May 7, 2019

States and companies ramp up clean energy targets

A slew of states and electricity companies are committing to aggressive targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a trend underway since President Trump took office.

Data: Clean Air Task Force; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Why it matters: These actions show that substantive efforts — not just rhetoric — are underway across America in the face of Trump's rollback of climate policy at the federal level.

Between the lines: The actions over the past year signal a subtle, but significant shift away from policies promoting just renewable energy — like wind and solar — toward those that target emissions reductions no matter the technology. This brings into consideration other non-renewable but still clean-burning technologies like nuclear power.

“We’re now focusing on what actually matters, which is the atmosphere, and not the technology pathway, which people have been focused on.”
— Armond Cohen, executive director, Clean Air Task Force

By the numbers:

  • Since last fall, 5 states have enacted standards mandating 100% carbon-free electricity within the coming decades, according to new data compiled by Clean Air Task Force, an environmental group.
  • 4 additional states are actively debating similar measures.
  • More than 20 utilities have committed to carbon reductions of at least 80%, most of which have come since Trump was elected.
  • Added up, these moves represent nearly 40% of U.S. electricity sales and almost a third of national utility carbon dioxide emissions.

But, but, but: These policies only target the electricity sector, which emits the second-most greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., after transportation. Carbon emissions in the electricity sector also went back up in 2018, after a few years of declining.

What to watch: Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) is poised to introduce a clean electricity standard as soon as Wednesday, according to multiple sources tracking the policy. A spokesperson for her office says the senator is "still hoping to introduce [the bill] soon."

  • Under the bill, America's electricity could reach around 90% carbon-free by 2050, according to multiple sources familiar with the proposal. Right now, the breakdown is more than 60% coal and natural gas.
  • No Republicans are expected to sign on, at least initially.

Go deeper: Renewable energy mandates have not sparked that much new renewable energy

Go deeper

The cost of going after Bloomberg

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Here's the growing dilemma for 2020 Democrats vying for a one-on-one showdown with frontrunner Bernie Sanders: Do they have the guts — and the money — to first stop Mike Bloomberg?

Why it matters: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all must weigh the costs of punching Bloomberg where he looks most vulnerable: stop-and-frisk, charges of sexism, billionaire entitlement. The more zealous the attacks, the greater the risk he turns his campaign ATM against them.

How Trump’s economy stacks up

Source: "Presidents and US Economy", Trump figures through 2019 courtesy of Alan Blinder; Note: Data shows real GDP and Q1 growth in each term is attributed to the previous president; Chart: Axios Visuals

Average economic growth under President Trump has outpaced the growth under Barack Obama, but not all of his recent predecessors.

Why it matters: GDP is the most comprehensive economic scorecard — and something presidents, especially Trump, use as an example of success. And it's especially relevant since Trump is running for re-election on his economic record.

Coronavirus cases rise as 14 American evacuees infected

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

14 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus before being flown in a "specialist containment" on a plane repatriating U.S. citizens back home, the U.S. government said early Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,770 people and infected almost 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China. Taiwan confirmed its first death on Sunday, per multiple reports, in a 61-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Health officials were investigating how he became ill.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health