🧭 The compass is pointing due weekend. We won't delay you — today's newsletter has a Smart Brevity count of 1,089 words, 4 minutes.

🇺🇸 Generate will be off Friday in honor of Veterans Day. Thanks to all who served, and we'll return to your inboxes Monday.

🎸 Blues legend Bobby Rush turns 90 tomorrow, and we'll celebrate early with today's intro tune...

1 big thing: Human fingerprints seen on record-warm 12 months

Share of population who experienced temperatures strongly affected by climate change for at least 100 days
Data: Climate Central; Note: A CSI of 3 or higher means human-caused climate change made conditions at least three times more likely; Map: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

The past 12 months ending in October was the hottest 12-month period that the planet has seen in at least 125,000 years, a new report finds.

Why it matters: There is ample evidence that climate change significantly shifted the odds of temperature extremes during this period, Andrew writes.

The big picture: A Climate Central analysis shows not only how warming is loading the dice for more frequent and severe heat extremes, but also the disproportionate impacts worldwide.

  • The nonprofit organization examined climate change's fingerprints on daily average as well as extreme temperatures worldwide, using the group's Climate Shift Index, a near-real-time climate change attribution system.
  • The report shows that November 2022 through October 2023 experienced a global temperature departure from the pre-industrial average of 1.32°C (2.37°F). That is perilously close to temporarily meeting or breaching the Paris Agreement's 1.5°C temperature target.

Between the lines: Climate Central's report found that over the 12-month period, 5.8 billion people in the 175 countries surveyed experienced more than a month's worth of temperatures that were very strongly affected by human-caused climate change.

  • The data also highlights climate change's unequal burden. Small island countries and least developed nations had some of the highest shift index values, while the 10 countries with the highest historical greenhouse gas emissions scored far lower.

Of note: The new report has not been peer-reviewed, but the methods underlying the index have been and follow some of the approaches other attribution studies have taken.

What they're saying: "We clearly can see that as we continue to burn these fossil fuels, temperatures will definitely continue rising," said Joyce Kimutai, a climate scientist and meteorologist at the Kenya Meteorological Department who conducts climate attribution studies.

  • "It's really affecting every human being in this planet. And it's mostly affecting the vulnerable people."

What's next: The divides between industrialized nations and developing countries will take center stage starting at the end of the month during the COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai, as will the increased urgency to cut global emissions.

Go deeper

2. A setback for small nuclear reactors

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The big question now is whether demise of an Idaho nuclear plan is a momentary bummer for next-wave small reactors — or really bad omen, Ben writes.

Driving the news: NuScale, a developer of small modular reactors (SMRs), said a project with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) won't happen.

  • It's "unlikely that the project will have enough subscription to continue toward deployment," they said Wednesday, calling the decision mutual.

Why it matters: Yes, it's just one project! But it's a reality check nonetheless. There are big hurdles facing SMRs, despite strong interest as a climate-friendly power and industrial heat source.

The big picture: Inflation pushed up the price tag of the plant that was targeted to start operations in 2029.

  • The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, citing UAMPS filings, reported in January that the target power price soared 53% since mid-2021.

Catch up fast: NuScale was first to win Nuclear Regulatory Commission design approval for an SMR.

  • Per Bloomberg, SMR backers hoped it would be the first U.S. project to enter operation.

State of play: NuScale's Q3 earnings deck projects optimism about other plans in the pipeline.

  • But its share price dropped 30% in after-hours trading following the announcement.
  • The Energy Department had provided $232 million for the project since October 2020.

What we're watching: An agency spokesperson said the work will be valuable in the future, adding:

  • "While not every project is guaranteed to succeed, DOE remains committed to doing everything we can to deploy these technologies to combat the climate crisis and increase access to clean energy."

3. What's dragging down oil

Brent crude oil futures
Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

Crude's descent over the last two weeks has left prices well below levels seen just before Hamas' terrorist attack against Israel, Ben writes.

What they're saying: Bearish market fundamentals are outweighing fears of the conflict spreading, but the crisis is adding volatility, S&P Global Commodity Insights' Jim Burkhard said in a note.

The big picture: "Growth in non-OPEC+ supply, decelerating demand growth following China's 2023 reopening and sizeable OPEC spare capacity point to a well-supplied market in coming months," he writes.

Axios' Matt Phillips has more on the oil markets.

4. El Niño is getting stronger and that's already making Earth hotter

Data: NOAA; Graphic: Axios Visuals

El Niño continues to strengthen in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which is likely to give global average temperatures a sizable boost going into next year, Andrew writes.

Why it matters: El Niño, a natural climate cycle, affects weather patterns around the world, bringing drought to some countries and flooding to others.

Driving the news: NOAA's Climate Prediction Center issued an update this morning that finds El Niño is now in the "strong" category, and there is more than a 55% chance that it will remain this way through the January-through-March period.

  • Compared with last month, NOAA slightly increased the likelihood (to 35%) that this event will become historically strong for the November-through-January period.
  • NOAA also now expects the event to last through the Northern Hemisphere spring.

The big picture: El Niño can also lead to record warm years by giving a natural bump to human-caused warming, like a person jumping up while on a moving escalator.

  • The most recent strong El Niño in 2015-2016 led to a record warmest year, which is on track to be surpassed this year.
  • "El Niño is really going to start to bite next year," said Andrew Pershing, VP for science at Climate Central, during a media call.

The ongoing event is already reshaping weather patterns in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, bringing drier-than-average conditions to Indonesia and Australia.

5. Oil giant shows more cards on CO2 strategy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Occidental Petroleum sees airlines as a promising driver of the carbon removal market, Ben writes.

Driving the news: The oil giant's latest investor deck has details about Oxy's strategy for its expanding direct air capture business.

  • One part: Oxy's bullish on 2027 emissions rules under the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization.
  • Removal credits via DAC are an "economic alternative" to sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), which Oxy calls a "partial solution."

Catch up fast: This week BlackRock announced it's investing $550 million in Oxy's first large-scale DAC plant in Texas.

  • A second Texas project is receiving federal support via the Energy Department's big DAC "hubs" program.

The intrigue: The deck also explores Oxy's analysis of how quickly it can bring down the cost of pulling CO2 from the atmosphere.

  • That's important, because costs probably must fall steeply for DAC to scale into a real weapon against global warming.
  • They see capture costs at the first plant around $400-$500 per ton, with the second in the $325-$450 range, en route to much lower costs as the tech advances.

📬 Did a friend send you this newsletter? Welcome, please sign up.

🙏 Thanks to Chris Speckhard and Javier David for edits to today's edition, along with the talented Axios Visuals team.