The saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it. As a walking contradiction, I tend to concur.
For example, I had expected to suffer no consequences from a weekend spent comatose on the beach, Pimms aloft in one hand, pork pie in the other, with only a slap-dash daub of sun cream by way of protection.
But it turns out you can’t have it all. My disbelief in the power of the English summertime and relentless commitment to self-care was always going to end with me, a ghastly shade of crimson, fanning myself with my hat in the back of a sandy car and wondering why the zipper to my dress keeps getting stuck.
Now I am left consoling myself – and anyone who’ll listen – with the classic “it will obviously turn to tan” and resolving to eat only cucumber for the next week. I’ve learnt my lesson.
In our commitment to save the environment, it seems we have not.
Us Brits are, happily, very ambitious. Earlier this year, Theresa May pledged to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050; the first major economy to make that promise.
But is it an empty one?
Environmental groups warned at the time of May’s promise that the plan would allow the UK to achieve net zero in part through international credits, something that Greenpeace said would “shift the burden to developing nations”. In theory, the UK could pay for other countries to cut their carbon instead of reducing domestic emissions.
At the same time, we’re sending plastic to the developing world by the truckload and demanding a new wardrobe every three months for the princely sum of £35, which not only creates greenhouse gases and problematic levels of waste, but pollutes water. And all this before we’ve even considered the working conditions for those involved.
Likewise, our quest for electric cars has implications far beyond our ken.
The Financial Times reported yesterday that informal workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) produce almost a third of the country’s cobalt – a key component of electric car batteries. And the harsh reality is that many of the “artisanal” workers operating in the dangerous mines of the DRC are children.
Our eco-revolution – the one that sees us religiously rinsing out jam jars and carting around hessian bags before embarking on far-flung pilgrimages to “find ourselves” by drinking kombucha and cultivating some half-hearted dreadlocks – is enabled by the developing world.
When it comes to carbon emissions, we want to have our cake and eat it. But something’s got to give.
Now the government needs to put the onus back on us, face up to our empty promises and commit the time and investment that this issue desperately needs.
Greece’s centre-right opposition party New Democracy has won the nation’s snap general election, with 39.85% of the vote to the Syriza party’s 31.53% so far. With most districts counted, prime minister Alexis Tsipras admitted defeat to his leftist rival, Kyriakos Misotakis. Current projections give New Democracy an outright majority, giving the prime minister-elect a strong mandate for change.
Boris Johnson will face a Tory plot to block a no-deal Brexit if he wins the party’s leadership election. Johnson declared yesterday that, while he would aim for a deal, Britain is prepared to leave without one. Consequently, a group of 30-plus Conservative MPs spoke yesterday about legislative options to prevent a no-deal exit, as well as ways to stop the next prime minister from suspending parliament. (£)
The Foreign Office has launched an inquiry into the “unprecedented” leak of classified diplomatic cables about president Donald Trump’s White House. In the memos, Sir Kim Darroch, the UK’s incumbent ambassador to the US, describes the administration as “uniquely dysfunctional”, “divided” and “inept”. The president retorted: “the ambassador has not served the UK well, I can tell you that.” The leak has prompted claims of a politically motivated attack on Britain’s diplomatic service. (£)
Business & Economy
Deutsche Bank has confirmed it plans to cut 18,000 jobs over three years as part of a radical reorganisation. The German bank will also report a second quarter loss of €2.8 billion to partly pay for the shake-up, which will significantly shrink its investment banking business.
According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the threat of a no-deal Brexit has caused the sharpest drop in investment since the 2009 recession – about 1.3% in 2019 compared with a year ago. The CBI warned that Brexit uncertainty was preventing firms from investing and risked crippling the economy and allowing the UK to fall behind its G7 competitors.
Meanwhile, Scotland enjoyed the highest rate of new business growth in the UK in June, according to the latest Royal Bank of Scotland PMI report. But the economy remains fragile, as job creation continues to stagnate and business confidence remains “historically weak”.
