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Photo: Ali Al-Saadi / AFP via Getty Images

Some of the most powerful figures in global energy markets sent a clear signal in Houston early this week: The world will and should move to a lower-carbon future — but on their terms.

What they're saying: OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo, in repeated appearances, has warned against overemphasis on specific energy sources. He instead called for focus on technology that reduces emissions from heavy use of fossil fuels (his members' products) that he says will dominate energy markets for decades to come.

  • BP CEO Bob Dudley, in a major speech in Houston, called for governments to put a price on carbon, and also said that "we need to be agnostic about fuels and focused on a race to lower emissions."
  • “We have never denied the science. We want to debate the policy,” ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance said onstage.
  • Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser offered an extended warning Tuesday against what he called unrealistic expectations about the penetration of alternative energy and electric vehicles (more on that below).

The big picture: Taken together, the speeches at the big CERAWeek conference thus far — and the scarcity of environmental voices onstage — have provided a window into how the oil industry believes energy transition should unfold:

  • Essentially, that's with a slow transition to cleaner technologies over time. But the conference has not featured voices that say far more aggressive policies are needed to avoid the most dangerous levels of warming.
  • A number of the biggest companies, including BP and Shell, have been expanding their investments in areas like renewables and EV charging. But it's still a very small portion of their spending.

Go deeper

Biden gets mixed grades on revolving door

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden is getting mixed marks for his reliance on industry insiders to staff his administration during its first 100 days.

Why it matters: Progressives have leaned on the new president to limit the revolving door between industry and government. A new report from the Revolving Door Project praises him on that front but highlights key hires it deems ethically questionable.

Exclusive: Sen. Coons sees new era of bipartisanship on China

Sen. Chris Coons. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Jan. 6 insurrection was a "shock to the system," propelling members of Congress toward the goal of shoring up America's ability to compete with China, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told Axios during an interview Thursday.

Why it matters: Competition between China's authoritarian model and the West's liberal democratic one is likely to define the 21st century. A bipartisan response would help the U.S. present a united front.

By the numbers: States weighing voting changes

Data: Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law; Cartogram: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Georgia is not alone in passing a law adding voting restrictions, but other states are seeing a surge in provisions and proposals that would expand access to the polls, according to data from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Driving the news: Just Wednesday, the New York State Assembly passed a bill to restore voting rights to convicted felons who have been released from prison.