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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Oil-and-gas giant Repsol yesterday pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 — becoming the first oil major to make a specific net-zero commitment (albeit a non-binding one).

Why it matters: Bloomberg notes that it's the "most ambitious attempt yet by an oil major to align itself with the Paris climate goals."

The big question: Will they be a trendsetter or outlier?

Driving the news: The company outlined plans that include adopting interim targets to reduce carbon intensity, moving more deeply into renewable power, and utilizing methods such as carbon capture tech, forest offsets, and EV charging at service stations.

  • One key thing, noted by both Bloomberg and the Financial Times, is that the emissions targets include not just Repsol's direct operations, but the larger CO2 levels produced from use of its products in the economy.
  • That's important because pledging this type of "scope 3" emission cuts is relatively uncommon for oil majors.

The intrigue: Repsol said it's taking a $5.3 billion "impairment charge" to the value of its assets. That reflects the lower value of fossil fuel holdings in a business model consistent with the Paris Agreement's goals.

What we're watching: Whether any other oil majors, including the ones that have recently increased their climate pledges, will match the step.

  • Repsol is much smaller than giants like ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell.
  • Its project portfolio is also heavily tilted toward natural gas, so it's got something of a head start.

What they're saying: Andrew Logan of the sustainable investment group Ceres called it a "gauntlet thrown." Logan, who carefully tracks Big Oil's climate moves, told Axios:

"One aspect of the Repsol commitment that I think hasn't gotten enough attention is the ~$5B write-down on its existing oil and gas assets."
"This has implications across the sector, and will raise questions among investors about whether other companies should be writing down the value of their assets as well."

The bottom line: This "could be the beginning of a major realignment in the sector," Logan said.

Go deeper: Big names begin bipartisan push to build support for carbon cuts

Go deeper

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.

46 mins ago - World

Top general: China's hypersonic missile test "very close" to a "Sputnik moment"

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Wednesday that China's test of a hypersonic missile is "very concerning" and "very close" to the kind of "Sputnik moment" that triggered the Space Race during the Cold War.

Why it matters: The comments by America's top uniformed general underscore the depths of U.S. concerns about China's rapid military expansion and development of advanced weaponry.

Climate reckoning for oil and gas CEOs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Top executives from ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell will face a reckoning on Capitol Hill Thursday, as they're grilled on evidence that their companies knew for years that their products were driving climate change but chose to downplay or deny it.

Why it matters: The hearing before the House Oversight Committee will be the first time these executives have been brought together to provide sworn testimony regarding what they knew about the ties between their company's products and climate change, and when they knew it.