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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.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."