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Emissions shaming, anyone?

Written by Ralitsa Bobcheva, associate 
Edited by David Gaffney, partner
15 December 2020

Good morning,

‘Mask shaming’ is a phenomenon and a concept that none of us could even have imagined a year ago today, as we shopped and partied our way towards Christmas in the blissful ignorance of pre-Covid world.
 
By the middle of 2020, fierce public debates were raging about the benefits of wearing masks in shared spaces, the infringement of civil liberties, and individual responsibility. Eventually, the advice of the experts was followed, a broad consensus was achieved, laws were passed, and a majority accepted – reluctantly, yes – that wearing a mask in public places is a small sacrifice for the greater good. 
 
That donning a mask has become second nature for many of us since then demonstrates how a novel social behaviour can go from very rare to commonplace in a matter of weeks, while forcing us to collectively re-think the old concept of self-sacrifice. We’ve also come to realise that shaming isn’t the most effective means of changing human behaviour
 
However, as the UN secretary general urged every country around the world to declare climate emergencies at the weekend, I began to wonder if in trying to reach net zero there were parallels or lessons we can learn from the manner in which mask-wearing has become so widely accepted as an individual responsibility with societal benefits.
 
The UN’s annual report published last week confirmed what we already knew: despite a brief dip in carbon emissions in the last 10 months, the world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century – far beyond the Paris agreement’s ambition of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. 
 
On Saturday – exactly five years after committing to the Paris agreement – about 70 world leaders gathered to make new commitments to tackle the climate change at a virtual Climate Ambition summit. At the end of the conference, Britain’s business minister Alok Sharma concluded that despite making real progress, all this ambition is still “not enough”.
 
The alignment of Covid-recovery plans with green ambitions looks set to become a defining point of policy in the next few years and for the future of our planet. 
 
As with the coronavirus, tackling the climate emergency requires small acts of sacrifice from each of us today, to avoid far bigger sacrifices in the future.

News

More than 60% of England – including London, most of Essex and parts of Hertfordshire – is moving into the highest tier of Covid restrictions on Wednesday, health secretary Matt Hancock announced yesterday. He added that a new variant of coronavirus has been identified which could beresponsible for the faster spread in southern England. 
 
Joe Biden’s election victory has been officially confirmed as he won the state-by-state electoral college vote that formally determines who is the next US president. On Monday afternoon, California delivered its 55 electoral votes to Biden, officially taking him over the 270 votes needed to secure the White House
 
In a new report entitled ‘Build Back Fairer’, Sir Michael Marmot argues that pre-existing social inequalities significantly contributed to the UK recording the highest death rates from Covid in Europe. Sir Michael, a leading authority on public health, warns that if this is not tackled there will be permanent consequences for many children’s lives, and for many families it would mean losing health, jobs, lives and educational opportunities.

Business and economy

Unilever has announced plans to let shareholders vote on its climate transition plans, becoming the world’s largest company to voluntarily commit to giving shareholders a vote on its climate transition plans. The company will share its climate transition action plan in the beginning of 2021, with investors  able to reject the policy in theory, although any vote will be non-binding.
 
The US has ordered nine big tech companies to hand over information to help regulators understand what user data is being collected and how that information is used, especially to target children. The companies, which include Amazon, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, have 45 days to comply.
 
According to the latest Office for National Statistics figures, the UK’s unemployment rate rose to 4.9% in the three months to October – an increase of 0.1% on the three months to September. While the unemployment rate rose less than expected, redundancies reached a record high of 370,000 for the same three-month period.

Columns of note

In PoliticoWojciech Kość warns of a looming threat to free speech in Polish media. Following the recent announcement that state-controlled refiner PKN Orlen is acquiring the country’s major publisher of local media, Polska Press Group, Polish newsrooms fear the media will lose its crucial role as a platform for political neutrality and that journalists will soon begin to lose their jobs, Kosc writes.
 
Joe Biden has officially been elected the 46th president of the United States and in January he will return to Washington and the White House. Writing in the FTCourtney Weaver looks back at Biden’s first arrival at the US Senate House in 1973 as a 30-year-old father of three and argues that he will find a very different Senate from the one he joined back then. (£)

Cartoon source: The Telegraph

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in a mixed state as investors weighed hopes that a Brexit deal would be agreed with the news that London is set to enter stricter Covid-19 measures. The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.23% at 6,531.83, while the FTSE 250 advanced 0.72% to 19,764.02.
 
Sterling was in a better state, last rising 0.77% on the dollar to $1.3326, and adding 0.54% against the euro to €1.0970.
 
Wall Street’s main indexes ended lower on Monday, with the S&P 500 ending lower on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 0.62% to end at 29,859.97 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.44% to 3,647.33.
 
In company news:
 
German lender Deutsche Bank has announced plans that it will relocate from Manhattan’s financial district to Columbus Circle in Midtown, becoming the last bank to leave Wall Street. (£)
 
The Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation has fined Alibaba and Tencent under antitrust laws in its latest bid to curb tech monopolies.
 
China’s search giant Baidu Inc is reportedly considering making its own electric vehicles, becoming the latest tech firm to join a race to develop smart cars.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Chemring
Driver Grp
Shaftesbury

Interims
Purplebricks
Ramsdens

AGMs

Applied Graph.
Blan Tech Grp
Int.biotech.
Sareum
Tristel

UK economic announcements
(07:00) Unemployment Rate
(07:00) Claimant Count Rate

Int. economic announcements
(13:30) Import and Export Price Indices (US)
(14:15) Industrial Production (US)
(14:15) Capacity Utilisation (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today than at any point in the last 800,000 years.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (including Topical Questions)
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Virginity Testing (Prohibition) – Mr Richard Holden
 
Legislation
Taxation (Post-Transition Period): Remaining Stages
 
Adjournment
125th Anniversary of the National Trust – Derek Thomas

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Various
 
Legislation
Trade Bill – report stage (day 2) – Lord Grimstone of Boscobel

Scottish Parliament 

Time for Reflection: Alan Bellshaw, Community Mission Facilitator, Salvation Army, Fauldhouse
Topical Questions (if selected)
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
Ministerial Statement: COVID-19
Ministerial Statement: Managing Scotland’s Fisheries in the Future
Stage 1 Debate: Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill
Financial Resolution: Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill
Committee Announcements
Business Motions
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
Decision Time
Members’ Business — S5M-22945 Kenneth Gibson: Establishing New No Take Zones
followed by
Committee Announcements

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