Happy Friday! Smart Brevity count: 1,152 words, ~ 4 minute read.
Situational awareness: Per Bloomberg this morning, "Discussions between leaders at the Group of 20 Summit in Japan will clarify uncertainties about the direction of the oil market before the OPEC+ meeting next week, said Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak."
And an early happy birthday to Colin Hay (it's tomorrow), who brings us into the weekend with this lovely intro tune...
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The first primary Democratic debates are over, and there were several interesting takeaways.
1. Watch Kamala Harris. The California senator had a big night and a memorable confrontation with Joe Biden over civil rights.
2. Under pressure: The climate questions from NBC moderators — which arrived deep into both contests — weren't nearly enough to sap calls for a climate-specific debate from activists and some candidates.
3. The GND showed up. Harris touted her support, while former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper praised the "sense of urgency" but attacked the universal health care and jobs guarantee provisions.
One more thing: Chuck Todd asked them all to name their top legislative priority, based on the premise that they'll have to decide where to spend political capital.
Go deeper: Dems touch on climate in debate
The latest round of UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany, ended without major progress or even agreement on last year's key IPCC report warning about global warming, per several outlets.
Driving the news: Climate Home News reports there's no path forward for countries to weave that key scientific analysis into subsequent talks.
Why it matters: The October 2018 IPCC report laid out severe consequences of allowing warming past 1.5°C and explained why very steep emissions cuts — which unavoidably means less reliance on fossil fuels — are needed soon to stay under that threshold.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg writes there were rifts in talks over how to craft a credit system for helping advance emissions-cutting projects in developing nations.
The Massachusetts startup Commonwealth Fusion Systems says it has closed a $115 million Series A funding round that includes several new backers.
Why it matters: Nuclear fusion has long been something of a holy grail of limitless clean energy without dangerous waste, but the daunting scientific and cost challenges mean real deployment remains a huge question mark.
Where it stands: New funders for the company that works with MIT researchers include Future Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Lowercase Capital. They join existing investors — the Italian oil giant Eni and the Bill Gates-led Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
What's next: "Commonwealth Fusion expects to have its smallest possible reactor built by 2025 thanks to the research that MIT has done on proprietary magnet technology that the company uses to confine its nuclear reaction," TechCrunch reports.
That's the top-line figure in this new report from the consultancy Wood Mackenzie on the cost of moving the U.S. electric grid to 100% renewables over the next 10–20 years.
Why it matters: Electricity is the 2nd-largest source of U.S. carbon emissions, just slightly less than transportation.
The big picture: "For any country to embrace a nationwide transition to 100% renewable energy (RE100) or zero carbon (ZC100) emissions constitutes a massive disruption with far-flung economic and social repercussions," it states.
The intrigue: The price tag could boost advocates of keeping a wider suite of zero-carbon options on the table, including nuclear and fossil energy with CO2 capture.
A new $3.5 million energy storage system went online last month in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, continuing a statewide expansion of systems designed to ease pressure on the electric grid at times of peak demand, writes Axios Expert Voices contributor Maggie Teliska.
Why it matters: In January, Massachusetts became the first state to offer incentives for battery systems, with the approval of a $2 billion state energy efficiency plan.
The plan draws on recommendations from an economic study performed by the Applied Economics Clinic. The findings concluded that the cost benefits of battery storage should qualify it for efficient energy incentives.
Teliska is a technical specialist at Caldwell Intellectual Property Law and CTO of Regent Power. She is also a member of GLG, a platform connecting businesses with industry experts.