Global carbon trading system has 'essentially collapsed'
The world's only global system of carbon trading, designed to give poor countries access to new green technologies and greenhouse gas-cutting projects such as wind farms and solar panels, has "essentially collapsed", according to Joan MacNaughton, vice chair of a panel convened by the United Nations (UN). The panel reported on Monday that the future of the system, known as the clean development mechanism (CDM), is in jeopardy due to the failure of governments to provide firm guarantees of its continuation as well as the recession. The panel warned that allowing the CDM to collapse would make it harder in future to raise finance to help developing countries cut carbon. (The Guardian)
China opens shale gas to foreign bidders
Beijing has invited foreign joint ventures to bid for shale gas exploration licences in a new tender process, a milestone policy change that will allow foreign energy companies to play a greater role in developing China’s rich potential reserves of shale gas, estimated to be the largest in the world, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. Western energy companies including BP and Royal Dutch Shell have been involved in exploratory joint ventures in shale gas prospects in China but until now have not been able to participate directly in bidding for blocks. Despite China’s potential reserves, the sector has faced a number of challenges, including lack of technical expertise. This is whilst three European Union commissioned reports are adding weight to the argument that shale gas exploration, using a fracking process, is too risky for human health and the environment. (Financial Times; Business Green*)
Barclays to shrink controversial tax unit
Barclays is cutting down its controversial tax structuring unit, as the UK lender seeks to clean up its image in the wake of a succession of scandals as part of the bank’s ‘Project Transform’ under new chief executive, Antony Jenkins. Rich Ricci, Barclays investment banking chief, said in an address to investors that they are reviewing products and services, such as the tax advisory business and selling derivatives products to small business customers, to decide which to continue. Though legal, the avoidance strategies that the tax business used on behalf of its clients were politically controversial. Mr Jenkins was clear that ethical behaviour would become a priority in future and that all activities would in future be “screened for reputational impact” as well as profitability, allowing for more balance and “lower risk”. (Financial Times*)
Walking, not talking, resumes at Marikana
Only 6% of Lonmin’s staff at its Marikana platinum mine in South Africa showed up for work yesterday, despite an agreement with the main unions that a month-long strike that has had negative financial and reputational implications for the company would end. Instead, thousands of miners and protesters, armed with machetes, staged a march around Marikana stopping at each shaft to check for any miners breaking the strike. Police, heavily outnumbered, tried to stop them reaching the shafts but quickly gave up. Instead, they followed on a six-mile walk around the complex. Lonmin has warned its miners that it will not negotiate with them unless they cease a campaign of intimidation aimed at those who want to work. (The Times*)