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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Electric cars get lots of attention but an analysis provides sobering numbers that show why EVs are not, as the authors say, a "silver bullet" for wringing emissions out of passenger travel.

Why it matters: The paper in Nature Climate Change arrives as officials in California, the country's largest auto market, are pledging aggressive regulations to ramp up EV sales.

How it works: The paper models a long-term CO2 "budget" for U.S. light-duty vehicles that represents that sector's contribution to an emissions pathway consistent with holding temperature rise to 2°C above preindustrial levels.

Threat level: Current policies are nowhere close to putting passenger vehicle emissions on track to meet that budget, it concludes.

  • Using EVs alone to right the ship would be daunting, to say the least. Sales are growing, but right now they're about a percent of the total vehicles on U.S. roads.
  • Closing the sector's CO2 "mitigation gap" with EVs alone would require 90% of the U.S. fleet to be electric by 2050, they find.
  • The authors note that this exceeds even optimistic projections and would mean more than 350 million EVs on the roads in 2050.

The bottom line: The paper concludes that a "wide range" of policies is needed to slash vehicle emissions, including electrification but also very stringent efficiency standards, better mass transit and more.

Go deeper: Ninety Percent of U.S. Cars Must Be Electric by 2050 to Meet Climate Goals (E&E News)

Go deeper

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.

The defy-default

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Political figures are exploiting the slowness of the U.S. justice system, Donald Trump's attacks on its integrity and divisions in society to defy the law.

Why it matters: As polarization intensifies, it's placing tribalism above a shared national code of conduct. Increasingly, accountability rests not on the ballot box but with the nine-member, lifetime-appointed and currently conservative-majority Supreme Court.

Report: Climate change is an "emerging threat" to U.S. economic stability

A firefighter watches an airplane drop fire retardant ahead of the Alisal fire near Goleta on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. Photo: Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A top U.S. financial coordinating organization took several steps on Thursday to manage the growing risks that climate change poses to the U.S. financial system.

Why it matters: While the Biden administration has been taking an all-of-government approach to climate change, like factoring climate risk into planning at the Treasury Department, today's moves by the politically independent Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) carry significant weight.