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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Here are the energy topics insiders at Davos were most obsessed with:

Tech in focus: Rapid declines in battery and renewable costs were celebrated, as was the disruptive potential of AI, machine learning and blockchain — enabling technologies like distributed microgrids and connected homes as well as innovations in oil-and-gas trading.

Shale: With U.S. oil production about to exceed 10 million barrels per day, the highest in its history, the reemergence of the U.S. as an energy superpower is a new dynamic in energy markets and a concern for Saudi Arabia, Russia and other producers struggling to prop up prices by cutting output.

One big question: Electric and autonomous vehicles and shared mobility will shake up transportation, but there's no consensus on how quickly they might cause oil demand to decline, given that passenger cars represent only 25% of oil use. Per the International Energy Agency, petrochemicals will provide the strongest lift to oil demand (barring a backlash against rising ocean pollution that stigmatizes plastics).

Yes, but: Despite the optimism, serious concerns remain. There is a yawning gap between the current emissions trajectory and the transformation needed to achieve commitments in the Paris agreement, let alone to limit the global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius. The rise of alternative fuels and potential “lower for longer” oil prices that could result from decreased demand also introduce a host of geopolitical risks — in addition to those from North Korea, Sunni-Shia tensions, the retreat from free trade in some advanced economies, and Trump's unpredictable foreign policy.

Jason Bordoff is Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs and Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

Go deeper

Biden extends mask mandates for travelers into 2022

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

President Biden will announce new testing protocols for international travelers on Thursday and extend masking requirements through March as the U.S. prepares to fight the Omicron variant this winter, according to senior administration officials.

Driving the news: The U.S. will tighten pre-departure testing protocols starting early next week by requiring all inbound international travelers to take COVID-19 tests within one day of their departure rather than three.

Some Republicans fear a win on abortion could come back to bite them

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Republicans are on the brink of achieving a decades-long conservative project — overturning abortion rights — but some strategists worry that the party isn’t ready for the political dangers of this monumental victory.

Why it matters: The GOP has the best political environment in a decade leading into the midterms — and the last thing top party operatives want is for the Democratic base to become energized if the Supreme Court narrows or overturns Roe v. Wade.

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

MLB enters first lockout since '95 as deal expires

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (L) and Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark. Photo: Matt King/MLB via Getty Images

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday without a new deal in place.

Why it matters: With no CBA, the MLB is in a management lockout — the first work stoppage since a 1994-95 strike led to the cancelation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.