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Archive for 7. Juli 2019

Shell’s boss delivers some hard truths on oil and climate change

Posted by hkarner - 7. Juli 2019

Date: 04-07-2019
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

Ben van Beurden’s balancing act

When ben van beurden was a boy in the Netherlands, one of his chores was to fill the coal scuttle. It was a hateful task—especially in the cold weather when he had to traipse out to a shed in the back garden. “I can still feel the wet, freezing cold creeping up my legs,” he told a Dutch audience last year. He hated the coal furnace because he had to wash himself next to it. He hated the washcloth because it did not stay hot for long enough. But it gave him a cold, hard lesson in the importance of energy.

Mr van Beurden, boss of Royal Dutch Shell, the world’s second-biggest publicly traded oil company, is not the first well-paid executive to dwell on the hardships of his youth. But his story is poignant because of what came next. In the 1960s the vast Groningen field in the Netherlands brought natural gas to the country for the first time. The coal scuttle and cold washcloth gave way to a hot shower—and progress for his whole family.

In these days of worry about global warming, another energy transition is under way: from fossil fuels to clean energy. Of all the oil majors, Shell’s attempts to navigate it under Mr van Beurden are the most intriguing. In 2016 it splurged $52bn on bg Group, becoming the biggest listed gas producer. The importance of oil in its business has diminished; measured in years of production, its reserves are lower than those of its Western peers—ExxonMobil, bp, Total, and Chevron. Shell is bolder than its rivals in forecasting huge global demand for clean power over the next 30 years. And it is the only firm to link its executive’s pay to progress in reducing emissions across its operations, including sales of products such as petrol—the source of most of the industry’s emissions. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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New ways of selling books clash with France’s old pricing rules

Posted by hkarner - 7. Juli 2019

Date: 04-07-2019
Source: The Economist
Can a “one book, one price” principle survive e-commerce?

A book is so much more than mere ink and paper. So insist French booksellers, who for nearly four decades have successfully lobbied to keep the forces of the free market at bay. A law passed in 1981 bans the sale of any book at anything other than the price decreed by its publisher. Authorities are cracking down on those trying to flog the latest Thomas Piketty or j.k. Rowling at a discount.

The fixed-price rule is meant to keep customers loyal to their local bookshop and out of the clutches of supermarkets and hypercapitaliste American corporations. But the advent of e-commerce and e-readers has prompted questions worthy of their own tomes. Can you fix the price of a book if it is part of an all-you-can-read subscription service? Are audiobooks books at all? And what of authors who self-publish? Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Does Von der Leyen Have a Chance as Commission President?

Posted by hkarner - 7. Juli 2019

Date: 05-07-2019
Source: SPIEGEL

The nomination of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen as European Commission president came as a surprise. And many are unhappy. It not only undermines efforts to make the EU more democratic, but she may not be confirmed.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen

And there she is. Ursula von der Leyen has taken a seat on the podium in the parliamentary group chamber of the European People’s Party (EPP) in Strasbourg, a smile glued to her face. Once the cameras have left the room, she turns to the man on her left, the biggest loser in the competition for positions of power in Brussels.

„You’re still young,“ she says, consolingly, to Manfred Weber, who was the EPP’s lead candidate in the European elections held in late May. With center-right political parties having won the election, Weber had hoped to land the job of European Commission president. But the position was handed to von der Leyen instead, a woman who has never once campaigned for a European Parliament seat or other job in Brussels. „You have demonstrated greatness,“ she told Weber, according to meeting participants.

She then switches easily to French and speaks about her childhood in Brussels and about her father, who worked for the Commission at the time. She then moves on, discussing the years she lived together with her husband in California — now speaking in English.

It was a badly needed marketing appearance for the German defense minister. Many parliamentarians are not amused by the sudden nomination and — though von der Leyen’s multilingual, self-confident speech presented a stark contrast to the prim and proper Bavarian Manfred Weber — her ultimate confirmation is far from certain. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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