The week ahead
Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell is scheduled to deliver his monetary policy testimony this week, and economists will be on the lookout for any hint of near-term monetary easing. The Fed is under pressure to lower interest rates by as much as half a percentage point at its next meeting in late July. This optimistic outlook helped US stocks reach all-time highs last week.
Tensions between the US and Iran are set to ramp up over the coming days after Tehran said on Sunday that it would breach the curbs set on uranium enrichment levels under a landmark nuclear agreement with major powers.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s economy will come under scrutiny this week after Recep Tayyip Erdogan sacked central bank governor Murat Cetinkaya over the weekend. His dismissal raised concerns about the independence of the rate-setter at an increasingly fragile time for the Turkish economy and led analysts to predict that the lira would struggle on Monday.
In the UK, the Conservative party leadership race is nearing its end. Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will participate in a televised debate on Tuesday as party members complete a postal ballot.
Key economic reports in the next week will cover UK GDP which is expected to grow by 0.1% in the three months to May, marking a slowdown on the previous month’s estimate.
What's happening today?
Dp Aircraft I
Vietnam Enterprise Investments
Int. Economic Announcements
(07:00) Industrial Production (GER)
(07:00) Balance of Trade (GER)
(07:00) Current Account (GER)
(20:00) Consumer Credit (US)
Columns of Note
In this week’s Atlantic, Peter Wehner examines a curious trend which sees white evangelicals disproportionately in favour of Donald Trump. He asks: how can a group that for decades prioritised personal integrity, defend Trump, with his many alleged ethical transgressions? Part of the answer lies in their existential struggle against the American liberal elite. Many believe that a Democrat win would mark the end of America as we know it (whatever that is), and after years spent being mocked and scorned by liberals, they finally have their poster boy.
In today’s Times, Edward Lucas poses that Britain’s self-respect depends on showing solidarity with Hong Kong. So far, we have offered nothing more than empty promises in response to the mass protests. It seems we shy away from our former colonies, eager to put our dark past plagued with exploitation and racism behind us. But in Hong Kong, protestors are waving the Union Jack, calling out for a disapproving Britain to issue rights to British nationals overseas. That way, China no longer has power over passports, and perhaps Chinese officials will think again when they go to call us cowardly. (£)
Did you know?
Redheads need about 20 percent more anaesthesia to be sedated.
House of Commons
Defence (including Topical Questions)
Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill: Business of the House – Karen Bradley
Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill: 2nd reading
Risk of manipulation of precious metal markets – Jeremy Lefroy
House of Lords
Enhancement and protection of soil health in the UK – Baroness Boycott
Adjustment of carbon budgets in light of past performance and the Paris Agreement – Baroness Jones of Mouslecoomb
Roll-out of smart meters – Lord Lennie
Treatment of Palestinian children by the Israel Defence Forces – Baroness Tonge
Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill - Second reading – Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
Recent G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, and the letter relating to it from the International Relations Committee to the Prime Minister, dated 13 June, and the outcomes which are of most importance for the safeguarding and furtherance of the UK’s national interests – Lord Howell of Guildford
On recess until 1 September
House of Commons
Justice (including Topical Questions)
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Tin Mining Subsidence – George Eustice
Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill: 2nd reading
Intentional unauthorised development and the planning system – Sir Oliver Heald
House of Lords
Construction of the memorial to the Normandy landings in Ver-sur-Mer – Lord Selkirk of Douglas
Ensuring rural post offices are able to continue and extend the services they provide – Baroness Redfern
Diabetes UK’s Food Upfront campaign and petition – Baroness Thornton
Children’s Society report: 'Counting Lives: responding to children who are criminally exploited' – Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [HL] – Committee stage – Lord Ashton of Hyde
Project 17’s report Not Seen, 'Not Heard: Children’s experiences of the hostile environment' – The Lord Bishop of Durham