We've got plenty on the attacks against Saudi oil facilities, but first ... my latest Harder Line column dissects a common dynamic when we talk about climate and energy.
After this, Ben Geman will get you up to speed on the Saudi news and more. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,392 words, ~ 5 minutes.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Thousands of environmental activists and politicians are descending on New York City in the coming days for rallies and a major summit. Almost certainly, they will use oil, natural gas and/or coal to get there.
The big picture: That's the classic hypocrisy charge — you're a hypocrite for advocating on climate change while using fossil fuels. Such arguments are increasing, so it's worth exploring the concrete steps people can actually take in a warming world.
Driving the news: "Flight shaming” is near the top of the list. Jet-fueled airplanes account for just 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions, but on a per-ton basis, it’s one of the most carbon-intensive activities individuals can choose.
Between the lines: Since we all somehow use fossil fuels and carbon-free replacements are still the exception (for now), charges of hypocrisy would have to apply to pretty much all of us, thus diluting the whole point.
But, but, but: This concept is increasingly part of our debate, so it’s got me thinking about tangents that are more actionable...
What’s next: I’ll be occasionally writing columns tackling these topics going forward.
What I’m hearing: A big reason I’m pursuing these angles is because I regularly hear from readers asking what they can do to address climate change. Or sometimes they ask me about my carbon footprint.
So, what do you do to reduce the climate impact of your lifestyle? Or conversely, why don’t you take such steps? There are no right or wrong answers, just your insights. Email me at email@example.com.
This satellite image shows damage to Saudi Aramco's Abqaiq oil processing plant. Photo: U.S. government/Digital Globe
We're currently dealing with one of the biggest oil shocks in a long time, triggered by attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure on Saturday that took 5.7 million barrels-per-day of production offline — roughly 5% of global daily output.
Markets: Crude prices have come back a lot after surging when markets opened last night, but they're still elevated compared to pre-attack levels.
Geopolitics: Trump also tweeted Sunday evening that "there is reason to believe that we know the culprit, [we] are locked and loaded depending on verification."
Where it stands: Saudi officials hope to restore one-third of the disrupted production today, per the Wall Street Journal.
Threat level: The attacks "provide stark evidence of the vulnerability of global crude supply in an age of disruptive technologies," Bloomberg reports.
One place we'll be looking for political fallout from the Saudi turmoil is how it affects Democratic 2020 candidates pushing plans to transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels.
Why it matters: Energy market shocks invariably hit politics — that was certainly the case in 2008 when oil prices reached historic highs.
The intrigue: Journalists have an unblemished record when it comes to political predictions, so with that throat clearing, we're looking for...
What they're saying: The research firm ClearView Energy Partners, in a note yesterday, explored the latter possibility.
What's next: ClearView is looking ahead to next month's Democratic debate in Ohio, where they "anticipate that candidates could pair climate activism with spike-derived economic advocacy for transition."
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Analysts and traders are looking at the immediate supply effect of the Saudi attacks and what they portend for the long-term security of the world's largest crude oil exporter.
Why it matters: Prices had been middling for months thanks to the sluggish global economy, U.S. production growth, and trade fights.
What they're saying: Barclays, in a note this morning, points out that Saudi exports "will likely not be impacted significantly" thanks to their large stockpiles. That includes 4 main Aramco export terminals that hold roughly 2 weeks' worth of shipments.
But, but, but: Lower inventories and spare production capacity put upward pressure on prices, and more broadly, "market expectations of supply-side tail risks will likely reset," Barclays writes.
Plus, S&P Global Platts analyst Chris Midgley points out in a note:
Another thing to watch is what the attacks portend for revived plans for the IPO of state oil giant Aramco — and the WSJ reports this morning they are considering a delay.
Why it matters: The Saudis hope to raise tens of billions of dollars by offering a slice of the company and plan to use the cash to help fund efforts to diversify their crude-dominated economy.
The big question: Will the attacks affect the valuation of the company? Saudi officials are reportedly planning a two-phase process, with placement on the country's domestic exchange, followed later by listing on a major international exchange.
Threat level: The Eurasia Group said the strike creates new problems, but Saudi leadership is nonetheless "unlikely" to change its plans.
Meanwhile, the Atlantic Council's Randolph Bell tells Axios...
Number of the day: 1 million. That's the number of electric buses that will be on the roads in China by 2023, rising to 1.3 million by 2025, according to a new Wood Mackenzie projection Monday.
California: Quartz checks in on EV sales in the biggest U.S. market by far.
Lobbying: "Groups backed by industry giants like Exxon Mobil and the Koch empire are waging a state-by-state, multimillion-dollar battle to squelch utility companies’ plans to build charging stations across the country," per Politico.