Good morning and welcome back! We'll get to the energy news in a moment, but last night brought a burst of important political news, so I'd recommend heading over to the Axios stream to stay up to speed on election night and its aftermath.
Ok, here we go . . .
Breaking Wednesday: The European Commission just unveiled plans to set new climate standards for cars and vans, requiring that new vehicles in 2030 have emissions that are 30% lower than 2021 levels, with an interim 15% cut in 2025.
Syria's move: The Assad regime announced at the UN climate talks that it would sign the Paris agreement. Tuesday's action reverberated in the U.S. and abroad, with activists and several lawmakers pouncing on it to criticize the Trump administration for having the U.S. be the lone country to reject the plan.
Business is watching: A U.S. Chamber of Commerce blog post by Stephen Eule yesterday lays out the group's priorities from the UN climate talks as nations work on details of implementing the 2015 Paris deal:
Yesterday a summit of energy ministers — co-chaired by U.S. Energy secretary Rick Perry — and corporate execs convened by the International Energy Agency signed a pledge to bolster development and deployment of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies.
The Pew Research Center came out with a report yesterday that compares public opinion in various countries against the views of a group of foreign policy experts. The chart above created by my colleague Andrew Witherspoon represents the data from their polling on the threat of climate change.
Why it matters: The polling shows a substantial degree of agreement between public and expert opinion. The question about the threat of climate change is part of a wider international poll that Pew conducted this spring.
A couple of new analyses of Saudi Arabia's posture caught my eye...
Sizing up the Saudis, part 1: Over at the Council on Foreign Relations, veteran analyst Amy Myers Jaffe looks at the longstanding tension between prices and market share and recent changes in the kingdom's calculus, noting, "A significant oil price drop now would be inconvenient to Saudi Arabia's ambitious economic reforms."
Sizing up the Saudis, part 2: Robin Mills, CEO of the consultancy Qamar Energy, looks at the agenda and motivations of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and explains why "Saudi Arabia historically a force for oil market moderation, has become a price hawk."
Big oil (and gas) bets on itself: Reuters has a new analysis of how the world's most powerful oil companies are positioning themselves for the future that says the behemoths don't buy the argument that their businesses face any imminent threat, despite some forecasts that demand could peak within a generation.
One possible future: Bloomberg dives into one of the alternative scenarios laid out in the big OPEC annual outlook we wrote about yesterday. Their main forecast, as we noted, shows oil demand climbing through at least 2040, but Bloomberg notes...
My colleague Amy Harder has the scoop on a new energy and environmental consulting venture being launched today by four Washington veterans...
Why it matters: The firm, called COEFFICIENT Group, brings together a rare mix of expertise that cuts across fossil fuels, climate change and, yes, the political aisle too. The group's formation is hyper relevant with the energy and environmental worlds scrambling to respond to President Trump as he unwinds most of what his predecessor did in this area.
The people behind the firm:
One level deeper: The firm isn't shying away from work that includes both traditional energy and climate change. It has big goals to address issues as wide ranging as climate finance to digitization of the energy industry. It will also do more traditional government relations work.
Trump picks in the hotseat: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hear this morning from Trump's nominees to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and to serve as EPA's deputy administrator.
Geoengineering in focus: A pair of House Science, Space and Technology subcommittees will hold a hearing on the topic this morning.
Drilling: The full House Natural Resources Committee is marking up legislation that's designed to bolster oil-and-gas development on federal lands and waters.
About that wind tax provision: Via Bloomberg, there's strong evidence that a House GOP plan to pare back the wind energy production tax credit isn't going anywhere in the Senate amid opposition from key GOP lawmakers.
"What would the world look like? I have this sinking suspicion it wouldn't look that different than 10 years ago. A bunch of hybrid cars. A bunch of noise about hydrogen vehicles. You know, I don't think the world would look anything like today — where entire nations are saying, 'We're going to stop making gas cars."
Tesla board member Steve Jurvetson, a venture capitalist, said this to the New York Times when asked what would have happened if Tesla never existed.
Thought bubble: Jurvetson's bold comment is partially right. Elon Musk and Tesla have done far more than any other company to make EVs cool, and advance the technology needed to lay the groundwork for commercial deployment that's expected to grow sharply in coming years.
Yes, but: An array of forces bigger than Tesla have added lots of momentum, such as state and federal environmental policies, battery cost declines that stem from R&D by multiple companies and researchers, and the work of the legacy automakers who began getting into the EV game early on.