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Expand chart
Data: BloombergNEF; Chart: Axios Visuals

Global carbon emissions from energy, which are the lion's share, will never fully come back from pre-pandemic levels — recovering from a pandemic-fueled decline but sinking again around 2027 with renewable energy on the rise — according to a BloombergNEF analysis.

But, but, but: It still won't prevent the planet from cooking, as the firm still sees enough emissions to lead to over 3.3°C of warming above preindustrial levels by century's end.

  • That's far beyond the Paris agreement goal of limiting warming to 2°C and ideally 1.5°C — benchmarks for avoiding some of the most damaging effects.
  • And it's despite the fact that, in the new outlook's core scenario, the pandemic's effect on energy demand will remove a total of almost three years worth of emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: “To stay well below two degrees of global temperature rise, we would need to reduce emissions by 6% every year starting now, and to limit the warming to 1.5 degrees C, emissions would have to fall by 10% per year," BNEF analyst Matthias Kimmel said in a statement alongside the report.

What we don't know: How much nations' economic responses to the pandemic will ultimately steer resources into low-carbon projects. A research consortium called Energy Policy Tracker is keeping an updated tally here.

The intrigue: That brings me to another other ripple effect. I don't think it's a stretch to say the pandemic might have an outsized influence on U.S. climate policy.

  • Absent the crisis and its economic effects, President Trump, who gets poor marks from voters on COVID-19, would likely have a much better chance of re-election.
  • If Joe Biden wins, he's vowing a 180-degree turn in the U.S. approach to global warming.
  • While Trump is reversing Obama-era policies, Biden's platform would go vastly beyond anything contemplated in the Obama years.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 25, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Oil prices may be breaking free of tractor beam

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Crude oil is trading at its highest levels in eight months and prices may be poised to escape the rather narrow band where they've been stuck since June after coming back from their spring depths.

Why it matters: The gains this week don't just matter for the beleaguered industry's future — they're a sign that traders see the promise of COVID-19 vaccines allowing life to begin returning to the before times.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 24, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The oil sector's new methane pledge

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Dozens of oil-and-gas companies — including the big ones like BP, Shell and Total — are pledging to provide more detailed information about their methane emissions.

Why it matters: Methane is a very strong planet-warming gas and atmospheric concentrations keep rising, as new World Meteorological Organization data shows. Releases or leaks from oil-and-gas well sites, pipeline and other infrastructure are a key source.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
31 mins ago - Health

Nursing homes are still getting pummeled by the pandemic

Data: AHCA/NCAL, The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The U.S. has gotten no better at keeping the coronavirus out of nursing homes.

Why it matters: The number of nursing home cases has consistently tracked closely with the number of cases in the broader community — and that's very bad news as overall cases continue to skyrocket.