Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,071 words, a 4 minute read.
And happy birthday to Suzanne Vega, who brings us today's intro tune.
Global investment in renewables and other low-carbon energy development fell 14% in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period last year, thanks largely to a steep decline in China, new data shows.
Why it matters: It marked the lowest level for any half-year since 2013, according to BloombergNEF, the consultancy that carefully tracks investment in low-carbon energy projects and companies.
Threat level: The slowdown comes as global carbon emissions are still rising — a far cry from the steep cuts scientists say are needed in coming decades to limit warming to 1.5°C or even 2°C above preindustrial levels.
By the numbers: Worldwide investment totaled $117.6 billion in the first half of 2019. Investment in China, the world's largest renewables market, was down 39% to $28.8 billion, while totals fell by much smaller amounts in the U.S. and Europe.
Where it stands: BNEF notes that the drop stems in part from changes in Chinese policy that move away from subsidies called feed-in tariffs in favor of competitive project auctions.
What they're saying: I asked cleantech expert and author Ramez Naam for some perspective. He said that while obviously the world needs to be moving faster and increasing investment, the tally highlights an important change in the landscape.
"Renewables are emerging out of their first economic phase, where they were subsidy dependent," Naam tells me via email, adding,
Crude oil prices have jumped to their highest levels since late May thanks to a number of forces all pushing the market in the same direction.
Driving the news: The Energy Information Administration yesterday reported a rather sharp drop of nearly 10 million barrels from U.S. commercial stockpiles.
Where it stands: The global benchmark Brent crude is trading at roughly $67.24 per barrel as we send this newsletter.
What they're saying: One analyst cautions that the market effect of the incident with the British ship is limited.
"They might have created a little bit of disturbance, but nothing came out of it. For now we are in the process of intimidation and psychological warfare. ... To have a strong price reaction you need something to really happen," Petromatrix oil analyst Olivier Jakob told Reuters.
Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a 2020 White House hopeful, is reviving her push to require detailed disclosures from publicly traded companies about climate change.
Driving the news: Warren just reintroduced her legislation that would require filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that cover areas including:
Why it matters: It's part of the push by Warren, one of the top-tier Democratic candidates, for much stronger financial regulation to reshape markets in a way that she says would provide greater public benefit.
Warren supports "using the power of public markets to accelerate the adoption of clean energy," she wrote in a Medium post.
But, but, but: The prospects for the bill are highly uncertain even if Democrats were to gain control of the Senate in 2020.
The big picture: Revival of the proposal signals how Warren and some other candidates are crafting plans that would extend climate policy into many corners of government, not just the major resource agencies and EPA.
Natural gas: The Houston Chronicle explains the resolution of a leadership struggle at a huge U.S. natural gas producer.
Wildfires: "PG&E Corp. knew for years that hundreds of miles of high-voltage power lines could fail and spark fires, yet it repeatedly failed to perform the necessary upgrades," the Wall Street Journal reports, citing documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.
Climate: Via the Washington Post: "A State Department intelligence official who was blocked by the White House from submitting written congressional testimony on climate change last month is resigning from his post."
A new Moody's Investors Service report sees coal falling to as low as 11% of the U.S. power mix within roughly a decade, down from about 25% today.
The big picture: "The pace and magnitude of the decline in coal demand for power generation remains uncertain," they note.
Go deeper: S&P Global Platts breaks down the report here.