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Reproduced from DNV GL; Chart: Axios Visuals

More analysts are making the case that COVID-19 could be an inflection point for oil use and carbon emissions, but it's hardly one that puts the world on a sustainable ecological path.

Driving the news: The risk advisory firm DNV GL, citing the pandemic's long-term effects on energy consumption, projects in a new analysis that global CO2 emissions "most likely" peaked in 2019.

  • And, per Reuters, the firm also argues that the pandemic has accelerated the global oil demand peak by several years, which they now believe also occurred in 2019.
  • Separately, Bloomberg reports on a new Citigroup group analysis which finds: "Oil product demand growth will falter significantly, change its contours and never return to pre-COVID-19 rates of growth."

Why it matters: These new reports are the latest to take stock of the pandemic's unprecedented shock to the energy system and the lasting effects.

  • But it's also a reminder that the demand reduction and carbon emissions decline that's happening for tragic reasons is not even close to enough to hold warming significantly in check.

Threat level: "Even with peak emissions behind us, and flat energy demand through to 2050, the energy transition we forecast is still nowhere near fast enough to deliver the Paris ambition of keeping global warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels," the DNV GL analysis states.

  • "To reach 1.5-degree target, we would need to repeat the decline we’re experiencing in 2020 every year from now on."

The intrigue: The idea that either oil demand, carbon emissions, or both have peaked is nowhere near a consensus view among analysts and it's even a little contrarian. And needless to say, the number of variables is massive.

  • The climate scientist Zeke Hausfather sees the odds that emissions peaked last year at around 50-50, and notes that projections of a 2019 peak assume it would have happened anyway in the mid-2020s.

The bottom line: "[I]t's always important to emphasize that peaking emissions does not stop the world from continuing to warm," Hausfather, who is affiliated with the Breakthrough Institute and the research group Berkeley Earth, tells me via email.

  • "CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere, so to stop warming we need to get emissions down to net-zero. Peaking is just the first (and easiest) step on the long road to zero emissions," he said.

Go deeper: Coronavirus leaves experts pondering if the planet already hit peak oil demand

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 7, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Unpacking JPMorgan's new climate plan

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

JPMorgan Chase said late Tuesday that it will "align its financing activities" with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Why it matters: JPMorgan is the country's largest bank and, as the Wall Street Journal notes, holds "considerable sway in boardrooms around the globe." It's also the banking sector's largest financier of fossil fuels, per an analysis from several environmental groups of lending and underwriting.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 5 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.