22 March 2019

Katie Stanton

22 March 2019

Good morning,

While Theresa May et al appear to be thrashing around the place in a state of despair, trying to salvage some semblance of self-respect as we “negotiate” our way out of this tricky Brexit wicket, a pressing issue has been kicked into the long grass.

For the most part, I think people have a generic, detached concern for climate change.

You diligently separate your plastics, turn the tap off when you’re brushing your teeth, cart old bags around (even if just to save yourself the five pence). Maybe you buy a Prius if you’re feeling extra self-sacrificing.

You’re not looking for a medal, but you are content in doing your little bit for the collective good of mankind.

Trouble is, it’s not enough. Nor is it particularly sexy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love getting wrist deep in a dirty mayo jar as much as the next guy. And I can think of nothing better than heaving that big hanging sack of leaking food sludge to the outside bin for it to inevitably break all over my new slippers.

But how far are my efforts going toward the Intragovernmental Panel for Climate Change’s goal of keeping global warming below 1.5°C? I don’t know about you, but that feels like a daunting task for me to achieve by switching to those dull energy saving lightbulbs and taking two-minute showers.

Meanwhile, oil firms are busy lobbying against climate change policies and salivating over juicy new extraction prospects. Chevron, BP and ExxonMobil are leading the field in direct lobbying to push back on climate change policy to tackle global warming, according to a new report by InfluenceMap.

And it’s not just oil firms: single-use plastics in supermarkets; unnecessary flights for business execs; excessive packaging on electronics; endless printed receipts and tickets. It all adds up.

The onus has been on individuals for so long, perhaps now it is time for businesses to step up too. If more get serious about implementing small changes here and there, the impact could far exceed my sad domestic efforts. Better still, it could make it easier and more affordable for households across the country to go green.

I recently went to a Co-op and purchased a 5p bag which turned out to double as a compostable food bin bag. I know – breath-taking innovation.

So I am asking companies to make it easier for me. Now’s the time to actually implement that flashy sustainability policy. Fail to do so and one can only imagine the reputational repercussions down the line when Kent is swallowed by the sea…

News 

Following eight hours of talks last night, EU leaders have offered to delay Brexit until 22 May if MPs approve May’s deal next week. If they do not approve it, the delay will be shorter: the UK must set out its next steps or leave without a deal on the 12 April. The prime minister said MPs had a “clear choice”.

Donald Trump has announced that the US will recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, an area of political and strategic importance captured from Syria during the 1967 war. The move is likely to boost Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chances of re-election but will provoke international opposition.

Police have confirmed that the body found in the Humber Estuary is that of Libby Squire, the missing university student who vanished suddenly after travelling home from a night out in Hull in February. (£)

Business & Economy 

Shares in Levi Strauss surged yesterday as the company made its return to the stock market after 34 years. The price closed up 31.8% valuing the company at $8.7 billion. Some of the money raised from the flotation will be invested into broadening the clothing range and expanding into more countries.

According to reports, ride-hailing firm Uber has chosen to list on the New York Stock Exchange as opposed to the tech-heavy Nasdaq, in one of the most anticipated stock debuts of the year. The IPO is expected to launch in April and may be valued as high as $120 billion.

The Bank of England chose to hold interest rates yesterday, highlighting that Brexit uncertainties were too great to indicate any clear guide to the forces shaping the economy. The bank’s monetary policy committee voted unanimously to keep rates at 0.75% as British business remain “at the mercy of events beyond their control.” (£) 

Markets

What happened yesterday?

The FTSE 100 closed higher yesterday thanks to a strong performance from the mining, energy, consumer and healthcare sectors. The index ended up 0.9% at 7,355.31.

On the currency markets, the announcement from the Federal Reserve that they would hold interest rates steady until at least the end of 2019 had a big impact on the pound. Against the dollar it fell 1.33% to $1.30. It was also down 0.8% against the euro, marking a bad day for currency investors.

The Fed’s update also drove gains for US stocks, which ended the day firmly in the green. Technology shares were the big winners, offsetting the falls in financial companies who are concerned about the announcement. The S&P technology index rose 1.7%, boosted by Apple which is up 3.2% after analysts said they expected the company’s new video service to boost long-term earnings. 

Finals

Henry Boot

Sanne Group

Interims

Smiths Group

AGMs

Hyundai Motor Company GDR (Reg S)

Toople

Vivo Energy

EGMs

Global Ports Investments GDR (REG S)

UK Economic Announcements

(09:30) Public Sector Net Borrowing

(11:00) CBI Distributive Trades Surveys

Int. Economic Announcements

(14:00) Existing Home Sales (US)

(14:00) Wholesales Inventories (US)

Columns of note 

Writing in the New Statesman, Paolo Gerbaudo comments on the rise of the hyperleader: personalised, reactionary political leaders who utilise social media to infiltrate the everyday lives of their followers. From Democrat congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to leader of the Italian far-right party Lega, Matteo Salvini, digital politicians are cropping up across the globe and will continue to play a central role in electoral politics.

I sadly missed Matt Chorley’s list of people he can’t stand in politics in The Times last week, so I thought I would bring it to your attention now in case you missed it too. Spoiler: it’s everyone. While his list of gripes is far from uplifting, it is worth a read for fans of dry, self-deprecating, utterly British humour. I laughed out loud. (£) 

Did you know? 

The last date that all living humans were together on Earth was 2 November 2000. Since then there has always been someone onboard the International Space Station.

Parliamentary highlights 

House of Commons 

Private Members’ Bills

Adjournment: Winstanley Estate regeneration in Battersea – Marsha De Cordova

House of Lords 

No business scheduled 

Scottish parliament

No business scheduled