Good morning and welcome back!
And happy birthday (one day late) to the indomitable Tina Turner, who has today's intro tune...
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
General Motor's plan to shutter several plants and cut thousands of workers is a glimpse into big changes that may loom as major automakers make the slow transition to electric vehicles.
Driving the news: As my Axios colleagues reported, GM said Monday that it will cut 15% of its salaried workforce, estimated to be more than 14,000 people in North America. It will idle factories in Michigan, Ohio, Maryland and Canada.
The intrigue: The auto giant called it part of a restructuring that will help devote more resources to fully battery-powered offerings — even as it also focuses on larger gasoline-powered products in the move away from some sedans.
The big picture: Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs called the GM move the result of several forces, including a downturn in the North American and Chinese markets, a consumer shift toward SUVs, and tariffs and trade policy.
“GM is really betting big on autonomous and electric vehicles, and so it has got to shore up its profits right now prepare for that future.”— Michelle Krebs
But, but, but: Via Greentech Media, the Union of Concerned Scientists' David Reichmuth offers a critical view of GM's near-term positioning for its long-term, more electrified future.
What's next: Mark Muro, a Brookings Institution expert in industrial transitions, also tells me the GM move is about slowing sales in the U.S. and China and the shift away from sedans.
The big new federal report on the effects of climate change (the one released on Black Friday) explores how global warming could eventually increase U.S. power costs by tens of billions of dollars annually.
Why it matters: The energy chapter of the 1,656-page report lays out a suite of ways that higher temperatures and extreme weather affect power and fuel infrastructure and availability — and the financial toll.
Threat level: On power bills specifically, even though buildings and appliances are getting more efficient, higher temperatures will generally come with higher electricity costs (check out the map above). Why?
By the numbers: By 2040, nationwide residential and commercial power expenditures are projected to rise by as much as 18% if carbon dioxide keeps piling up in the atmosphere unchecked (with lower projections if emissions are cut significantly).
The big picture: Higher energy costs are one of many potential outcomes in a warming world. More broadly, the report warns 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.
FERC: Via Utility Dive, "Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee say they will seek to postpone a Tuesday vote on Bernard McNamee's nomination to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission after the release of a video that shows the nominee criticizing renewable energy and environmental groups."
White House: Via Politico, "President Donald Trump on Monday dismissed a grim report on climate change produced by his own government, saying he didn’t believe the report’s prognosis of dire economic fallout."
Carbon taxes: A bipartisan group of House members will announce a bill today that would "price carbon emissions and return 100% of the net revenue as a rebate to American families," an advisory states.
Additions of renewable power generating capacity in developing nations have raced ahead of new coal-fired development, according to newly released data from the consultancy Bloomberg NEF as part of its annual Climatescope.
Why it matters: The finding is the fruit of falling costs that are making renewables more competitive in developing nations where energy demand is rising.
By the numbers: Last year, developing nations added 114 gigawatts of zero-carbon energy capacity (which includes nuclear and hydro), including 94 GW from wind and solar.
The big picture: "Just a few years ago, some argued that less developed nations could not, or even should not, expand power generation with zero-carbon sources because these were too expensive,” Dario Traum, a senior BNEF analyst, writes in a statement.
But, but, but: The report also shows coal's persistence at a time when scientists say deep carbon emissions cuts are needed to avoid temperature rises that blow past 2°C above preindustrial levels. This Bloomberg news writeup of the data points out...
"Actual generation from coal-fired plants gained 4 percent in developing countries to 6.4 terawatt-hours."
"193 gigawatts of coal are under construction in developing economies, with 86 percent of this capacity planned in China, India, Indonesia and South Africa, the report said, citing Coalswarm data."
The International Energy Agency has wide-angle look at why autonomous vehicles (AVs) could eventually drive a big increase in energy demand — and how to prevent that from happening.
Why it matters: There's a lot of uncertainty about what the rise of AVs will mean for energy consumption.
But, but, but: There's a pathway for a "dystopian" reading too, the IEA analysts write, marked by AVs leading to significantly more private car travel for various reasons. They include...
The bottom line: Policy will matter here, the commentary states. A lot.
"Policy and planning principles that focus on how sharing, electrification, and automation contribute to a multi-modal mobility ecosystem can help get us where we want to go," they write.
153.7%: That's the year-over-year increase in U.S. EV sales in October 2018 compared to October 2017, according to updated sales data compiled by Argonne National Laboratory.
Reality check: A standing reminder that while sales are growing, they're starting from a very small base relative to the size of the auto market. Cars with a plug were 2.5% of light-duty vehicle sales last month, per Argonne.
Details: The October 2018 data shows how Tesla's Model 3 is far outpacing its rivals.