6 August 2019

Katie Stanton

6 August 2019

Good morning,
 
When the world is nothing but a smouldering wasteland of ash and cracked earth, our seas made up exclusively of those troublesome plastic straws that just refuse to degrade, how will we explain ourselves?
 
When we’re all lined up like guilty lemons at the pearly gates, giving each other the worried side-eye while we await final judgement from the headmaster-general of the denomination du jour, we’ll mutter the measly excuse:
 
‘But we didn’t mean it, Sir. Promise!’
 
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The classic moan of every child who feels misunderstood.
 
All those times I bulk-ordered from Zara because I knew I could send any rejects back with the dismissive click of a button, I didn’t realise I was baking the Arctic.
 
When Deliveroo seemed much more appealing than traipsing down four flights of stairs, I wasn’t thinking of the consequences billowing into the atmosphere at a rate of four katsu curries a minute.
 
And, please, tell me headmaster: how was I to know that cutting about on an e-scooter is actually just as bad for the environment as taking the bus? That drinking my McDonald’s milkshake through a flaccid paper straw like a martyractually doesn’t do much considering they have to be of unrecyclable thickness to retain any integrity? That my pretentious paper bag of groceries actually takes four times as much energy to produce than plastic?
 
‘We’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t,’ we’ll cry as we collectively tug at His trouser leg and beg for mercy.
 
It’s the depressing law of unintended consequences. And there are sadly many more far beyond the scope of our daily routines.
 
Manufacturing in the UK has been headed for the red for some time, and Brexit has only exacerbated the trend: British Steel has collapsed into insolvency and Honda and Ford are shutting up shop for good.
 
But our manufacturing slump is not just troubling for the economy, it’s bad for the environment. We’re producing less stuff ourselves, relying instead on our service industries for cash and importing the bits and bobs we need from elsewhere at great carbon cost.
 
No wonder primary energy usage is the lowest it’s been for decades – we’re shutting our factories!
 
So, even though we may have started holidaying in Britain, battling through meat-free Mondays and growing our own sodding carrots, there will always be an unintended consequence outside of our control that we just don’t know about.
 
It seems to me that this probably needs to change. Maybe it’s time to treat our carbon footprints with a little more transparency and declare them like a calorie count on produce and clothes. And then link that to a record of our own carbon footprint and our own carbon offset commitments just like we track our steps. 
 
Anything to give clarity to consumers who are unwittingly sold down a green river, while making us more accountable as individuals.   
 
Fail to make a change, and we’d better hope the big man is feeling forgiving when we rock up on his doorstep with our list of excuses.

News

The EU has warned that there is no basis for any further Brexit talks while the UK continues to insist on making changes to Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. EU negotiators have suggested that changes, such as scrapping the Irish border backstop, were unacceptable. Downing Street is rejecting claims it wanted talks to fail to allow a no-deal Brexit to be pushed through.
 
A teenager has been charged with attempted murder for allegedly throwing a six-year-old French boy from the viewing gallery at the Tate Modern. The 17-year-old, who is not known to the boy’s family, is due to appear at Bromley Youth Court today.
 
Protests broke out across Pakistan yesterday, after Delhi imposed direct rule on Indian-controlled Kashmir. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has decided to scrap a law that has guaranteed a degree of autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir since 1954. It is India’s only Muslim- majority region and has seen a decades-long insurgency against India’s rule which has left thousands dead. (£)

Business & Economy 

The US has officially named China as a “currency manipulator”, intensifying tensions between the world’s two largest economies. The announcement by the US Treasury is in response to a sharp fall in the value of the Chinese yuan against the dollar. The drop caught markets off-guard, as Beijing usually supports the currency.
 
According to an IFS study, people with the highest incomes are increasingly clustered in just a handful of parliamentary constituencies in and around the capital. Half of the top one per cent of income taxpayers in the UK now live in just 65 constituencies, compared with 78 at the turn of the century. These regional differences may explain “why many of those on high incomes don’t realise quite how much higher their incomes are than average”. (£)
 
Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has bought struggling high street brand Jack Willsout of administration for £12.75 million. The retail tycoon won a race against British billionaire Philip Day, who owns the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, to snap up the fashion retailer.

Markets 

What happened yesterday?

Yesterday was a decidedly miserable day for UK shares, with the FTSE 100 ending down 2.47% at 7,223.85. Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 fell 1.98%, dropping 381.75 to 18,871.42.
 
Hargreaves Lansdown led the losers, slumping almost seven per cent towards the end of trading after remaining loyal to fund manager Neil Woodford, leaving thousands of clients with £1.6 billion stuck in his frozen flagship. The company is also due to report full-year results on Thursday.
 
Other losers include Prudential down 5.53%, JD Sports 5.24%, Taylor Wimpey 5.18%, M&S 5.15%, Micro Focus 5.15%, Smiths (DS) 5.12% and Standard Chartered 5.08%.
 
US markets followed suite as fresh fears of a trade war with China bubbled to the surface. On Wall street, the S&P 500 index fell 3%, while the Nasdaq sank 3.5% - the worst day of 2019 so far. The moves follow comments from President Trump, who has accused Beijing of currency manipulation.
 
As a result, gold was trading at more than a six-year high on Monday, as investors put money into so-called safe haven assets.
 
On the currency markets, the pound edged up 0.02% against the dollar at $1.22. Against the euro it was down at €1.09.

What's happening today?

Interims
Genel Energy
HSBC Holdings
InterContinental Hotels
IWG
Meggitt
Pjsc Polyus S
Rolls-Royce Holdings
Rotork
Synthomer
TP ICAP
Zotefoams

AGMs
Goldstone Resources
 
UK Economic Announcements
(00:01) Retail Sales
 
Int. Economic Announcements
(07:00) Factory Orders (GER)
(07:00) Industrial Production (GER)

Columns of Note

Christopher Caldwell notes in this week’s Spectator that Boris Johnson and his shiny new cabinet has shifted public opinion amongst Europeans. Johnson’s arrival is supposed to mark a new era in relations, but instead it has trampled the expectations of Brussels leaders. No longer do they have a consulting role in our decisions, and they don’t like it. Johnson’s cabinet is disagreeable at best and his unwavering promise that the UK will leave with or without a deal has them thinking they were perhaps lulled into a false sense of security by Theresa May. (£)
 
And if you hadn’t quite had enough of the climate emergency, Leslie Hook’s Financial Times big read this morning explains how the jet stream is changing our weather. Greenland’s ice sheet is disappearing as a result of a shift in atmospheric currents high above the earth’s surface: the North Atlantic Jet Stream. In fact, across Europe and North America, the jet stream controls every heatwave, storm and cold snap, making it one of the most studied and hotly debated mysteries of climate change. (£)

Did you know?

During weight loss, 84 per cent of lost fat is converted into carbon dioxide and breathed out through the lungs.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons
In recess until 3rd September
 
House of Lords
In recess until 3rd September
 
Scottish Parliament
In recess until 2nd September.