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Two pieces of data provide fresh evidence of global warming's march and the struggle to rein in emissions that will make the problem far worse over time.
Driving the news: A new Rhodium Group analysis shows that U.S. carbon emissions from energy — which is the overwhelming cause of emissions — jumped by 3.4% last year, ending years of declines.
Meanwhile, the EU-funded Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) has concluded that 2018 was Earth's 4th-warmest on record, with the past 4 years serving as the planet's hottest seen since instrument records began in 1880 (and likely well before that).
Why it matters: Rhodium's study shows that the U.S. is falling further off the pace from its pledge to cut overall greenhouse gas emissions by 26%–28% below 2005 levels by 2025.
Details: Rhodium's study found that 2018 U.S. CO2 emissions were up in all major sectors: electricity, transportation, buildings and industry.
The big picture: Axios' Andrew Freedman notes that last year had a global average surface temperature that was 0.2°C colder than 2016, which was the warmest year in Copernicus' dataset, but more than 0.4°C above the 1981–2010 average. Scientists at C3S also find...
Electric cars (sort of): Hyundai used the big Consumer Electronics Show to unveil a video (and small model) of Elevate, a concept for a vehicle designed to traverse challenging terrain to help first-responders save people in natural disasters.
Energy: Exxon announced at CES that it has formed a partnership with IBM to "advance the potential use of quantum computing in developing next-generation energy and manufacturing technologies."
Go deeper: What's happened at CES 2019 so far
Former Pennsylvania Rep. Ryan Costello is joining a political advocacy campaign pushing a carbon tax in Washington where the money goes back to Americans, Amy writes.
Why it matters: The 42-year-old, who just left Congress after 2 terms, represents a younger mold of Republicans more willing to buck GOP orthodoxy on climate change.
Where it stands: Costello announced his new gig in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. It warns that unless Republicans shift on climate and other issues, their 2018 midterm losses "could be just the tip of the iceberg."
What's next: Ted Halstead, CEO of the group who also coordinates a connected initiative called the Climate Leadership Council, hopes to have up to seven senators from both parties introduce the plan in Congress by year’s end.
The Supreme Court on yesterday rejected ExxonMobil's bid to review the demand by the Massachusetts attorney general for internal documents about what the company knew about climate change over the course of decades.
Why it matters: The order, issued without comment, enables Attorney General Maura Healey to continue probing whether the oil giant misled investors and consumers about global warming and its effects on Exxon's business.
The big picture: The case is part of a broader legal effort by some Democratic state officials and investigative journalists to explore the oil industry's internal consideration of climate change.
What they're saying: "Today’s #SCOTUS victory clears the way for our office to investigate Exxon’s conduct toward consumers and investors. The public deserves answers from this company about what it knew about the impacts of burning fossil fuels, and when," Healey tweeted.
The other side: Exxon did not comment Monday on the Supreme Court's action.
Go deeper: New York makes its move against Exxon
A top Trump administration official called on Bill Gates to work with the DOE on building an advanced nuclear reactor in America after the billionaire shelved plans to do so in China, Axios' Amy Harder reports.
Driving the news: Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said, “We hope we can work with [Gates] and bring them back,” in comments to reporters yesterday on another initiative.
Context: Gates had said late last year that his nuclear-energy company, TerraPower, won’t be building a pilot project in China due to restrictions the Energy Department recently placed on technology deals with China.
What's happening now: Brouillette says the department has had “several conversations” with Gates on the matter and adds he's hopeful the U.S. government could streamline the permitting process to make it more likely Gates would pursue building the reactor in America.
For the record: A request for comment to Gates’ office wasn’t immediately returned.
Utilities: Ratings agency S&P Global cut California utility company Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) to "junk" status Tuesday morning and also shifted its Pacific Power and Gas subsidiary to "B" from "BBB-," the lowest tier of investment-grade ratings, Reuters reports.
Oil-and-gas: Via the Wall Street Journal, the hedge fund Elliot Management is proposing to buy the shale producer QEP Resources for roughly $2 billion, "saying QEP’s turnaround efforts haven’t done enough to lift the oil-and-gas company’s share price."
Electric auto sales: Via Inside EVs, total U.S. electric vehicle sales rose to 361,307 in 2018, up from slightly under 200,000 in 2017, growth dominated by Tesla.
Nations who abandon the Paris agreement designed to tackle global climate change would ultimately be worse off economically despite some GDP benefits from reneging, according to a new analysis of the Paris climate deal from researchers with the Brookings Institution.
Why it matters: The study arrives at a fragile moment in global climate diplomacy, even as more research piles up about the dangers of failing to steeply cut emissions. The U.S. is preparing to abandon the deal and now Brazil's new far-right president is undercutting confidence in that country's green commitments.
What they did: The analysis models the macroeconomic effect on nations of participating in the deal compared to abandoning their pledges — both in terms of the "co-benefits" of reducing conventional pollutants and the effect of avoided CO2 emissions.
What they found: The authors ran simulations based on participating vs. abandoning pledges for China (now by far the world's largest emitter), the U.S., and Australia.
The big picture: The study shows that the Paris agreement "significantly reduces" carbon emissions relative to a business-as-usual case. But it also further confirms how much existing pledges, called nationally determined contributions, are nonetheless insufficient. Per the report...
Global CO2 emissions would be lower than baseline by 13 billion metric tons by 2030. However, the Paris policy scenario suggests that global CO2 emissions would not decline in absolute terms relative to 2015 levels, let alone follow a path consistent with a 2°C stabilization scenario.