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Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new International Energy Agency report highlights one big challenge facing China as the world's largest CO2 emitter begins implementing its national emissions trading system: The country's coal fleet is very young.

Why it matters: IEA's analysis this week warns that while newer facilities are far more efficient than older models, the average plant age "potentially locks in large amounts of CO2 emissions" for decades.

  • "More than 88% of CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants in 2018 came from plants less than 20 years old," they find.

Threat level: The policy recommendations warn that the current design of the trading system’s allotment of emissions permits could hinder its effectiveness (in part due to large surpluses). It also says that eventual expansion of the system beyond coal- and gas-fired power will be important.

The big picture: "Entities can receive surplus allowances for their supercritical and ultra-supercritical [coal] plants, but currently receive no surplus by investing in low-carbon power technologies such as renewables," IEA notes.

  • "This situation may even have the perverse outcome of making the most efficient coal power plant more economically competitive than renewables."

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 7, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Unpacking JPMorgan's new climate plan

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

JPMorgan Chase said late Tuesday that it will "align its financing activities" with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Why it matters: JPMorgan is the country's largest bank and, as the Wall Street Journal notes, holds "considerable sway in boardrooms around the globe." It's also the banking sector's largest financier of fossil fuels, per an analysis from several environmental groups of lending and underwriting.

The front-runners for Biden's Supreme Court pick

Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson (left) and Justice Leondra Kruger (right) Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images and Lonnie Tague, US Department of Justice

Two highly accomplished Black female judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court — are seen as the early front-runners to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The big picture: Jackson is a powerful federal judge with a record that progressives feel they can trust. Kruger was a highly regarded litigator and has carved out a reputation for working well with conservative judges.

Fed: Rate hikes are near

The Federal Reserve's headquarters building. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve is on track to raise its main target interest rate in mid-March, as Chair Jerome Powell pledged to be "humble and nimble" in adapting policy to a fast-changing economy.

Why it matters: Fed leaders are looking to choke off inflation by raising interest rates in the near future, but keeping its options open for how fast and far the effort will go.