How to work from anywhere – even the beach

For better or worse, the worlds of work and recreation collide sometimes. Maybe you have to take an important meeting while you’re on vacation, or you need to finesse a conference presentation as the hotel pool beckons, or perhaps you’re traveling the globe for a year and pursuing consulting gigs along the way. Happily, with … Continue reading “How to work from anywhere – even the beach”

For better or worse, the worlds of work and recreation collide sometimes. Maybe you have to take an important meeting while you’re on vacation, or you need to finesse a conference presentation as the hotel pool beckons, or perhaps you’re traveling the globe for a year and pursuing consulting gigs along the way.

Happily, with the right gear and guidance, you can blend work and travel effectively. To do so, consider these tips from so-called “digital nomads” — professionals who successfully earn a living while globetrotting.

Meet smart

    Sure, you can call in to that meeting from the beach, but will you be heard? Too often, communication breaks down when a team holds a meeting in a conference room with far-flung members dialing in. Attendees around the table often can’t be heard above a whisper by those on the phone, while remote participants struggle to anticipate a pause in the conversation when they can jump in. Read MoreThere’s a simple way to encourage smoother conversations, says Greg Caplan, CEO of Remote Year, a work and travel company that coordinates travel, accommodations, and workspaces for digital nomads. “To ensure that each team member is able to participate in the digital discussion effectively, I recommend instituting the ‘All or Nothing’ rule, which says that if everyone can’t be together in a room for a meeting, everybody has to individually call in to the video chat privately,” says Caplan. “This puts everyone on the same playing field and doesn’t put the remote workers at a disadvantage because they aren’t able to physically be in the room.”

    Get the right gear

    Of course, strong Wi-Fi is a must when you’re working from afar. But don’t miss out on other tools to help you work productively on the road.”Because I spend a good portion of my year away from the office, it’s imperative that I have the right equipment to ‘construct’ my own workstation,” says Michael Parrish DuDell, an entrepreneur and frequent keynote speaker who travels extensively. For Parrish DuDell, that means always packing a 13-inch MacBook Pro, Roost laptop stand, Belkin battery charger, Apple Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, Jabra Elite earbuds, Muji recycled notebooks and Staedtler Fineliner pens. “This can all fit in a small book bag and allows me to get work done wherever I land,” he says.Beyond the hardware, make sure you’re prepared with travel-friendly productivity apps and programs, advises Katherine Conaway, coauthor of “The Digital Nomad Survival Guide.” Conaway relies on Google Calendar and Drive; Zoom; Dropbox; Evernote; Flow; and Slack.

    Make the most of airports

    If you spend even a little time in airports each year, it’s worth splurging on a credit card that offers access to the lounge for at least one major airline, says Parrish DuDell. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a popular choice. Parrish DuDell favors the American Express Platinum Card. “Besides providing a bunch of non-travel perks, it gets me into any domestic Delta lounge and a bunch of other partner lounges around the world,” he says.

    Join a co-working community

    If you travel frequently, consider getting a membership at a co-working space, advises Kate Smith, creator of The Remote Nomad, a blog about traveling and working remotely. Co-working spaces offer the opportunity to connect with like-minded people, access skillshare workshops, and attend various community events, says Smith. “It’s the easiest way to make ‘instant friends’ abroad,” she says.You might even get to network with potential clients and pick up a new gig, she notes. Smith recommends places like La Maquinita in Buenos Aires and Outpost in Bali. Other options include WeWork, with 335 locations in 83 cities across 24 countries.

    Start in the right spot

    If you’re planning a longer stint away, digital nomad ‘hubs’ like Valencia, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Medellin, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Bali, Indonesia are great places to begin. These destinations typically are safe spots with good WiFi, a wide variety of places to work from, a low cost of living, and a strong digital nomad community, says Smith. Southeast Asia, with its strong cafe working culture, is a great option, adds Jenny Lachs, creator of Digital Nomad Girls, a digital platform connecting women around the world. “Most will not bat an eye to see people working in a cafe all day,” Lachs says. “It’s really something completely normal.”

    Slow down a little

    If you have the opportunity, savor your journey, experts say. “Much like slow food, I’ve long been a proponent of slow travel, spending six months to a few years in each new destination with different jobs,” says Tiffany Owens, creator of Modern-Day Nomads, an online community and resource for North American nomads.

      “Instead of racing around the globe to fill passports and Instagram feeds in a sensory overload, slower travel provides an opportunity to more fully immerse oneself in and explore each new place.” In other words, it shouldn’t feel like work.

Chinese investors lead a $5 billion bid for the owner of Louisville Slugger

Chinese investors are leading an attempt to buy Amer Sports, the owner of brands including Louisville Slugger and Wilson, for more than $5 billion.

A consortium led by China’s Anta Sports has offered €40 ($45) per share to acquire the Finnish sports company. That’s nearly 14% above the stock’s closing price on Thursday.The group of buyers includes Chinese tech firm Tencent (TCEHY) and an investment company owned by Lululemon Athletica (LULU) founder Chip Wilson.

