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.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment How the pandemic might endMany U.S. deaths were avoidable.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.

Early voting eclipses 2016 total with 12 days until election

People stand in line to vote early in Fairfax, Virginia in September. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Americans have cast more than 47.1 million ballots in the 2020 presidential election, surpassing the total early-vote count for 2016 with 12 days left until Election Day, according to a Washington Post analysis of voting data.

Why it matters: The election is already underway, as many states have expanded early and mail-in voting options because of the coronavirus pandemic.