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Reproduced from Rhodium Group; Chart: Axios Visuals

A pandemic is a bad, expensive and inadequate way to cut carbon emissions, and a Rhodium Group analysis out this morning helps to underscore why.

Why it matters: It modeled U.S. emissions this year and going forward based on several different scenarios of GDP decline and recovery — and all of them show lower levels for the next decade compared to the pre-pandemic baseline, but none are consistent with deeply decarbonizing the economy or a pathway to net-zero emissions by midcentury.

  • It shows 2030 emissions levels that are 2%-12% below the pre-COVID baseline.
  • "These ... reductions are achieved almost exclusively due to decreased economic activity and not from any structural changes that would deliver lasting reductions in the carbon intensity of our economy," Rhodium said.

Threat level: In addition to occurring for tragic reasons, emissions cuts from reduced travel and a hamstrung economy are a really, really expensive way to curb carbon.

  • "Near-term emission reductions driven by COVID-19...come at an enormous economic cost—$3,200-5,400 per ton of CO2 reduced, on average this year," the analysis states.
  • It makes the case for achieving much deeper and cheaper CO2 cuts by stitching big clean energy investments into economic recovery packages, something that's not happening so far in the U.S.

What's next: "Through 2020 and into next year, we will assess green recovery policy ideas for their potential to put people back to work and spur economic growth while also quantifying their potential to cut emissions and drive clean technology deployment," the firm notes.

Go deeper

Trump promises economic rejuvenation in speech with few policy details

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President Trump promised on Wednesday to lift the economy "to unprecedented heights" and bring about a quick "return to full employment," but did not lay out specific economic plans for a potential second term.

Why it matters: Economists have largely abandoned expectations that the economy and labor market will spring right back to pre-pandemic levels. Instead, they are bracing for an uneven, sluggish road back.

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.