Good morning. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,301 words, 5 minutes.
🎬 Tonight’s "Axios on HBO” returns at 11pm ET/PT on all HBO platforms with interviews with Vice President Mike Pence (clip), Senator Marco Rubio, and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Plus, we explore the bioethics of contact tracing.
My latest column looks at how green (or not) America's recovery could be. I'll share a glimpse of that and then Ben Geman will get you up to speed on other news.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
Economists, investors and environmentalists are calling on the United States — and the world — to inject big clean energy and climate policy into recovery plans.
Reality check: Such prospects face uphill battles almost everywhere, and especially in the U.S., where proponents are on defense with the Trump administration and lawmakers are in crisis mode.
The big picture: It’s not just environmentalists clamoring for a green economic recovery. The United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and a broad swath of investors and corporate executives are calling for a range of clean-energy policies as well.
Where it stands: Congress is going to spend the next several months debating legislation to provide different levels of relief, rescue and recovery to the economy, which is still reeling from coronavirus-fueled shutdowns.
“As long as the country is gripped by the fear of significant personal family trauma and grinding months of unemployment, that's what Congress is going to focus on. I think we are going to be in emergency policy subsistence for the rest of 2020.”— Jason Grumet, president, Bipartisan Policy Center
What they’re saying: Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), one of Washington’s most progressive advocates for climate-change action and clean energy, is on defense.
Driving the news: The paralysis is not stopping a growing number of organizations from suggesting numerous policies to green the economy while also rebuilding it, including Grumet’s group.
Click here to read about them and my full column.
The intrigue: One policy idea Washington insiders have talked about (and has happened before) is a classic pairing of a Republican priority — buying excess oil for the nation’s strategic reserves — and a Democratic priority, reauthorizing renewable-energy tax credits.
Yes, but: Such a swap would do little to reduce heat-trapping emissions in the long run and at the deep levels scientists say is necessary, experts say.
What’s next: Stay tuned for deeper dives into some of the discussed policies and the potential for other countries to green their economic recoveries.
Investors have abandoned oil at warp speed so far this year as futures prices have fallen to record lows. Even as oil has bounced from its record trough in April, investors remain skeptical about the chances for sustained value appreciation, Axios' Dion Rabouin reports.
Why it matters: "Typically, oil price fluctuations have a small aggregate impact on U.S. growth, with roughly offsetting effects from the energy capex and consumption channels," Paul Choi, biotechnology analyst at Goldman Sachs, writes in a note to clients.
The big picture: The U.S. is now the world's No.1 oil producer, which means more of the economy is dependent on oil and gas production.
What happened: Energy saw the biggest change in positioning of all market sectors, as traders sold nearly 80 million shares of energy stocks during the first quarter, Bank of America Global Research notes.
What to watch: Oil's historically low prices mean that more bankruptcies are "likely unavoidable," Choi says. Goldman's estimates currently imply "a 50-60% year-on-year decline in energy capex in Q2/Q3, similar to the decline in 2015/2016."
The last word: Analysts expect oil will provide a net drag on overall U.S. GDP growth of roughly 0.25 percentage points, year over year, Choi says.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
ICYMI, Tesla filed a federal lawsuit Saturday in a bid to restart operations in its factory in Fremont, California — a step that came on the same day CEO Elon Musk threatened to move the company's headquarters out of the state.
Driving the news: The electric automaker's suit against Alameda County calls local officials' refusal to allow the factory to reopen a "power grab" that defies Gov. Gavin Newsom's policies on industry operations and constitutional due process rights.
Where it stands: It followed tweets from Musk announcing the case and stating that Tesla will "now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately."
The other side: A statement from Alameda County issued before the lawsuit was filed says county officials have been working with Tesla.
The intrigue: As for Musk's threat to pull up stakes in California, this Bloomberg piece offers reasons why it should be treated with some skepticism.
What we're watching: I'm curious to see if the outspoken Musk's threat to distance Tesla from California was Twitter pique or translates into action.
A new peer-reviewed study has identified thousands of unprecedented periods of extreme heat and humidity in areas around the world in recent decades, including in the U.S. Gulf Coast, Axios' Bryan Walsh reports.
Why it matters: It highlights how warming is already affecting large swaths of the population, and temperatures are projected to increase substantially this century even with mitigation efforts and technology progress.
What they did: The May 8 paper in Science Advances analyzed weather data and found extreme heat and humidity combinations doubled between 1979 and 2017.
Of note: Scientists assess the heat and humidity combination using what is known as wet-bulb temperature, which is literally measured by wrapping a thermometer in a wet cloth.
Threat level: The study comes on the heels of a paper in the journal PNAS which projects that very large numbers of people will live in areas considered unsuitably hot for human beings by 2070.