Good morning from New York. My latest Harder Line column contrasts the Saudi oil attacks to the United Nations climate conference underway here today.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
NEW YORK — The United Nations climate-change summit kicks off here today, a week after oil prices jumped more than they ever have in history.
The big picture: These two developments offer a window into how Americans view energy and the environment today — with relatively low oil prices making room to worry more about the environment.
Driving the news:
By the numbers: Oil prices have dropped and stabilized since the historic jump last week to hover around $60 a barrel. Pump prices, which rose a dime after the attacks to $2.66 a gallon, have also stabilized. These prices are still lower than they were earlier this decade.
Fuel prices would have to remain elevated for a while — many months or years — to alter the fundamental shift in Americans’ attitudes that's been building since 2014 of putting environmental problems above energy affordability.
One of the biggest drivers of this public opinion shift has been America’s boom in oil production, which has more than doubled since 2008.
“Attaining some degree of energy security gives us the opportunity to think proactively about environmental issues.”— Kevin Book, managing director, ClearView Energy Partners
This chart shows Gallup's roughly 2-decade tracking of Americans' concerns about the environment and energy prices, and is based on a March 1-10 poll of a random sample of 1,039 adults.
Today's UN summit and the past 2 days are bringing fresh pledges by countries and corporations as the UN warns that the world faces warming levels that vastly exceeds the Paris agreement targets.
Why it matters: Secretary-General António Guterres warned Monday, “Science tells us that on our current path, we face at least 3-degrees Celsius of global heating by the end of the century."
What's new: Here's a sampling of steps announced Monday and over the weekend...
But, but, but: It'll be impossible to gauge the summit's efficacy for a long time. That's because the big question is how much the pledges translate into real policy implementation, financial flows and changes in corporate behavior.
Go deeper: I usually don't link to press releases, but the UN tally released this morning is informative.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
More sophisticated energy systems will be needed for the diversified, smart electric grids of the future, but blockchain — one widely promoted solution — may require difficult tradeoffs, Axios Expert Voices contributors David Livingston and Ben Hertz-Shargel write.
Why it matters: Electricity is increasingly distributed and decarbonized as more renewables, energy storage and other smart technologies are deployed.
Where it stands: Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology, has been proposed as a promising platform for these energy markets.
Yes, but: Blockchain relies on massive duplication of data storage and processing, which could prove prohibitive for energy market processes and transactions.
Between the lines: Beyond technical challenges, blockchain poses practical and legal risks, including...
The other side: Selective use could mitigate some concerns, such as quickly processing certain transactions "off-chain" and recording only the most important data on blockchains.
Go deeper: Read the Atlantic Council's report on blockchain and the power grid.
Livingston is deputy director for climate and advanced energy at the Atlantic Council's Global Energy Center. Hertz-Shargel is VP of advanced grid services and analytics at EnergyHub.
Saudi Arabia: The Wall Street Journal, citing Saudi officials and oil contractors, reports on the timeline for Aramco's recovery from this month's attacks.
Regulations: Via the Washington Post, "California and 22 other states filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday against the Trump administration, challenging its decision to revoke the most-populous state’s right to set pollution limits on cars and light trucks."
Climate: UN science agencies and outside researchers said in a report ahead of today's summit that average global temperatures for 2015–2019 are "on track to be the warmest of any equivalent period on record."
New York students walk out of school to participate in a march demanding action on the global climate crisis. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
ICYMI: On Friday, people worldwide — with estimates of up to 4 million worldwide, including many students — took part in "climate strike" demonstrations.
Why it matters: It's a sign of rising pressure on national governments to take more aggressive steps to steeply cut global carbon emissions, which are still rising.
By the numbers: Organizers estimate the worldwide turnout at 4 million, but the various reports showed a wide range of numbers.
The big picture: The NYT sums it up...
"Whether this global action solves the problem that the protesters have identified — arresting greenhouse gas emissions to stave off a climate catastrophe — now depends on how effectively climate advocates can turn Friday’s momentum into sustained political pressure on governments and companies that produce those emissions."