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Reproduced from Rhodium Group; Chart: Axios Visuals

The COVID-19 pandemic led to an estimated — and unprecedented — 10.3% drop in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions last year, per a preliminary analysis from the Rhodium Group.

Why it matters: It's by far the single largest annual drop in the post-World War II era and puts U.S. emissions 21.5% below 2005 levels.

The analysis also shows how COVID-19 affected not only aggregate national emissions but also specific sectors.

Yes, but: The decline is rooted in the "enormous toll of significant economic damage and human suffering" and isn't a substitute for emissions policy at all, Rhodium says.

  • Last year "should not in any way be considered a down payment" on the U.S. goal under the Paris Agreement of cutting emissions 26%-28% percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
  • The incoming Biden administration will rejoin the agreement and submit a longer-term target for deeper cuts.

What's next: "With coronavirus vaccines now in distribution, we expect economic activity to pick up again in 2021, but without meaningful structural changes in the carbon intensity of the U.S. economy, emissions will likely rise again as well," it states.

Go deeper: COVID-19 Took a Bite From U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2020 (New York Times)

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Updated 18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

First look: Harris wants more union membership in fed workforce

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a virtual town hall with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Oct. 14. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will today announce new guidelines to encourage federal workers to join unions, according to a White House official.

Why it matters: The Biden administration wants to bolster the collective bargaining power of workers across the country – and they are starting at home, with changes in the federal workforce.