The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 21 December 2018

Environment

Image: Shutterstock

Feel the burn

Today Germany marks the closure of its last black-coal mine but the country still needs to wean itself off its dirty habit.

German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier will be attending a ceremony today to mark the closure of his country’s last black-coal mine: the Prosper-Haniel colliery in North Rhine-Westphalia. Although the closure may sound like a victory for environmentalists, Germany still has numerous open-pit mines that extract brown coal, which is cheaper and dirtier than black coal. ClientEarth energy lawyer Ida Westphal notes how “villages, homes, old churches and forests are still being bulldozed to make way for ongoing coal developments, even as the EU pledges to move beyond coal.” Germany remains the EU’s leading producer and burner of coal and, despite attempts to end its reliance, the country still has a long way to go in reinstating its green credentials.

Conservation

Image: Getty Images

Political animal

Japan’s decision to bring back whaling shines a spotlight on the International Whaling Commission’s relevance.

Japan is planning to revive its whaling industry in dramatic fashion. Later this month Tokyo will announce that it’s pulling out of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), an organisation formed in 1946 to protect endangered whale species. The decision reflects Tokyo’s longstanding frustrations with the IWC’s focus on conservation. It’s also hardly a surprise: every year Japan has killed hundreds of the creatures for research since the IWC passed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986. Tokyo says that it’s keeping the country’s centuries-old traditions alive but demand for whale meat has shrunk in recent decades. The pressure is now on the IWC to figure out how to stay relevant if more pro-whaling nations decide to drop out.

Geopolitics

Image: Shutterstock

Wary glances

Should China’s influence in Australia be a cause for concern?

There is a rising tide of unease in Australia surrounding Chinese activity in the country. In May, then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull decried China’s “brazen” and “aggressive” interference in Australian affairs over the past 10 years. Those who are twitchy about that notion won’t be pleased by the news announced this week: Chinese investors now command the second-biggest property portfolio of Australian land after the UK. Despite Australia banning Huawei – whose executive is embroiled in a spying scandal – and bringing in land-purchase reforms (making it harder for rampant foreign investment), this finding will set off alarm bells in the Australian business and security industries.

Aviation

Dream flight

Bombardier is hoping that a new private jet that can carry full-sized beds will land a blow to its competitors.

There’s a new business battle being waged in the skies between private-jet manufacturers. While Gulfstream’s G650 has long dominated the industry, Montréal’s Bombardier has blindsided its competitor with the first delivery of its Global 7500 jet. Featherlight materials mean that the jet can carry amenities once reserved for converted commercial aircrafts, such as a full-sized bed and marble floors, without limiting its range. Bombardier has turned its focus on its business-jet division as the key to cost-cutting corporate restructuring, which saw 5,000 layoffs in November. The new jet is expected to lift revenue by a much-needed $3bn (€2.6bn) by 2020; Bombardier believes that the ultrawealthy will be enticed more by the prospect of a good night’s rest than anything else.

From Monocle 24

Image: Alamy

Yukiwa – Japan’s silver service

Monocle on Design: Extra

Yukiwa, a 106-year-old family-run business is known throughout Japan for manufacturing elegant items (from napkin rings to a European sherbert trolley) that offer both restaurants and homes pieces with extra panache.

From Monocle Films

The secret to putting on perfume

In our ‘Secret to...’ series we look at the best way to wear a fragrance with Frances Shoemack, founder of Abel perfumes.

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