Good morning. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,333 words, 5 minutes.
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And at this moment in 1972, Roberta Flack was into her six-week run atop Billboard's Hot 100 with this lovely tune...
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Here's one interesting strand in the huge and complex question of what kind of lessons the pandemic might offer about confronting global warming: It's amplifying the debate over the relevance of individual behavior.
Driving the news: Lockdowns and curtailed economic activity are driving carbon emissions downward.
Why it matters: The real-time experiment is lending itself to different takes on whether individual steps — as opposed to only systemic policy changes, cracking down on polluters and tech innovations — can play a major role in cutting emissions.
It's part of a wider debate over whether an emphasis on consumer choices and behavior — avoiding cars or going electric, flying way less, cutting out meat, living small and other steps — is misplaced or even counterproductive.
What they're saying: [T]he idea that our individual actions don’t particularly matter is fundamentally bogus. And over the past several weeks, the coronavirus has been revealing that in unexpected ways," Politico Magazine's Michael Grunwald wrote this week in a long piece I'm just partially summarizing.
But, but, but: "If this is all we get from shutting the entire world down, it illustrates the scope and scale of the climate challenge, which is fundamentally changing the way we make and use energy and products," Carnegie Mellon University energy expert Costa Samaras tells E&E News of the current reductions.
"We need both significant government policies and important personal behaviour changes," said Christiana Figueres, the former top UN climate official.
The big multinational oil-and-gas company Eni posted a roughly $3.15 billion net loss for the quarter on Friday, citing the combined effect of the "ongoing economic recession" due to COVID-19 and low prices.
Why it matters: It's a sign of what's to come for the sector in this earnings period and going forward for a while.
Bloomberg notes that it "provides signals for the rest of the industry, with the worst impact of oil’s historic plunge likely in the coming quarters."
However, Eni said it expects a "gradual recovery in global consumption of oil, natural gas and power in the second half of the year."
Driving the news: The Italy-based company also deepened its planned capital spending cuts. It now expects to cut spending by 30% this year compared to prior plans and 30%-35% next year.
What's next: Larger oil-and-gas majors like will report their Q1 results over the next couple of weeks. U.S.-based majors Exxon and Chevron both report next Friday.
llustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The financial toll brought on by the coronavirus pandemic could hinder plans for countries' ambitious renewable energy goals, as jobs disappear amid strict nationwide lockdowns, Axios' Orion Rummler reports.
Driving the news: Milestones for low-carbon energy policies in China, India and the European Union, which all were expected to drive new projects this year, are scheduled to expire soon.
The big picture: The growth previously forecast for global solar and wind projects is expected to be "wiped out" this year and instead round out to about the same as it was in 2019, consultancy Rystad Energy said in March.
Next year will be even worse, with a 10% cut in solar and wind ventures compared to 2020 as investments and construction shrink.
Where it stands: In the face of this projected wipeout, deadlines for renewable-energy plans are fast approaching, writes Heymi Bahar, a top International Energy Agency analyst.
CityLab has some fascinating reporting on European cities making changes to their transit policy that will outlast the immediate crisis and, more intriguingly, perhaps become permanent after initial reemergence from lockdown.
Driving the news: It notes that in the near term, transit policies and systems will change in recognition that people should not be — and don't want to be — crammed into buses and trains cheek-by-jowl. (Axios' Kim Hart has looked at this from a U.S. standpoint)
But more broadly, CityLab reports that cities like Milan are using the time to "reevaluate" their relationship to cars, which could "become a more popular post-pandemic commuting mode when transit-anxious workers venture back to the office."
How it works: Several cities like Brussels and Paris, to avoid more congestion post-pandemic, are taking steps to give over more of the streetscapes to biking and walking.
CityLab reports that while it's "not clear if all these measures will be retained once the threat of coronavirus has receded" and social distancing wanes, they reflect trends apparent before the crisis.
What we don't know: What the pandemic will ultimately mean for carbon emissions from transportation.
Shrug emoji. Stay tuned.
The coronavirus crisis is a dress rehearsal for the climate crisis: It will help show us not only what is possible, but also, crucially, whether or not those actions work, Axios' Felix Salmon reports.
Why it matters: There has never been a better time for big financial ideas to become reality.
Reuters has news about the large independent player Continental Resources, reporting...
"The largest oil producer in North Dakota has halted most of its production in the state, notifying some customers it would not supply crude at current pricing, according to people familiar with the matter."
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports: "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he’s considering the creation of a government lending program for U.S. oil companies, who are looking for federal aid as they cope with a devastating plunge in prices."