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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

One thing to watch once this tragic crisis passes is what forms of enforced behavior stick around by choice after lockdowns end — and what it means for energy use.

Where it stands: Global oil demand has collapsed as lots of air and vehicle travel has stopped, and billions of people worldwide are cutting back or halting their movements.

  • It's not so clear that everyone's life will simply snap back into its old form — especially people lucky enough to have jobs that enable working from home.
  • And the changes go beyond just having your cats as officemates, especially as technology around remote interactions evolves.

Energy analyst Michael Liebreich posted a wide-ranging analysis yesterday on the energy dimensions of the crisis.

  • One of his points: "Many of the new forms of behavior we adopt through necessity are going to prove sticky — and given that most of them involve staying at home or staying local, they are going to act as powerful long-term brakes on emission growth."
  • His piece in BloombergNEF explores ways that work, business travel, remote health care, schooling, urban infrastructure and more could be reshaped.

Climate expert Michael Gerrard, director of Columbia University's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, mentions a similar point in this thorough blog post from the university's Earth Institute, saying we're “learning more about how much face-to-face interaction is and is not essential."

  • “We’re all struggling to communicate virtually, and we’ll learn a lot more about the contexts in which travel can be avoided without great loss from face-to-face interaction," Gerrard said.
  • "This could ultimately help us deal with climate change because we will see what chunk of [our interactions] can be reduced by electronic communication."

But, but, but: No sane people — and certainly not the two men quoted above — are welcoming the COVID-19 pandemic or calling it anything other than a tragedy.

  • And a number of experts (Gerrard among them) fear that the coronavirus is serving to sap resources and policymakers' focus on climate change as they address the crisis.
  • The Breakthrough Institute estimates that the coronavirus will drive a 0.5% to 2.2% cut in global CO2 emissions this year, but says overall the effect will "be neither strong enough nor prolonged enough to meaningfully alter our climate’s trajectory."

The bottom line: It's nonetheless worth thinking about how COVID-19 could re-shape people's lives once the crisis is over.

Go deeper: How Congress' coronavirus stimulus would affect the energy industry

Go deeper

Officer who shot Ashli Babbitt during Capitol riot won't face charges

Gary Phaneuf, Tony Naples and Melody Black visit a memorialon Jan. 7 near the Capitol Building for Ashli Babbitt. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt on Jan. 6 as she joined a pro-Trump mob ransacking the Capitol will not face criminal charges, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.

Driving the news: In their investigation, federal prosecutors were unable to prove that the officer was not acting in self-defense or acting to defend members of Congress.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
27 mins ago - Economy & Business

Coinbase opens at $102 billion valuation on first day of public trading

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase opened trading on Wednesday at $381 per share, giving it a fully diluted market value of around $102 billion.

Why it matters: This is a slight premium to the most recent private trades for Coinbase stock, and more than 50% higher than the reference price set last night by the Nasdaq.

1 hour ago - World

U.S. intelligence expects a stormy year in the Middle East

A technical team explodes remnant ammunition near Sirte, Libya. Photo: Mohammed Ertima/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Ongoing conflicts, economic crises and the fallout from COVID-19 will likely destabilize several countries in the Middle East in 2021 and could even put some on the brink of collapse, according to the U.S. intelligence community's annual Threat Assessment Report, released on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The report is the most comprehensive assessment the intelligence community produces every year. It paints a portrait of conflicts, insurgencies, terrorism and protest movements across the Middle East.