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Expand chart
Data: Knittel, 2019; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Even "modest" carbon taxes, like those seen in the chart above, would cut emissions as much as the Obama-era vehicle and power plant rules that President Trump is abandoning, an MIT economist found in a new working paper.

Why it matters: The results "underscore the economic power of a carbon tax" compared to "economically inefficient" regulations, writes Christopher Knittel, who directs the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.

The big picture: The pro-tax argument arrives as Democratic 2020 hopefuls are tossing around plans to revive and toughen Obama-era initiatives, while lawmakers from both parties have recently floated CO2 tax bills.

Driving the news: The new paper attempts to calculate what level of taxes on CO2 or greenhouses gases more broadly would provide emissions cuts equivalent to these 3 major policies combined:

  • Auto mileage standards imposed by the Obama administration.
  • President Obama's Clean Power Plan for electricity (which never took effect).
  • A 2007 law that expanded the national biofuels mandate.

But, but, but: Carbon taxes have very little traction among Republican lawmakers despite a few members' recent efforts.

  • And they've got limited cachet among progressive climate activists these days, at least as a primary weapon against global warming.
  • Leading Democratic contenders — even the ones who support carbon pricing or are open to it — aren't emphasizing them either.

Of note: The paper is limited in scope. It's exploring emissions cuts that are too small to deeply decarbonize the U.S. economy, or even achieve the U.S. goals under the Paris agreement.

  • As the Rhodium Group consultancy has noted in the past, even the wider suite of Obama policies would not have met the Paris pledge his administration submitted of a 26%–28% cut in U.S. GHG emissions by 2025.
  • However, Knittel cautioned against inferring that extremely high taxes would be needed to achieve steep emissions cuts.

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43 mins ago - World

Former Google CEO and others call for U.S.-China tech "bifurcation"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new set of proposals by a group of influential D.C. insiders and tech industry practitioners calling for a degree of "bifurcation" in the U.S. and Chinese tech sectors is circulating in the Biden administration. Axios has obtained a copy.

Why it matters: The idea of "decoupling" certain sectors of the U.S. and Chinese economies felt radical three years ago, when Trump's trade war brought the term into common parlance. But now the strategy has growing bipartisan and even industry support.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post editor Marty Baron retires

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Martin Baron, executive editor of the Washington Post and recipient of multiple Pulitzer Prizes over the course of his career, announced his retirement on Tuesday.

Why it matters, via Axios' Sara Fischer: Baron spearheaded Spotlight, the Boston Globe's investigation into attempts by the Catholic Church to cover-up sexual abuse, and oversaw the Post's editorial transformation under Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — turning it from a regional paper into a national brand.

Scoop: Hundreds of Biden staffers receive COVID vaccine

Screenshots of an email inviting White House staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, obtained by Alayna Treene/Axios

A week into the job, President Biden's White House medical team has administered the coronavirus vaccine to several hundred staffers — and aims to vaccinate all in-person staff over the next few weeks, officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: The new administration is ramping up steps to protect President Biden and all staff working inside the White House complex. The administration is also requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times.