Good morning and welcome back!
As 1982 drew to a close, Men at Work were midway through a 15-week stretch atop the Billboard album charts with "Business as Usual." So they've got today's intro tune...
The International Energy Agency's latest oil market analysis this morning describes two key features of today's petro-landscape:
Why it matters: Today's monthly IEA report is the first since OPEC and Russia struck a deal in Vienna last week to trim output beginning next year.
But, but, but: IEA cautions that "time will tell how effective the new production agreement will be in re-balancing the oil market." And indeed Brent crude has dipped below $60 at times in trading this morning.
The big picture: The report is a CliffsNotes look at how the U.S. has joined Russia and Saudi Arabia as entrenched members of the super-producers club. The U.S. pumps well over 11 million barrels of crude per day and climbing.
What they're saying: "[E]ven if it proves to be an isolated data point, the long-term trend is clear," IEA said about U.S.' net exporter moment, adding that net imports in 2018 are well under a third of what they were just a decade ago before shale took off.
Al Gore speaks at the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018. Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Al Gore told Axios' Amy Harder he's optimistic the world will effectively address climate change despite being pessimistic on technology capturing carbon emissions that many scientists say is critical to that end.
What he said: "The fact none of the existing technologies are considered ready for primetime, in the sense that nobody knows how to execute at scale, makes it a daunting challenge for sure. I’m mindful of that," Gore said in an interview at the UN climate conference in Poland.
“I just think it’s an extremely improbable solution right now, but maybe they will come up with some breakthrough. There are so many fossil-fuel burning installations now that they are just shutting down well before their useful lifetime because it’s just simply cheaper to move to [renewable energy]."— Al Gore
Why it matters: Gore’s remarks contrast with experts who say that capturing carbon from fossil power plants and industrial facilities is likely needed for emissions cuts steep enough to prevent some of the worst effects of climate change.
The big UN climate science report in October sees varying degrees of CCS deployment in a number of the "pathways" the study lays out for holding the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels.
A little more from Amy's chat with Gore ... The former VP explains why he's on board with the "Green New Deal" that Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and climate activists are pushing for in Congress.
“If done correctly, it’s part of the answering to the growing inequality. The so-called green new deal, whatever the details turn out to be, could create millions of jobs spread around every community in the U.S., and more than that around the world.”— Al Gore
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi met yesterday with incoming committee chairs to discuss her plans for reviving a select committee on climate — a plan that has created tensions over turf.
Why it matters: Ocasio-Cortez and a growing number of supporters want the panel to be focused on crafting a sweeping draft bill for a "Green New Deal" that's ready for launch in 2020, but would formally move through other panels.
The intrigue: Some veteran Democrats, including incoming Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, have expressed concerns about a revived committee.
U.S. solar project growth slowed in the third quarter and the industry's expansion rate is expected to be largely flat in 2018 and 2019, according to newly released data.
Why it matters: The quarterly tally from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group, captures the effect of tariffs on panel imports imposed by the Trump administration early this year.
By the numbers: Overall, U.S. solar market growth fell 15% in Q3 compared to the same period a year earlier, due to slower growth of utility-scale projects. Residential installations were flat or up slightly, they said.
Yes, but: The industry is still expanding, albeit more slowly, and the report says the current quarter should see a boomlet, thanks to projects delayed by prior uncertainty over the early 2018 tariff decision coming to fruition.
What's next: Q4, as delayed projects go forward, is slated to be biggest quarter for utility-scale projects in the last 2 years, they said.
Go deeper: U.S. solar takes hit from Trump tariffs but is cheaper than ever (Reuters)
Cars: The New York Times looks at oil industry efforts in support of Trump administration moves to roll back Obama-era auto mileage and carbon emissions rules.
Coal: S&P Global Market Intelligence has a good look at why an EPA proposal to loosen carbon emissions rules for new coal plants won't spur new construction on its own — and why that's not the end of the story.
Rapid climate change is transforming the Arctic, from the bottom of the sea floor to the top of windswept glaciers.
What's happening: Sea ice is disappearing, land-based ice is melting, and a domino effect of ecosystem changes have been set into motion, with unknown results, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.
Why it matters: New research published this week shows the peril that awaits companies that choose to operate in the harsh, unstable region, which is increasingly the focus of oil and gas drilling activity. In addition, sea ice loss may be rewriting global weather patterns, contributing to extreme weather events as far away as the Lower 48 states.
The big picture: The Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate of the rest of the world, owing largely to feedbacks known as “Arctic amplification.” Melting sea ice and snow yields ground to darker ocean waters and land cover, which absorb more of the sun’s incoming energy.
“The Arctic is shifting over time from white to blue,” says Karen Frey, a geographer at Clark University, who helped write a federal report on the changing Arctic released Tuesday, told Axios in an interview.
"What’s amazing, in a sense, is that people are surprised. A solar panel is essentially a flat-screen TV, but a lot simpler. Why wouldn’t its costs behave in a similar way?"
Who said it: Clean energy expert Michael Liebreich spoke on the new episode of the podcast Exponential View.
Context: Liebreich, founder of what became Bloomberg New Energy Finance, is discussing rapid cost declines in solar power and other technologies as their deployment grows rapidly.
The big picture: He made the remarks during a far wider-ranging conversation about the pace and challenge of the global transition to a low-carbon energy economy.
My thought bubble: I won't try and describe the whole thing here, but overall it's a clear-eyed and cogent chat about successes but also very steep challenges, such as decarbonizing heating and long-range transport.