Good morning! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,299 words, 5 minutes.
Situational awareness: "Two years into an ambitious growth plan to revive earnings at the largest U.S. oil company, Exxon Mobil said on [Thursday] it would stick to its spending plans even as its rivals trim costs." (Reuters)
And at this moment in 1969, Sly and the Family Stone were atop the Billboard singles charts with today's intro tune...
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
General Motors dropped a ton of news about its electric vehicle plans yesterday that helps to underscore why the transition to EVs may be entering a new phase — even as sales remain tepid at best.
Driving the news: GM unveiled a broad lineup of electric vehicles powered by a new proprietary battery tech, representing a dramatic transformation of the 112-year-old automaker, Axios' Joann Muller reports from Detroit.
Why it matters: It's a $20 billion bet over the next five years that GM hopes both consumers and investors will endorse, she notes.
The company is walking a tightrope between maximizing sales of its profitable gas-powered trucks and SUVs and delivering on a long-term vision for a cleaner, less-congested world.
Quick take: There are reasons to think it's a bet GM has to make as what's now just a niche market grows in the coming decades. Here are a few things on my mind that signal why this will probably happen...
The big question: That would be how GM, and any legacy automaker, can survive the slow transition as some competitors adopt a different approach.
Where it stands: Via Joann, GM President Mark Reuss said the tipping point will come when carmakers solve all of the "pain points" currently keeping people from choosing an EV for their primary car — utility, driving range, charging infrastructure and value.
Joann reports that GM announced its new Ultium battery line, jointly developed with South Korea's LG Chem.
How it works: It can be packaged in a variety of formats, enabling a modular EV platform that will underpin everything from urban taxis to luxury cars, work trucks and high-performance cars.
Details: The pouch-style battery cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack, allowing engineers to optimize energy storage and layout for each vehicle design.
OPEC ministers have agreed to push for deepening their joint production-cutting agreement with Russia and allied producers by 1.5 million barrels per day, per reports from Vienna.
Why it matters: The cartel is trying to grapple with how the novel coronavirus is sapping oil demand and depressing prices.
All eyes are now on Russia, which has yet to endorse the plan. Per Bloomberg, OPEC officials are "gambling that they can overcome Russian opposition that could block the move."
Where it stands: The latest sign of coronavirus' effect on the market came this morning.
A pair of stories caught my eye that show how the novel coronavirus is affecting the energy supply chain.
Driving the news: "Coronavirus-induced supply-chain breakdowns in China have caused the developers of two large solar-power projects in Wisconsin to declare force majeure, threatening construction delays," the Star Tribune reports.
A Wood Mackenzie analyst note shows that the gap in global investment between offshore wind and offshore oil-and-gas is expected to narrow as the 2020s progress.
The intrigue: The brief report explores why investors should be interested in a sector in which projects typically offer lower returns than oil-and-gas projects.
The chart above shows the trends in wind compared to upstream offshore oil-and-gas, which refers to exploration and production projects.
UBS is the latest in a string of banks to announce wider restrictions on fossil fuel finance as investor and activist pressure grows.
Driving the news: The Swiss banking giant said Thursday it will not finance new Arctic offshore oil projects; new coal mines or new oil sands projects.
The big picture: A number of major banks have tightened finance criteria in recent months and years.
But climate activists say some of the policies, including JPMorgan Chase's new guidelines, have major gaps.
Via Axios' Rebecca Falconer...Human-caused climate change helped fuel the weather conditions of Australia's unprecedented bushfires, an international team of climate scientists at the World Weather Attribution group found in a newly published analysis.
Why it matters: The conditions increased the chances of Australia experiencing extreme fire danger by at least 30%, an estimate researchers told a news briefing was conservative.
This is the first time scientists have been able to quantify how climate change has affected the risk of fires, they said.
Driving the news: The Australian summer that ended Feb. 29 was the second-hottest on record, after the previous one, per the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The prolonged drought continues in some parts of the country.
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Meanwhile, a new study in the journal Nature finds that trees in the Congo basin of Africa are losing their capacity to absorb CO2, the Washington Post reports.
"Increasing heat and drought is believed to be stifling the growth of the trees in the African rainforest, a phenomenon previously noted in the Amazon," it reports.
Why it matters: "The new data provides the first large-scale evidence that tropical rainforests around the world that have been untouched by logging or other human activity are losing their potency to fight climate change," the story states.