Welcome back. Today's Smart Brevity: 1,212 words, 4.5 minutes.
🎵This week marks 30 years since Depeche Mode released "Violator," which provides today's intro tune...
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Social distancing is forcing advocacy movements to adjust their tactics, creating new hurdles for climate activists who use mass protests and on-the-ground organizing as important tools.
Why it matters: Climate change has risen on the political radar in recent years.
Driving the news: Those techniques are suddenly off the table.
Threat level: Digital advocacy has long been a piece of the advocates' toolbox, but smart organizers have also long understood that it's a complement to on-the-ground work — not a substitute.
The big picture: "Over the last decade, the climate movement has become a movement through mass action," veteran organizer Jamie Henn tells me, citing everything from marches to civil disobedience to house parties and potlucks.
What's next: “This is a moment that demands creativity and thinking outside the box,” says Pete Maysmith of the League of Conservation Voters. "The climate crisis is not slowing down and our efforts to combat it are not going to slow down either."
The bottom line: "The moment we're in requires a different sort of activism," Henn says.
ExxonMobil, citing an "unprecedented environment," said last night that it plans to "significantly" cut spending in light of the coronavirus and the collapse in oil prices.
Why it matters: The oil giant's announcement is the latest sign of how deeply the upended market is affecting the sector. Via Reuters...
"It was a stunning reversal for the largest U.S. oil producer, which two weeks ago pledged to 'lean in' to the market drop and maintain outlays in a belief oil demand would rise in the long run."
What's new: Per Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs analysts now estimate that global oil consumption has fallen by 8 million barrels a day, and they see Brent crude falling to $20 a barrel next quarter.
Catch up fast: The oil market has been upended by two huge forces: the deep cuts in travel and the economic fallout from COVID-19 that's cratering oil demand, and the collapse of OPEC-Russia production-limiting deal.
Where it stands: Exxon is among many oil companies large and small announcing major cutbacks.
A joint statement from OPEC and the International Energy Agency says they reviewed the effects of the pandemic and price collapse on "vulnerable developing countries."
What they found: "[I]f current market conditions continue, their income from oil and gas will fall by 50% to 85% in 2020, reaching the lowest levels in more than two decades, according to recent IEA analysis." (Emphasis added)
A group of GOP senators are slated to meet with the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. tomorrow to make the case that the kingdom should back off plans to flood the market with low-price crude.
Driving the news: The meeting hosted by Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan follows an open letter to Saudi leaders from 13 senators, mostly from oil-producing states, which says "unsettled" energy markets are "unwelcome" amid the COVID-19 crisis.
We urge the Kingdom to assert constructive leadership in stabilizing the world economy by calming economic anxiety in the oil and gas sector at a time when countries around the world are addressing the pandemic.
Quick take: The long shot effort to prod the Saudis into reconsidering their posture underscores the limits of White House claims of U.S. "energy dominance."
A note from HSBC Global Research offers a helpful — if partial — frame for thinking about some ways the stunning halt to everyday routines will affect carbon emissions and the environment.
The big picture: I want to clear the decks by saying, again, that near-term emissions declines are happening for tragic reasons that nobody wants replicated.
What they found: Here's some key points from their note...
Threat level: Reduced industrial output is cutting CO2, but there's "no structural change taking place, only postponement," and they see "potential fiscal stimuli for carbon intensive industries."
Utilities: "Pacific Gas & Electric on Monday won court approval to raise $23 billion to help pay its bills over destructive California wildfires after Gov. Gavin Newsom dropped his opposition to a financing package designed to help the nation’s largest utility get out of bankruptcy." (AP)
Oil companies: "Apollo Global Management Inc. and other firms are backing off a commitment to finance shale driller EP Energy Corp. exit from chapter 11, people familiar with the matter said, the second major bankruptcy deal to falter over the turmoil in U.S. energy markets." (WSJ)
Congress: The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, citing COVID-19, has postponed plans to release a detailed suite of policy recommendations at the end of the month.