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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

The far left corners of the Democratic party and environmental movement held an event Wednesday night to launch Fossil Free USA, a campaign urging America to transition entirely away from oil, natural gas and coal, with no regard to the reality that the global economy remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

That follows Tuesday’s State of the Union speech, where President Trump said America is forging ahead with its fossil-fuel dominance, with no regard to the serious problem of climate change.

My thought bubble: It’s like they’re two ships not passing, but colliding in the night. Trump’s backers say the far left and their alarmist messaging pushes them away from acknowledging climate change, while the far left is fed up with decades of delay and neglect of climate change.

There’s no public dialogue between the two extremes while a quieter middle tries to get something done, to little avail yet. Meanwhile, we keep burning fossil fuels unabated, climate change is getting worse and most people don’t care.

Washington usually operates in black and white political terms, but it’s times like these — rhetoric-rich, substance-poor State of the Union moments — where things crystallize. Energy and climate is one of the biggest policy areas where leaders of both parties have almost no common ground:

  • Democrats want to do something, but they can’t agree on what. Their response to Trump’s Tuesday address didn’t even mention climate change.
  • Conservatives are fighting with each other over whether to publicly acknowledge basic climate science. No elected congressional Republicans are advocating doing anything about it.

The upshot: Congress hasn’t passed a standalone energy bill in more than a decade, it’s never passed a climate bill and there isn’t any policy on the immediate horizon. A stubborn trend underlies this. Climate change ranks as the second-to-last priority among nearly 20 by respondents in this Pew Research poll released a couple weeks ago. It’s also the most polarized issue.

The bottom line: Extreme partisanship + very low voter priority = perfect recipe for deep political stalemate, which is what we have here.

Go deeper

9 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

11 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.

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