Green Conservatives call for earlier UK coal power phase-out

Closing coal plants by 2023 rather than 2025 will cut carbon emissions and air pollution, and boost clean energy projects, Tory thinktank tells government

The UK should close all its coal-fired power stations two years earlier than the government’s pledge of 2025, according to green Conservatives including former energy minister Lord Greg Barker.

The move would not cause the lights to go out, would cut both carbon emissions and air pollution and would boost cleaner energy projects, according to a report from Bright Blue, a thinktank of Tory modernisers.

The report also concludes that if the troubled Hinkley C nuclear plant is cancelled it could be replaced by renewable energy.

Overall, the report found that encouraging renewable energy, energy efficiency, storage and electricity interconnectors to other countries would benefit energy bills and security of supply, as well as tackling climate change.

Energy secretary Amber Rudd pledged in November to phase out unabated coal burning by 2025, a move that was widely praised. But the government has also cut solar power subsidies, blocked onshore wind farms, cut support for energy efficiency and cancelled a £1bn carbon capture and storage project.

Thanks to a Conservative government, the UK is now committed to taking dirty, polluting coal out of our energy mix completely,” said Barker. “So we should take maximum advantage of this bold move. The government should give investors [building greener energy projects] even greater certainty and with that, put UK plc firmly at the forefront of the global drive for clean and smart energy technologies.

The new report includes analysis by Aurora Energy Research of how closing coal plants early might affect the nation’s security of supply. This included a “high stress” scenario in which the expansion of renewables is slow, Hinkley C is cancelled and coal power stations close early.

Despite what some exaggerated claims suggest, a coal phase out even under a ‘high stress’ scenario, will not result in the lights going out,” said Ben Caldecott, author of the report and associate fellow of Bright Blue. “Our analysis shows the significant benefits for pollution and system security of further encouraging renewables, interconnection, storage, demand side response and energy efficiency.

The report said there is “plenty of time” under each scenario to commission any new gas power stations needed to keep the lights on.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate change said: “The government is absolutely committed to phasing out power production from unabated coal and we are the first country to set an end date for doing so. We will consult on how we plan to do this in the coming months.”

The report said: “The UK should [take] the lead in promoting coal phase-out internationally. The UK has significant technical and moral leadership it can deploy to encourage other countries to agree to a coordinated phased approach for closing down coal-fired power stations. The world’s climate future really does hinge on what other countries do with their coal fleets.

On Hinkley, the report said: “The future of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station appears to be highly uncertain. Should the project not materialise, renewables can easily fill the capacity gap in the late 2020s. This should be ‘Plan B’.” It noted the fast build time and rapidly falling cost of renewable energy and said: “The ability of these technologies to deliver this capacity is already impressive and will be even more so in the mid to late 2020s.”



Meet Nita Ambani, The First Lady Of Indian Business

Ahead of its wider public rollout of much-awaited 4G phone service, Reliance Jio Infocomm, the telecom arm of oil and gas giant Reliance Industries, held a December soft launch at a sprawling 500-acre corporate campus outside of Mumbai. Soft but big–the company controlled by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest person, had 37,000 staff on site for the event, and more than 75,000 others from Reliance outposts were present by video link.

neeta AmbaniThe debut took place on the eve of the group’s legendary founder Dhirubhai Ambani’s birth anniversary. With its attendant Bollywood glamour–superstar Shah Rukh Khan, Jio’s brand ambassador, presided as master of ceremonies–the gala was orchestrated by Nita Ambani, the billionaire’s wife, who has been involved with the telecom’s marketing and branding strategy.

In what is a first for any Ambani venture, the 4G service doesn’t deploy the Reliance name in its branding but is simply called Jio, which translates to “Live life” in Hindi. The well-recognized roundel logo of the parent has also been dispensed with. “This is a brave new world for us, so we decided, after much debate, to break away from the old,” explains Nita from Reliance’s headquarters in south Mumbai.

She occupies a desk in an open office that houses Reliance’s sports business, which she also oversees. While Mukesh still works from his father’s old corner room on a higher floor, Nita says she prefers mingling with the crew.

This new open culture was ushered in at the urging of their U.S.-educated twins, Isha and Akash, who work in an open office on Jio’s campus . Isha, who studied at Yale and worked briefly at McKinsey, is involved in marketing with her mother; Akash, an undergrad from Brown, works on the tech side. “I’m enjoying mentoring them,” says Nita.

In a country where billionaire wives tend to remain in the shadow of their husbands, Nita’s rising profile in the Reliance empire is unusual and earns her a debut spot on our Power Business-women ranking this year. Reliance is among India’s most valuable companies, with $57 billion in revenues.

