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The clock is ticking on Biden's climate agenda

President Biden is under intense pressure to deliver on his historic climate plans, with real danger that he’ll miss his window on major goals that allies had hoped were in their grasp.

Why it matters: Only six months into his presidency, Biden has a limited amount of time to tackle what he calls "the No. 1 issue facing humanity."

  • Key parts of his platform are tethered to the infrastructure push underway right now. Biden and liberal Democrats want huge clean energy investments and tax incentives.
  • They hope a Democrats-only package would provide vastly more than energy measures in the infrastructure outline Biden unveiled with a bipartisan Senate group on Thursday.

Threat level: Republicans have a good chance of regaining one — and perhaps both — chambers of Congress in the 2022 midterms, effectively slamming Biden's window shut.

  • And already Democrats are having trouble locking down enough votes in their own ranks for anything resembling Biden's proposals around electric cars, renewables, efficient buildings and more.

The intrigue: The time pressure is even more intense than the electoral calendar suggests.

  • November brings the most important United Nations climate summit since the 2015 talks that birthed the Paris agreement.
  • Walking into that summit with an enacted package would help show that the White House pledge to slash U.S. emissions by 50% by 2030 is realistic.
  • But if the U.S. effort is foundering, winning higher ambition and tangible new steps from other nations could be a harder diplomatic lift.

The big picture: The U.S. is the world's second-largest greenhouse gas polluter behind runaway leader China.

  • Biden's campaign platform pledged a sweeping emissions-cutting agenda that would go far beyond that of former President Obama.
  • The goals include a carbon-free power sector by 2035; strong new regulations to limit tailpipe emissions; new restrictions on fossil fuel development; and massive new resources for clean energy R&D and deployment.
  • Big new investments and greatly expanded clean energy incentives would require approval from Congress. Another part of Biden's plan — a "clean energy standard" that forces utilities to vastly ramp up carbon-free power — also requires legislation.

Yes, but: The White House also hopes to accomplish a lot with executive actions by redirecting agencies, including the EPA and the Interior and Energy Departments, to be more climate-focused.

  • Just one of many examples: Biden is pushing the EPA and the Transportation Department to rewrite vehicle efficiency rules to be much tougher.
  • There's also a multi-agency push to accelerate the development of large offshore wind projects.
  • And U.S. development finance agencies — including the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. — are putting a higher priority on clean energy.

Executive actions face their own hurdles, however, including litigation that greets every major rulemaking.

  • This month, a federal judge issued an injunction against Biden's freeze on new oil lease sales — a move that foreshadows legal battles that will confront all his regulatory efforts.

The bottom line: "Every passing day tests [Biden's] ability to achieve an ambitious climate agenda in his first term, especially if the infrastructure bill doesn’t include the transformative investments and tax credits for clean energy," Margaret Jackson of the Atlantic Council's Global Energy Center tells Axios via email.

The push for a "PBS for the internet"

The concept of a new media ecosystem that's non-profit, publicly funded and tech-infused is drawing interest in policy circles as a way to shift the power dynamics in today's information wars.

Why it matters: Revamping the structure and role of public media could be part of the solution to shoring up local media, decentralizing the distribution of quality news, and constraining Big Tech platforms' amplification of harmful or false information.

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U.S. women's soccer team loses to Canada, ending chances at gold

The U.S. women's soccer team lost 1-0 to eighth-ranked Canada in the Olympics semifinals on Monday, ending its chances at winning a gold medal in Tokyo.

Why it matters: The loss marks the second straight Olympics the U.S. team will not play in the gold medal match. The team was knocked out by Sweden in the quarterfinals during the Rio Games in 2016.

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Reading the tea leaves ahead of Boston's historic mayoral race

For the first time in history, a white man is not in serious contention to be the next mayor of Boston, a city with a checkered racial history.

Why it matters: The face of Democratic Party politics has changed, with more women and people of color running and winning races. As high-profile races like Boston's — and New York's — attract multiple people of color in a primary, some candidates say that allows for more ideological diversity, as well.

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Rising gasoline prices signal trouble for climate change action

Cutting oil production before we cut our demand for oil could undermine much of the progress that needs to be made on climate change.

Why it matters: If companies cut back on producing oil but consumers don’t cut back on consuming it, demand will exceed supply and prices will shoot up. That’s bad for our pocketbooks and risks the transition to cleaner energy.

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Elite trans athletes decry youth sports bans

TOKYO — While transgender inclusion in elite sports presents some challenging issues, bans on participation in youth sports are simply about hate and cruelty, several top trans athletes told Axios this week.

The big picture: Lawmakers in more than half of the states have considered such bans, and they have been signed into law in at least eight states, though legal challenges remain.

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The case for global warming realism, rather than panic

It’s getting harder and harder to communicate the two essential realities of human-caused climate change: that our failure to slow and eventually stop it is contributing to devastating human suffering all over the world, and that it’s not too late to act.

The big picture: Experts have long told climate communicators —including scientists, journalists and politicians — that disaster porn immobilizes people, leaving them cowering in a corner. You've got to give them a sense of hope, the research shows.

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Simone Biles will compete in her final Olympic event

Simone Biles will compete in the Olympic individual balance beam final, her last event of the Tokyo Games, USA Gymnastics announced Monday.

What's happening: "We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow — Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can’t wait to watch you both!" USA Gymnastics tweeted.

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In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 10 highlights

Day 10 of the Tokyo Olympic Games saw Puerto Rico bag its first-ever track gold medal when Jasmine Camacho-Quinn beat American world record holder Kendra Harrison to win the women’s 100-meter hurdles Monday.

The big picture: There was better news for Team USA in the basketball, where the women's national team beat France 93-82 — meaning the Americans are entering the medal round undefeated as they go for yet another gold, Axios' Ina Fried reports from Tokyo. France still advanced to the quarterfinals as well.

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