🥞 Good morning! It's Earth Day. We've got 1,234 words, 4.5 minutes.

🥤 Situational awareness: "Negotiators from 176 countries will gather in downtown Ottawa this week for the fourth round of talks to create a global treaty to eliminate plastic waste in less than 20 years," The Canadian Press reports.

🎶 Exactly 20 years ago, Usher ruled the Billboard Hot 100 with today's unstoppable intro tune...

1 big thing: Tesla's moment of truth

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Tomorrow's the equivalent of must-see TV in the EV world, Ben writes.

What's next: Tesla CEO Elon Musk and other company executives will face questions from analysts on an evening call after Tesla reports Q1 earnings.

Why it matters: Recent developments have created new doubts about the world's largest EV seller's strategy and execution.

  • Tesla's stock is down 41% on the year.

What we're watching: The biggest question is whether Tesla — as Reuters recently reported — has indeed shelved plans for a mass-market ($25k) car.

  • A cheaper product, the long-promised Model 2, is viewed as key to continued growth and competing with low-cost Chinese models.

The intrigue: The drama runs deeper, however, and comes amid headwinds hitting the entire EV market.

There's also some evidence that Musk's politically rightward shift is turning off Democratic EV shoppers.

What they're saying: A Deutsche Bank Research note on Friday downgraded Tesla from "buy" to "hold."

  • They cite the "high likelihood of Model 2 push-out" and the strategic focus on robotaxis.
  • Delaying a cheaper car creates "significant" pressure on earnings and cash flow from 2026 onward.
  • Tesla is tying its future to "cracking the code on full driverless autonomy, which represents a significant technological, regulatory and operational challenge."

The bottom line: Tesla still trades at a large premium to other automakers. But analysts and investors are looking for reassurance about its future.

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2. $7 billion for solar spearheads Biden Earth Day push

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Biden officials just unveiled $7 billion in grants for expanding residential solar for low-income and disadvantaged areas, Ben writes.

Why it matters: The Environmental Protection Agency funding is designed to serve nearly 1 million households.

How it works: The money comes via 60 awards to states, nonprofits, tribes and cities.

  • The money is from the "Solar for All" portion of the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund in the 2022 climate law.
  • The fund is among Democrats' biggest climate finance programs.

What they're saying: The solar grants will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, save families billions on energy bills, cut air pollution and fight climate change, EPA head Michael Regan said.

Yes, but: Republican lawmakers say EPA is ill-equipped to handle the huge GGRF effectively.

  • House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans call the fund a way to help "special interest friends" and "advance a radical rush-to-green agenda."

Speaking of Earth Day, the White House is also taking new steps to breathe life into the youth-focused "American Climate Corps" unveiled last year. CNN has more.

3. First look: New Democratic transmission legislation

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Two Capitol Hill Democrats want to give communities incentives to host power transmission — and hope their bill hitches a ride on wider permitting legislation, Ben writes.

Why it matters: Grid upgrades are needed to bring renewables to demand centers, but the maze of approvals required often ties up projects.

  • Vermont Sen. Peter Welch and New Hampshire Rep. Annie Kuster have a plan to speed things up.

What's new: The legislation — shared exclusively with Axios — would create a fund via a share of interest collected from Energy Department transmission loan programs.

  • Communities would use it for infrastructure like hospitals and schools, workforce training, and conservation.
  • The Energy and Treasury Departments would determine the share of interest staking the fund for cities, counties and tribes.

What's next: Welch plans to discuss the bill with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Joe Manchin, aides say.

  • He's hopeful it's part of bipartisan permitting legislation under discussion.

State of play: The National League of Cities and National Association of Counties support it.

  • So do recreation interests who see global warming threatening skiing and other outdoor activities.
  • Backers include REI, Burton, and the group Protect Our Winters.

The bottom line: "Expanding transmission lines is key to achieving a clean energy future and ensuring long-term welfare of communities in Vermont, New England, and across the country," Welch said.

4. Hurricane seasonal outlook's big flaw

Daily average North Atlantic sea surface&nbsptemperatures
Data: University of Maine Climate Change Institute; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

If you are a coastal resident, you may be wondering how to plan for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, Andrew writes.

Why it matters: Hurricanes are typically nature's costliest storms in the U.S., and some of the deadliest.

The big picture: Hurricane forecasters told Axios that even with near-record storm numbers possible this season — due mainly to a developing La Niña in the Pacific and record-warm waters in the tropical Atlantic — seasonal outlooks don't contain much actionable intelligence.

  • Instead, they advise coastal residents to prepare for this season ASAP, just like they would for any hurricane season, since it only takes one powerful storm to cause major damage.

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5. Carbon credits program speeds up efforts

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. is moving to free up the private sector to utilize the carbon offsets market to help it slash its greenhouse gas emissions, via new standards for a program first announced at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Andrew writes.

Why it matters: If done right, the program could help leverage private sector dollars to reduce emissions, which many experts agree is necessary to meet the Paris Agreement targets.

Yes, but: Carbon credits, which allow companies to pay for emissions reductions conducted elsewhere, are controversial.

  • Many past carbon credit programs have not resulted in the claimed emissions reductions, making them synonymous with "greenwashing."
  • According to John Podesta, President Biden's top climate diplomat, the standards for the project, known as the Energy Transition Accelerator, would need to "represent real, additional, permanent emissions reductions."

Between the lines: The ETA is a partnership between the State Department and two NGOs, the Bezos Earth Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation.

  • The expectation that new guidelines will be issued for the ETA in coming days comes just as the most vigorous carbon reduction standards group has come under fire for how it is deliberating the use of carbon credits as well.

Reportedly, the U.S. and the Bezos Earth Fund have urged the Science Based Targets Initiative to more widely allow their use.

6. 🏃🏽‍♀️ Catch up quick: Offshore wind woes and Iran sanctions

🛑 New York State officials have ended negotiations with companies planning three offshore wind projects totaling 4 gigawatts, Ben writes.

  • Why it matters: It's the latest setback for several states' and companies' plans to build Atlantic Coast projects — and another hit to the White House target of 30 GW of offshore wind capacity built by 2030.
  • State of play: In this case, it's not just about now-familiar inflation and interest rate woes. Officials said GE Vernova's product pivot away from planned 18 MW turbines "caused material changes to projects." Go deeper.

🛢️ The foreign aid package the House overwhelmingly approved Saturday contains new energy sanctions against Iran — but also gives President Biden discretion to continually waive them.

  • Why it matters: It signals bipartisan support for increasing pressure on the regime over strikes against Israel, but the White House has not yet looked to expand longstanding energy sanctions.
  • The big picture: The measure heading for Senate passage includes penalties against operators of ports, ships and refineries that handle Iranian petroleum, and also targets Chinese financial institutions. Bloomberg has more.

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🙏 Thanks to Chris Speckhard and Chuck McCutcheon for edits to today's edition, along with the brilliant Axios Visuals team.