Good morning! Axios turns 1 today and we've launched our newest coverage area: international affairs. See the new stream here, where you can find a mix of our own reporting and the voices of outside experts.
One other thing: 40 years ago today, the late, brilliant songwriter Warren Zevon released the album Excitable Boy. So let's get into the news with one of those tunes...
Part of President Trump's interview with Reuters published last night looks ahead to the upcoming, high-stakes decision on whether to impose new penalties on solar panel imports.
Tea leaves from Trump: He didn't say what he'll do in response to the petition from two financially distressed panel manufacturers, but the article notes that the president "complained about the effect of imports on U.S. panel makers."
“You know, they dump ‘em — government-subsidized, lots of things happening — they dump the panels, then everybody goes out of business.”— Trump tells Reuters
Why it matters: To your Generate host's ears, it sounds like the conventional wisdom is correct — Trump is readying some kind of import penalties as part of his hawkish trade posture toward China.
Yes, but: The White House has all kinds of leeway under U.S. trade law to impose very tough or not-so-stringent tariffs. The deadline for a decision is Jan. 26.
Listen deeper: Just in time, the new episode of the Center for Strategic and International Studies podcast Energy 360 breaks down the upcoming decision.
Looking forward: Let's explore what will confront the next president of the American Petroleum Institute, the powerful oil-and-gas lobbying and trade group, now that longtime API head Jack Gerard said yesterday that he's departing in August after a decade at the helm.
Some of the issues include:
One big question: What will be the profile and resume of the next API president? One option is someone with high-level experience in the trade association world, while another is someone with "star power."
More: Read the full story here, including some names I've heard so far.
The future of exports: A new piece in Reuters takes the pulse of experts who predict U.S. crude oil exports will jump this year, "driven by robust demand from customers in Europe and Asia."
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A new take on peak demand: A newly published paper, co-written by BP's chief economist Spencer Dale, says all the attention to when global oil demand will peak is "misguided" and not really the right question.
"Rather, the significance of peak oil is that it signals a shift in paradigm – from an age of (perceived) scarcity to an age of abundance – and with it is likely to herald a shift to a more competitive market environment."
"The extent and pace of this diversification is likely to have an important bearing on oil prices over the next 20 or 30 years," they write.
New initiative: My colleague Amy Harder previewed this a few weeks back and now it's happening: The Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy yesterday rolled out a new Carbon Tax Research Initiative that will include research, public events and more.
Why it matters: Yes, carbon taxes lack anything close to the political traction to happen anytime soon. But it could rise on the political agenda if Democrats regain power in Washington, so having a policy design in place will be important if a political pathway opens up.
The details: The first paper from the new project is available here. It lays out the various major decision points that will confront policymakers, such as:
Not alone: The new effort adds to the existing CO2 tax work in the think tank and advocacy world. Brookings Institution analysts and other modelers are preparing to publish a collection of new papers.
The U.K.-based Carbon Disclosure Project is out with a report (here is a summary) that explores the largest publicly traded automakers readiness to operate in a carbon-constrained world — and financial risks for laggards.
What it found: The report ranks automakers by "business readiness for a low-carbon transition" and BMW takes the top spot. Daimler, Nissan, Toyota and Honda round out the top five.
Overall Trend: The report adds that 2017 saw a "profusion" of new targets for low-emissions and autonomous cars.
Forecast: Falling battery costs will lead to EV price parity with internal combustion cars around 2022. "In a scenario where 30% of new car sales are zero emission or plug-in hybrid by 2030, the potential EV market could add up to US$1 trillion," the report states.
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A couple more auto-related pieces caught my eye...
Tesla: A nice CNBC feature plows through the various reviews of Tesla's Model 3 from trade publications and elsewhere and draws some topline conclusions:
Mazda: Via Bloomberg, "Mazda Motor Corp., running counter to the industry’s shift toward electric vehicles, says rapid improvements in conventional-engine technology mean non-gasoline cars won’t be needed on a mass scale to solve pollution woes."