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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Letters: Managed contraction

Category : Business

Good to see the late Fritz Schumacher make an unscheduled appearance at Davos (Marx v Friedman, the ultimate Davos debate, 28 January). However, his contribution would likely have been far more radical than the words Larry Elliott puts into his mouth. While he would indeed have seen a Green New Deal as a necessary short-term measure to build a resilient, low-carbon infrastructure, his focus would likely have been to provide a strong moral and practical case for a managed contraction in the economies of the industrialised north. Noting that human wellbeing is to be found in the dignity of meaningful work and in reducing rather than ever expanding our “needs”, he would have targeted the consumer society as lying at the heart of our woes. The economic challenge of our times is the design of a system that enables us to gracefully contract while reducing inequality. Schumacher’s writing provides a strikingly contemporary moral and theoretical compass to guide us in this work.
Jonathan Dawson
Head of economics, Schumacher College

Letters: Cameron cools on climate change

Category : Business

Tim Yeo’s assertion that the Treasury has “never been signed up to the green agenda” (Osborne wrecking green plans to placate MPs – senior Tory, 23 July) has, sadly, been evident for quite some time and did not start with this government. Under the EU renewable energy directive, the UK is legally required to source 15% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, but coalition ministers have shown scant interest in rising to the challenge. To date, only 3% of the UK’s energy comes from renewables, compared with the European average of 12%. Yet instead of taking the positive steps needed to boost, encourage and support burgeoning green technologies, the government has presided over the gutting of subsidies for solar and wind energy, while simultaneously subsidising the dirty fossil-fuel industry to the tune of £3.6bn in 2010.

This shows a remarkable lack of vision. The UK is fortunate to have a huge, largely untapped wealth of renewable energy sources – enough to provide secure and home-grown energy for the future, power our economy through the creation of hundreds of thousands of green jobs, tackle climate change and address fuel poverty. Perhaps George Osborne needs reminding that as chancellor it is his responsibility to take the public spending decisions which benefit the entire nation for generations to come, rather than succumb to the whims of this motley crew of short-sighted backbenchers who seem intent on keeping clean, green and affordable energy out of our homes.
Jean Lambert MEP Green, London, Keith Taylor MEP Green, South East England

• George Osborne isn’t just undermining attempts to overhaul our broken electricity system – he’s undermining the prime minister too. From hug-a-husky photocalls to promising to lead the greenest government ever, David Cameron has invested a lot of political capital trying to convince the public that he will champion the environment as prime minister. As recently as April he was telling energy ministers from 23 leading economies that “we urgently need a more diverse, cleaner mix of energy sources that will give us energy security without causing irreparable damage to the planet”.

Earlier this month the CBI called on the government to seize the green initiative too. “Get our energy and climate-change policies right and we can add £20bn extra to our economy and knock £0.8bn off the trade gap, all within the lifetime of this parliament,” said its director general, John Cridland. But the chancellor appears to have a different agenda which will keep the UK hooked on expensive and dirty fossil fuels for decades. It’s crunch time for David Cameron. If he doesn’t stand up to the chancellor, it will raise a question mark over the credibility of his leadership.
Craig Bennett
Policy and campaigns director, Friends of the Earth

• George Osborne’s undermining of the energy bill makes it not merely expedient but urgent that Scotland free itself from the diktats of the bone-headed coalition. Scotland’s economic future is based on development of its huge potential to generate power through its rivers, tide and wind, and the tie to Westminster is becoming a major impediment.
Alison Prince
Whiting Bay, Isle of Arran

• In your editorial (23 July) you note that ground is being lost in tackling climate change. What is frustrating is that we could tackle three problems at once. We urgently need to invest in a range of zero-carbon technologies to tackle climate change. We also need public spending to stimulate growth. Finally, we need to reduce our dependence on energy imports. A report by the Offshore Evaluation Group noted that investment in offshore wind could create 145,000 jobs and generate the equivalent of 1bn barrels of oil annually. It also noted that we could be a net exporter of energy, by becoming the “Saudi Arabia of the renewables world”. In short, through zero-carbon technologies we create sustainable growth which stimulates the economy, tackles climate change and reduces the risk of resource wars. We need to agree internationally, however, to return to Keynesian economics to move forward, otherwise nothing will change.
Mark Murton
Wallington, Surrey

