Today, I’d like to focus on an epic battle in the north.
It is well documented that man-made climate change is fuelling a host of environmental shifts around the globe. One of the areas most affected is the previously ice-prone Arctic Ocean.
As our warming world opens new shipping lanes and gives access to a wealth of natural resource opportunities, wildly differing attitudes towards exploiting this untapped region are emerging.
Earlier this month, the largest party in the Norwegian parliament said it would block oil exploration off the Lofoten islands in the Arctic.
This admirable reserve has not been replicated elsewhere, however, and it may be that Russia has decided to channel Dr Evil by deploying a crack team of whales to the newly ice-free waters.
Even if Vladimir Putin has finally jumped the shark with this GoPro-toting Delphinapterus leucas, it’s still important to remember that his country’s more conventional Arctic ambitions are no laughing matter. One-tenth of all Russia’s investments are currently in the Arctic region, and it has essentially established a monopoly over the emerging Northern Sea route for shipping via its fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers.
With all this talk of attack whales and nuclear icebreakers, it’s easy to have missed the launch of Russia’s new Belgorod submarine last week - armed with eight upliftingly-named ‘apocalypse torpedoes’. Designed to patrol the waters under the thinning Arctic ice and to report directly to the Russian President, it’s a deadly 184-metre-long sign of how the area around the North Pole is heating up in more ways than one.
Perhaps that’s what scientists mean when they say climate change could ultimately end up killing us all…
Japan’s Emperor Akihito is preparing to step down from the throne. He will be the first monarch to abdicate from the Chrysanthemum throne in over 200 years. The 85-year-old has been given legal permission to hand over power to his son after saying he felt unable to fulfil his role because of his age and declining health.
A new video if ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi has emerged, where he calls for new attacks on the West (£). It is the first video he has shown his face in since 2014, and he paid tribute to the suicide bombers who carried out the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, calling their attack revenge for the loss of the last ISIS stronghold of Baghuz.
Non-governmental body the Committee on Climate Change is expected warn Theresa May that the UK must reach net zero carbon emissions by as early as 2040. They say this challenging target would help limit global temperature increases to 1.5C and avoid irreversible effects. This fresh warning comes after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a ‘climate emergency’ over the weekend.
Business & Economy
Google’s recent revenue growth surge has stumbled, sparking investor concerns that a turning point might have been reached in its core advertising business (£). Shares in its parent company, Alphabet, fell more than seven per cent in after-market trading on Monday. Quarterly revenue has now passed $36.3bn but this huge figure is still about $1bn short of what most analysts had expected.
Retailers are feeling the worst of economic uncertainty triggered by Brexit, as UK households pulled back from making big purchases. GfK’s headline consumer sentiment measure for April was again at minus 13 - the third month in a row and close to its lowest level since 2013. A separate report from Lloyds also showed that business optimism among retailers also fell.
An independent body should have overall responsibility for the UK rail network, according to Britain's railway companies. Submissions to a review of rail also suggested that long-distance routes should be serviced by more than one company, and that control of commuter routes could be handed over to local authorities, following a similar model to Transport for London.
What happened yesterday?
London stocks finished higher on Monday, with the FTSE 100 ending up by 0.17% at 7,440.66, despite a downgrade to UK growth forecast in the EY Item Club report. The EY Item Club cut its predictions for this year to 1.3% from a previous estimate of 1.5%. Its forecast for growth in 2020 was also reduced to 1.5% from 1.7%.
Adding to the negative news flow, European Commission data showed economic sentiment in the UK fell in April, slipping to 99.3 this month from 100.8 in March. Investors potentially found some consolation in the prospect of more inter-party Brexit talks and the resumption of US - China trade talks.
In the US, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed at record highs as investors considered corporate earnings reports and positive inflation data, suggesting that the Federal Reserve would keep interest rates on hold when it announces its decision later in the week.
The pound was up by 0.08% against the dollar at 1.29252 and down 0.17% the euro at 1.1567.
Atlas Mara Limited (DI)
Inspiration Healthcare Group
Novacyt S.A. (CDI)
Xeros Technology Group
BBGI SICAV S.A. (DI)
Grupo Clarin SA GDR (Reg S)
Independent News & Media
JPMorgan US Smaller Co. Inv Tst
LSL Property Services
Maven Income and Growth VCT 5
Symphony International Holdings Ltd.
UK Economic Announcements
(00:01) GFK Consumer Confidence
International Economic Announcements
(07:00) GFK Consumer Confidence (GER)
(07:00) Import Price Index (GER)
(08:55) Unemployment Rate (GER)
(10:00) GDP (Preliminary) (EU)
(10:00) Unemployment Rate (EU)
(14:45) Chicago PMI (US)
(15:00) Consumer Confidence (US)
Columns of Note
Writing in the Guardian, Polly Toynbee states her belief that Labour won’t suffer a backlash in its northern ‘heartlands’ if it backs a second EU referendum. She suggests that the region is suffering from crude stereotypes and that voters might be more open to changing their mind than people think.
Katy Balls questions how long Theresa May can put off a Queen’s speech - the key moment in announcing a new legislative agenda - in a piece for the Spectator. She suggests that a Queen’s speech is the “maximum point of danger” for any government, and that currently it has a high chance of being voted down. Despite this risk, she says that if it’s postponed for much longer, the government is at risk of running out of domestic legislation, which gives the impression of paralysis.
Did you know?
Canada has more than half of all the natural lakes in the world.
House of Commons
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (including Topical Questions)
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Climate Change (Net Zero UK Carbon Account) - Alex Chalk
National Insurance Contributions (Termination Awards and Sporting Testimonials) Bill: 2nd reading
National Insurance Contributions (Termination Awards and Sporting Testimonials) Bill: Ways and Means - Mel Stride
House of Lords
Use of more British steel in defence contracts - Lord Hoyle
Cross-departmental action plan to address the conclusions and recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child’s assessment of the UK in 2016 - Baroness Massey of Darwen
Benefits of the introduction of identity cards - Lord Campbell-Savours
Recent developments in Sudan - Baroness Cox
Education and Skills Committee Debate: Instrumental Music Tuition
House of Commons
International Development (including Topical Questions)
Prime Minister’s Question Time
House of Lords
What proportion of the additional money allocated to the NHS budget over each of the next five years will be ring-fenced for the development of mental health services - Lord Bradley
Governance, operations and performance of the Student Loans Company - Lord Mendelsohn
Education and skills
Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Debate