    The offer values Amer Sports at €4.6 billion ($5.2 billion). Amer Sports owns baseball equipment maker Louisville Slugger, trail running brand Salomon, racquet maker Wilson and the ski brand Atomic. Tennis stars Serena Williams and Roger Federer are both sponsored by Wilson. Read MoreA stock market filing from Amer Sports said it would continue to operate independently of Anta Sports, but use the Chinese company’s distribution network and manufacturing capabilities to expand in the key Asian market.”The offer …. represents an acknowledgment of the work we have done,” said Amer Sports CEO Heikki Takala. “Their plan to keep Amer Sports as an independent company signals a strong confidence in our strategy and business model.”

      It’s the second largest takeover offer from Chinese investors in Europe this year, according to data provider Dealogic. China Three Gorges bid $27.5 billion for energy company Energias de Portugal in May, but that deal has not yet been finalized. Shares in Amer Sports (AGPDY) jumped 8% to €38.20 ($43.40) in Helsinki after the announcement. Anta Sports closed 1.9% lower in Hong Kong on Friday.

GM’s union talks could spare some workers at risk of layoffs

GM chief executive Mary Barra traipsed around Capitol Hill this week, meeting lawmakers about the company’s plans to shut four plants in Michigan, Ohio and Maryland. She got a lot of questions about why she couldn’t save thousands of jobs.

If any of those workers are spared, it will most likely happen as part of GM’s negotiations with its labor unions — not in discussions with lawmakers in Washington.Barra told Congress that GM (GM) is very concerned about the fate of the hourly workers at the four plants. She said the company is doing what it can to relocate them or give them new positions.

    “Many hourly employees at the impacted US plants will have the opportunity to work at other US GM plants and … we are committed to working with them to minimize the impact on the communities,” Barra said in a statement after meeting with congressional representatives from Michigan on Thursday. Those jobs will become a major topic of discussion when GM sits down with the United Autoworkers next year to discuss a new four-year labor deal.Read MoreGM is closing plants. Now its CEO has to explain why to CongressGM, along with Ford and Fiat Chrysler, has contracts with the UAW that are set to expire next September. The fate of the four plants is likely to be a big part of the negotiations over new labor deals.This is how it could work: GM agrees to spare some of the jobs and build new vehicles in the plants it said it would close. The union, in turn, gives in on matters like pay scales, profit sharing formulas or other benefits.”The announcement about plant investments happen every four years, like clockwork, because that’s when there are labor negotiations,” said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics for the Center for Automotive Research, a Michigan think tank. The problem now is that GM has said it doesn’t have enough demand for product to keep the four plants — two assembly lines, two engine plants — fully busy. Car buyers have shifted away from traditional sedans to SUVs and trucks. But it’s not selling enough of those SUV or trucks to keep all the plants open. GM has capacity to build about 1 million more vehicles a year than it has demand to sell, Dziczek said. Including the two assembly lines slated to close, GM has 12 assembly plants in the United States, half of which are operating at less than 80% capacity. That 80% target is generally the break-even point for profitability, Dziczek said. GM has a number of new vehicles, including electric cars, in the pipeline that are not assigned to a plant yet. It will probably make more sense to put the new vehicles into other plants that are below capacity rather than continue to spread the product it has between all 12 plants.Still Dziczek believes there’s a good chance that one of the two US assembly plants could be saved in the upcoming labor talks. GM workers will have job options — but they may not be as goodGM has announced plans to build some new vehicles, such as the Chevy Blazer, at Mexican plants, rather than placing them at American plants. That has angered members of Congress and the union. But that is going into an existing Mexican plant that would be under capacity without the product. The company has not opened or planned any new Mexican assembly plants in the last 10 years.GM has not ruled out that one or more of the US plants could be kept open. The company hasn’t even definitively said it plans to close the four plants, just that those plants are “unallocated” — they won’t be assigned any products to make after next year.”GM and the UAW will talk about numerous topics that affect our employees and our business during 2019 negotiations,” the company said in a statement. “As always, our intent is to work with the UAW constructively to address our business challenges in a way that keeps the company competitive in these changing market conditions.”

      For the union, keeping those plants open — and hourly workers employed — will be a top priority.”We have been clear that the UAW will leave no stone unturned and use any and all resources available to us regarding the future of these plants,” said UAW President Gary Jones.

Sears chairman bids $4.6 billion to buy 500 stores and keep them open

Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert wants to buy stores and assets to keep the company alive.

His hedge fund, ESL Investments, is offering $4.6 billion for about 500 Sears and Kmart stores as well as the company’s other assets. ESL says its plan would save 50,000 jobs. Sears employed 68,000 people at the time of its Oct. 15 bankruptcy filing.Lampert bought Sears and merged it with Kmart in 2005 to form Sears Holdings. He was its CEO and primary shareholder as it lost billions of dollars and closed thousands of stores.

