Good morning. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,424 words, a 5.5-minute read.
🎵And on this date in 1999, Tom Waits released the album "Mule Variations," so a track with a message for our times opens today's edition...
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Three pieces of analysis caught my eye that suggest trouble for the growth of low-carbon energy sectors, as we continue gauging the ongoing effects from the coronavirus pandemic.
State of play: Several industry groups and analysts issued a memorandum tallying the early stages of U.S. job losses in the sector at 3% already. Meanwhile, an intergovernmental agency warns that COVID-19 could hinder oil industry efforts on climate and a group of business leaders said 84% of their members have delayed projects.
A BW Research Partnership report concludes that over 106,000 workers lost jobs last month across several broad categories: efficiency, renewable power, alternative fuels, storage and grid tech, and electric cars.
Why it matters: The BW analysis provides a wide-angle look at the various reports emerging of how the economic contraction and movement restrictions are affecting these sectors.
Threat level: The 106,400 jobs lost across these sectors in March represents an immediate 3% drop in employment, but there's more to come, according to BW.
What's next: They estimate that the sectors identified could lose a combined half a million jobs in the months ahead absent new support.
More broadly, there's a push in multiple regions, including the EU, to have economic rescue packages boost low-carbon energy. It comes as the sector is taking a hit worldwide.
Separately, the International Energy Agency's monthly oil market report sounds the alarm about the diversification efforts of the world's largest oil-and-gas companies.
Plus, just this morning, the trade group Advanced Energy Economy released a survey about the effects of COVID-19 on their members.
Go deeper: More than 100,000 clean energy workers lost their jobs in March (L.A. Times)
California has seen the steepest initial job losses in the broadly defined "clean energy" sector, per BW analysis of unemployment claims filed in March.
Royal Dutch Shell unveiled wide-ranging new climate goals Thursday that would see the oil-and-gas giant become "net-zero emissions energy business" by 2050.
Why it matters: It's the latest and among the biggest moves by European-based majors on global warming — one that would require a major transformation of their businesses to succeed.
Driving the news: Shell said it aims to have net-zero emissions from the extraction and manufacture of its products, and the energy for those operations, by 2050.
How it works: The plan calls for cutting a large amount of scope 3 emissions in several ways.
The big picture: Shell must "must pivot over time towards serving the businesses and sectors that, by 2050, are net-zero emissions themselves," the announcement states.
What we don't know: "The company did not disclose the financial impact of meeting its new climate targets and said the new goals were not yet reflected in its operating plan and budgets," per FT.
What they're saying: Bloomberg reports on criticism of the plan...
"Shell has taken a step in the right direction, but it falls short of aligning with the Paris climate agreement’s goals, Dutch investor group Follow This said. Shell’s target of reducing scope 3 carbon intensity by 65% by 2050 equates to an absolute cut in emissions of 50%, the group said."
Go deeper: Big Oil's varied climate targets (Reuters)
The crisis facing domestic oil producers is prompting Trump administration policymakers to think creatively about ways to help — including one idea that has some connectivity to the climate movement.
What's new: Bloomberg reports that the administration is "considering paying U.S. oil producers to leave crude in the ground to help alleviate a glut that has caused prices to plummet and pushed some drillers into bankruptcy."
Why it matters: The reported plan, along with other administration policy efforts, signals how the new global production-limiting pact won't be enough on its own to help the deeply distressed industry.
The intrigue: These are wild times.
The odds: Bloomberg and the Washington Examiner report the plan would likely face Democratic opposition.
Microsoft is unveiling plans for a new digital platform for environmental data and committing to conserve more land than it operates on in the next five years, Axios' Amy Harder reports.
The big picture: The pursuits, a follow-up to the tech giant’s big climate change goal earlier this year, is one of the first major corporate announcements on environmental issues since the pandemic erupted, causing many such initiatives to be put on hold.
What they're saying: “There’s never been a more important time to be keeping our foot on the accelerator of our sustainability work and not taking it off,” Lucas Joppa, Microsoft’s chief sustainability officer, told Axios Tuesday.
Driving the news: That point was also mentioned in a blog post by President Brad Smith Wednesday. The announcement includes two main parts...
Users will be able to more quickly aggregate and assess environmental data, like the quality of forests and wildlife. Greenhouse gas emission data isn’t in the specific plan as of yet, but Joppa says it could be in the future.
"During wartime, it’s better not to wage battle on two fronts at the same time."
Who said it: Andrei Baklanov, Russia's former ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Context: The two fronts Baklanov mentions were Saudi plans to boost output after the split and the collapse in demand from the coronavirus pandemic.