Breakingviews

McDonald’s serves up Earth Day nugget

April 22, 2015

The fast food chain aims to end its role in deforestation, following agriculture giant ADM’s lead. Investors, whose pressure helped, are also alert to climate change and water risks. Such shifts boost the annual homage to the planet, but they are bite-sized appetizers at best.

Nestlé called out for bottling, selling California water during drought

April 2, 2015

The $243 bln Swiss giant faces populist protests for bottling and selling H2O from Canada and drought-hit California. The potential harm to its reputation may not be worth the effort. It’s Nestlé’s least profitable business, and consumers might just as well drink from the tap.

California drought may find relief from Down Under

April 1, 2015

Governor Jerry Brown has ordered a 25 pct cut in water use. With reservoirs and snow caps low, it’s a wise, if belated, move. Now he needs a comprehensive plan for identifying new sources, reallocating existing ones and getting citizens to buy in. Melbourne offers a good model.

Brazil’s epic water crisis a global wake-up call

November 24, 2014

Sao Paulo, a city of 20 mln, is running out of H2O thanks to creaky infrastructure, political battles, a record drought and Amazon deforestation. The humanitarian and economic cost would be immense if supplies dried up. The fiasco should drive other metropolises to action.

How Big Oil could grease invisible hand

September 22, 2014

“Pump” contends that democracy at the gas station would help U.S. democracy more broadly. Offering drivers fuel choices like ethanol, as Brazil did, might ease the grip of Exxon Mobil and its peers. The film makes a convincing case, even as it evades some inconvenient truths.

China index: Beijing cleans up skies, not its act

August 7, 2014

Air in the capital is the cleanest it has been since 2011, data shows. Dirty industrials are leaving town or even shutting down amid a weak economy, but that’s no real fix. Clean, sustainable growth across China needs robust institutions with persuasive carrots and sticks.

U.S. drought could spark economic water warfare

June 26, 2014

Scarce rains have left California and the U.S. Southwest dry just as industries from beverages to semiconductors grow concerned about the availability of H20. That presents a flood of opportunity for water tech firms and Great Lakes states like Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Stanford’s snub to coal typical of Silicon Valley

May 8, 2014

The black rock is an easy target for the university’s $18.7 bln endowment. Yet shouldn’t the principle behind it apply equally to oil producers, even local titan and Stanford donor Chevron? Like some of its grads, the university seems willing to shun certain evils only so far.

Anadarko’s $5.1 bln settlement adds up in market

April 4, 2014

The U.S. oil driller’s pollution payment is at the low end of a court-defined range, which had a midpoint of around $10 bln. The 15 pct gain in Anadarko’s market cap equals that gap plus a small bonus for relief. And it brings the stock’s 12-month rise back in line with the S&P.

Rio Tinto takes bold step into Aluminum rehab

October 17, 2011

Rio Tinto has taken a bold step into aluminum rehab. The mining giant plans to sell off roughly a third of its business in the metal, most of which was acquired in a disastrously expensive merger with Canada's Alcan in July 2007.