• Your editorial correctly assumes that man-made global warming is a fact and that remedial action on a global scale is both urgent and essential. But if the people I talk to are anything to go by, this premise will not be accepted by many of your readers, let alone by the readership of the Daily Mail. This extraordinary discrepancy is largely due to the success of a phenomenon you do not to mention: the organised campaign to promote the false idea that the science of climate change is in doubt. Oreskes and Conway, in their meticulously referenced book, Merchants of Doubt, record that this campaign has been conducted by the same groups that previously sought to undermine the science linking tobacco smoking and disease, fossil-fuel burning and acid rain, CFC release and the ozone hole over the Antarctic and other issues.

In each case they have used the same devastatingly effective techniques. As a result of their activities, it took 50 years to establish the truth about smoking and disease. We do not have that long this time. The motivation which seems to unite these perverse campaigns is a fanatical hatred of external regulation. Although many of us share this feelingto some extent, reasonable people also accept that there must be areas in which external regulation is unavoidable: we cannot all choose which side of the road we drive on. The claim, that climate change is not the result of human activities and therefore we have no need to change our behaviour, is all too gratefully accepted.

It is not just the scientifically illiterate who swallow the line, in spite of the vast body of evidence to the contrary, and in spite of increasingly compelling personal experience. A generation which obsessionally deprives its children of sunshine for fear of distant adverse effects, now shrugs its shoulders at immeasurably greater dangers. It is time we faced down the tiny band of organised doubters and took common cause in this greatest of all challenges to humanity.
Dr James Willis
Alton, Hampshire

UK green economy grew £5.4bn in 2011

Category : Business

Green goods and services sector valued at £122bn and now employs almost one million people, government figures show

Record growth over the last year pushed the UK green goods and services market past the

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UK must go green to stimulate growth, says Chris Huhne

Category : Business

Former energy secretary’s intervention comes amid growing concern over how to recover from double dip recession

Former cabinet minister Chris Huhne has issued a stark warning that the UK’s economic growth strategy will not work unless the government pursues “green growth” by investing in industries such as energy efficiency and clean energy.

Writing in the Guardian, Huhne says: “Much of our economic debate implies we must choose between going green or going for growth. That view may be the opposite of the truth. There is now hard evidence that the real choice is between green growth or no growth at all.”

Huhne, who resigned as energy secretary in February while he fights charges that he asked his former wife to take points on her licence for speeding, does not criticise the government and declined to name those he says are portraying green policies as a barrier to growth.

However, senior Liberal Democrats in the coalition have privately complained that some Tory colleagues have been obstructing policies such as the green deal and new building regulations to make homes and offices more energy efficient, as well as the powers of a new green investment bank.

Huhne’s intervention also comes amid growing concern about chancellor George Osborne’s strict austerity cuts in public spending, with critics arguing that he should be spending more to boost growth.

Pressure rose last week when official figures showed a second successive quarter of falling economic output – meaning the UK had entered a double-dip recession for the first time since 1975.

This week’s cabinet meeting spent 45 minutes on the issue. The prime minister’s spokesman later denied ministers discussed a change of tactics, but he said there was a conversation about the importance of making sure existing investment schemes did go ahead as planned – suggesting, perhaps, there was some unease about the pace of recovery.

Huhne’s argument focuses on an unprecedented situation where developed countries are in recession while energy and materials prices are rising. In the past lower demand from rich nations would have reduced the price of such key commodities, but now they are being driven higher by growth in Asia “on a scale never before experienced in economic history”.

Despite the promise of new energy sources such as shale gas, it would be “rash” to bank on prices falling in future, writes Huhne.

“Energy-saving is the win-win: it has the potential for job creation (for example in household improvements) and it supports growth by cutting bills and boosting spendable income,” he adds. “But there must be a wider agenda for resource efficiency too – recycling metals, repairing and reusing.

