Jul 29, 2019

Axios Generate

Amy Harder

Good morning! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,076 words (4-min read).

  • I was one of the 39,000 DC residents who lost power for an hour or more Saturday afternoon. It reminded me of how our continuous access to electricity (regardless of what kind of energy fuels it) is so essential and often under-appreciated.
  • My latest Harder Line column looks at the new social movement forming around climate-change action. I'll share that and then Ben Geman will get you up to speed on other news.
1 big thing: The social movement on climate change

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Over the last nine months, calls to address climate change have become a powerful new social movement.

Driving the news: Climate change has traditionally not spawned intense, organized and continued protest. That’s been gradually changing, and since November with the rise of the Green New Deal, youth activism and civil resistance protests, the movement has hardened into a force to reckon with.

Where it stands: Unlike earlier climate-related protests, such as the rallies against the Keystone XL pipeline, activists organizing today are more global, persistent and sweeping in nature. The emergence of young people, worried about an increasingly unstable world they’re growing up in, adds a clear constituency that was previously lacking.

Environmental and grassroots groups are planning a series of what they’re describing as the largest-ever climate protests this fall.

  • On Sept. 20 and 27, what organizers say could be millions of people, led by students, are signing up to walk out of their schools and jobs to demand the world stop using fossil fuels.
  • These school walkouts have been going on around the world since November with inspiration from Swedish teenager activist Greta Thunberg. The September rallies are timed to a major UN climate summit in New York City.
  • Extinction Rebellion, a group responsible for causing massive disruptions across London in April and protesting on Capitol Hill last week, is organizing similar protests across several cities, including New York, for Oct. 7 and 14.

Why it matters: Influential leaders outside this social movement, from oil executives to country officials, are noticing. Elliot Diringer, a veteran of global climate talks, said the protests are a hot topic when he meets with negotiators from various countries.

What they’re saying: Groups involved, including the youth-led Sunrise Movement, Youth Climate Strike and Extinction Rebellion, all have similar demands that are light on policy but sweeping and urgent in nature. At the center is getting off oil, natural gas and coal while prioritizing broader social justice concerns.

“It’s not our job as high schoolers to come up with solutions to climate change,” said 16-year-old Sophie Anderson, national coordinator for the Extinction Rebellion Youth U.S. “We’re not the ones with the answers. We just want people to take action.”

Yes, but … click here to read more.

2. On our radar: Big Oil earnings and 2020 debates

Business: This week brings the heart of Big Oil's earnings season. BP reports Q2 results tomorrow, followed by Shell on Thursday, and both Exxon and Chevron on Friday.

  • Other majors who've reported results so far have seen a drop in profits, thanks largely to lower oil and natural gas prices.
  • What they're saying: This MarketWatch preview notes that it will be Chevron's first report since the company abandoned its attempt to buy the big shale player Anadarko, and M&A strategy will be a focus.

Politics: Tuesday and Wednesday night bring the next 2 Democratic primary debates in Detroit, Michigan.

  • What we're watching: The location means there could be more focus on how the candidates plan to address the auto sector. The debate arrives on the heels of last week's news that several big automakers have split with the White House and cut their own emissions deal with California.
  • We'll also be tracking whether moderators press the candidates on climate change, a topic that surfaced in limited questioning in last month's NBC-hosted debates in Miami after being largely absent in past cycles.

* * *

Speaking of the White House race, this morning Jay Inslee released his plan for "Environmental & Economic Justice in an Inclusive Clean Energy Economy."

Why it matters: It's aimed at responding to the disproportionate effects of global warming and pollution on poor communities and people of color. Pillars include...

  • Putting an "equity screen" on "all major federal climate, energy, and environmental spending and policy-making."
  • Creating a new Office of Environmental Justice within the Justice Department.
  • Ensuring at least 40% of federal investment in low-carbon go to "front-line communities facing greater burdens of pollution, income inequality and climate impacts."
  • Read it here.
3. Report: Major offshore wind project hits snag

Federal approval for a large wind farm off the Massachusetts coast is being held up by "infighting" among agencies, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The problems come as U.S. offshore wind, which has been very slow to get moving, finally appears poised to become a major industry as deep-pocketed developers plan large projects off several states.

But, but, but: Per Reuters, the first of these big projects — called Vineyard Wind — is facing delays because the National Marine Fisheries Service hasn't yet reached an agreement with the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The big picture: "How the problem is resolved will shape the regulatory blueprint for a growing list of offshore wind developers seeking to tap in to rising U.S. demand for renewable energy, but who face objections from fishermen worried the turbines will affect commercial species or make fishing more difficult," their story states.

Go deeper:

4. Catch up fast: Tesla truck, oil spill, climate

Electric cars: Tesla CEO Elon Musk said over the weekend that the company could unveil its electric pickup truck in "maybe 2 to 3 months."

  • "We’re close, but the magic is in the final details," he said via Twitter.
  • Why it matters: The competition in the nascent EV pickup space is heating up. Ford boasted last week of the performance of its planned model, while GM recently confirmed it's also planning to get into the EV pickup space.

Oil: CNN reports that Chile's Navy has been been dispatched to address a spill of 40,000 liters of diesel fuel off the country's southern coast.

  • "The oil spill occurred on Saturday off Guarello Island on the Chilean side of Patagonia, the pristine southernmost region making up the tip of both Argentina and Chile," they report.

Climate: Via Climate Home News, "The world’s largest development bank is mulling a ban on financing fossil fuel projects, in a move hailed by climate campaigners."

  • The European Investment Bank revealed the draft plan on Friday, they report.
5. ICYMI: Climate trends

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Our latest quarterly Trends newsletter on Saturday looked at some of the wide-ranging effects of climate change, which is...

Read more about some effects of climate change we're tracking:

Amy Harder