Welcome back! Today's Smart Brevity: 1,340 words (~ 5-min read).
Situational awareness: Utility giant PSEG said Thursday it intends to cut CO2 emissions from its power plants by 80% by 2046 and has a "vision" to be net-zero emissions by 2050. CNN has more.
And today marks the 1980 release date of AC/DC's "Back in Black," which provides today's intro tune...
A Tesla Model S. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images
Tesla's Q2 earnings brought bad news mixed with hopeful signs, but markets focused squarely on the former as the company's stock fell sharply after yesterday's report.
Driving the news: Tesla narrowed its net loss to $408 million in the second quarter as the electric carmaker offset lower vehicle margins with cost reductions, and managed to set a record for quarterly deliveries, Axios' Joann Muller reports.
Why it matters: The results and the latest executive departure appear to be fanning concerns about the company's future, despite the improvement compared to losses a year ago and last quarter.
What they're saying: "The company has never lacked ambition, rather the ability to deliver on it," Oanda analyst Craig Erlam tells Business Insider about the latest "disappointing" report. He adds...
"There's only so long that investors will tolerate it and the reaction to the earnings report says it all."
"I still think there's reasons to be optimistic with the company, but investors need to be very patient or I feel things could unravel quickly for Musk."
Plus, via Bloomberg, Piper Jaffray analyst Alexander Potter said in a note that Straubel is "probably the second-most important person at Tesla." He writes, “[e]ven though he is retaining ‘adviser’ status, his departure is nonetheless likely to rattle investors.”
But, but, but: After a $2.4 billion capital raise, Tesla said it ended the quarter with $5 billion in cash, the biggest sum in its history.
Four huge automakers — Ford, Honda, VW and BMW — said Thursday that they've struck a deal with California on vehicle emissions rules, one they're hoping will form the basis for a nationwide agreement with the Trump administration.
Why it matters: It signals a break between the companies and the White House as the administration pushes ahead with plans to weaken mileage and emissions standards.
Background: The administration is planning to freeze annual increases in 2020 rather than letting them grow stricter as envisioned in Obama-era rules.
But, but, but: While major automakers had backed efforts to weaken Obama-era rules, they have also bristled at Trump's push to freeze them outright.
The big picture: According to Reuters, under the deal with California, "the stringency of the requirements would increase at a nationwide average annual rate of 3.7% annually starting in the 2022 model year through 2026, and 1% of that annual improvement could be covered by credits awarded for building electrified vehicles."
What they're saying: In a joint statement, the 4 automakers said the agreement is "available to all automakers" and added...
"These terms will provide our companies much-needed regulatory certainty by allowing us to meet both federal and state requirements with a single national fleet, avoiding a patchwork of regulations while continuing to ensure meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reductions."
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Recent global warming is an "unprecedented" worldwide phenomenon that differs from the more regional and staggered climatic variations that occurred during the past 2,000 years, a new study concludes.
Why it matters: The paper in the peer-reviewed journal Nature underscores the scope of human-driven warming and how it contrasts with variations in the pre-industrial era.
What they did: The study, using information from tree rings, ice cores and more, reconstructs past periods to show that major fluctuations occurred in different places at different times.
The big picture: The results support a "regional framing" for understanding the climate variability in the 2 millennia before the industrial revolution — and demonstrates that it's a very stark contrast to what's happening now.
"When we go back in the past these are regional phenomena. We found 98% of the globe has this coherent warming during this contemporary period after the Industrial Revolution," said c0-author Nathan Steiger of Columbia University at a press briefing this week.
The bottom line: The findings provide "strong evidence that anthropogenic global warming is not only unparalleled in terms of absolute temperatures, but also unprecedented in spatial consistency within the context of the past 2,000 years," the paper states.
What they're saying: University College London scientist Mark Maslin, who was not part of the study, told Reuters the results should "finally stop climate change deniers claiming that the recent observed coherent global warming is part of a natural ... cycle."
Big Oil earnings season is underway, and Europe-based multinational giants Total and Equinor both reported a decline in profits.
Equinor: The Norway-based giant said its Q2 profits fell to $3.15 billion, compared to well over $4 billion for both last quarter and the same period in 2018.
Total: The French giant reported $2.9 billion in Q2 earnings, down 19% from Q2 in 2018.
Several bills that aim to tackle climate change are surfacing as lawmakers scramble before their August break, Axios' Amy Harder reports.
Why it matters: Amy writes that while the bills won't pass any time soon (if ever), they signal the topic's increasing saliency among Democratic politicians and, in a slowly shifting trend, Republicans too.
Driving the news:
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Speaking of climate plans, Democratic White House hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand today unveiled a proposal with a goal of net-zero U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Why it matters: It's the latest example of 2020 candidates releasing wide-ranging plans. It'll also be important if Gillibrand — who hasn't gained traction in the polls — ever breaks into the higher tiers.
The big picture: Pillars of the New York senator's plan include...