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Reproduced from EIA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Coal consumption for electricity generation is expected to increase by 17% this year due to higher natural gas prices that are temporarily making coal more cost-competitive, according to the latest Short Term Energy Outlook released by the Energy Information Administration Tuesday.

Why it matters: Coal is the most carbon-intensive fuel, so any uptick in its use, even temporarily, can have a significant influence on carbon emissions.

The details: The EIA predicts a 7% increase in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2021, following a pandemic-related drop of 11% last year.

What they're saying: "Despite significant growth in energy-related CO2 emissions as the U.S. economy opens up, we don’t see these emissions returning to pre-pandemic levels, at least in the short term," EIA Acting Administrator Steve Nalley said in a press release.

Of note: The EIA also found that gasoline prices averaged $3.14 per gallon in July, which was the highest monthly average seen since October 2014. The EIA predicts that prices will come down in the next several months as oil production increases.

Go deeper

What the initial UN Climate Summit attendance list reveals

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The UN Climate Summit set to begin Oct. 31 in Glasgow will bring an unprecedented combination of leaders for such an event (even Pope Francis!), and the likely absence of vital players — notably Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

Why it matters: The speeches and backroom meetings at COP26 between leaders on the summit's first two days will set the tone for the rest of the gathering. These will be moments when countries showcase any new pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the Paris Agreement's targets.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

4 hours ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.