Good morning! Today's Smart Brevity: 1,272 words, < 5 minutes.
Yesterday marked exactly 30 years since Tears for Fears released today's expertly crafted intro tune...
2 big pieces of energy and climate news in the 2020 White House race: Sen. Bernie Sanders is going big and Gov. Jay Inslee is getting out.
Driving the the news: Sanders today released a $16.3 trillion plan that calls for 100% renewable power and transportation systems by 2030 and decarbonizing the whole U.S. economy by 2050.
Why it matters: Sanders is battling Sen. Elizabeth Warren for 2nd place in the Democratic race behind Joe Biden, and polls show global warming is among the top priorities for the party's primary voters.
The big picture: A few pillars of the plan include...
Yes, but: While the whole thing adds lots of specific policy and spending ideas to the vague Green New Deal framework, his plan is nonetheless more of a vision statement than a pathway for policy that stands much chance of implementation as proposed.
What's new: One of the concepts for transitioning the electricity system is a renewables-focused, $2.4 trillion overhaul and expansion of federal Power Marketing Administrations that currently cover 33 states.
My initial thoughts on Sanders' plan...
1. It's vague on carbon pricing. It doesn't call for a carbon tax, which Sanders has in years past.
2. Sanders is aggressively taking sides in the debate on the left over pushing for a fully renewable power system vs. a mix of renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels with CO2 capture.
3. He wants to spend a lot of money on transportation initiatives, including...
4. Other big-ticket items include...
5. Sanders has Wall Street in his sights. Per the plan...
Policy: He offered a great deal of it on domestic energy, weaving climate into international relations, agriculture policy, and much more.
But, but, but: An interesting point about the effect of his campaign, or lack thereof, comes from FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver via Twitter:
"People will try to spin it differently but Inslee's lackluster performance is an obviously bearish indicator for the prioritization of climate change in Democratic politics."
A move by at least 4 big automakers to cut a separate deal with California on nationwide emissions standards clearly has President Trump's attention.
What's happening: Last night Trump tweeted attacks against the pact, which includes Ford, that effectively rebuffs his plan to freeze Obama-era emissions and mileage rules, rather than allowing them to get more stringent through the mid-2020s. In one tweet, Trump said...
"Henry Ford would be very disappointed if he saw his modern-day descendants wanting to build a much more expensive car, that is far less safe and doesn’t work as well, because execs don’t want to fight California regulators."
Why it matters: The tweets represent an escalation in the battle over one of the most far-reaching Obama-era climate efforts. They come as major automakers are weighing whether to join Ford, Honda, VW and BMW in the pact with California.
The big question: Will Trump's public criticism give other automakers pause about joining the deal?
Quick take: The industry is an an awkward spot. It felt former President Obama's mandates were infeasible, but argues Trump's plan to freeze them outright goes too far.
The intrigue: The Wall Street Journal has new reporting about various companies' decision-making.
The big picture: Reuters points out that Trump's claims are highly questionable...
"There is no evidence that existing fuel economy rules would degrade vehicle performance.
"And environmentalists and many states challenge Trump’s assertion that his administration’s proposed rule would boost vehicle safety or dramatically reduce the price of vehicles."
The Rhodium Group consultancy is out with an analysis of the automakers' agreement with California on emissions standards (which are essentially a proxy for mileage improvements).
The big picture: The chart above looks at the projected effects on the nationwide vehicle fleet. It compares them to the Obama-era standards and Trump's plan to freeze mileage rules.
What they did: They ran an analysis assuming that Ford, Honda, BMW and VW — which together represent about a third of the U.S. market — sell cars nationwide that comply with the California deal.
What they found: "In this split market, we estimate that fleetwide average rises to 39 to 41 mpg in 2025, and 42 to 45 mpg by 2030."
By the numbers: They estimate that the California deal "could reduce emissions by 184 to 266 million metric tons (MMTs) cumulatively from 2021 to 2035 relative to Trump’s pending rollback."
Royal Dutch Shell will buy ERM Power, a business energy supplier in Australia, for around $418 million, in a move to enter that electricity market, the Financial Times reports.
Why it matters: It's a major new example of ongoing moves by Shell — and some other oil majors — into the electricity and EV charging space, even though it's still small in scale compared to their core oil-and-gas business.