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Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Should Joe Biden ultimately win the White House, his climate agenda will almost certainly be limited — at least for the foreseeable future — to what he can pursue using executive powers.

The state of play: While several Senate races are outstanding, Democrats look unlikely to regain the majority in that chamber despite pickups in Colorado and Arizona, which aren't enough.

  • "If we see a Biden administration, it seems clean energy initiatives will be met with strong Senate opposition," Oanda analyst Edward Moya said in a note Wednesday.
  • And remember that sweeping regulations could land before the Supreme Court with its 6-3 conservative majority.

The big picture: Climate and energy were very much on the ballot. That's due to the huge policy chasm between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, but also how the topics surfaced repeatedly in the campaign.

  • Biden placed climate change among the four "historic crises" facing the country, and his campaign featured multiple ads about it, although he gave even more emphasis to other topics like the pandemic and the economy nonetheless.
  • Trump made fracking and attacks on Biden's posture a major part of his closing arguments in the campaign's final stretch.
  • The two presidential debates and the VP debate all featured segments on the topic, a break with past cycles.

Where it stands: An NBC exit poll found two-thirds of voters consider climate a serious problem, and Biden won 68% of them on his way to a popular vote advantage thus far.

  • A Morning Consult exit survey showed that 74% of Biden's voters called addressing climate change very important to their vote, compared to 19% of Trump voters.
  • Worth noting: Exit polls should always be taken with chunks of salt!

Yes, but: It was pretty clear Biden's team saw some jeopardy, too.

  • Biden repeatedly emphasized that he's not looking for an outright ban on fracking, which Trump inaccurately called part of his platform.
  • I'll be curious to see how post-mortems show the topic affected things in Pennsylvania, which remains outstanding, and Texas, which Trump won again but by a narrower margin than in 2016.

Quick take: It's early, but for now, color me skeptical that we're in a new political era in which an aggressive climate platform is the ticket to a big win in our Electoral College system.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

General Motors puts Trump in its rearview mirror

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

General Motors (GM) is racing to prepare itself for a president and a world that takes climate change more seriously — and putting the Trump era behind them in the process.

Driving the news: GM yesterday announced an ambitious plan to end global sales of internal combustion vehicles by 2035. It's part of their wider new pledge to be carbon neutral by 2040.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.