Making for India

Besides Tata and Mahindra, several other firms that have jumped into the arms race such as Larsen & Toubro, HCL, Reliance, Rolta, Bharat Forge, Titagarh Wagons, Pipavav Defence and Punj Lloyd.

Over 1,300 Pilatus PC-12 planes have been sold worldwide

Over 1,300 Pilatus PC-12 planes have been sold worldwide

This defence ecosystem is not just important to woo international defence firms but also to win big Indian defence contracts. So far, these contracts have benefited government-owned companies like Hindustan Aeronautics, Indian Ordnance Factories and Bharat Electronics that have gone on to be ranked 41, 58 and 81 among the largest arms producing companies in the world respectively, according to a SIPRI report.
But things are changing. For the first-time ever, a joint bid by Larsen & Toubro, Tata and HCL is in the race to develop battlefield communications in a project baptised Tactical Communications System (TCS) estimated to be worth CHF1.5 billion. Another project open to private players involves developing India’s future infantry combat vehicle. Nine private companies have expressed interest in the project, estimated to be worth around CHF7.5 billion. Eventually, in the quest for more indigenisation, big defence projects will have to be opened up to the private sector and companies with a track record of delivering projects to international standards will be well-placed to win them.

Adele is officially the best-selling artist of 2015

British singer Adele arrives at the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California February 12, 2012.

Adele, who broke records with her song “Hello” and latest album “25,” has been named the best artist of 2015.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), a global music industry body, said that the British ballad singer was the top-selling musical act last year based on worldwide sales of recordings.


According to IFPI data, Adele,27, sold more than 15 million copies of her latest album “25” worldwide since its release in November, including 2.65 million in the UK alone.

The 10-time Grammy winner achieved the feat for the full year even though she did not release “25” until November 20 and declined to put the album on streaming sites, a rare move at a time when such on-demand services are growing rapidly.

“25,” Adele’s third album which came more than four years after its predecessor, broke records for first-week sales in both the US and UK.

Singer Adele holds her six Grammy Awards at the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California February 12, 2012.

The first track “Hello,” an introspective ballad in line with Adele’s previous work, was the first single to be downloaded more than one million times in the US in one week. According to Billboard, Adele sold 1.11 million copies of “Hello.”

She has had seven singles chart Billboard’s Hot 100, but “Hello” was the first of her career to debut at No. 1.

IFPI chief executive Frances Moore, in a statement issued from Europe on Monday, called “25” the “runaway global sensation of 2015” and said Adele’s achievement was “simply phenomenal.
Number two for 2015 was another British artist, singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, whose career has soared in the past couple of years on the popularity of his ballad “Thinking Out Loud.

US country-turned-pop superstar Taylor Swift, who won the IPFI Global Recording Artist award the previous year when she released her chart-topping album “1989,” fell to number three in 2015.

Rounding off the top five were Canadian pop celebrity Justin Bieber, who in November released his latest album “Purpose,” and British boy band One Direction who called a hiatus in late 2015 after a fifth album and departure of founding member Zayn Malik.

India ranks 130 in ease of doing business, jumps 12 places: World Bank report

world-bankChina is ranked 84 and Pakistan is at 138th place. Pakistan in fact has slipped 10 spots from 128 last year while China has moved six spots in a year from 90 since the last report.

It may have become easier for Indian businesses to start a business, but their access to credit and ease of paying taxes has worsened, according to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2016. India now ranks 130 out of 189 countries in the ease of doing business, moving up four places from last year’s adjusted ranking of 134.
The rankings for both the years are part of a revised methodology adopted by the bank. India improved its position on three counts—starting a business, getting construction permits and accessing electricity—in the latest edition of the Ease of Doing Business Index, but saw its performance worsen with regard to two parameters—accessing credit and paying taxes.
In the areas that India’s performance has improved, the biggest improvement was under the head of ease of ‘access to electricity’, where it moved up 29 spots to 70.
Here, though, the assessment in the study that focused on the challenges faced by a business house in obtaining a permanent electricity connection for a newly constructed warehouse, was limited to the city of Mumbai, which has the best electricity distribution utilities operting in the country.
Another cause of concern was that the ‘getting credit’ ranking has slipped from 36 to 42, implying that it has become much more difficult to get credit in India despite the government’s efforts at financial inclusion and pushing ease of credit delivery.
It also slipped one spot in the criteria of ease of paying taxes.
India moved up nine spots in the criteria of starting a business to 155 in 2016 from 164 last year and its ranking for dealing with construction permits also moved up one spot to 183. In other segments such as protecting minority investors, registering property, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency, India’s rankings remained the same as last year.
However, in the area of protecting minority interests of shareholders, India is ranked at eight, its best ranking across all parameters.
The NDA government has announced its plans to resolve insolvency issues and enforcing contracts through legislations such as the bankruptcy law and public contracts dispute resolution bill— areas where it is languishing in the overall Ease of Doing Business rankings.
India is ranked 178 in the parameter of enforcing contracts and 136 on the parameter of resolving insolvency.
In the past year, India eliminated the paid-in minimum capital requirement and streamlined the process for starting a business. More reforms are ongoing—in starting a business and other areas measured by Doing Business—though the full effects are yet to be felt,” the World Bank has said.

