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Stark talk

Written by Ralitsa Bobcheva, associate 
Edited by David Gaffney, partner
26 January 2021

Good morning,

Few leaders still doubt the scale of the climate emergency, and against a backdrop of ever-growing threats to our world there are signs that 2021 will be a key year for the response to a crisis that has sometimes been pushed to the back of our minds by the coronavirus pandemic.
 
See yesterday’s commitments to climate change adaptation initiatives, made by global leaders and local stakeholders as part of the first climate adaptation summit. Adaptation actions include everything from expanding green spaces in cities, to preventing floods by capturing rainwater, and moving coastal communities to safer places.
 
Calls for international collaboration and a “spirit of partnership” were at the heart of the discussions, with the International Monetary Fund’s managing director Kristalina Georgieva stressing that “to tackle this great challenge of climate change, we need all hands on deck”.
 
A case in point is the new global coalition announced by the prime minister, Boris Jonson, which will see the UK working together with five other countries and the United Nations to help vulnerable communities address the impacts of climate change and to build resilience to more extreme weather. 
 
Positive sign number two: a week after the US re-joined the Paris Agreement, all eyes will be fixed on the country’s new president Joe Biden tomorrow, as he unveils a second batch of executive orders focused on combating climate change. These are expected to include a pause on new oil, gas and coal leases on federal lands and the announcement of a US-hosted climate summit in 2022. 
 
Whether 2021 will be a turning point for tackling climate change will become clear in the coming months, as governments proceed with green recovery plans and hopefully build towards a crescendo at the UN’s climate change conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November. 
 
If you want to understand more about the UK’s path to tackling climate change, make sure to join us ‘In conversation with Chris Stark’, chief executive of the Climate Change Committee, this Thursday at 3pm. 

News

The government is reportedly set to announce enforced quarantine for arrivals in the UK today, after prime minister Boris Johnson said that new coronavirus variants were prompting a review of border policy. According to broadcaster ITV, travellers arriving in the UK will be required to quarantine for ten10 days in a policy similar to that which has been in place in Australia for months.  
 
Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte will resign today after a morning cabinet meeting, his office announced in a statement, in a tactical move aimed at maximising his chances of leading a new government. Conte, who has been in office since June 2018, hopes the president, Sergio Mattarella, will give him a mandate to form a government with broader backing in parliament, according to media reports.
 
The European Union has warned that it will tighten rules on exports of Covid-19 vaccines made in the bloc, amid growing European anger towards pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca over a cut in planned supplies to the bloc. The move could impact the UK’s supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is made in Belgium.

Business and economy

According to the latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics, the UK’s unemployment rate rose to five per cent in the three months to November, up from 4.9% – the highest level since July to September 2015. During that period, an estimated 1.72 million people were unemployed, which amounts to 418,000 more than in the same period the previous year and up 202,000 on the previous three-month period.
 
Edinburgh’s Jenners department store will close its doors permanently after failing to reach an agreement with the building’s owners. The landlord, Anders Holch Povlsen, who purchased the building in 2017, is set to restore and renovate it under a plan that will turn more than half of the site into a hotel.
 
A new report by the United Nations has found that the Covid-19 pandemic caused the “most severe” jobs crisis since the 1930s last year, with an 8.8% drop in working hours last year – four times more than in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. It also warned that recovery remains uncertain, despite hope that vaccines will spur an economic rebound.

Columns of note

In the Financial TimesGideon Rachman elaborates on the political and social unrest in Russia following Alexei Navalny’s imprisonment last week. While there have been anti-Vladimir Putin demonstrations in the past, Rachman argues that this time is different because the opposition has found a clear leader in Navalny. 
 
Writing in The GuardianOwen Hatherley asks the increasingly pertinent question: when Covid-19 is over, what buildings do we actually want to see in our cities? In spite of the fact that the pandemic has briefly shown that cities can act on the basis of general human need, there is little opportunity for a long-term change as the model of urban development in the UK remains rarely challenged, Hatherley writes.

Cartoon source: The New Yorker

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in negative territory yesterday, with the FTSE100 ending the session down 0.84% at 6,638.85, and the FTSE250 closing 1.2% weaker at 20,350.41. Sterling was in a mixed state, last trading 0.12% weaker against the dollar at $1.3670, and strengthening 0.09% on the euro at €1.1257.
 
Wall Street’s main indexes were also mixed, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.12%, to 30,960 while the S&P 500 added 0.36% to 3,855.36 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.69% to 13,635.99.
 
In company news:
 
EasyJet will look to take business off European national carriers rather than rival low-cost airlines as part of its recovery plans, chief executive Johan Lundgren has said.
 
Apple Inc’s hardware engineering chief, Dan Riccio, is set to step down to oversee a new project but the company provided few details on the long-time executive’s latest role.
 
Travel firm Hays Travel has announced the closure of 89 of its 535 shops following a review into the performance of its network.

What’s happening today?

AGMs
Greencore       
Polar Cap Glbl
UDG Healthcare

Interims
Pz Cussons
Quiz

Annual report
Watkin Jones

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

Int. economic announcements
(14:00) House Price Index (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

A recent Australian study has linked working in your pyjamas to poor mental health. (Source: @qikipedia)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
HM Treasury (including Topical Questions)
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Football (Regulation) – Mrs Helen Grant
 
Legislation
Environment Bill: remaining stages (Day 1)
 
Adjournment
Detention of Anoosheh Ashoori in Iran

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Impact of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on businesses and jobs in the night-time economy – Baroness McIntosh of Pickering
 
Oral questions
Legislation on TV license evasion – Baroness Hoey
 
Oral questions
Reviewing workers’ rights – Lord Hendy
 
Legislation
Counter-terrorism and Sentencing Bill – committee stage (day 1) – Lord Stewart of Dirleton

Scottish Parliament 

Time for Reflection (Virtual): Lucy Craven and Zuzanna Wisniewska, Lessons from Auschwitz Ambassadors, Holocaust Educational Trust
Parliamentary Bureau Motions (Virtual)
Topical Questions (Virtual)
Ministerial Statement (Virtual): COVID-19
Ministerial Statement (Virtual): Scotland’s Vision for Trade
Stage 1 Debate (Virtual): University of St. Andrews (Degrees in Medicine and Dentistry) Bill
Stage 1 Debate (Virtual): Post-mortem Examinations (Defence Time Limit) (Scotland) Bill
Committee Announcements (Virtual)
Business Motions (Virtual)
Parliamentary Bureau Motions (Virtual)
Decision Time (Virtual)

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