Weihai in Shandong province, China in 2019. Photo: Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

Carbon dioxide emissions from China have "surged back from the coronavirus lockdown" last month, exceeding their level from May 2019, a new analysis shows.

Why it matters: China is by far the world's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Its trajectory in the coming years and decades will play a key role in global efforts to rein in — or fail to rein in — heat-trapping emissions.

What they found: "The increase in CO2 in May was driven by coal power, cement and other heavy industries, which appear to be bouncing back faster than other sectors of the economy," writes Lauri Myllyvirta in a post on Carbon Brief.

  • "This is prompting concerns about the global implications of a coal-heavy recovery in China," writes Myllyvirta, an analyst with the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

The bottom line: The analysis shows why governments' responses to the pandemic are an important climate story.

  • He notes that China's emissions on a year-to-date basis are still 6% below last year.
  • Going forward, Myllyvirta is watching how much China's economic response to the pandemic emphasizes emissions-intensive construction.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Sep 21, 2020 - Economy & Business

The tech war between the U.S. and China escalates

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic tension between the U.S. and China continues to escalate but is shifting in focus — away from the tit-for-tat trade war and toward a more direct confrontation over the future of technology at the heart of the conflict between the world's two largest economies.

Why it matters: The battle between the U.S. and China was always about tech supremacy and the direct confrontation could result in an accelerated splintering of global supply chains and a significant reduction of international commerce.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 21, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The long road to a decarbonized electric grid

Data: Deloitte; Chart: Axios Visuals

Splashy power company pledges to cut emissions to zero by midcentury are going to be very hard to achieve, but hardly impossible, according to a Deloitte analysis released Monday.

Why it matters: Electricity is the second-largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions after transportation.

Trump refuses to commit to peaceful transfer of power if he loses

President Trump repeatedly refused to say on Wednesday whether he would commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election to Joe Biden, saying at a press briefing: "We're going to have to see what happens."

The big picture: Trump has baselessly claimed on a number of occasions that the only way he will lose the election is if it's "rigged," claiming — without evidence — that mail-in ballots will result in widespread fraud. Earlier on Wednesday, the president said he wants to quickly confirm a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because he believes the Supreme Court may have to decide the result of the election.

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