“There is a facile view that our green commitments – to tackling climate change, avoiding air and water pollution, protecting natural habitats – are an obstacle to growth. The message of the commodity markets is surely different. Resource-hungry growth could rapidly stall due to commodity price rises, simply because so many of us now want it. If we want sustainable growth, we do not have a choice. We must go green.”

MBAs compete for £5,000 sustainable business prize

Category : Business

Students think green as Marks & Spencer and Cranfield University unite to reward the best sustainable business idea

I’ve never been a dragon before, never mind a “green” dragon, so as I took my seat at the top table with the other judges of the M&S Sustainable Retailing Challenge, I wondered which of the terrifying females on the popular BBC TV programme I had been chosen to represent.

At a time when business schools are churning out thousands of MBA graduates, there appears to be a mismatch between what companies want and what the educators are providing. The courses themselves are increasingly under fire because they are perceived as focusing more on profit than issues such as sustainability and corporate and social responsibility (CSR).

This Dragons’ Den-style competition was the first major collaboration of its kind between Marks & Spencer and Cranfield University School of Management, to test whether today’s postgraduate students could be those with the best ideas for sustainable services and products for tomorrow’s businesses.

Teams – whittled down over months to just five MBA students from Europe’s 50 main business schools – were asked to design a product or service that could be adopted by the retailer as part of its sustainability drive.

It transpired at the end of judging that all five finalist teams were from UK business schools – Universities of Lancaster, Strathclyde and Warwick as well as two from Cranfield – although the participating students represented many far-flung countries and included those doing “distance learning” as well as older students taking a career break.

Of the other business schools, Exeter University’s One Planet MBA, now in its first full year with 26 full-time and 19 part-time students, is already receiving worldwide attention. Its main partner is the environmental charity WWF, but it has also linked up with Coca-Cola, Sony, Nokia, the Co-op and Lloyds Banking Group. Course director, Malcolm Kirkup, said that although sustainability has moved on from its old-fashioned “tree-hugging” image, there is still a long way to go in terms of devising postgraduate business courses that are relevant and useful.

He said: “The main MBA qualification is fundamentally flawed. Most focus on short-term profit and where sustainability is tackled, it tends to be in a rather tokenistic way, in just a couple of modules, for example. But we need to be better in preparing the business leaders of the future, the stewards of companies where resources will be even more limited than they are now.” Interestingly, 68% of the current student intake are women, which Kirkup believes could indicate their strong interest in leadership.

Elsewhere, Nottingham University’s Executive MBA has a specialist option in CSR, though it is only open to applicants with five years’ management experience.

The competition winners, from Warwick Business School, received a cheque for £5,000 for an idea which Mike Barry, head of M&S’s Plan A environmental programme, said he could happily present to the M&S board – a blueprint for a scheme to reward shoppers’ green behaviour.

Barry added: “We face a big challenge in creating a truly sustainable business – one that is a closed loop, only uses sustainable raw materials and improves human life wherever we touch it. We will only overcome this challenge by attracting and developing a new type of innovative business leader – smart at business but equally smart at addressing and understanding sustainability.”

It is hoped that – funding permitting – the challenge will become a regular, annual event.

Environmental regulations listed by UK government red tape challenge

Category : Business

The red tape challenge is intended to reduce the burden of regulation on business, but has proven controversial when tackling green regulation. This document was obtained by the Guardian ahead of the government’s announcement

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Environmental regulations set to be slashed

Category : Business

Environmentalists angry over government plans to ‘cut red tape’ on rules over air, land and noise pollution and wildlife protection

Scores of environmental regulations are to be slashed under government plans to be announced on Monday, the Guardian has learned.

The rules affected include controls on asbestos, invasive species and industrial air pollution; protection for wildlife and common lands; as well as restrictions on noise nuisance and deadly animal traps.

Ministers are expected to say the cutting of red tape will save businesses £1bn, but the move has shocked campaigners, who argue that the government’s search for economic growth is mistakenly targeting the environment.