The Best-Performing CEOs in the World

The world’s top-performing CEO isn’t a household name. In fact, Lars Rebien Sørensen doesn’t even look like a big-time global executive. We recently traveled to the quiet town of Ridgefield, Connecticut, to meet with the CEO of the Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk at his lakefront summer home. He met us in shorts, sandals, and a polo shirt, dressed for a bike ride later that day.

How did this mild-mannered, bespectacled executive land in the #1 spot on our list? It’s partly due to his company’s (darkly) fortuitous decision years ago to focus almost exclusively on diabetes treatment. The runaway global growth of the disease has driven up the company’s sales and stock price.

But his standing also reflects Novo Nordisk’s deep engagement with social and environmental issues, which now factor in to our calculations. “Corporate social responsibility is nothing but maximizing the value of your company over a long period,” says Sørensen, who has been with the company for 33 years. “In the long term, social and environmental issues become financial issues.

HBR’s ranking of CEOs is meant to be a measure of enduring success. We track and analyze each CEO’s performance starting from day one of his or her tenure. Our goal is to create a list that gets beyond the most recent quarterly or even annual results and truly evaluates long-term performance.

In the past, our ranking was based exclusively on hard stock market numbers. We looked at total shareholder return, as well as the change in each company’s market capitalization.

We liked the fact that the ranking was based solidly on data and not on reputation or anecdote. Yet it also felt incomplete, because it failed to account for the many aspects of leadership that go beyond mere market performance.

And so this year we’ve tweaked things. We’ve added to the mix a measurement of each company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. For this we relied on the calculations of the investment research firm Sustainalytics. We now weight long-term financial results at 80% and ESG performance at 20%.

IBM to invest $3B in building Internet of Things business

IBM on Tuesday said that it will create a new Internet of Things unit and invest $3 billion over four years to build it out.Ibm

The move formalizes IBM’s existing Internet of Things efforts. IBM’s smarter-planet and smarter-cities businesses are connected to the Internet of Things trend. The rough idea behind the Internet of Things is that sensors will be embedded in everything and networked to create data. This flow of data could improve operations.

For IBM, the formation of the Internet of Things unit follows a familiar playbook. IBM targets a high-value growth area, invests at least a $1 billion to get the effort rolling and throws its hardware, software and consultants at the issue. In this respect, the formation of the Internet of Things unit rhymes with what IBM did with e-commerce, analytics, and cloud and cognitive computing.

IBM faces a fierce battle for enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) business. Cisco has targeted IoT, as has almost every tech vendor.

Meanwhile, nontraditional IBM rivals have strong IoT efforts. For instance, General Electric, which happens to make many of the things that will be networked, has an IoT platform called Predix. G

E has invested $1 billion in industrial software development. Although GE calls the Internet of Things the industrial Internet, the concept of networking things and layering analytics on top is the same.

For IBM’s part, the company said it will have more than 2,000 consultants, researchers and developers aimed at IoT and the analytics that go with it. IBM said the unit will include:

  • A cloud platform for industries aimed at verticals. IBM will offer dynamic pricing models and cloud delivery to various verticals.
  • Bluemix IoT platform as a service so developers can create and deploy applications for asset tracking, facilities management and engineering tools.
  • An ecosystem of partners ranging from AT&T to ARM to The Weather Company.

Separately, IBM announced a partnership with the business-to-business division of The Weather Company, owner of The Weather Channel. The partnership will deliver micro weather forecasts using sensors from aircraft, drones, buildings and smartphones.

The Weather Company will also move its data services platform to IBM’s cloud platform and integrate Big Blue’s analytics tools such as Watson Analytics.

To be sure, IBM has a bevy of IoT projects under way with customers. The new unit will hone and focus those efforts while bringing in IBM’s expertise in analytics.