Happy Friday! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,276 words, 5 minutes.
Quick housekeeping note: Generate will be off next week. But keep an eye on the Axios website for energy and climate coverage. The newsletter returns Feb. 24.
Situational awareness: "Oil prices rose on Friday and held on track for their first weekly gain since early January as investors bet the economic impact of the coronavirus would be short-lived and hoped for further Chinese central bank stimulus to tackle any slowdown." (Reuters)
🎵Tomorrow will mark 40 years since Elvis Costello & The Attractions released "Get Happy!" which provides today's intro tune...
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Big Tech is making splash with its aggressive carbon reduction goals.
But Axios' Orion Rummler reports that some of its employees and climate activists are criticizing Google, Microsoft and Amazon for partnering with fossil fuel companies to use artificial intelligence to find hidden hydrocarbons and bring them to market.
Why it matters: Major oil companies are some of the richest, most resourceful enterprises in the world. They collect multiple terabytes of data daily but don't have the capacity to analyze and efficiently utilize that volume of facts without AI.
The big picture: Critics say the fossil fuel partnerships undercut tech companies' increasingly aggressive climate and clean energy efforts.
What to watch: Global spending on AI in oil, gas and renewable energy industries is expected to reach $7.79 billion by 2024, per BIS Research.
Some ways AI is used for oil and gas:
Some ways AI is used for renewable energy:
Big Tech companies say that working with the oil industry isn’t at odds with their climate commitments, Orion reports. In some cases, they're working with Big Oil on clean energy plans — like BP giving AWS renewable power.
Axios' Amy Harder reports: Delta Airlines is spending $1 billion over the next decade to essentially cancel out all of its future greenhouse gas emissions beginning March 1, the company announced Friday.
The big picture: Delta is the world’s biggest airline by revenue, and this news is the latest in a rapidly growing trend of corporations announcing climate change goals in response to public and investor pressure.
Driving the news: Delta is able to immediately become carbon-neutral by purchasing what are called carbon offsets, financial transactions that ostensibly help cancel out carbon emissions by preventing emissions elsewhere in the world, like planting trees or supporting renewable energy.
Yes, but: Delta also says it’s going to minimize its reliance on carbon offsets, though it also concedes technologies enabling it to directly reduce its emissions aren’t readily available or in some cases even invented yet.
The intrigue: Carbon offsets are, at best, "very opaque and definitely hard for the average person to understand," said Sola Zheng, an expert on aviation at the nonprofit International Council on Clean Transportation.
Tesla stock rose by about 5% on Thursday after the company announced it was issuing about $2.3 billion in new stock.
Axios' Felix Salmon breaks it down: While a 5% move is not unusual for Tesla, the fact that the shares rose is a clear vote of confidence in the company. Most companies, when they issue new shares and dilute existing shareholders, see their stock price fall.
Background: This time last year, Tesla was struggling with cashflow issues and suffering waves of layoffs. And, investors weren't particularly happy with Tesla's reluctance to spend money.
The bottom line: The recent surge in Tesla's share price can be viewed as the stock market positively begging Musk to raise fresh cash while it's incredibly cheap. While he claims not to need the money, investors are sure that he'll find something worthwhile to do with it.
Here's a scorching hot take: Making climate policy is going to be really hard, even if there's now more bipartisan agreement that, well, there should be something called climate policy.
Driving the news: Consider the political and policy news of the last few days...
Newly released Pew Research Center data highlights the persistent partisan divides on climate change.
The big picture: The chart above shows the split between Republicans and Democrats over whether climate should be a top priority for the White House and Congress.
Climate: "BP Plc is expanding its team working on carbon capture and storage projects as part of its ambition to zero out net greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050," Bloomberg writes.
Regulations: The NYT reports that Trump administration efforts to weaken vehicle mileage and emissions rules are running into a host of problems and "may not be ready until this summer — if ever."
Natural gas: A helpful new Center for Strategic and International Studies post explores the role natural gas is — and isn't — playing in coal's steep decline in Europe.