November 27, 2014

India to get Chinese high-speed rail?

India and China are discussing the potential this week for a high-speed railway that will link India’s capital, Delhi, with its southern industrial counterpart, Chennai.  The 1,754-kilometer track could cost as much as $32.6 billion and trains would travel up to 300 kilometre per hour, the China Daily reported on Tuesday. Indian Railways started a feasibility study with Chinese officials on Monday, with the latter agreeing to pay the full cost of the initial study, Businessweek reported on Tuesday.


Exxon’s stranded assets problem

Exxon Mobil may have to deal with its first “stranded assets proxy resolution” at its next annual general meeting (AGM). A group of activist shareholders are proposing a resolution asking the company to return capital to them instead of investing in new oil projects, arguing that revenues from the projects could be impacted by tighter carbon pricing. “Investors are concerned Exxon Mobil is not preparing for a low demand scenario and that potential and planned capital expenditures on high-cost, high-carbon projects are at risk of eroding shareholder value,” the resolution states.


Retail workers bill of rights

After recently voting to gradually raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour over three years, San Francisco became the first large U.S. city to pass a “retail workers’ bill of rights.” The bill aims to make life easier for hourly workers in chain restaurants and stores by requiring employers to post schedules two or more weeks in advance. It will also require employers to give additional hours to part-time employees instead of hiring new workers and pay employees for on-call hours, Vox reported yesterday. The bill will counter the erratic effects of “just-in-time” scheduling software that decides how many workers are needed based on traffic, sales and even weather.


Aging in a changing climate

A new report by the Royal Society shows that the effects of climate change will be exacerbated by a growing, ageing population, with deadly heatwaves expected to multiply tenfold in this century. Without action on climate change, heatwaves like the one that killed 52,000 people across Europe in 2003, will occur regularly by 2100. This is problematic for the ageing populations of Europe and the U.K. because heatwaves are particularly dangerous for people over 65, the Guardian reported today.


France, China, U.S. and Nigeria tackle pollution

A few countries announced their intentions to tackle pollution this week. French President Francois Hollande said today that his government will eliminate export credits for coal projects in developing countries, saying “Eventually, subsidies to all fossil fuels should be phased out.” The Chinese government said it will adopt a zero tolerance policy for regional governments that protect polluters or hinder inspections and has given authorities added powers to monitor, fine and even imprison repeat offenders. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new rule on Tuesday that will tighten existing restrictions to ground-level ozone pollution and will require some states to expand their air-quality control measures. Finally, Nigeria’s National Assembly is asking Royal Dutch Shell to pay $3.96 billion for an oil spill in 2011 at an offshore oil well.


Crude oil transportation

ProPublica published an investigation on Tuesday demonstrating that municipalities across the U.S. are ill-equipped to deal with the risks of crude oil being shipped through their towns and cities by train. While rail networks have allowed the oil and gas industry to avoid spending the time and money necessary to build new pipelines, the research shows that safety risks are three and a half times higher than they are for pipelines. The article has been re-posted on Corporate Knights’ website.

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