Monday. 21/11/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Poul Gerner

Opinion / Mads Nipper

Winds of change

Ørsted, the energy company for which I am CEO, expects that Europe has sufficient volumes of gas and power for this winter. However, to bring down energy prices, we all need to save energy. Ørsted also believes that companies that have made significant unplanned windfall profits from high energy prices should contribute financially by returning some of these profits to consumers, as it is socially unacceptable that many families have to choose between staying warm and eating. Considering the extraordinary circumstances, this seems fair and should be part of a short-term response to the energy crisis.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the curtailment of Russian gas supplies to western Europe, we’ve seen European governments increase targets for using renewables. However, governments also need to speed up the allocation of land and seabed for wind farms, as well as permits, which often take much longer than building the actual wind farms. These high ambitions need to be followed by real political initiatives to speed things up, otherwise they will remain ambitions.

In terms of the shift away from fossil fuels, I expect 2023 to be a year when some countries will truly accelerate, while others will stall. The successful ones will dramatically reduce permit times, make significant land and seabed available to developers, choose projects based on financially and environmentally sustainable criteria rather than maximising short-term payments and allow developers and their supply chains to take greater responsibility. Ørsted has already increased its ambitions and is ready to continue to lead the way in our industry in 2023. Europe needs to accelerate – now.

Mads Nipper is the CEO of Ørsted, Denmark’s largest energy company. To read other major business leaders on what they see over the horizon for their own industries in 2023, pick up a copy of ‘The Forecast’, which is available on newsstands now.

Image: Halifax

Geopolitics / Canada

Setting the world to rights

Presidents, European ministers of defence and business leaders descended onto Canada during this weekend’s Halifax International Security Forum. The forum, whose mission is to strengthen co-operation between democracies, was dominated by Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. For the 14th edition of the summit, China, Iran and Russia were all left off the invite list – and not for the first time. “Attitudes towards Russia have dramatically changed since we met last year,” Janice Gross Stein, chair of the Halifax International Security Forum, tells Monocle 24. “There was not a single representative here defending Russia.” One noticeable absence was Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had been scheduled to appear. His withdrawal was blamed on his being needed elsewhere to keep the Ukraine grain deal alive, though some sceptics, including US senator Jim Risch, saw this as a way to keep his head down after holding up Sweden and Finland’s accession to Nato.

To hear more about the Halifax International Security Forum, tune in to today’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Alfonso Duran

Urbanism / Miami

Highs and lows

Residents in Miami Beach have voted to stop the development of two high-rise towers in its beachfront neighbourhoods. The nixing of the proposed hotel and office building, which needed public approval to rise above the city’s current height limit, will force their developers to go back to the drawing board. Some commentators will no doubt label the community’s opposition as unnecessary objections to progress but the decision should be welcomed.

Miami Beach’s residents have demonstrated an understanding that protecting their city’s unique character doesn’t mean preserving just the historic art deco buildings but its sightlines and skyline too. Other cities facing pressure from developers looking to radically alter the look and feel of their neighbourhoods should turn to the south Floridian coast for assertive inspiration.

Design / Japan

Gimme shelter

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and North Korea’s nuclear missile ambitions might have done little for international cohesion but they have ensured that demand for private nuclear shelters has exploded in Japan. In July, when construction company Growth View released a compact nuclear shelter that it marketed as “a must item in the new age”, only a few people took it seriously.

That all changed in October, after Pyongyang sent a ballistic missile over Aomori prefecture, where Growth View is based. The company says that it has since received 30 calls a day from potential buyers. With its 8cm steel walls, small living space, air purifier and four external cameras, the shelter costs ¥6.6m (about €42,000). That is twice the price of Muji’s minimal prefabricated hut – though that structure isn’t built to withstand a nuclear blast. What to do with an austere 2.3 tonne hut in your backyard during peacetime? Growth View suggests using it as a music room – it is soundproofed, after all.

Image: Shutterstock

Culture / Sweden

Good move

For decades, shimmying in a Swedish bar that didn’t have a permit could get its proprietors in trouble with the law. But now the country might finally do away with its ban on spontaneous dancing. Politicians have tried for years to put an end to the much-ridiculed rule. In 2016 parliament even voted to repeal it but the government at the time never implemented the change. Now legislative work to undo the ban is finally under way.

“If I had to choose a law that should be removed, it is the one about the dance permit,” Sweden’s justice minister Gunnar Strömmer (pictured) told Swedish national broadcaster SVT. “People are happy and having a good time but take a few dance steps and you lose your livelihood.” As Strömmer puts the finishing touches on the pro-boogie bill, it seems that the Swedish government is catching on to something that the rest of us have always known: there’s nothing wrong with busting a move or two.

Image: Getty Images

Monocle 24 / On Design Extra

Yusuke Takahashi

After seven years at Issey Miyake menswear, the Tokyo-based designer branched out to create his own brand, Clothing for Contemporary Life, or CFCL. We find out how he makes use of computer-programming technology to create knitwear collections.

Monocle Films / Germany

Inside the airship industry

Airships, once tipped to be the future of flight, are now largely used as costly billboards that drift across cities or over major sporting events. We travelled to Friedrichshafen in Germany to take a peek inside one of the world’s few commercial operations and explore this niche area of aviation. Read more on the story in the November issue of Monocle magazine.

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