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The opening ceremony of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meeting in South Korea Oct. 1. Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

Keeping global warming in check will require deployment of carbon-trapping technologies and aggressively moving away from fossil fuels, a major new United Nations report concludes — far more quickly than current forecasts envision.

Why it matters: The scientific analysis of what's needed to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — the ambitious goal of the Paris climate agreement — reveals huge hurdles to avoiding widespread damages from climate change.

The big picture: The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds that to stay within 1.5ºC, net human-caused CO2 emissions must decline by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels, and reach "net zero" by roughly mid-century.

  • "Pathways limiting global warming to 1.5 °C with no or limited overshoot would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems," it states.

Right now the global energy system is nowhere near on track for those kinds of cuts, even as deployment of renewable power, efficiency technologies and electric vehicles grows.

The details: The report lays out various "pathways" that would achieve the emissions cuts needed to stay within 1.5ºC or just overshoot it slightly.

It models varying amounts of efficiency improvements, renewables' growth, fossil fuel cuts, and deployment levels of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies.

  • CDR is a basket of approaches that includes forest planting and other land-use practices, as well as trapping carbon emissions from power plants and industrial facilities, a technology that remains in its early stages of commercial use.
  • More dauntingly, the report also refers to methods that remain unproven at commercial scale, such as "direct air capture" technologies, and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage.

The report found that if CDR is largely limited to forest growth, global coal use must be all but phased out by 2050, and oil's share of global energy falls by 87 percent.

  • Natural gas, while lower-carbon than other fossil fuels, would have to fall 74 percent relative to 2010 levels.
  • In pathways with significant use of other CDR methods, the world would still need to hugely cut the share of fossil fuels in the energy mix, although the stringency is lessened somewhat.

Quick take: It's hard to overstate the scope of the energy transition and steep emissions cuts that the report says are needed by 2050. Consider that . . .

  • Global CO2 emissions actually rose in 2017 after a three-year plateau.
  • The International Energy Agency's central forecasts see global CO2 emissions rising slightly through 2040 (the end of their forecast period), and global oil demand growing during that period.
  • BP's Statistical Review of World Energy, released in June, showed that coal's share of the global power mix has remained at 38% for the last 20 years.

The bottom line: “Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” notes a statement from Jim Skea of the Imperial College of London, who helped write the report.

Go deeper: Key global warming target is slipping out of reach, UN scientists warn

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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