Good morning, did you catch Axios on HBO last night? We talked about climate change with Bill Gates on climate change, who is the topic of my latest column. I'll share that, and then Ben will get you up to speed on other news.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Meet Bill Gates. You know him most as co-founder of Microsoft and one of the richest people on the planet.
Why he matters: Gates has long worked on climate change and clean energy issues, but the tech visionary is increasingly worried not enough people understand the dimensions of the problem and that it's going to prevent progress. This escalation was on display in a 40-minute interview with “Axios on HBO.”
The intrigue: Talking recently at his private offices overlooking the water in Kirkland, Washington, near Seattle, Gates went wonky more than he went visionary. He didn’t criticize President Trump’s positions dismissing climate change, even though he's spent a significant amount of energy trying to change his mind.
Some grassroots environmental groups, led by 350.org, have found support for a renewables-only strategy in Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D.-N.Y.), a rising progressive star who is pushing for such a policy with Democrats now controlling the House.
The big picture: Gates is imploring people to realize that addressing climate change means changing the fundamental way our lives are run, which ultimately means the entire global economy.
Gates said he was optimistic that humanity can tackle climate change, but he didn’t exactly show it.
Go deeper: Click here to read the whole column, including info about his new investments in this area.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk says his electric car company was close to death over the last year — within "single-digit weeks," he told "Axios on HBO" — during the troubled ramp-up of the mass market Model 3.
Driving the news: Musk called the Model 3 buildout "production hell," and watched as his own erratic behavior — including an ongoing scrape with federal authorities — contributed to a plunge in Tesla’s share price.
Why it matters, from Axios future editor Steve LeVine: Musk’s admission shows just how dire conditions became at a company that is synonymous with him, and that many regard as the key to a future electric car revolution.
Crude oil prices ticked up a little in Monday trading, but not nearly enough to erase the losses from Friday, when a drop of several dollars put an exclamation point on a roughly seven-week decline. (Reuters has the latest.)
Why it matters: As we wrote about Friday in the Axios stream, the price declines will fuel the already intense focus on the December 6 OPEC meeting, where the cartel and allied producers — notably Russia — will decide on potential output cuts aimed at tightening the market.
The intrigue: President Trump has recently been celebrating the price declines and putting public pressure on Saudi Arabia to keep prices low — at the same moment he's signaling a hands-off approach, for now, over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
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Speaking of oil and the Saudis, Bloomberg chatted with Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser about the state oil giant's investment plans . . .
Why it matters: As the Bloomberg piece notes, it's part of the kingdom's effort to diversify its economy, which is heavily reliant on crude oil sales.
Axios' Andrew Freedman on a vital study released during what's often a dead zone for news . . .
The Trump administration chose Black Friday for the release of a major new climate science report, warning of "hundreds of billions of dollars" in annual losses to some economic sectors without scaled up actions to adapt to current changes and slash emissions to avoid future warming.
Why it matters: The report by scientists from 13 federal agencies concluded that lives and property are already at risk in the U.S. due to climate change.
Details: It points out that the era of climate consequences for the U.S. is well underway, and only actions taken in the next few years can be effective in addressing the scope and severity of the problem.
The report Andrew wrote about came up on several Sunday talking head shows, marking a rare moment when climate is part of the weekly gabfests.
Why it matters: The discussion offered a window onto how prominent politicians, including potential Democratic White House hopefuls, are addressing the topic.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota Democratic who may test the waters, said on ABC's "This Week" that "we have to make this a major issue going into next year."
Vermont's Bernie Sanders, who is weighing another bid, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" . . .
Over on CNN's "State of the Union," Iowa Republican Joni Ernst signaled skepticism of the overwhelming scientific consensus that current global warming is caused almost wholly by human activities.
Nebraska GOP Sen. Ben Sasse called the report "important," but declined to endorse the dominant scientific view that's shared by federal agency experts, instead calling humans a "contributing factor" to climate change.
Amy's got the latest on industry maneuvering over an Obama-era climate policy . . .
A coalition of manufacturers and chemical makers argue in a new report that the impact on consumers would be limited if the Trump administration and Congress approve a global deal on climate change first agreed to by the Obama administration.
The big picture: Named after the Rwandan city where it was signed in October 2016, the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol, an environmental treaty, phases down the use of potent greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are emitted from refrigerants in appliances like air conditioners.
Details: Businesses affected by the Kigali amendment support it largely because they stand to benefit financially with new products coming online to comply with it.
Despite that support, the amendment is facing a skeptical audience in the Trump administration due to concerns about consumer costs when maintaining and purchasing new air conditioners.
What's next: For the policy to go into effect in the U.S., the State Department needs to send it over for review and eventual vote in the Senate. That hasn’t occurred, and there’s no sign it will anytime soon, according to people familiar with the process.
Axios' Jonathan and Alayna Treene report . . .
President Trump twice raised to the Iraqi prime minister the idea of repaying America for its wars with Iraqi oil, a highly controversial ask that runs afoul of international norms and logic, according to sources with direct knowledge.
Trump appears to have finally given up on this idea, but until now it hasn't been revealed that as president he's raised the concept twice with Iraq's prime minister and brought it up separately in the Situation Room with his national security team.
Why it matters: Trump's desire to raid Iraq's oil is illegal and unworkable. But it reveals a great deal about his approach to the Middle East. Trump remains hellbent on extracting payments from Middle Eastern countries, in the form of natural resources, for the trillions of dollars America has spent since the early 2000s.
In March last year, at the end of a White House meeting with Iraq's then-Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Trump brought up the subject of taking oil from Iraq to reimburse the United States for the costs of the war there.
Between the lines: On the campaign trail, Trump complained that the U.S. had spent trillions in Iraq and lost thousands of lives but got "nothing" in return. He lamented that usually in war "to the victor belong the spoils" and he repeatedly said the U.S. should have seized Iraq's oilfields as reimbursement for the steep costs of the war.
Go deeper: Inside-the-room details in the Axios stream.