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Triple Crunch Log                                                                                                            

National Audit Office doubts ministers can deliver on promise of no public subsidy for nuclear. In a new report, the government’s own accountant doubts whether companies will be able to pay the full costs.93

VC investment down 37% in 2009, PWC reports. $17.7 billion went to 2,795 start-ups — 37 percent less cash and 30 percent fewer deals than in 2008. VC funds raised $15.2 billion, a 47 percent decline from the year before. Roger McNamee, co-founder of Elevation Partners: “the venture capital industry’s just lost its way, and it needs to reinvent itself. A very cynical game has developed where they make enough money off the fees to support a lovely lifestyle and they don’t have to work very hard.” Ten-year returns for the industry have dropped to 14 percent, from 36 percent in 2000, according to Cambridge Associates. Initial public offerings and sales of venture-backed companies were both sharply down: just 13 and 262 respectively.94

A quarter of the US grain crop is now being fed to cars, not people. So new 2009 figures from the Department of Agriculture show. This is enough to feed 330m people at average world consumption levels. Lester Brown: “Continuing to divert more food to fuel, as is now mandated by the US federal government in its renewable fuel standard, will likely only reinforce the disturbing rise in world hunger. By subsidising the production of ethanol to the tune of some $6bn each year, US taxpayers are in effect subsidising rising food bills at home and around the world.” 95

23.1.10. Prosperity without growth: it is possible, and imperative, Tim Jackson argues in his new book. “Questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists and revolutionaries. But question it we must,” says Jackson in “Prosperity Without growth.” JL Review in Guardian: “For what it's worth, as a creature of capitalism – a venture-capital-backed energy ­industry boss, a private equity investor, and an Institute of Directors director of the month – I am convinced that capitalism as we know it is torpedoing our prosperity, killing our economies and threatening our children with an unlivable world. Tim Jackson has written the best book yet making this case, and showing the generalities of the escape route. The specifics, post-Copenhagen, are all down to us.”96

Banking lobbyists gear up to fight Obama’s reforms. The top 8 US banks spent $26m on lobbying last year – up 6% despite the crisis. They gave $78.2m to federal candidates and party committees in the first 10 months: more than any other business sector.97 They have a successful track record. A $300m lobbying assault during the Clinton administration saw the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagal. Citigroup was a big beneficiary, and hired Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin soon after the appeal.98 An IMF paper has shown that the more a bank spends on lobbying, the bigger the risks it takes.99

If bankers had paid just 20% less in bonuses 2000-8, they would have had £75bn more capital – more than the taxpayer put in. So the Bank of England has shown, according to Will Hutton. Averting the crisis required £1.3 trillion of liquidity, guarantees and capital injections.100

24.1.10. Banks and investors are pulling out of carbon markets in the wake of the failure in Copenhagen. So Anthony Hobley, head of climate change and carbon finance at Norton Rose, and others, report.101

Shell CEO says Shell’s expansion in the tar sands will be “very much slower” in years ahead. The company is making a strategic shift away from unconventional oil, and rely more on conventional oil and gas for growth.102

Saudi lead climate negotiator says climate talks are a worse threat than rival oil producers, and says the Kingdom will build a solar capacity quickly. “It's one of the biggest threats that we are facing,” says Muhammed al-Sabban, head of the Saudi delegation to the U.N. talks on climate change. “We are worried about future demand ... oil is being singled out. We are heavily dependent on one commodity.” The kingdom sees “some truth” in studies that point to demand peaking in 2016. Saudi Arabia plans to invest heavily in solar, al-Sabban says, hoping to begin exporting solar electricity by 2020. Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi has also said the government aims to make solar a major contributor to energy supply in the next five to 10 years.103

25.1.10. Economic growth cannot be achieved while limiting global warming to 2 degees C, a new Economics Foundation report concludes. The levels of carbon intensity required are probably impossible to achieve.104

EPA may tighten anti-SO2 rules as another route to cutting US coal use. Bernstein analyst Hugh Wynne sees such an approach forcing coal into “secular decline” in the US, because the tightening proposed would require a cut in emissions of 50% by 2015.105

China is setting the oil price, Goldman Sachs analysts think. They point in their weekly review to a 1.6mb/d rise in Chinese demand more than offsetting the 1.5 mb/d fall in the US.106

More and more families are falling into debt with energy companies in the wake of the cold spell.107 Meanwhile, the cold spell has put £100m of additional profits for energy companies, analysts report.108

Recovery of public trust in business is patchy, and working with NGOs will help, a global survey for Davos shows. Trust in business has risen from 49 per cent to 53 per cent around the world, according to Edelman’s annual “trust barometer” of well-educated, highly paid and engaged “informed publics.” Trust in government rose from 44 per cent to 46 per cent globally (up from 30 per cent to 43 per cent in the US but down from 41 per cent to 35 per cent in the UK). China, in contrasts, score 77%. Trust in US banks is just 29 per cent, down from 36 per cent in 2008, and 69 per cent in 2007, when US banking was the number three most trusted industry. Now it’s second lowest after insurance. “The survey draws the clearest picture yet of an emerging ‘stakeholder society’, in which delivering financial returns for shareholders is no longer seen as executives’ sole priority,” the FT reports. Just over half of those polled saw service to “society at large” as equally important. A clear majority say they are more likely to trust companies that work with NGOs to tackle global issues.109

26.1.10.Cyber attacks on oil majors include reserves details. Christian Science Monitor reports that at least three US oil companies - ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil and ConocoPhilips - have been targeted by hackers, possibly in China. The hackers have accessed ‘bid data’: highly sensitive commercial information discoveries and reserve estimates.110

27.1.10.Obama singles out green energy and infrastructure jobs in his State of the Union address. $30bn  of the money repaid by Wall Street will go to community banks for lending to small businesses. Large numbers of jobs can be created in infrastructure projects such as higgh-speed rail, and clean energy, the President says.111 He briefly refers to the world pushing ahead with a climate change agenda, but does not mention global warming or the cap and trade bill.112

Barclays President Bob Diamond lashes out at Obama measures in Davos. “If you say that large is bad

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