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Good morning, readers! Today's Smart Brevity count is 1,278 words, 5 minutes.

🎧 Ben joined the Axios Today podcast to the Ukraine crisis and Europe's reliance on Russian gas.

🐖 Pink Floyd's album "Animals" just turned 45 and provides today's intro tune...

1 big thing: The huge benefits, and risks, of going for net zero

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Transitioning the global economy to net-zero emissions by midcentury would have high upfront costs, but huge benefits in the form of reduced climate damage and industrial innovations, two new reports out today show, Andrew writes.

Why it matters: The reports each detail the enormous upsides to limiting global warming's severity, along with the growing perils from inaction.

Driving the news: The first report, from the Deloitte Economics Institute, shows that rapidly decarbonizing the U.S. economy during the next 50 years could generate $3 trillion, and add nearly 1 million more jobs to the economy by 2070.

How they did it: The Deloitte analysis compares a world in which global warming is left relatively unchecked, with average temperatures increasing to 3°C (5.4°F) above preindustrial levels, with a scenario in which the Paris temperature targets of limiting warming to "well below" 2°C are met.

  • The analysis takes into account how climate change may affect productivity, economic output and growth, warning that inaction is far more expensive than spending the money needed to transition to clean energy sources.

What they found: Should emissions cuts be insufficient to forestall global warming from reaching 3°C, the U.S. economy could be hit with a bill of $14.5 trillion (in present value) during the next five decades.

  • "Unchecked climate change is a costly choice for the U.S.," Alicia Rose, deputy CEO for Deloitte U.S., told Axios.
  • Such a loss, Deloitte found, would be equivalent to almost 4% of U.S. GDP in 2070, or about $1.5 trillion. Insufficient action would also cost jobs, with nearly 900,000 jobs disappearing each year due to climate damages through midcentury.
  • In contrast, the cost of moving the country to net-zero emissions would be about 0.1% of GDP or about $35 billion per year through 2050, Deloitte found.

Yes, but: The Deloitte report finds that the costs of the energy transition would be front-loaded, with the break-even point, or "turning point," coming during the 2041-2050 period.

Meanwhile, the second report, from the McKinsey Global Institute, takes a global view and finds that reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 would require $275 trillion of cumulative global capital spending or about 7.5% of global GDP across the 2021-2050 period.

  • Like the Deloitte team, the McKinsey researchers found that the push to net zero would require front-loaded costs, with spending on physical assets increasing to as high as 8.8% of GDP between 2026 and 2030, before declining.
  • The report found that transitioning to net-zero emissions may have net job gains worldwide, though these may be unevenly distributed.
  • Electricity costs would likely increase as countries shift to renewables, though how high they spike and for how long depends in large part on how the transition is managed, McKinsey concluded.
2. Chesapeake's $2.6B deal adds gas assets


Chesapeake Energy Corp. today announced a $2.6 billion cash and stock deal to acquire Chief E&D Holdings and associated assets, a move that bolsters Chesapeake's position in the prolific Marcellus shale gas basin, Ben writes.

Oklahoma-based Chesapeake also said it's selling assets in Wyoming's Powder River Basin to Continental Resources for $450 million.

The big picture: Via the FT, the deals "continue a consolidation trend across the US shale patch, where $66bn worth of transactions were announced in 2021, according to consultancy Enverus, as a leaner, more profitable sector emerges from the ashes of the oil crash."

On the international front, Shell "has made a significant oil and gas discovery at an closely-watched offshore well in Namibia which could spark a wave of investment in the southern African country," Reuters reports.

3. The electric aviation market is buzzing

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Boeing's $450 million investment in the autonomous electric air taxi startup Wisk is the latest sign of capital pouring into tech that could one day transform urban and regional mobility and curb carbon emissions.

Catch up fast: The aviation giant's latest funding for Wisk will help the California-based company develop the latest version of its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

  • The announcement Monday says it's a candidate to become the first autonomous, all-electric passenger aircraft in the U.S. (with the emphasis on autonomous there, while many other startups' plans involve pilots).
  • Wisk is a joint venture of Kitty Hawk Corp. — an electric aviation startup backed by Google co-founder Larry Page — and Boeing.

The big picture: A suite of eVOTL and electric short-distance aviation startups, and next-wave flight companies more broadly, are attracting fresh capital through venture rounds and going public via SPAC deals.

Last year the eVTOL companies Joby Aviation, Archer Aviation and Lilium Air Mobility all went public.

By the numbers: Last year brought a surge of investment, with $7 billion in funding for next-generation air mobility companies, McKinsey analyst Robin Riedel tells Axios.

  • About three-quarters of the money was focused on piloted eVOTLs, with the rest for other sectors like drones and supersonic travel, he said.
  • Total investment in the overall future air mobility space since 2010 is roughly $12.7 billion, Riedel said via email.

What's next: Analysts see a big market for electric aviation, even though widespread use of electric air taxis and other vehicles, if it happens, is years away and companies' aircraft need regulatory approvals.

PitchBook analysts see the global market for passenger air taxis reaching over $150 billion in revenue by 2035.

4. New warnings about a world off-track on climate

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The International Monetary Fund's new update to its world economic outlook says "the ongoing climate emergency continues to pose grave risks to the global economy" and warns that current policies are inadequate, Ben writes.

The big picture: "Much larger coordinated global policies — including carbon price floors —will be needed to meet the new goals laid out at the Glasgow climate conference and stave off catastrophic global climate change," it states.

Why it matters: The document is also the latest of several recent warnings and lines of evidence that nations are not breathing life into the lofty ambitions of the Paris Agreement and the late 2021 United Nations climate summit.

Catch up fast: On Monday U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said "we're in trouble" despite progress at the Glasgow summit, "unprecedented" private-sector efforts and other positive trends.

"Not trouble we can't get out of, but we're not on a good track," Kerry said at an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about plans for the next U.N. summit in Egypt late this year.

Threat level: Kerry cited last year's growth in global coal consumption and plans for new coal-fired power plants.

"That's a problem. There's just no other way to cut it. Coal is the dirtiest fuel on the planet. Nobody has figured out how to make it clean, even though they talk about clean coal," he said.

5. 2021's "relentless" climate and weather disasters
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Data: Aon; Table: Thomas Oide/Axios

The consulting firm Aon is out today with its summary of natural disasters report from 2021, which has a heavy emphasis on economic losses from climate and extreme weather events, Andrew writes.

Why it matters: As the world warms, certain extreme events are becoming more severe and frequent, although climate trends may not be easy to discern in the aggregate statistics.

Details: The report shows that last year was the third-costliest year on record after adjusting for inflation, with $329 billion in climate and weather-related losses.

  • Losses were up from the year before, though the number of disasters was down slightly.
  • Hurricane Ida was the costliest single event on record, with $75.3 billion in economic losses, while the European floods in July took second place at about $46 billion.

What they're saying: "The word that best describes 2021 is 'relentless,'" said Steve Bowen, head of catastrophe insight for Aon.

"We seem to be growing accustomed to large-scale and expensive disasters, but we really should be treating it as a warning sign from Mother Nature that more of these types of events are going to come."

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