Breakingviews

Rob Cox: Tianjin deserves to be a Cuyahoga moment

August 20, 2015

The chemical blasts that rocked China’s No. 6 city have exposed a lethal coziness between industry, government and party - and an endemic failure to put human life over economic development. Like the time an Ohio river caught fire in 1969, this feels like a wake-up call.

Forget ethics, carbon divestment looks profitable

June 11, 2015

Norway’s state fund and insurer AXA are ditching carbon-rich companies. The rhetoric may be ideological, but the economic case against coal and legacy utilities is strong. They face tough challenges, even if political action against climate change remains lacklustre.

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

By Stephanie Rogan
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

By Christopher Swann
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.