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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Post-COVID revival of businesses conferences could bring substantial carbon emissions, but planners can curb the impact while still enabling lots of in-person interaction, new analysis shows.

Driving the news: The paper in Nature Communications attempts a holistic look at the resource footprint of conferences, looking at travel and food demands for big in-person events, but also energy needed for remote communications, to name a few big categories.

What they found: Looking at virtual, in-person and hybrid models, they conclude that moving meetings and conventions to all-virtual formats can cut emissions by 94%.

  • But it also explores hybrid formats and strategies that curb emissions from travel involving multi-location conference "hubs," careful flight planning and more.
  • "[S]patially optimal hubs for the hybrid conferences have the potential to slash carbon footprint and energy use by 60–70% while maintaining <50% of virtual participation," Cornell University researchers write.

Why it matters: They write that the annual impact of the event industry has reached the same order of magnitude as the yearly greenhouse gas emissions of the entire U.S.

  • However, that finding relies on an expansive definition of the "global event industry" via the Events Industry Council, which defines "business event" as "10 or more participants for a minimum of four hours in a contracted venue."

Go deeper: Bank regulators push Wall Street on climate risk

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 13, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Biden's climate runway is shortening

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Energy Information Administration; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

The Biden administration is expanding efforts to speed clean electricity expansion with its existing powers, but faces big obstacles to meeting its climate goals without far more help from Congress.

Why it matters: President Biden has set a goal of reaching 100% carbon-free power by 2035 and cutting economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions — that is, power, transport, industry, etc. — in half by 2030.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 14, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Power demand surge thwarts climate goals

Expand chart
Reproduced from International Energy Agency; Chart: Axios Visuals

Global electricity demand surged by record levels in 2021, causing price spikes and emissions growth, the International Energy Agency said.

Driving the news: New IEA data out Friday shows that power demand grew by over 1,500 terawatt-hours, the highest absolute amount ever.

Updated 7 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.