Good morning, my latest Harder Line column looks at the trend of nuclear reactors seeking an unprecedented 80 years of operation.
I'll share a glimpse of that, and then Ben Geman will get you up to speed on other news. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,168 words, < 5 minutes.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The presidential campaign trail isn’t the only place where being 80 years old is becoming more common.
Driving the news: Operators of up to 20% of America’s nuclear reactors are seeking federal approval to run reactors for an unprecedented 80 years. The trend helps combat climate change — but it's also raising serious safety concerns.
Earlier this month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an independent federal body, approved the first application seeking such an extension.
Where it stands: America has just under 100 reactors at roughly 60 power plants, which provide the country with 20% of its electricity — but more than half of the carbon-free kind.
The big picture: Numerous entities — including states, governments and companies — are making ambitious climate goals going out to 2050 without concrete roadmaps.
But, but, but: Other environmental groups advocating for aggressive action on climate change are nonetheless concerned about — and sometimes outright opposing — reactors operating 80 years.
The other side: Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, says reactors were initially licensed to 40 years because of economic — not technical — reasons, so there’s nothing technically stopping these plants from continuing to operate.
What I’m watching: Korsnick says it's likely that the number of U.S. reactors seeking a new longer lease on life could grow "substantially" from its current 20%.
Marathon UN climate talks ended early Sunday with a modest agreement that punts key decisions and, activists say, simply failed to reflect the urgency needed to confront the problem.
Why it matters: The latest round of UN negotiations in Madrid, which ended two days after Friday's scheduled close, are the last before nations are slated to offer revised emissions-cutting pledges next year under the Paris climate agreement.
The intrigue: One theme to emerge is how the White House decision to abandon the agreement and uncertainty about the 2020 election affected the talks.
But, but, but: Harvard's Robert Stavins says assessing the influence of the looming U.S. withdrawal on this year's talks is tough because it "calls for a comparison with an unobserved and unobservable hypothetical."
A note from HSBC analysts this morning looks at what could be the wider effects of the summit's failure to tie up technical loose ends on the Paris agreement's implementation.
The big picture: "In summary, operational issues were supposed to have been concluded in 2019, so that everyone could focus on revising climate pledges upwards and being more ambitious with targets and actions in 2020," they write.
Goldman Sachs says it won't directly finance Arctic oil-and-gas exploration, new coal-fired power plants (unless they trap carbon), or new mines for coal used in electricity.
The big picture: Those are three big pieces of the banking giant's revised climate policies unveiled over the weekend.
Why it matters: The fossil fuel-related policies expand on Goldman's prior stance in several ways, according to environmentalists who track the banking sector.
What they're saying: The Sierra Club and the Rainforest Action Network said the policy is the strongest among major U.S.-based banks
Solar: Royal Dutch Shell is buying a 49% stake in Esco Pacific, an Australian company focused on utility-scale solar, the parties said without disclosing the cost of the deal.
Utilities: Via the Financial Times, "China’s State Grid has agreed to buy a 49 per cent stake in Oman’s Electricity Holding Company, signalling a renewed push by the world’s largest utility to strike big-ticket deals for overseas assets."
PG&E: Bloomberg looks at what's next after California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday rejected the bankrupt utility's restructuring plan.