Good morning, Quartz readers!
Here’s what you need to know
Switzerland is no longer neutral. The country broke from tradition to adopt EU sanctions on Russia, whose oligarchs rely on Swiss bank accounts.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky made an official request to join the EU. Meanwhile, attacks began on Kharkiv, with reports of civilian deaths. Half a million Ukrainian residents have fled the country.
Russia’s in a financial hole. As Russian and Ukrainian officials met, the ruble plummeted and Moscow announced counter sanctions. Beijing shored up its relations with Russia as the latter’s gas giant Gazprom announced a massive deal with the former—at the same time, US-based Shell backed out of all Gazprom-related ventures.
US defense stocks are up. Shares of arms manufacturers including Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman climbed as the conflict intensified.
India’s economy slowed its growth. Basically all of the above, plus unstable oil prices, adds up to a couple of quarters where targets were missed.
Cyberattackers got Toyota. The automaker paused production in Japan after one of its parts suppliers fell prey to malware.
What to watch for
US president Joe Biden delivers his first state of the union address on Tuesday night (local time) in Washington DC, against a trying backdrop. Hardly a year into his presidency, more than half of Americans are unhappy with his performance. It’s hard to imagine what he could say to turn the mood around, but…you have to try, right? The speech, which has been in the works for months, is undergoing some last-minute edits to reflect the quickly evolving Ukraine crisis.
Here are the issues the president will likely weigh in on:
📈 Inflation: Expect Biden to commiserate with Americans about the blistering pace of price increases, while touting how his proposed policies can help ease the pain.
🦠 Covid-19: Ditto on pandemic fatigue. Attendees to the event will not be required to wear masks as the administration dials back pandemic rules.
⚖️ Supreme Court nomination: He will plug his pick, Ketanji Brown Jackson.
🇺🇦 Ukraine: He gets to boast about his handling of Putin’s aggression.
Coal-powered “clean” hydrogen?
One thorn in Biden’s side: Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia who tanked the passage of Build Back Better, the US president’s social spending and climate bill. Manchin did, however, help push through an Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that includes $9.5 billion in research and development for hydrogen.
While green hydrogen (produced using renewable energy) is seen as a low- or zero-carbon alternative to fossil fuels, Manchin is pushing for his state’s coal and natural gas resources to be a big part of the equation.
$8 billion: Amount earmarked in the infrastructure bill for four hydrogen production hubs—Manchin wants one in West Virginia
2 kg or less: CO2 emissions per kilogram of “clean” hydrogen, as defined by the legislation
18-20 kg: CO2 emissions per kilogram of hydrogen made using coal power
2-6x: Emissions from fossil fuel-derived hydrogen compared to burning fossil fuels directly
Hydrogen’s international appeal
Joe Manchin isn’t the only one with their eye on hydrogen—Russia wants to control one-fifth of the global market by 2030, while an Australian billionaire is betting the future of his iron ore company on green hydrogen. ✦ Stay up to date with all of Quartz’s climate economy coverage by becoming a member—start your seven-day free trial today.
Old photos were recovered from a famous 19th-century shipwreck. The Atlantic Ocean claimed the lives of many gold miners, but it spared the images they had with them.
Want to get married in Italy? The Lazio region will help pay for it.
But do you want Italian wedding bells to ring out? Now that everyone’s home a lot more, the residents of one town are determined to silence some very active church bells.
But do you want it to be real? A US woman’s wedding was all in her head—along with another fake wedding and two fake pregnancies—to the shock of her bridesmaids.
Or should you just give in and model it after the movies? Learn about Bollywood’s big fat impact on the massive Indian wedding industry in the latest episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, turmeric paste, and imaginary rings to firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Ana Campoy, Aurora Almendral, Susan Howson, and Liz Webber.
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