Good morning. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,310 words, 5 minutes.
🎵Saturday will mark the 1972 release date of ZZ Top's "Rio Grande Mud," so enjoy the amazing guitar riffs in today's intro tune...
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The scuttling of November's pivotal UN climate conference is the starkest sign yet of how COVID-19 is throwing a wrench into efforts to combat global warming.
Driving the news: UN officials announced Wednesday that the annual summit to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, is postponed until some unknown time next year.
Why it matters: Axios' Amy Harder reported yesterday that this isn't just another major convention scuttled by coronavirus.
The intrigue: The conference was to start just days after the U.S. presidential election, a contest that will be immensely important for global climate diplomacy.
What they're saying: "The current situation is awful, but it unintentionally creates some needed distance between the U.S. election and the [UN conference], which had been scheduled to start six days later," said Andrew Light, who was a senior climate aide in Obama's state department.
Another veteran of global climate talks agrees with that sentiment and also suggests other reasons why the delay, occurring for tragic reasons, could be tactically helpful.
The big picture: Amy notes that some advocates, including the International Energy Agency, are calling on governments to incorporate policies into economic recovery plans that are more supportive of clean energy and action on climate change.
But, but, but: Those opportunities aside, the delay comes as many nations' efforts to transform the goal of Paris — to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius — into concrete steps were already faltering, Amy writes.
Oil prices are climbing this morning and, per the Financial Times, traders are responding to President Trump's comments yesterday evening that Russia and Saudi Arabia could soon mend fences on oil supply policy.
Driving the news: Trump told reporters that he believes, based on his recent calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi crown prince, that "they will work it out over the next few days."
Reality check: A note yesterday from Rapidan Energy Group says, "At present we do not expect Riyadh to change course."
What's next: Trump is slated to meet Friday with top executives of large oil companies to discuss potential ways to help the sector that's facing strong economic headwinds as prices and demand have collapsed.
But, but, but: The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the meeting, points out...
"[T]he options are limited for Washington to help beleaguered U.S. oil-and- gas producers, and there are strong differences between major oil companies and some independent shale drillers about whether aggressive government actions are even necessary, making the prospect of any agreement challenging."
The IEA didn't mince words with the headline on yesterday's explainer about the upended market: "The global oil industry is experiencing a shock like no other in its history."
Where it stands: It explores the biggest force, which is the utter collapse in demand as COVID-19 freezes much transportation and economic activity, plus the supply shock from the end of the OPEC-Russia restraints.
What they found: One piece of their analysis, shown in the chart above, looks at the daunting economics and hard choices facing producers.
The intrigue: As you can see from the chart, differences in extraction costs mean that lower price hit the economics of North American production harder than fields in the Middle East and Russia.
But, but, but: While a substantial amount of global output will likely stop (IHS Markit sees 10 million bpd cut or shut-in from April to June), the IEA cautions: "The economics of getting oil out of the ground are not necessarily a good guide to which operations will actually halt production."
This week is bringing concrete signs of how the collapse in oil prices and demand is beginning to erode the viability of some energy companies.
Driving the news: Whiting Petroleum, a substantial producer in North Dakota's prolific shale region, said Wednesday that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The big picture: Expect more independent companies to go into crisis mode and some — maybe a lot — to go under as the market's sharp downturn worsens the outlook for a number of already stressed players.
What's happening: Prices have been 0n a steep downslope all year and have fallen recently to their lowest levels in roughly two decades (although they've regained some ground over the last day).
Where it stands: Whiting, among the companies already under financial strain before the price collapse, announced a proposed restructuring that includes giving certain creditors a 97% stake in the company in exchange for relief on $2.2 billion in debt.