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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Two new studies offer a rough one-two punch on climate change — showing the lagging efforts to meet the Paris Agreement's targets and the health effects of the world's current fossil-heavy energy system.

Driving the news: An analysis in the journal Communications Earth & Environment sheds light on what it would take to hold global temperature rise under 2°C above preindustrial levels.

The University of Washington researchers found that on a worldwide basis (though it varies by country), nations' formal pledges under Paris would need to be 80% stronger than current plans.

How it works: It seeks to assess how countries are doing at implementing existing pledges, and whether carrying out those plans would be enough to meet the agreement's temperature targets.

The big picture: Countries are generally not on track to meet even existing goals. "On current trends, the probability of staying below 2 °C of warming is only 5%," the study notes.

  • But even if countries meet their current medium-term pledges and continue with only the same rate of emissions cuts after 2030, the chances rise only to 26%.
  • "To have an even chance of staying below 2 °C, the average rate of decline in emissions would need to increase from the 1% per year needed to meet the nationally determined contributions, to 1.8% per year."

Why it matters: The study comes ahead of UN talks late this year aimed at strengthening global efforts to even begin sustained emissions curbs.

  • It puts a fine point on the understanding that existing pledges are not enough, as the Washington Post's detailed story on the paper points out.

Yes, but: Via the Post's coverage..."Kelly Levin, a senior associate at the World Resources Institute, noted that Tuesday’s study did not take into account more recent policies that some large countries have adopted or already begun to implement."

Also, efforts needed for a pathway with a strong chance of meeting the 2°C target are not radical.

"Achieving the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals is something we’re not on target to do now, but it wouldn’t take that much extra to do it," said lead author Peiran Liu.

Of note: A 2°C world is no picnic, considering harms from warming at half that amount apparent today and estimated effects of breaching 1.5°C, the more ambitious and longshot Paris target.

Getting on track for 1.5°C would require far steeper emissions cuts — one widely cited UN estimate is 7.6% annually this decade.

Fossil fuels' effects on mortality

A new study in Environmental Research tries to quantify deaths from the effects of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) released when fossil fuels are combusted.

  • It estimates that in 2018, the "premature mortality" from this pollution was 8.7 million, or roughly 18% of total deaths that year. The mortality effects of the pollution are higher than previously thought, the research states. CNN has more.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Feb 9, 2021 - Energy & Environment

India's energy surge makes it pivotal for the climate

Reproduced from India Energy Outlook 2021, IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

India is projected to see the biggest increase in energy demand of any country over the next 20 years, a new International Energy Agency report finds.

Why it matters: It's already the third-largest energy-consuming nation, even as per-capita energy use, car ownership and other metrics are far below the global average.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.