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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.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
53 mins ago - Economy & Business

The Fed could be firing up economic stimulus in disguise

Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard at a "Fed Listens" event. Photo: Eric Baradat / AFP via Getty Images.

Even as global growth expectations increase and governments pile on fiscal spending measures central bankers are quietly restarting recession-era bond-buying programs.

Driving the news: Comments Tuesday from Fed governor Lael Brainard suggest the Fed may be jumping onboard the global monetary policy rethink and restarting a program used following the 2008 global financial crisis.

Democrats' hypocrisy moment

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be facing explicit calls to resign from President Biden on down, if you apply the standard that Democrats set for similar allegations against Republicans. And it's not a close call.

Why it matters: The #MeToo moment saw men in power run out of town for exploiting young women. Democrats led the charge. So the silence of so many of them seems more strange — and unacceptable by their own standards — by the hour.