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Photo: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

Tesla is hailing the air quality benefits of less pollution from internal combustion engine vehicles during the lockdowns, calling it a temporary glimpse of what's possible in the long term, Bloomberg reports.

The intrigue: CEO Elon Musk has railed against stay-at-home orders, even calling them "fascist," and has also battled local officials as he sought to re-open the company's plant in Fremont, California.

What they're saying: The company's annual impact report points out "dramatic" increases in air quality and carbon emissions cuts worldwide.

  • It notes that while these cuts won't be sustained, there's an "unprecedented opportunity to learn from this disruption and accelerate the deployment of clean energy solutions" as part of economic recoveries.
  • “It is not hard to imagine that many cities could become electric-only in the near future as they begin to witness the impact that internal combustion engine vehicles have on air quality," it states.

The big picture: Dissonance with Musk's comments aside, Tesla is hardly the only company making some version of these points.

  • There's a global movement afoot — with limited success so far — to stitch clean energy investments into government stimulus packages in response to the pandemic.

Worth noting: Tesla's stock ended the day at almost $950-per-share Monday, a record closing price.

  • The stock rose after China Passenger Car Association reported that sales of Tesla's Model 3 were over 11,000 in May, more than tripling April's levels, per Fortune and other outlets.
  • It signals China's importance for the growth of electric vehicles as the world's largest auto market and a place with strong government backing for the sector. Tesla's factory there began deliveries at the end of 2019.
  • Wedbush Securities’ analyst Daniel Ives said in a note, "We believe that the China growth story is worth $300 per share to Tesla as this [electric vehicle] penetration is set to ramp significantly over the next 12 to 18 months in a more normalized backdrop," per CNBC.

Go deeper: Side effect of a pandemic: A brief glimpse at cleaner skies and water

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 16, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The case for energy tech investment

Reproduced from Columbia's Center on Global Energy Policy; Note: The budget for FY21 is not yet finalized. Budgets for FY22-FY26 are the author's proposed funding; Chart: Axios Visuals 

A pair of new reports argue for greatly expanding American research and development into climate-friendly energy tech at a time when the political terrain for big spending increases could soon become more fertile.

Why it matters: Joe Biden is vowing a major investment push if elected and the report could influence the scope and specifics of those research, development and demonstration plans.

54 mins ago - Science

COVID time warp

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic seems like a lifetime ago to some, and just yesterday to others. Scientists are beginning to unpack the way people processed the passage of time amidst the stress, uncertainty and isolation of the 1 year, 8 months and 21 days since WHO declared a pandemic.

Why it matters: The pandemic's global effects on how people experience time could provide new insights into the brain's ability to perceive and predict time — a fundamental feature of life.

Mitt Romney calls Ray Dalio's China investments a "sad moral lapse"

Sen. Mitt Romney walks to a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the Capitol on Oct. 7. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday criticized billionaire Ray Dalio's investments in China, writing in a tweet that "his feigned ignorance of China's horrific abuses and rationalization of complicit investments there is a sad moral lapse."

Driving the news: Romney's comments come after Dalio's firm, Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, raised $1.3 billion in November for a new private fund in China, Bloomberg reports.