The impending announcement follows intense pressure from David Cameron and George Osborne to remove what the chancellor has called the “ridiculous costs” of “endless social and environmental goals”.

The document obtained by the Guardian lists 174 regulations that will be scrapped, merged, liberalised or simplified. Neither the environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, nor any other environment minister was present at the “star chamber” conducted by Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin, who leads the government’s red tape challenge (RTC). A Guardian analysis shows that 97% of the thousands of public responses on the RTC website demanded stronger protection or no change in the rules on air pollution, wildlife and landscape management.

“The brazenness with which the government has, via its insidious red tape challenge, sought to undermine the very principles of environmental protection is shocking enough,” said Green party MP Caroline Lucas. “But it’s also astonishing that ministers have been so willing to waste taxpayers’ money on such an ideologically driven vanity project.”

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “The red tape challenge has given everyone, including environmental groups and businesses, an opportunity to tell us how we can protect the environment in a more effective and efficient way that puts fewer burdens on businesses. Regulation has an important role to play in protecting the environment and our natural resources, but some of the rules we ask businesses to follow are either too complicated, ineffective or just obsolete.”

Craig Bennett, policy director at Friends of the Earth, said: “There is no hard evidence that this will save business £1bn, but it could cause havoc to the environment. Most of these regulations are recent, from the last 10 years, so what can have changed in that time?”

The EU habitats directive, which protects the UK’s rarest and most threatened wildlife, was a specific target of Osborne and will be “liberalised”, according to the document.

But Spelman, who a year ago performed a humiliating U-turn on the sale of public forests, has revealed that a mere 0.5% of projects affected by the habitats directive have had problems. Furthermore, those problems – affecting the building of offshore windfarms – are being resolved not by cutting regulation but by negotiation.

Next week is also expected to see the government climb down on the most controversial aspects of its slashing of planning regulations from 1,000 to 52 pages, such as reinstating the requirement to build on brownfield sites first.

Letwin invoked the planning changes at the star chamber he chaired on 12 January, when he told environmental officials he wanted the thousands of pages of regulation and guidance cut down to 50 pages, as it had “worked very well” on planning regulations. However, the cuts expected on Monday, some of which will be subject to consultation, fall short of Letwin’s goal.

Rules such as preventing environmental pollution by asbestos will be scrapped because they are “totally redundant”, while rules limiting industrial air pollution with smoke, grit and dust will be “reviewed along with the clean air act”. Twenty regulations related to the wildlife and countryside act are listed.

Many of the regulations in the document are labelled “deregulation with impact”, which appears to mean their scrapping will cause costs to businesses. Following are some of the key regulations facing proposed changes:

• Regulation covering persistent organic pollutants, which the document states are “a threat to human health and the environment”, will be reduced.

• Regulations ensuring the “reasonable” cleaning up of contaminated land will be reduced, because they “create a burden for the housing industry“.

• Rules banning works on common land will be liberalised, or their implementation improved.

• Rules requiring local authorities to investigate and abate noise, dust and odour nuisances will be liberalised or improved.

• The need for waste management plans for construction sites will be scrapped.

• Regulations requiring manufacturers of electrical goods and batteries to take financial responsibility for their safe disposal will be liberalised or improved.

• Recycling targets for larger UK businesses will be liberalised or improved.

Mary Creagh, the shadow environment secretary, said: “This latest attack on so-called environmental red tape shows how out of touch the government is with everyone who cares about the countryside. We need leadership to create green jobs, not desperate measures from a panicking government which has no idea how to create jobs and growth.”

A source close to the process told the Guardian: “The external costs of this deregulation falls on taxpayers, as damage and depletion will need paying for even if businesses won’t pay. It also falls on to communities, usually the poorest, on to other businesses, and on to future generations. It is a true race to the bottom.”

Obama makes southern truck stop and pushes for $1bn green tax credits

Category : Business

President pushes energy-efficient auto agenda in North Carolina truck factory – his third speech on cars in three weeks

Another week, another car talk. Barack Obama stopped by a North Carolina truck factory on Wednesday to announce $1bn in tax credits and grants for alternative-energy cars and trucks. It was Obama’s third speech on cars and fuel in an election battleground state in three weeks.

