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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The debate was a mess as moderator Chris Wallace struggled with President Trump's interruptions. But let's analyze the climate parts anyway without normalizing the whole thing.

Why it matters: The contest provided a collision over the topic between Trump and Joe Biden, and underscored the two candidates' immense differences.

Here are a few takeaways...

1. Surprise! Climate wasn't on the list of topics Wallace planned, and his multiple questions, beginning about 75 minutes in, provided a lengthy exchange.

2. Biden has a complicated relationship with the climate left. The former VP said "the Green New Deal is not my plan" and "I don't support the Green New Deal."

  • But his online climate platform unveiled last year called the GND a "crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face" without endorsing it outright.
  • And more recent changes have moved his plan closer to what activists want, notably a 2035 target for reaching 100% carbon-free power and a proposal of $2 trillion in climate investments over his first four years.
  • Still, there are limits. For instance, Biden recently emphasized that he's not seeking to ban fracking.
  • It's part of a delicate balance to keep his coalition together, and key GND backers are willing to give him some space for now.

3. Trump still rejects consensus science. Asked whether human-induced emissions fuel climate change, Trump said, "I think a lot of things do, but I think to an extent, yes."

  • That's a tad different than his past rejection of global warming as a hoax. But still at odds with the scientific consensus that humans are the dominant driver of ongoing warming.
  • Anyway, the slight change in posture didn't come with a pivot away from rolling back climate rules or any policy shifts (with a small asterisk I'll get to next).

4. Trump muddied his position on EVs. Trump said "I think I’m all for electric cars" and "I’ve given big incentives for electric cars."

  • In fact, the White House has previously proposed ending tax credits for EV purchases, but Congress has not gone along.

5. Trump made other questionable or inaccurate statements. For instance, he claimed the Green New Deal would cost $100 trillion.

  • The conservative group American Action Forum has offered an estimate of up to $93 trillion over 10 years (while acknowledging it's steeped in uncertainty).
  • Useful long-term estimates are impossible because the GND is a vague, sweeping set of concepts, not a piece of legislation.

6. Biden took too much credit for renewable cost declines. Touting the Obama-era stimulus he helped oversee, Biden said he was able to "bring down the cost of renewable energy to cheaper than, or as cheap as, coal and gas and oil."

  • In truth a whole suite of forces — including, but not limited to, federal investments in the stimulus and elsewhere — have led to huge cost declines over the last decade.

One interesting moment wasn't in the climate section.

Driving the news: Earlier in the debate, Biden flatly refused to say whether he supports ending the Senate filibuster.

Why it matters: If he wins and Democrats gain the Senate, ending the super-majority requirement would lower the immense hurdles in front of energy and climate legislation to some degree.

Go deeper

The only Trump foreign policy Biden wants to keep

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Joe Biden disagrees with most of President Trump's foreign policy initiatives, but several of his advisers tell Axios that there is one he plans to keep: the Abraham Accords.

Why it matters: Continuing to push the Abraham Accords — the biblical branding the administration has given to the individual normalization agreements between Israel and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — could help Biden build positive relationships with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders in the Persian Gulf.

1 hour ago - World

Army to award Purple Hearts to troops injured in Iran missile attack

Damage at Ain al-Asad military airbase housing U.S. and other foreign troops in the western Iraqi province of Anbar in January 2020. Photo: Ayman Henna/AFP via Getty Images

The Army has approved 39 more Purple Hearts for U.S. soldiers wounded in an Iranian military ballistic missile attack on an Iraq base in January 2020, the Army Times first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Most of these soldiers sustained brain injuries, per the Army Times. Then-President Trump dismissed their injuries at the time as "headaches" and "not very serious," sparking backlash from some veterans groups.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.