Good morning. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,209 words, 4.6 minutes.
Situational awareness: "Oil rose on Thursday to its highest since March, supported by lower U.S. crude inventories, OPEC-led supply cuts and recovering demand as governments ease restrictions on people’s movements imposed due to the coronavirus crisis." (Reuters)
🎶 And on this date in 1971, the late Marvin Gaye released the brilliant album "What's Going On," which provides today's intro tune...
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The coronavirus pandemic is remaking city landscapes worldwide, and the ultimate scope and duration of the changes will influence the future of urban mobility, pollution and even global oil demand.
Driving the news: Many cities are changing street uses and restricting cars (to varying degrees) to create new and socially distant opportunities for pedestrians, cyclists and diners. Some examples...
What we're watching: There could be colliding interests as commuting begins to revive while open space and environmental advocates fight to preserve and expand the newly airy spaces.
By the numbers: There's no precise tally of the breadth of the global changes, and policies around wider sidewalks, vehicle access and speed limits, bike paths and more vary in stringency and specifics.
But Mike Lydon of the urban planning firm Street Plans created a continuously updated public database that shows nearly 1,700 miles worth of streets affected by announced or implemented changes.
Why it matters: Cities face a new reality of uncertain duration even as restrictions are eased.
Public transit systems must run at greatly reduced capacity thanks to social distancing and budget woes, and passengers may stay away to avoid exposure.
London, in announcing its plan, warned that a mass exodus to private cars would worsen congestion and air quality.
The intrigue: Changes unfolding because of the health emergency are reinforcing a pre-pandemic movement to end cars' dominance over urban landscapes.
The big question: How many of these changes will be made permanent even once people are largely able to return, in theory, to pre-crisis norms?
Officials in Paris and London, for instance, have signaled that the changes could last, and Lydon tells me that European city officials are keen to improve air quality and address climate.
But, but, but: Cities could face pressure in the other direction. There's already evidence that driving levels are bouncing back from April's troughs in a big way.
It's hard to say at this point how much of the changes to U.S. streetscapes will stick around long after the pandemic, but some experts expect lasting changes.
What they're saying: Urban transportation expert Yonah Freemark points out that in the 2000s, New York City's then-transportation chief Janette Sadik-Khan experimented with pro-pedestrian and cycling changes. Many became permanent.
The bottom line: "A moment like this — when millions of urban trips are temporarily up for grabs across transportation modes — is exceedingly rare. The stakes for cities could scarcely be higher," said Harvard Kennedy School urban expert David Zipper, writing in Slate.
Information is coming out about how European nations hope to use economic stimulus packages to bolster deployment of climate-friendly energy sources.
Why it matters: The UN, International Energy Agency, International Monetary Fund and others want governments to use big pandemic response plans to help accelerate the global energy transition.
Driving the news: "The European Union is poised to announce the world’s greenest recovery package next week, as it seeks to curb pollution and save its economy from the coronavirus pandemic," Bloomberg reports.
Meanwhile, via the Financial Times ($), "Denmark plans to build two giant 'energy islands' as part of the world’s most ambitious offshore wind project, as the Scandinavian country increases its green programme in the face of the coronavirus crisis."
One reason it's hard to grapple with the long-term energy effects of the pandemic: Projecting the future is tough even without an unprecedented shock to the system.
Driving the news: That brings me to the new version of the Global Energy Outlook, a cool analysis and database from the think tank Resources for the Future.
The chart above looks at oil demand in a subset of those scenarios. Some are central (or "reference") cases, others model a system consistent with steep CO2 cuts (like Shell's "Sky").
The intrigue: Those projections all predate COVID-19, which is shaking things up in the near-term and maybe much longer.
For instance, multiple (and very hedged) estimates see a roughly 10 million barrel per day decline in oil demand this year, and CO2 emissions cuts in the 4%-11% range.
Tesla on Wednesday abandoned its federal lawsuit against Alameda County, California over pandemic-related restrictions on business operations that impacted its factory in Fremont.
Details: Tesla did not provide immediate comment. But the case filed May 9 appears to be a fait accompli at this point.
The big picture: The lawsuit against county orders was part of CEO Elon Musk's broader, contentious battle over public health restrictions during the pandemic that he called excessive.