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Beto O'Rourke (L) and Joe Biden (R). Photo: Stephen Lam/Getty Images and Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Beto O'Rourke said plenty about climate yesterday, Joe Biden said almost nothing, and it's not too early (or only a little early) to explore what it all says about the packed Democratic 2020 fight.

Driving the news: O'Rourke released an aggressive plan that would set an "enforceable" standard of getting the U.S. to net-zero emissions by 2050 and calls for several trillion of dollars in investments over a decade.

  • Biden, in his kickoff speech in Pennsylvania, didn't mention climate directly, but gave a brief nod to clean energy and its public health and jobs benefits. But, he just entered the race, so I'll be watching to see how he positions himself.

My thought bubble: Biden may have an incentive to avoid running left on climate because:

  • He's clearly making a big play for labor's support, and authors of the Green New Deal didn't corral backing from the national AFL-CIO, which has criticized the plan.
  • A number of major rivals for the nomination including Bernie Sanders are co-sponsoring the resolution, which provides Biden a chance for a contrast.
  • Biden is "not really trying to out-woke or out-liberal other Democrats anyway," writes FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver, noting his base is older and more moderate.
  • Interest in climate change, meanwhile, is more pronounced among younger voters. That could break either way, depending on what strategy he ultimately employs to widen his support.
  • Biden can be risk averse for now but still point to his record with former President Obama, who remains very popular with Democrats and went much further than any other president on climate.

Where it stands: Biden's campaign did not respond to inquiries about what place climate will have in his campaign or his thoughts on the GND.

  • His campaign website has almost no policy for now. As we noted when he got in, it says "we must turbocharge our efforts" to address climate change.
  • Per NYT, he introduced a climate bill back in 1986 and called climate change the "greatest threat to our security" at a rally last year.

What's next? The debates are coming up fast, and I'm wagering we're past the era where climate is mostly absent, so Biden will field the topic then if not sooner.

Now let's turn to O'Rourke, who made climate the topic of his first major policy proposal.

  • Its ambition and scope suggests that O'Rourke sees moving left on emissions as a way to attract younger and more progressive voters.
  • It's also a sign that he wants to compete directly for the climate candidate mantle with Sanders as well as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has made climate the centerpiece of his run.

Go deeper: Read today's Generate newsletter for more on O'Rourke's proposal

Go deeper

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.

1 hour ago - World

Top general: China's hypersonic missile test "very close" to a "Sputnik moment"

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Wednesday that China's test of a hypersonic missile is "very concerning" and "very close" to the kind of "Sputnik moment" that triggered the Space Race during the Cold War.

Why it matters: The comments by America's top uniformed general underscore the depths of U.S. concerns about China's rapid military expansion and development of advanced weaponry.

Climate reckoning for oil and gas CEOs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Top executives from ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell will face a reckoning on Capitol Hill Thursday, as they're grilled on evidence that their companies knew for years that their products were driving climate change but chose to downplay or deny it.

Why it matters: The hearing before the House Oversight Committee will be the first time these executives have been brought together to provide sworn testimony regarding what they knew about the ties between their company's products and climate change, and when they knew it.