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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

HOUSTON -- The gulf over climate change between executives of the world’s biggest energy companies and President Trump was on stark display here at a major energy conference in America’s oil capital.

Why it matters: The drivers compelling companies to invest in lower-carbon technologies, such as falling renewable-energy prices and investor pressure, are moving forward regardless of President Trump’s regulatory rollbacks and dismissal of climate change as an issue.

The big picture: Throughout the week’s event, called CERAWeek by IHS Markit, energy execs were largely in unison that the world was moving toward lower-carbon energy resources, even amid divisions about the pace and types of technologies that would ultimately dominate in the coming decades. This has been a common theme since the beginning of the Trump administration.

What we’re hearing:

  • Lynn Good, CEO of major utility Duke Energy, in an interview with Axios Thursday: “We’re committed to running our company and planning a future that goes beyond the next two or three years. The priority of the administration or Congress will change...I believe it’s a wise decision to keep going on carbon reduction. It’s best for customers, investors, employees.”
  • Thad Hill, CEO of Texas-based utility Calpine Corporation, to reporters: “Regardless of where we are today on the political landscape here, it is pretty clear to me which way we are going over the long term” which is towards society putting a value on carbon reduction over time.
  • Mary Barra, General Motors CEO, said during her on-stage interview, per Reuters: The company’s “commitment to an all-electric, zero-emissions future is unwavering, regardless of any modifications to future fuel economy standards.”
  • Ben van Beurden, Royal Dutch Shell CEO, told Axios he thinks the transition to lower-carbon energy resources is “inevitable.” During an on-stage interview, van Beurden said climate change was the biggest challenge facing the industry.
  • Bob Dudley, BP CEO, an on-stage speech earlier this week laid out why his company was returning to renewable investments, and added: “We need governments, in our opinion, to put a price on carbon.”
  • Kevin Crutchfield, CEO of coal mining company Contura Energy, during an on-stage discussion Thursday, said the climate policies of the Obama administration changed dynamics that are mostly irreversible: "We’re operating in a world that believes a low-carbon environment is better than where we were."

The other side: In on-stage speeches and interviews, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke didn’t focus on climate change and had very little focus on renewables. When pressed about climate change in an interview with Axios, Steve Winberg, assistant secretary for fossil energy at the Energy Department, responded: “I think climate change is a big concern by many people so we have to address it.”

Go deeper

Senate Democrats reach deal on extending unemployment insurance

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Democrats struck a deal Friday evening to extend unemployment insurance in President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package after deliberating and halting other action for roughly nine hours, per a Senate aide.

Why it matters: The Senate can now resume voting on other amendments to the broader rescue bill.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.

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