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Japan sets ambitious new climate target to be carbon neutral by 2050

Japan's new prime minister said on Monday the nation will seek to become carbon-neutral by 2050, a move that will require huge changes in its fossil fuel-heavy energy mix in order to succeed.

Why it matters: Japan is the world's fifth-largest largest source of carbon emissions. The new goal announced by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is stronger than the country's previous target of becoming carbon neutral as early as possible in the later half of the century.


Data: IEA; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Driving the news: “Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth,” the prime minister told the nation's parliament Monday, per The Washington Post.

  • “We need to change our thinking to the view that taking assertive measures against climate change will lead to changes in industrial structure and the economy that will bring about great growth.”

The big picture: A growing number of countries are making pledges consistent with what scientists say is needed to meet the Paris climate deal's goals for limiting the amount of temperature rise.

  • Japan's pledge comes a month after China — by far the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter — vowed to be carbon neutral by 2060.
  • European Union officials are working to put meat on the bones of their promise to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • Joe Biden's platform calls for having the U.S., the second-largest emitter after China, achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 as well.

Yes, but: These long-term pledges will require massive policy shifts — plans that for now are often just vaguely articulated — to transform them into steep emissions cuts.

  • Helen Mountford of the World Resources Institute applauded Suga's pledge, but added: "In order for Japan to demonstrate it takes this net-zero pledge seriously, the country must also set a much bolder emissions reduction target for 2030 than the surprisingly weak plan it put forward earlier this year."
  • And the New York Times points out that Japan is currently still investing in coal-fired power. Per the Times, Japan has "planned or is in the process of building 17 new coal-burning power plants."

What's next, via Bloomberg:"Concrete goals to promote hydrogen, battery storage, carbon recycling and wind power will be identified in a report released by the end of the year, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshi Kajiyama told reporters Monday."

CES was largely irrelevant this year

Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.

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The FBI is tracing a digital trail to Capitol rioters

Capitol rioters, eager to share proof of their efforts with other extremists online, have so far left a digital footprint of at least 140,000 images that is making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to capture and arrest them.

The big picture: Law enforcement's use of digital tracing isn't new, and has long been at the center of fierce battles over privacy and civil liberties. The Capitol siege is opening a fresh front in that debate.

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Off the rails: Inside Air Force One ahead of Trump's last stand in Georgia

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 6: Georgia had not backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 and Donald Trump's defeat in this Deep South stronghold, and his reaction to that loss, would help cost Republicans the U.S. Senate as well. Georgia was Trump's last stand.

On Air Force One, President Trump was in a mood. He had been clear he did not want to return to Georgia, and yet somehow he'd been conscripted into another rally on the night of Jan. 4.

If both David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — the two embattled Georgia senators he was campaigning for — lost their runoff elections the following day, the GOP would lose control of the U.S. Senate. And Trump did not want the blood of Georgia on his hands.

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Parler shows signs of life

Far-right-friendly social network Parler is beginning to resurface after going dark last week following a series of bans by Google, Apple and Amazon.

The big picture: By getting a new internet provider that's friendly to far-right sites, Parler — home to a great deal of pro-insurrection chatter before, during and after the Capitol siege — may have found a way to survive despite Big Tech's efforts to pull the plug.

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Historian Michael Beschloss: Trump has "no business" dictating who is an American hero

Data: Trump Executive Order and Axios reporting. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Delivering on a promise he made at Mount Rushmore this summer, President Trump yesterday released his 244 candidates for a "National Garden of American Heroes."

By the numbers: Men outnumber women nearly four to one (192 to 52). 86 of the nominees,nearly a third, were born between 1900 and 1950. 

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Demand for coronavirus vaccines is outstripping supply — as expected

Now that nearly half of the U.S. population could be eligible for coronavirus vaccines, America is facing the problem experts thought we’d have all along: demand for the vaccine is outstripping supply.

Why it matters: The Trump administration’s call for states to open up vaccine access to all Americans 65 and older and adults with pre-existing conditions may have helped massage out some bottlenecks in the distribution process, but it’s also led to a different kind of chaos.

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First look: Mayors press Biden on immigration

A coalition of nearly 200 mayors and county executives is challenging Joe Biden and the incoming Congress to adopt a progressive immigration agenda that would give everyone a pathway to citizenship.

Why it matters: The group's goals, set out in a white paper released today, seem to fall slightly to the left of what the president-elect plans to propose on Inauguration Day — though not far — and come at a time of intense national polarization over immigration.

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Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

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