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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The UN is out with its latest analysis of the gap between global emissions trends and "least-cost pathways" to meet the Paris climate deal's ambitious temperature-limiting goals.

Why it matters: The gap remains very large, despite the emissions cuts (occurring for tragic reasons) due to the pandemic curtailing so much activity and travel.

The big picture: "[T]he world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century — far beyond the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C," a summary notes.

  • "However, a green pandemic recovery can cut around 25 percent off the greenhouse emissions predicted in 2030 and put the world close to the 2°C pathway."
  • Carbon Brief has a detailed and graphics-rich look at the report here.

The intrigue: The Washington Post explores one of the report's economic dimensions...

  • "The world’s wealthy will need to reduce their carbon footprints by a factor of 30 to help put the planet on a path to curb the ever-worsening impacts of climate change."
  • "Currently, the emissions attributable to the richest 1 percent of the global population account for more than double those of the poorest 50 percent."

Go deeper

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the threat posed by China. But as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

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

Microsoft backs direct air capture player Climeworks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Microsoft this morning disclosed investments in more climate-related companies as part of efforts to make good on its year-old pledge to become "carbon negative" by 2030.

Driving the news: One company the tech behemoth is staking is Climeworks, a firm looking to scale up deployment of direct air capture technology that removes CO2 already in the atmosphere.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden to sign major climate orders, setting up clash with oil industry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden will sign new executive actions today that provide the clearest signs yet of his climate plans — elevating the issue to a national security priority and kicking off an intense battle with the oil industry.

Driving the news: One move will freeze issuance of new oil-and-gas leases on public lands and waters "to the extent possible," per a White House summary.