EIB slams slow industrial response to climate change

The European Investment Bank is the EU’s nonprofit lending institution. (AFP)
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Updated 23 December 2019

EIB slams slow industrial response to climate change

  • EIB chief Werner Hoyer said he understood concerns over job losses in traditional industries

FRANKFURT: The president of the European Investment Bank (EIB), the EU’s lending arm, has sharply criticized industrial companies for reacting too slowly to climate change, saying some bosses had been “asleep at the wheel.”

In an interview to appear in German newspaper group RND on Monday, EIB chief Werner Hoyer said he understood concerns over job losses in traditional industries.

“But there are some business executives who should ask themselves if they haven’t been asleep at the wheel,” he said, warning that change was inevitable in the fight against global warming.

He singled out automakers for taking too long to make the switch from the polluting internal combustion engine to cleaner electric cars.

It was “crystal clear 15 or even 20 years ago” that this transition would have “an enormous impact on car suppliers especially,” said Hoyer.

“But instead of responding, many just sat back and waited.”

The comments come as Hoyer’s native Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is experiencing a steep manufacturing slump driven by trade tensions, weak global growth and Brexit uncertainty.

Germany’s car industry has been especially hard hit by the downturn, which comes as automakers are already weighed down by the huge investments needed to shift to the cleaner, smarter cars of tomorrow. Major companies like Volkswagen, Daimler and car supplier Continental have announced tens of thousands of job cuts for the coming years.

Oil slumps more than 4% on coronavirus fears

Updated 28 February 2020

Oil slumps more than 4% on coronavirus fears

  • Traders fret about impact of spreading virus on crude demand, particularly from China

LONDON: World oil prices tumbled by more than 4 percent on Thursday, as traders fretted about the impact of spreading coronavirus on crude demand, particularly from key consumer China.

Brent oil for April delivery tanked almost 4.2 percent to $51.20 per barrel, while New York’s WTI crude for the same month dived nearly 5 percent to $46.31.

“Concerns that the virus will prompt a global slowdown, weaker consumer confidence and reduced travel has raised concerns about lower demand, weighing on prices,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

Investors are growing increasingly fearful about the economic impact of the new coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak. 

The virus continues to spread meanwhile, with Brazil reporting Latin America’s first case, and Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Georgia, Norway and Pakistan following suit.

Around 2,800 people have died in China and more than 80,000 have been infected. There have been more than 50 deaths and 3,600 cases in dozens of other countries, raising fears of a pandemic.

The spread of the virus to large economies including South Korea, Japan and Italy has raised concerns that growth in fuel demand will be limited. 

Consultants Facts Global Energy forecast oil demand would grow by 60,000 barrels per day in 2020, a level it called “practically zero,” due to the outbreak.

US President Donald Trump sought to assure Americans on Wednesday evening that the risk from coronavirus remained “very low,” but global equities resumed their plunge, wiping out more than $3 trillion in value this week alone.

“The negative price impact would intensify if the coronavirus were declared pandemic by the World Health Organization, something that looks imminent,” said PVM Oil Associates analyst Tamas Varga.

“The mood is gloomy and the end of the tunnel is not in sight – there is no light ahead just darkness. Not even a refreshingly positive weekly US oil report was able to lend price support.”

Gasoline stockpiles dropped by 2.7 million barrels in the week to Feb. 21 to 256.4 million, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday, amid a decline in refinery throughput. Distillate inventories fell by 2.1 million barrels to 138.5 million.

US crude oil stockpiles increased by 452,000 barrels to 443.3 million barrels, the EIA said, which was less than the 2-million-barrel rise analysts had expected.

The crude market is watching for possible deeper output cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+.

“Oil is in freefall as the magnitude of global quarantine efforts will provide severe demand destruction for the next couple of quarters,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA. 

“Expectations are growing for OPEC+ to deliver deeper production cuts next week.”

OPEC+ plans to meet in Vienna on March 5-6.