Good morning! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,303 words, 5 minutes.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
The American Petroleum Institute is now supporting the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and, separately, technology for capturing carbon dioxide, Axios' Amy Harder reports.
Why it matters: These are subtle but important shifts from the oil industry's most powerful lobbying group. They reflect the sector's reluctant and uneven embrace of climate change as a problem the government should address.
Driving the news:
The intrigue: Given that API is the largest and most diverse oil group, its public policies must encompass the views of its most progressive members, led by European producers, and its least progressive, such as many smaller, domestic producers and refiners.
Between the lines: The trade group is walking some fine lines here, including…
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
ExxonMobil notched a big win in the New York Supreme Court, but don't expect the victory to inoculate Big Oil against several other courtroom challenges over global warming.
Catch up fast: A judge ruled yesterday that the state's attorney general failed to show that the oil giant misled investors about the costs of addressing climate change. The decision called the claims "hyperbolic." Amy wrote more here.
The big picture: Big Oil is facing a widening set of legal fights on climate change. Multiple attorneys said the decision based on New York fraud statutes will not spill into the cases that rest on separate allegations about costs to local governments from climate change.
But, but, but: The ruling could affect litigants who bring cases with securities fraud claims in other jurisdictions, one expert tells Axios.
Where it stands: In October, Massachusetts filed a fraud case against Exxon in state court there.
Editor's note: This piece was updated to add info on Ann Carlson's pro bono work.
Amy also notes that the New York decision, while a clear win for Exxon, had a thin silver lining for activists as Judge Barry Ostrager noted what the decision wasn't about.
"Nothing in this opinion is intended to absolve ExxonMobil from responsibility for contributing to climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases in the production of its fossil fuel products."
A recently formed venture capital firm backed by Malaysian oil-and-gas giant Petronas is going into launch mode.
Driving the news: The San Francisco-based Piva today announced a $250 million fund to invest in "breakthrough technologies needed to usher in a new era of energy and industry."
Why it matters: It's the latest sign of how some of the world's largest oil companies are putting more resources into startups.
How it works: Petronas is Piva's sole limited partner. But Piva says it will operate independently from the company, which also has a separate corporate VC fund.
Piva CEO Ricardo Angel, in an interview, said they'll focus on emerging energy sources but also technology that makes developing fossil fuels more efficient and "greener and safer."
Background: Angel was previously the managing director at GE Ventures and before that a principal at Chevron Technology Ventures.
What's next: Angel says Piva could unveil its first deal within days. Overall, the firm plans to invest in 15–20 companies over the life of the fund.
Chevron announced a $10 billion to $11 billion write-down on several natural gas assets and one of its oil projects in the Gulf of Mexico.
Driving the news: The company said yesterday that the downward revision in its long-term price outlook means that it will "reduce funding to various gas-related opportunities."
The intrigue: There's a couple ways of looking at this. One is that it's simply a way to be judicious with capital when there's lots of your product in a competitive market when prices are low and you think they'll stay that way.
But, but, but: Another view would be that it says something deeper about the industry in a world slowly transitioning to cleaner sources and, in fits and starts, getting more serious about global warming.
This Wall Street Journal piece gets to the second point. They write (emphasis added)...
Bloomberg goes there too, noting:
Climate: The Washington Post writes that a major new federal assessment on profound changes to the Arctic climate includes this key finding...
VC: "Arcadia, a startup with software that’s connecting hundreds of thousands of U.S. households to cleaner, cheaper energy options, raised $30 million Tuesday to fuel its expanding community solar and retail energy services business," per Greentech Media.
More climate: "The Swiss central bank could be required to pull its $800 billion balance sheet out of investments in fossil fuel companies in a move by one of the world’s biggest reserve banks to tackle climate change," Reuters reports.