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Christiana Figueres at the 2019 Web Summit. Photo: NurPhoto / Contributor

Two architects of the Paris Climate Agreement present a pair of possible scenarios for the global climate in 2050 — one in which we've met the carbon reduction targets laid out in the agreement, and one in which we've failed.

Why it matters: The authors argue that we have a decade left to pick which path the planet will take: catastrophe or hope.

Former United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change head Christiana Figueres and climate diplomat Tom Rivett-Carnac were instrumental in guiding the Paris Agreement, which committed countries to reducing carbon emissions sufficiently to keeping global temperature rise below at least 2° C by 2100.

  • In their new book The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis, the pair sketch out what the climate could look like by mid-century, depending on whether we meet the Paris goals.
  • If we succeed, they foresee a world where forests cover half the land surface, air pollution has disappeared and fossil fuels have been eliminated.
  • If we fail, warming will be on a pace for a 3°C increase by 2050, the air will become unbreathable and the very future of human civilization will be in doubt.

What they're saying: "If we continue where we are now, we are going to be irreparably going down a course of constant destruction," Figueres told the Guardian.

  • Altering that path will require sharp technological and political change, especially in the U.S. The choices made in 2020 will help decide the climate in 2050.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.

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