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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Saturday marks two years since President Trump announced he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement — and the chasm between scientific findings and political action is only growing.

The big picture: Climate science is now more clear than ever about the damage that climate change is causing. But many countries aren’t on track to meet their Paris emissions targets — and now there’s no U.S. leadership to push them to try harder.

The details: Scientists tell Axios they now have:

  • More confidence in the observed amounts of global warming, showing the planet has been heating up faster than previously thought, from the poles to the depths of the seas.
  • Clear evidence that virtually all of the observed warming since 1950 is due to human activities.
  • Robust data showing that limiting global warming to the Paris targets of 1.5°C or 2°C would have significant, tangible benefits by reducing damage.

Between the lines: A study published last week projected that unchecked growth in greenhouse gas emissions could cause global sea levels to rise by an average of 3.6 feet by 2100.

  • This compares to just 2.3 feet if warming is limited to 2°C above preindustrial levels, coauthor Robert Kopp tells Axios.
  • The lower the amount of warming, the less likely it is that the planet will trigger climate change tipping points like the loss of the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets.
“Over the past two years we’ve learned that key impacts of climate change, like the melting of ice, the rise in sea level, and the increase in devastating weather extremes, are playing out faster than our models projected just a few years ago.“
— Michael Mann, Penn State University
  • The emissions reductions required to meet the 1.5°C goal are drastic and would be costly. They include getting to net zero emissions by 2050, and negative emissions by 2100.
  • There are few signs that governments are willing to undertake such radical actions.

Where it stands: While virtually all countries except the U.S. remain committed to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, many aren’t on track to meet their targets — which are mostly too weak anyway, according to the Climate Action Tracker, a research group following the Paris deal pledges.

  • China and India are poised to meet their targets with currently implemented policies, the group says, “which may suggest they could be doing even more,” said Elliot Diringer, of the nonprofit Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
  • Canada, Australia and the U.S. aren't on track to meet their goals.

By the numbers: Since Trump promised to withdraw from the deal:

The intrigue: Experts say Trump’s vow to withdraw from the deal didn't cause this progress, or lack thereof. But…

  • “What’s harder to assess is the degree to which it’s undermining political will in countries to push forward the policies needed to meet their targets,” Diringer said. “I’d say it’s a fair bet that over time continued U.S. inaction will have a corrosive effect on political will globally.”

What to watch: To what degree countries ratchet up their policy ambitions and Paris targets at a high-profile United Nations summit on September 23. A top U.N. official said earlier this week 80 countries were prepared to do so, but he didn’t name names.

Go deeper

Tech scrambles to derail inauguration threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

Wine rejected the official results of the election. Photo: Sumy Sadruni/AFP via Getty

Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”