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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

19 hours ago - World

Biden says he won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.

15 hours ago - Technology

Showdown looms over digital services tax

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A fight over foreign countries' efforts to tax big American tech companies' digital services is likely to come to a head in January just as Joe Biden takes office.

The big picture: Governments have failed to reach a broad multilateral agreement on how to structure such taxes. That could leave the American firms that dominate consumer digital services — including Google, Facebook and Apple — stuck with massive tax bills from different countries.

25 mins ago - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 COVID-related hospitalizations for the first time

People wait outside the Emergency room of the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on Dec 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

More than 100,200 Americans were hospitalized as of Wednesday due to the coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020, per the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The milestone comes as health officials anticipated cases to surge due to holiday travel and gatherings. The impact of the holiday remains notable, as many states across the country are only reporting partial data.