’t aggressive enough, especially when compared with the Green New Deal — but in fact neither are tethered to economic reality or precedent.

Driving the news: Backers of the GND, including the New York Democrat, are pushing a goal of net zero U.S. greenhouse gas emissions as soon as 2030. The new plan by O’Rourke, one of numerous Democratic presidential hopefuls, calls for that by 2050.

Reality check: Those plans would require a revolutionary level of political, economic and technological change to occur in an amount of time that's unprecedented in American history.

The big picture: Oil, natural gas and coal make up a little more than 80% of America’s energy consumption. These fossil fuels emit the lion's share of GHG emissions, so they either need to be eliminated or their emissions need to be captured to reach the progressives' goals.

  • AOC and other backers of aggressive climate change action say unprecedented, transformative change is exactly what’s needed and that it’s political stonewalling, led by Republicans and industry, that’s stopping America from such a big transformation.

One metric to gauge reducing carbon dioxide emissions is the rate of decarbonization of the U.S. economy. That’s a reduction in the ratio of CO2 emissions to GDP.

  • Roger Pielke Jr., a University of Colorado environmental studies professor, did some quick math to assess what emission reduction targets would be required for O’Rourke’s plan and the GND, pushed by the Sunrise Movement group.

By the numbers, per Pielke:

  • The GND (targeting 2030) would need an annual 27% decarbonization rate while O'Rourke's plan (aiming for 2050) would need an annual 11% decarbonization rate, he tells Axios.
  • Yes, but: The annual average rate of decarbonization in the U.S. from 1992 to 2018 was only 2.4% — and the estimated rate of decarbonization in 2018 is 0%.
  • Of note: Pielke's analysis is based off data and projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and Congressional Budget Office.

Where it stands: O’Rourke’s plan is arguably more detailed than the Green New Deal, whose backers say a more detailed plan is set for early next year.

  • Several major elements of O’Rourke’s plan would require new legislation on Capitol Hill, including its call for a "legally enforceable" standard for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, Ben wrote Monday.
  • The reliance on Capitol Hill for key elements heavily clouds its prospects due to widespread GOP resistance to aggressive emissions policies.

What we’re watching: To what extent other Democratic candidates, especially Joe Biden, seek to chase these lofty targets (or not, as Ben suggested Tuesday).

Go deeper: Democrats’ left turn on climate change

Go deeper

Americans are super-sizing their holiday travel

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are rushing back into holiday travel, and many are taking even longer trips now than they did before the pandemic began.

The big picture: After skipping Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings last year, many people are eager to maximize this year's celebrations with friends and family. And flexible remote working arrangements make that easier than ever.

Updated 16 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."