Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Expand chart
Data: Rhodium Group; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Just-released data reveals the scope and details of U.S. carbon emissions increases as the economy rebounded from COVID-19 restrictions, highlighting how White House climate goals may slip out of reach absent major new policies.

Driving the news: America's emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases increased in 2021 compared to 2020, largely due to a jump in coal use, according to a new report from the climate consulting firm the Rhodium Group.

Why it matters: The report zeroes in on trends in the power sector and transportation as a key reason for the emissions bounce back and makes clear that the emissions trend puts the country further off course when it comes to meeting its emissions targets under the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: U.S. emissions increased 6.2% when compared to 2020 levels, but they still wound up at about 5% below that of the pre-pandemic year of 2019. The new report, released Monday and based on preliminary data, shows that emissions grew slightly faster than the economy did.

  • The report points to the 17% jump in coal-fired power generation compared to 2020, as well as an increase in road transportation, most of it in the form of hauling freight.
  • The U.S. went from having emissions that were 22.2% below 2005 levels in 2020 to just 17.4% below 2005 levels last year, the report shows. The U.S. has a target of cutting emissions to 50 to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Details: The Rhodium report shows that the two sectors with the biggest increase in emissions compared to 2020 were transportation, followed by electric power.

  • With transportation, which comprises the largest source of U.S. emissions, much of the increase was due to a surge in demand for consumer goods, which kept freight trucks on the road, whereas commuting life never quite returned to normal for passenger vehicles.
  • In fact, road freight was the only mode of transportation that Rhodium says surpassed 2019 emissions last year, with aggregate diesel demand climbing 9% from 2020 levels, and coming in at 0.4% above 2019 levels.
  • The electric power sector, which is the second-largest net source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., saw its emissions jump by 6% above 2020 levels, though they remained at 4% below 2019 levels.
  • The reason for this uptick in emissions, Rhodium says, is "a sharp rise" in coal generation, which amounted to a 17% uptick compared to the year before.
  • It was the first annual increase in coal generation seen in the U.S. since 2014. The overall trend has been a decline in coal use and renewables have increasingly picked up more market share.

Context: The reason for coal's comeback of sorts has to do with market conditions, as natural gas prices hit more than twice their 2020 rate, largely due to lower production in the wake of the COVID-related oil price collapse in 2020, Rhodium stated.

  • Natural gas generation fell by 3% in 2021, while renewables increased by 4%.
  • Renewables reached a new milestone, comprising 20% of U.S. electricity generation in 2021, the report found.

What they're saying: Kate Larsen, a partner at Rhodium and report co-author, said the rebound in emissions is "Largely a story about coal's rebound" due to increased natural gas costs.

  • "I think that's a sign that the fate of us greenhouse gas emissions is largely in the hands of oil and gas producers, because the market for natural gas is one of the primary drivers of coal's decline, and of U.S. emission reductions over the last decade," Larsen told Axios. "That wouldn't have happened if we had regulatory backstops for, or other ways to prop up the cleaner fuels."
  • The lack of progress on federal climate legislation may ensure this dynamic continues, Larsen said.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 15, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Earth's climate went off the rails in 2021, reports show

Temperature departures from average in degrees Celsius during 2021. (Berkeley Earth).

Global warming became local to a new and devastating extent in 2021, with the year ranking as the sixth-warmest on record, according to new, independent data from NASA, NOAA and Berkeley Earth.

Why it matters: Each year's data adds to the relentless long-term trend, which shows rapid warming due overwhelmingly to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions during the past several decades in particular.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 14, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Biden's latest Fed pick signals brewing climate battles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden's plan to tap Sarah Bloom Raskin as top banking regulator at the Federal Reserve could intensify the central bank's already growing focus on climate change.

Catch up fast: The news broke Thursday night that Biden will nominate Raskin, a Duke University law professor, for the powerful role of vice chair for supervision.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.