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from Breakingviews:

Stanford’s snub to coal typical of Silicon Valley

By Christopher Swann

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Stanford’s snub to coal is typical of Silicon Valley. The black rock is an easy target for the university’s $18.7 billion endowment, which is bigger than the top five U.S. coal firms combined. But shouldn’t the principle behind it, reversing global warming, also apply to oil companies, including Stanford donor Chevron? Like Valley tech tycoons, the Palo Alto school seems to shun some evils only so far.

There are plenty of reasons to dislike coal. The fossil fuel is dangerous to extract - killing about 300,000 miners through accidents and black lung disease since 1900, according to a 2011 Harvard University study. It generates 130 million tons of waste annually and is estimated to cause 11,000 premature deaths a year from lung cancer and other maladies. Yet Stanford entered morally fuzzy territory by pinning its coal boycott on “the availability of alternate energy sources with lower greenhouse gas emissions.”

In theory, such logic should mean ditching oil and natural gas too. While coal accounted for 32 percent of America’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels in 2013, that was trumped by oil on 42 percent.

from The Great Debate:

The nuclear option for emerging markets

Last year, greenhouse gas emissions reached a record high of 39 billion tons. Emissions actually dropped in the United States and Europe, but substantial increases in China and India more than erased this bit of good news.

That is all the more reason to focus on innovative solutions that slow the growth in emissions from emerging markets.

from Breakingviews:

Smog obscures looming water risk for China

By Katrina Hamlin
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

China’s smog is visible, and vexes the urban rich. But attempts to fix the looming “airpocalypse” may be exacerbating another acute risk: water. If the country’s planners really want to make growth sustainable, they will need to pull the plug on cheap supply for thirsty energy companies and consumers.

from Unstructured Finance:

Jim Chanos, bad news bear, urges market prudence

Prominent short-seller Jim Chanos is probably one of the last true “bad news bears” you will find on Wall Street these days, save for Jim Grant and Nouriel Roubini. Almost everywhere you turn, money managers still are bullish on U.S. equities going into 2014 even after the Standard & Poor’s 500’s 27 percent returns year-to-date and the Nasdaq is back to levels not seen since the height of the dot-com bubble in 1999.

“We’re back to a glass half-full environment as opposed to a glass half-empty environment,” Chanos told Reuters during a wide ranging hour-long discussion two weeks ago. “If you're the typical investor, it's probably time to be a little bit more cautious.”

from Unstructured Finance:

Hedge fund manager Hempton on Herbalife

John Hempton is bullish on Herbalife but bearish on coal

By Jennifer Ablan and Matthew Goldstein

Hedge fund manager and frequent blogger John Hempton is a little bit like the Jim Chanos of Australia.

Over the years, he’s been a fairly prescient short seller. For instance he was an early skeptic on computer giant Hewlett Packard and travel services company Universal Travel Group, which recently agreed to pay nearly $1 billion to settle a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit alleging that the company defrauded investors by failing to disclose the transfer of $41 million from stock offerings to unknown parties in China.

from Lipper Columns:

CTRL:ALT:INVEST: Don’t give up on solar energy yet!

Bill Lese, managing partner at VC firm Braemar Energy says there's still growth potential in the solar sector, and also likes early-stage investments in shale, coal and hydrocarbons.

Related links:

from The Great Debate:

The darkness behind fracking’s silver lining

A natural gas pipeline under construction near East Smithfield in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, Jan. 7, 2012. REUTERS/Les Stone

Climate change may have reached the point of no return last month.

CO2 levels in the atmosphere topped 400 parts per million on May 19, for the first time since the Pleistocene era, over 2.5 million years ago. President Barack Obama's historic speech on climate change today highlights his growing focus on this issue for his second term.

from Global Investing:

India’s deficit — not just about oil and gold

India's finance minister P Chidambaram can be forgiven for feeling cheerful. After all, prices for oil and gold, the two biggest constituents of his country's import bill, have tumbled sharply this week. If sustained, these developments might significantly ease India's current account deficit headache -- possibly to the tune of $20 billion a year.

Chidambaram said yesterday he expects the deficit to halve in a year or two from last year's 5 percent level. Markets are celebrating too -- the Indian rupee, stocks and bonds have all rallied this week.

from Breakingviews:

Fog of Bumi’s battles may be just too tiresome

By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Bumi’s minority shareholders are ill-served by the open conflict raging between the coal miner’s board, its founder Nat Rothschild and Indonesia’s Bakrie clan. They deserve an adult debate about the merits of competing plans to unwind a tie-up with its Indonesian backers. They need clarity about the nature of alleged financial irregularities. They are getting a juvenile shouting match.

from Breakingviews:

Coal’s ascendancy to leave ailing U.S. miners in pit

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Coal’s ascendancy looks set to leave already ailing U.S. miners stuck in a pit. Within five years, the black rock is likely to replace oil as the world’s top energy source, according to the International Energy Agency. That should be good news for America’s miners, which are sitting on 28 percent of the planet’s coal. But they’re ill placed to do well from the boom.

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