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Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. Photo: Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Images

Amazon unveiled sweeping new energy and climate plans yesterday, and hours later, Google announced its biggest renewable power buys ever.

Why it matters: While the announcements by 2 of the world's biggest companies are stark signs that corporate giants are getting more aggressive about climate change, corporate commitments won't change the underlying trend of global carbon emissions on track to bring warming that blows past the Paris Agreement's temperature goals.

  • And get ready for more pledges around the UN climate conference Monday and the annual Climate Week NYC that begins the same day.

The big picture: The White House pullback combined with growing public and investor pressures have triggered new climate pledges and policies by "subnational" players — cities, states and companies.

  • But a newly updated analysis of thousands of these efforts shows that while they're consequential when carried out, they don't replace — at all — the need for stronger national-level emissions policies.
  • Still, these efforts could provide a significant boost to country-level plans and policies.

What they found: The report, which is from multiple organizations including the NewClimate Institute and Data-Driven EnviroLab, says global emissions in 2030 would be 1.2-2 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent lower than national policies alone if plans by "subnational" players in the world's 10 largest economies are fully implemented.

  • That's roughly equivalent to Canada and Japan’s combined emissions in 2016, the study notes.

Catch up fast: Despite the pessimism, here's a look at what Amazon and Google actually rolled out ...

  • Amazon: The company vowed to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2040; power its facilities and operations with 100% renewable energy by 2030; and buy 100,000 electric delivery vans.
  • Google: The company announced a 1.6-gigawatt package of renewable power deals in the U.S., South America and Europe that the tech behemoth is calling the "biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history."
  • By the way, Google says it already procures enough renewable power to match its annual electricity consumption. But that doesn't mean Google operations are using carbon-free power all the time, something the company hopes to achieve eventually.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Tracking the pandemic's unequal impact

Expand chart
Data: Morning Consult/Axios; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The pandemic was bound to hit the most economically vulnerable among us the hardest. New polling data from Morning Consult, out this morning, shows the degree to which those difficulties were more concentrated among people of color.

Catch up quick: The Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index has tracked the economic experience of adults in three wage groups since May 2020. We began publishing the findings in May of this year, and six months in, we’re slicing the data a little differently — and looking at inequality between ethnicities.

2 hours ago - Health

WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking in Geneva in October. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization said Monday in a new risk assessment that it believes the COVID-19 Omicron variant poses a "very high" risk to the globe because it may be more transmissible than other strains of the virus.

Why it matters: Though the WHO acknowledged there are still many uncertainties associated with the variant, the agency said it believes the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron around the world is "high."

Battle for the soul of a new web

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A well-funded and intensely motivated chunk of tech's hive mind is finding common cause in a vast new project: rebuilding the web on a foundation of cryptocurrency and blockchain tech. They call it "Web3."

The big picture: Developers, investors and early adopters imagine a future in which the technologies that enable Bitcoin and Ethereum will break up the concentrated power today's tech giants wield and usher in a golden age of individual empowerment and entrepreneurial freedom.