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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

On Nov. 4, the U.S. will have bailed (pretty sure that's the precise diplomatic term) on the Paris climate agreement, but the date's significance depends almost entirely on what happens a day earlier.

Driving the news: Wednesday marks a year since the Trump administration started the one-year countdown required under the pact's rules to formally abandon the deal, though President Trump first announced the plan back in 2017.

Why it matters: If Trump wins Tuesday, pulling out the U.S. — the second-largest greenhouse gas emitter after China — will underscore his reversal of Obama-era international policy and lock it in for years.

  • The effects on other nations are unclear, although lately several of the biggest carbon emitters — notably China and Japan — have actually been setting more aggressive long-term targets.

The big picture: Countries set their own emissions targets under the 2015 deal, but it's a venue for setting global rules around things like monitoring and verifying cuts. And it's a key forum to prod nations to implement policies and provide resources to start changing the global emissions trajectory, which is far off track to meet the deal's temperature-limiting goals.

What we're watching: The election! Joe Biden has vowed to quickly bring the U.S. back into the deal — an agreement that Trump calls unfair to the U.S. even though countries set their own pledges.

  • Beyond reverting to the status quo, Biden says he'd look to pressure big emitting nations to go further.
  • His plan vows to "fully integrate" climate into foreign, national security and trade policy.

The bottom line: "That election could be a make or break point for international climate policy," scientist Niklas Hohne of the Netherlands' Wageningen University tells the Associated Press.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

GM plans to end sales of gasoline powered cars by 2035

GM CEO Mary Barra at the GM Orion Assembly Plant plant for electric and self-driving vehicles in Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors is setting a worldwide target to end sales of gasoline and diesel powered cars, pickups and SUVs by 2035, the automaker said Thursday.

Why it matters: GM's plan marks one of the auto industry's most aggressive steps to transform their portfolio to electric models that currently represent a tiny fraction of overall sales.

Jan 29, 2021 - World

Biden picks Rob Malley as envoy for Iran

Malley (L) during Iran deal negotiations in Vienna, 2015. Photo: Siamek Ebrahimi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Image

Rob Malley will serve as the Biden administration's special envoy for Iran, working out of the State Department, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced on Friday.

Why it matters: Malley, a former Middle East adviser to Barack Obama, took part in the negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal and is a strong supporter of a U.S. return to the agreement. Reports of his likely selection led to sharp criticism from opponents of the deal like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), while former colleagues from the Obama administration rallied to Malley's defense.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

What's really going on with the labor market

Source: YCharts

The labor market is showing some signs of improvement: Jobless claims fell to 730,000 — a dramatic drop from 841,000 the previous week. And the latest jobs report showed a pandemic-era low unemployment rate of 6.3%

But, but, but: That's not the full story, experts say.