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Photo: Kena Betancur/VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images

A reminder of how hard it will be to steeply cut global greenhouse gas emissions in the years ahead arrived this morning via a report this morning from several international agencies along with with other new analyses.

Why it matters: Despite big gains and cost reductions in renewables deployment as well as the expansion of carbon pricing, wringing CO2 out of the global economy on a large scale is not happening nearly fast enough to prevent highly dangerous levels of warming.

In fact, emissions ticked up slightly last year after a three-year plateau.

Out today: A new report from the International Energy Agency, the U.N., the World Bank and others that takes stock of the various energy portions — such as electricity access, use of clean cooking fuels, and renewables growth — of wider U.N. sustainable development goals for 2030.

A few takeaways from the renewables part:

  • "Global energy scenarios reflecting current and planned policies show that the world is far from being on track to achieve the targets of SDG 7," notes the report, referring to sustainable development goal 7, which is the energy portion.
  • "Although renewable power generation is progressing rapidly, supportive policies for renewable transport and heat remain limited, preventing greater overall renewables penetration," it states.
  • "Based on current policies, the renewable share [of total final energy consumption] is expected to reach just 21% by 2030, with modern renewables growing to 15%, falling short of the substantial increase demanded by the SDG7 target," a summary notes.

A starker warning: An in-depth analysis in the journal Nature last week (and hat tip to this Vox summary) finds that "the world is on track for more than 3 °C of warming by the end of the century."

  • The goal of the Paris agreement is limiting the temperature rise to under 2 °C, a benchmark scientists say will help avoid some of the most dangerous effects.
  • "The good news is that clean-energy technology is at last making substantial strides. The bad news is that the pace isn’t nearly quick enough," writes Nature's Jeff Tollefson.

The state of CO2 pricing: Yesterday the Center for Strategic and International Studies held an event on the progression and challenges of carbon pricing in the U.S. and worldwide. You can watch the whole thing here.

  • One takeaway, via Thomas Kerr of the International Finance Corp. (which is part of the World Bank Group) is that while CO2 pricing is growing and generating significant revenues, it still covers just 15% of global emissions.
  • In the U.S., the Rhodium Group consultancy's John Larsen looked at California's sweeping cap-and-trade program and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is a more modest cap-and-trade effort among northeastern states on power plant emissions specifically.
  • Even when that program expands to add Virginia and New Jersey's participation, CO2 pricing in California, combined with RGGI, will cover just 7% of total U.S. emissions, he said.
  • Why this matters: Many analysts view pricing CO2, either through trading programs or taxes, as a vital way to help limit emissions.

Go deeper

38 mins ago - Technology

Exclusive: Facebook's blackout didn't dent political ad reach

Photo: Valera Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Americans saw more political ads on Facebook in the week before the 2020 election than they did the prior week despite the company's blackout on new political ads during that period, according to Global Witness, a human rights group that espouses tech regulation.

Why it matters: The presidential election was a key stress test for Facebook and other leading online platforms looking to prove that they can curb misinformation. Critics contend measures like the ad blackout barely made a dent.

Wall Street wonders how bad it has to get

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street is working out how bad the economy will have to get for Congress to feel motivated to move on economic support.

Why it matters: A pre-Thanksgiving data dump showed more evidence of a floundering economic recovery. But the slow drip of crumbling economic data may not be enough to push Washington past a gridlock to halt the economic backslide.

3 hours ago - Health

Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine

Photo illustration by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Moderna announced that it plans to file with the FDA Monday for an emergency use authorization for its coronavirus vaccine, which the company said has an efficacy rate of 94.1%.

Why it matters: Moderna will become the second company to file for a vaccine EUA after Pfizer did the same earlier this month, potentially paving the way for the U.S. to have two COVID-19 vaccines in distribution by the end of the year. The company said its vaccine has a 100% efficacy rate against severe COVID cases.