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Data: Carbon Brief, IEA and UNEP; Note: Carbon Brief analysis projects COVID-19 impact, IEA shows current emissions pathway, and UNEP’s “emissions gap” report shows needed path for the Paris Agreement’s goals; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Global carbon emissions are projected to drop an unprecedented 5.5% this year, according to an analysis by Carbon Brief, a website on climate change and energy.

Yes, but: They'll need to fall a lot more than that — not just in total, but even on an annual basis. The 2015 Paris Agreement is designed to keep global temperatures rising no more than 1.5°C over the coming decades. That would require an annual 7.6% drop in emissions.

The bottom line: A global pandemic is the worst possible way to reduce carbon emissions. Even an enormous fall in economic activity doesn't naturally reduce emissions by as much as is needed.

  • If you thought the recent 90% reduction in international travel might do the trick, consider yourself disabused. Any workable solution is going to have to be able to accommodate growth, rather than calling for shrinking the economy.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 28, 2020 - Energy & Environment

EPA watchdog puts new scrutiny on Trump's auto emission rules

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The EPA's internal watchdog is opening a probe into how the agency wrote controversial rules that weakened Obama-era carbon emissions standards for cars and light trucks.

Why it matters: The Obama-era emissions and mileage standards that extended into the mid-2020s were a pillar of the former president's climate change agenda.

Biden confronts mounting humanitarian crisis at the border

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Pool/Getty Images     

Just over a month into his presidency, President Biden is staring down a mounting crisis at the border that could be just as bad as the ones faced by Barack Obama and Donald Trump, if not worse.

Why it matters: Immigration is an issue that can consume a presidency. It's intensely and poisonously partisan. It's complicated. And the lives and welfare of vulnerable children hang in the balance.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
50 mins ago - Economy & Business

The rise of vaccine passports

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Vaccine passports were touted early in the pandemic as an important piece of the plan to get people back to normal life. Now they’re becoming a reality.

Driving the news: CLEAR, the secure digital identity app that you see in airports around the world, and CommonPass, a health app that lets users securely access vaccination records and COVID test results, have joined forces.