Welcome back! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,037 words, 4 minutes.
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Plus, today marks 40 years since the late Bob Marley and The Wailers released the album "Survival," so a cut from that call-to-arms brings us into the news...
My colleague Neal Rothschild reports ... Thanks to Greta Thunberg, climate change stories generated 18 million social media interactions over the last 2 weeks, the most for the topic this year by far, per NewsWhip data provided exclusively to Axios.
Why it matters: Climate change has lagged in generating significant online interest, even as it's taken on a great urgency among Democrats and young voters. NewsWhip's findings suggest the messenger matters.
Between the lines: Thunberg is a big reason for the uptick in climate interest.
Go deeper: Read the full story here, where you can also hover over the chart to see articles and interactions for each candidate and issue, and check NewsWhip's methodology.
The Trump administration will likely endorse modest increases in vehicle mileage and emissions standards when it completes rules to weaken Obama-era mandates, multiple sources tell Axios.
Why it matters: The move, depending on the details, will likely force automakers into tough decisions about whether to endorse it.
What they're saying: "[B]ased on other conversations with the administration and others ... it seems likely that the final rule will require some year-over-year efficiency improvements," said a source familiar with the administration's thinking.
Where it stands: Big players are already going their own way. 4 automakers — Ford, VW, Honda and BMW — struck a deal with California in July that they say amounts to 3.7% annual efficiency gains in model years 2022–2026.
Flashback: EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has hinted at the prospect of backing off the freeze. On Sept. 19 he said the final rule "will not look exactly the same way that we proposed it.”
A new peer-reviewed paper cuts against the grain by concluding that the most effective carbon tax structure should start high and decline over time.
Why it matters: It breaks with carbon tax bills floating around Congress and other proposals that begin modestly and then escalate.
What they found: The paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal offers several reasons for flipping the script.
The big picture: The paper's modeling suggests an optimal price would begin at well over $100-per-ton (or even much higher), rise for a few years, and then fall.
"[P]roperly taking climate uncertainty into account leads to the conclusion that we need to take stronger action today to give us breathing room in the event that the planet turns out to be more fragile than current models predict."— Kent Daniel, lead author and professor at Columbia Business School, per statement
Where it stands: It's very different than what's out there now.
But, but, but: "Treat carbon in the atmosphere like an asset (with negative payoffs) and apply Financial Economics 101, and its price appears to jump by quite a bit over typically modeled prices," PNAS co-author Gernot Wagner tells me.
Go deeper: We may have been thinking about a carbon price all wrong (Gizmodo's Earther)
Capitol Hill Democrats want more information about Energy Secretary Rick Perry's activities in the Ukraine as they investigate President Trump.
Where it stands: The Houston Chronicle notes that the House subpoena of Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani seeks "documents related to Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s involvement with Ukrainian leaders last spring."
Why it matters: The efforts are opening a "rare window into the energy secretary’s role as an emissary for some of the administration’s most sensitive international missions," per Politico.
Policy: "The Trump administration has agreed to a new plan for boosting renewable fuels and offsetting waivers exempting oil refineries from mandates to use them, according to three people familiar with the matter who asked for anonymity before a formal announcement," Bloomberg reports.
Oil: Per Reuters, "Ecuador, one of the smallest members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, said on Tuesday it will leave the 14-nation bloc from Jan. 1 due to fiscal problems."
More oil: "Norway’s massive wealth fund got the go-ahead to sell oil and gas stocks worth $5.9 billion, ending a two-year process that has reduced an initial proposal to dump all its petroleum investments to a more moderate divestment," per Bloomberg.
EV charging: The VW unit Electrify America yesterday announced it's now selling a home-charging system for $499, and says it's "compatible with all electric vehicles available in the North American market today."
Engadget has more on the 7.6kW unit...
Controversy: The Guardian writes, "The Royal Shakespeare Company is to end its sponsorship deal with BP after growing opposition to big oil’s involvement with the UK’s leading theatre company."