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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Microsoft is pushing aggressive goals to tackle climate change while simultaneously supporting House Republicans' more modest efforts on the matter.

Driving the news: On Thursday, Microsoft announced its new pledge to become carbon negative in 10 years, while earlier in the week its president, Brad Smith, expressed support for House Republicans’ far narrower efforts on climate.

Why it matters: These two developments reflect a common split-screen dynamic playing out across America. Many corporate leaders are promising aggressive action on climate change within their own firms while taking far more conciliatory tones when it comes to what, if anything, they want lawmakers on Capitol Hill to do.

The intrigue: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) hosted a meeting Thursday during which more than a hundred Republican members discussed policies the party could present as a way to address climate change.

  • This focus, which marks a shift away from denying or ignoring the problem over the last decade, comes as voters — especially younger ones — are more concerned about the matter.
  • Policies Republicans are discussing include expediting small modular nuclear power and expanding tax credits for carbon capture technology — but no comprehensive proposals, such as a price on carbon dioxide emissions.
  • McCarthy said he shared some of the ideas with Smith in a phone call earlier this week.
  • A Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed the call and the overall sentiment of it.

What they're saying: “[Microsoft] said, ‘We want to help you with that. We want to be a part of that,’" McCarthy told Axios Thursday in an interview. “The basis was, they said, ‘We like your approach because you’re basing it on science, technology and it’s really looking at the problem and solving it.’"

Between the lines: Microsoft has been vocal about its support for aggressive action on climate change. This includes recently doubling its internal price on CO2 and joining a group that supports a carbon price in Congress.

  • However, it is not funding a related campaign, American for Carbon Dividends, which is directly lobbying Congress on the policy.
  • McCarthy reiterated his long-standing opposition to a carbon tax in the interview Thursday.

What’s next: House Republicans are looking to unveil a package of related legislation in the spring.

Go deeper: Microsoft vows to become "carbon negative" by 2030

Go deeper

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The fragile recovery

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

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41 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.

U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market continues to recover even as coronavirus cases surge— though it's still millions of jobs short of the pre-pandemic level. The problem is that the rate of recovery is slowing significantly.