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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The economic downturn had no clear effect on either the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases in 2020 and 2021 or how quickly they climbed, a new UN report finds.

Why it matters: The findings of the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) Greenhouse Gas Bulletin are another alarm bell ringing louder ahead of the COP26 summit.

Details: The official 2020 annual level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth's atmosphere was 413.2 parts per million, which is 149% of the preindustrial reading, the report found. This was a 2.5 ppm increase from 2019.

  • The year-over-year climb was faster than the 2011-2020 average annual rise of 2.4 ppm.
  • The findings also show that methane, another powerful global warming pollutant, is at 262% of preindustrial levels, and recently has been increasing at faster rates.
  • About half of the CO2 put into the atmosphere by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests, is taken up each year by the land and oceans. The rest can stay in the air for hundreds of years.
  • There are mounting signs that so-called carbon sinks may become less effective as global warming's impacts mount, from droughts to warming and acidifying oceans, the report warns.

What's next: Data from 2021 shows continued rapid increases in greenhouse gas concentrations, with a monthly peak at Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory precariously close to 420 ppm.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 22, 2021 - Energy & Environment

U.S. fuel economy hits record high but falls short of policymakers' hopes

Data: EPA; Chart: Axios Visuals

New EPA data on U.S. vehicle fuel economy paints a mixed picture, showing record average efficiency in model year 2020 that's nonetheless far short of what policymakers hope to see ahead.

Driving the news: The annual report shows that average overall fuel economy for cars, SUVs and light trucks sold in the U.S. reached 25.4 miles per gallon (mpg) in model year 2020 in real-world conditions, a 0.5 mpg increase over 2019.

Inside Trump's hunt for "disloyal" Republicans

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Donald Trump and his associates are systematically reshaping the Republican Party, working to install hand-picked loyalists across federal and state governments and destroy those he feels have been disloyal, sources close to the former president tell Axios.

Why it matters: If most or all of Trump’s candidates win, he will go into the 2024 election cycle with far more people willing to do his bidding who run the elections in key states.

36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

CPI: The new jobs number

Grocery shoppers in Washington, D.C., last month. Photo: Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images

The Consumer Price Index has replaced the jobs report as the most anticipated data drop by the U.S. government.

Why it matters: Rising prices tend to lower political fortunes. Washington and Wall Street are now waiting for the CPI number to flash at 8:30am ET around the 10th day of each month. This month's report — due Friday morning — will give a reading of how hot inflation ran in November.