Good morning. My latest Harder Line column takes stock of efforts to get Congress to back a carbon price. I'll share a glimpse of that, and then Ben Geman will take over the rest.
Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,258 words, < 5 minutes.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
New lobbying urging Congress to support a price on carbon emissions is not convincing lawmakers to warm up to the policy.
Why it matters: A carbon price is widely considered one of the most economically efficient ways to tackle climate change. But, economics be damned, its politics remain deeply unpopular.
Where it stands: Despite renewed agreement that climate change is a problem the government should address, Democrats and Republicans are talking past each other on policy — neither party is coalescing around a carbon price.
This dismissal is occurring despite a growing list of deep-pocketed and influential interests saying they want Congress to pass precisely that policy, including most parts of corporate America, from ExxonMobil to AT&T.
The intrigue: The subtle evolution of one moderate House Republican — Rep. Tom Reed of New York — illustrates today’s persistently cool reception.
A more fundamental dynamic is at play with Republicans.
“There is a risk that the innovation agenda is inadequate to address climate change but adequate to address the political pressure on Republicans. That is a risk today."
"But the forecast for the impacts of climate change is so severe I believe that pressure to address the reality of the situation will make the current proposals clearly insufficient in time.”— Alex Flint, executive director, Alliance for Market Solutions
Yes, but: It’s still early days for these efforts. Lobbying behind the scenes could produce a sea change not yet publicly evident, either imminently or years down the line.
What’s next: Expect more support to emerge from Capitol Hill soon. One group, which is pushing a carbon price where the revenue is returned to consumers, is announcing new members this month.
OPEC's possible responses to the spreading coronavirus that's hurting oil demand and prices are starting to come into view.
Driving the news: Reuters reports that OPEC and allied producers could deepen their existing production-limiting pact by 500,000 barrels per day.
Why it matters: Besides killing more than 360 people so far, the outbreak is severely curtailing airline and economic activity in China, the world's largest oil importer and second-largest oil consumer.
The big picture: This new Bloomberg piece, citing people with "inside knowledge" of China's energy sector, gets to the scary and immense scale of what's happening...
What's next: A technical monitoring committee for OPEC+, which is the alliance between the cartel, Russia and allied producers, is slated to meet this week, per multiple reports.
CNBC money pundit Jim Cramer is an unlikely new avatar for climate activists with his take on Big Oil's future.
Catch up fast: Cramer made waves Friday with his response to ExxonMobil's and Chevron's glum earnings reports...
The big picture: Friday's results sent the stocks of Exxon — already at a decade-low after several tough years — and Chevron downward. It's just the latest sign of the sector's waning market performance.
While climate activists quickly signal-boosted Cramer's comments, it's hardly clear that investors are truly spooked over climate concerns and pressure.
Quick take: Axios' Dion Rabouin said poor financial performance — not the environment — is what's really behind the trend of fossil fuel divestments. Check out the chart above.
Why it matters: The ads are the latest sign of the growing volumes of electric models becoming available or in the offing (the New York Times notes that some markets also had an ad for Ford's Mustang Mach-e with actor Idris Elba).
But, but, but: The NYT piece, which explores how EV sales remain a tiny corner of the market, has a fascinating tidbit about how automakers really spend their ad budgets. The firm Kanter Media ran the numbers for them and per NYT...
What's next: Seemingly a stronger effort to market the cars. Their piece notes that "some companies are already signaling a shift in emphasis in the years ahead" and that Audi plans to devote half its global market budget to EVs this year, compared to 10% in 2019.