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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Just 20 out of 400 of the climate scenarios examined in a landmark 2018 United Nations climate report would have a realistic chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) above preindustrial levels by 2100, a new study finds.

Why it matters: The study, by more than a dozen researchers from around the world, shows that even the scenarios they identified would still need to employ at least one carbon emissions reduction technology at a level they classify as "challenging."

The big picture: Many of the scenarios used for the U.N. study relied heavily on employing technologies that pull carbon out of the air and store it permanently in the ground.

  • However, such carbon removal technology does not yet exist at scale, making relying on it as a "silver bullet," as the study says, extremely risky.

How it works: The study, led by Lila Warszawski of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), used existing research to define whether the use of a particular emissions reduction "lever" by midcentury would be "reasonable," "challenging" or "speculative."

  • They quantified the range of emissions reduction potentials of each of these levers, which include everything from decarbonizing electricity generation to making dramatic cuts in energy demand and shifting ecosystems from net carbon sources into carbon sinks.

What they're saying: "The necessary emissions reductions are hard to achieve, technically but also politically. They require unprecedented innovation of lifestyles and international cooperation," said co-author Johan Rockström from PIK, in a statement.

  • "I understand anyone who thinks we might fail the 1.5°C target. ... Yet I think limiting warming at 1.5°C is worth just every effort because this would limit the risk of giving some tipping elements in the Earth system an additional push."

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 25, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Schumer: Budget plan key to meeting U.S. goals under the Paris deal

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Democrats' spending and tax plan and the bipartisan infrastructure package would together cut greenhouse gas emissions almost enough to meet the U.S. pledge under the Paris Agreement, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Driving the news: Schumer, in a new letter to Senate colleagues, said his office's analysis of the two proposals shows they would put the U.S. on track to cut emissions around 45% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Schumer's high-stakes climate play

Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It's just over two months until a pivotal United Nations climate summit, and if Capitol Hill's importance to the equation wasn't already clear, it sure is now.

Catch up fast: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released an analysis showing the Democrats-only reconciliation plan — and to a much lesser degree the bipartisan infrastructure deal — would essentially put the U.S. on track to meet President Biden's pledge under the Paris Agreement.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.