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At this moment 35 years ago, The Police were atop the Billboard album charts with "Synchronicity," their final studio release, which provides today's intro tune...
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Imagine being Elon Musk — a billionaire who's started two of the world's most famous companies, but now faces self-created blowback leading to a never-ending string of bad publicity and circling stock market sharks.
The big picture: Musk and Tesla face legal problems on several fronts and the company is bleeding key talent. Meanwhile, newer players are emerging in the electric vehicle market and established automakers like Audi are readying new offerings.
The state of Elon:
What they're saying: Kelley Blue Book analyst Rebecca Lindland says Tesla needs changes on several fronts, from finding a way to better oversee its production — which has faced a series of problems with the Model 3 — to vetting Musk's tweets.
The other side: You don't have to be a fanboy to think that Tesla remains in a fundamentally good spot despite the mishaps.
Still, Musk is the fulcrum, Lindland says. "I think that Tesla is still built on the promise of Elon Musk as opposed to the promise of electric vehicle technology."
What's next: For better or worse, quarterly updates get outsized attention, and this next round of financials, production and delivery data are crucial.
The bottom line: Musk says the company is on track.
China yesterday said it's hitting U.S. liquefied natural gas shipments with 10% tariffs, part of their retaliation against Trump's announcement this week of $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods.
What they're saying: "Given that LNG requires considerably larger and more specialized investments in import infrastructure than crude oil, mechanisms that constrain LNG markets may prove more troublesome for U.S. exporters," ClearView Energy Partners said in a note.
The intrigue: The LNG tariffs, however, are lower than the 25% that China had previously threatened, and shares of the big U.S. LNG exporter Cheniere Energy closed higher yesterday.
Go deeper: The forever trade war
Via Axios' Amy Harder ... America’s electricity mix has undergone profound changes over the last decade, with natural gas and renewables rising and coal declining.
The big picture: The energy revolution has occurred differently across the U.S., so let’s tell these stories through four states whose electricity mixes are notable for one reason or another.
1. Massachusetts: In light of last week's tragic natural gas explosions, it's worth noting that the state's reliance on the fuel has increased in the last several years, from just above 50% to nearly 80%.
2. Iowa: This political battleground is known most for ethanol when it comes to energy. But its wind industry is quickly becoming a force to reckon with as its share has increased sharply, at coal’s expense.
3. Delaware: This is ground zero for America’s shift from coal to natural gas. Here’s a staggering stat: Delaware generated 87% of its electricity from natural gas in 2017, almost five times more than its share a decade earlier. Its dependence on coal power fell to 4.7%, down from 70% a decade ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
4. California: The Golden State has recently adopted aggressive clean-energy goals in the last month, mandating that 100% of its electricity come from carbon-free sources by 2045, including a renewable-specific target of 60% by 2030. Often a bellwether for other progressive state policies, California’s shift away from natural gas is markedly different than even other progressive states (like Delaware).
Go deeper: America’s renewable electricity ticks up
Methane: Via the Washington Post, "In the fourth rollback of a major federal climate rule in less than two months, the Interior Department eased requirements Tuesday that oil and gas firms operating on federal and tribal land capture the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas."
Iran: Per the New York Times, "Nearly two months before American oil sanctions go into effect, Iran’s crude exports are plummeting. International oil companies, including those from countries that are still committed to the nuclear agreement, are bailing out of deals with Tehran."
Tech: The Financial Times writes, "A group of the world’s leading energy traders and banks is looking to shake up the centuries-old trade finance industry with the launch of two new platforms underpinned by blockchain technology."
Climate change: Amy reports that genetically-modified seeds can help farmers adapt to droughts and other changes brought on by human-driven climate change, according to Bill Gates in comments timed with a new report.
It's easy look at past changes in the global energy mix and conclude that decarbonizing today's system will take a long time — much too long to hold temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius.
But a new analysis, released via the Center for Strategic and International Studies, argues that this view is not quite the right frame.
The big picture: CSIS' Nikos Tsafos says history shows dramatic transitions in the fuel mix and energy use in a number of specific countries, which suggest that a disruptive global transition is indeed possible, even as economies grow.
Quoted: "History shows that if we want to meet our energy challenge, all we need to do is replicate at scale what several countries have achieved previously on their own," he writes.
By the numbers: Here's one factoid from the analysis, which points out several countries in which coal and oil experienced relatively fast losses in market share...
"If we define a transition loosely—as a 10-percentage point reduction in a fuel’s market share over 10 years or so—we have dozens of country-level examples in the past 50 years."
My thought bubble: He's hardly a Pollyanna. The piece is clear-eyed about the immensity of the carbon challenge and notes the relative lack of fossil fuel displacement by renewables alone in the past.
The bottom line: "The point is not that energy systems frequently change, only that they can, and that once newer sources of energy become competitive, the transition can be dramatic," Tsafos writes.