The president has travelled from New Hampshire to Florida and now North Carolina to insulate himself from Republican attacks on rising gas prices and the on-again, off-again Keystone XL tar sand pipeline ahead of the general election.

“We can’t just keep on relying on the old ways of doing business. We can’t just rely on fossil fuels from the last century. We’ve got to continually develop new sources of energy,” Obama said in his speech at the Daimler truck plant in Mount Holly North Carolina.

The White House, briefing reporters on the plane and through a factsheet emailed out before the event, said Obama’s factory tour was intended to spur the development of a new generation of clean, fuel-neutral cars: electric, natural gas, and alternative fuels.

The Daimler plant is working to produce 18-wheeler trucks that use only half as much gas as current models. Long-haul trucks make up just 4% of all vehicles on the roads, according to the White House, but suck up 20% of all transport fuel in the country.

The factory also makes hydrogen-powered trucks.

The tax credits – which must be voted on by Congress – would help up to 15 cities and towns to pay for charging stations for electric cars and biofuel pumps for alternative fuel vehicles to encourage people to switch to electric cars.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much natural gas, or flex-fuel or electric vehicles you have if there’s no place to charge them up or fill them up,” Obama said.

The speech came just a few days after GM announced a five-week hiatus in the production of its Chevy Volt because of flagging demand.

Obama is also asking Congress to expand the tax credit for advanced vehicles to $10,000 from $7,500, and to all fuels – including natural gas, which is not covered under the programme.

It’s unclear whether either programme will see the light of day, given Republicans’ dominance in Congress and their opposition to Obama’s clean energy agenda.

The Republicans claim clean energy loans and grants are a waste of money – and have used the failure of the Solyndra solar power maker to try to discredit Obama’s energy agenda.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, told reporters Obama was bent on forcing up gas prices.

“When it comes to the rising cost of gas at the pump, it’s my view that the administration’s policies are actually designed to bring about higher gas prices,” he said.

But the White House – with its steady schedule of energy-focused events – is clearly positioning itself to tout its energy agenda at the election.

Obama also used his speech in North Carolina to repeat his call for the repeal of billions in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

Subsidies were the main topic of his speech in the swing state of New Hampshire last week.

The week before, Obama took on Republicans’ attacks on gas prices in a speech in Miami. In late January, he visited the University of Michigan to talk up his electric vehicles programmes.

All three are seen as battleground states in the November elections – but North Carolina is probably the biggest stretch for Obama.

He was the first Democrat to win the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976. The Democrats are fighting hard to hang on, locating the party’s convention in Charlotte, North Carolina this summer.

Vestas board upheaval continues as two more executives resign

Category : Business

Vestas Wind Systems chairman and his deputy unveil departure plans just 24 hours after chief financial officer announces exit

A massive sweep-out of senior executives at Vestas, the world’s biggest maker of wind turbines, was under way on Wednesday, with the chairman and his deputy saying they would not stand for re-election at the forthcoming annual general meeting.

The departures of Bent Erik Carlsen and Torsten Erik Rasmussen follow the exit 24 hours earlier of the chief financial officer and deputy chief executive, Henrik Nørremark, which leaves the chief executive, Ditlev Engel, as one of the few board members still standing.

The Danish company, which has a research and development base on the Isle of Wight and plans to build a factory at Sheerness in Kent, has record order levels of 9,550MW of turbine capacity, worth almost €10bn (£8.33bn). But it has also just suffered a larger-than-expected net loss in 2011 and warns it may not be profitable in 2012.

Vestas has been hit by low-cost competition from China and uncertainty over European subsidy levels but has also continually failed to meet its internal targets with cost overruns and operational failures.

Hundreds of jobs have been cut and some factories closed and there have been calls for Engel to resign.

The closure of a production plant on the Isle of Wight in 2009 was badly handled, leading to an occupation by British workers and a stream of political criticism.