    Federal Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain, who is hearing the bankruptcy case, would have to approve the plan before Sears could be purchased by ESL. A committee of Sears’ creditors has argued in court that the company would be better off shutting all of its stores and liquidating the assets to return the greatest amount of money to lenders.In a court filing, the creditors’ attorney called Sears’ plan to become profitable “nothing more than wishful thinking ” and “an unjustified and foolhardy gamble with other people’s money.”Read MoreLampert would be putting up a very limited amount of new cash as part of his bid. The proposal calls for $950 million in cash to come from loans that Sears would borrow. ESL is offering to take equity stakes in Sears in return for forgiving $1.8 billion of secured debt that Sears owes it. That debt is backed by hard assets, such as real estate. ESL also proposes assuming $1.1 billion in liabilities, such as extended warranties, gift cards and points accrued by shoppers in its loyalty program.The bid is for the assets of the company, including its store inventory and balances owed on its credit cards. Other assets included in the bid are its Diehard battery brand, Sears’ home improvement business and the Kenmore appliance brand, for which ESL had previously offered $400 million.A spokesperson for Sears Holding declined to comment on the bid. Lampert gave up his role as CEO the day of the bankruptcy filing, but he remains the chairman.Sears’ lawyers have argued in court that staying in business is the best course for all parties, including lenders who are owed money. “Sears is an iconic fixture in American retail and we continue to believe in the company’s immense potential to evolve and operate profitably as a going concern,” said ESL in its bid letter. The bid said it would also restore the severance pay for the Sears workers who lose their jobs as part of the store closings. Sears had nearly 700 stores remaining at the time of its bankruptcy filing and is in the process of closing nearly 200 of those stores.Winning the approval of creditors and Judge Drain will not be easy, said Philip Emma, a senior analyst with Debtwire and expert in retail bankruptcies.”Can they be convinced? Sure. Is there sufficient value in the bid? That’s to be determined,” he said.

      A number of retailers have filed for bankruptcy with a plan to shed costs and stay in business, only to be forced to go out of business later on, including Toys “R” Us, RadioShack and Sports Authority.The court has set a deadline of December 15 for other bidders to submit proposals to buy assets and keep the company in business. The judge could decide which bidder to accept and whether or not to allow the company to remain in business at hearings early next year.

Burger King trolls McDonald’s with 1 cent burger promotion

Burger King wants people to download its app. So it’s sending them to McDonald’s for access to a one-cent Whopper.

Here’s how it works: If you’re within 600-feet of a McDonald’s you can unlock a deal for a penny Whopper using the Burger King app. The app then offers directions to a nearby participating Burger King, where you can pick up the burger. The company announced the deal on Tuesday. It runs through December 12, and customers can only access it once. Burger King’s not the only fast food chain trying out creative ways to get people to download its mobile app. McDonald’s recently ran a $1 fries promotion through its app, and Wendy’s often offers deals through its app as well. Through digital platforms, fast food chains can learn more about consumer tastes and offer personalized promotions.

    Fast food chains use stunts to get customers to pay attention, and vie for their business. Fast food eaters aren’t particularly loyal to one brand over another, BTIG analyst Peter Saleh told CNN Business this summer. For Burger King, its particularly important to win back customers. Read MoreThe burger chain only recently announced plans to upgrade its stores to include digital menu boards and self-order kiosks — changes that its rivals have already put into place, helping increase sales. Burger King’s US comparable sales slipped by 0.7% in the third quarter. Meanwhile, same-store US sales rose by 2.4% in the third quarter at McDonald’s.

    how do you order a Whopper sandwich for a penny “at” McDonald’s? here’s how. #WhopperDetour https://t.co/lAgbGO0bL0 pic.twitter.com/ANXIy6Yu9I

    — Burger King (@BurgerKing) December 4, 2018

    Still, Burger King’s cheeky approach is “pretty innovative,” noted Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy. And so far, it’s been a huge success. More than 50,000 people have redeemed the deal so far, Burger King’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Fernando Machado told CNN Business. That’s about 20 times more redemptions than for any other Burger King app promotion, he estimated. The promotion also boosted the app from ninth to first place in the iTunes App Store’s food and drink category, he said. To pull the Whopper Detour off, Burger King geofenced more than 14,000 US McDonald’s locations. Machado said that it took about a year to pull the promotion together. “We want the functionality to be working really well,” he said. “Or else it backfires.” How Burger King fell behindSome people have complained about glitches on Twitter. Machado’s not too worried about that. “Sometimes someone has a poor connection, or maybe one specific restaurant out of 14,000 may not have been geolocated properly or somebody tried to redeem the coupon during breakfast,” Machado said. But he noted that the difficulties have been the “exception.” The fast food brand has a history of flashy stunts. In January, the chain released an ad criticizing the Trump administration’s decision to repeal net neutrality rules. The three-minute ad shows a “social experiment” in which a Burger King store implements a Whopper “fast lane.” It also released a video showing employees charging female customers a “chick tax” on chicken fries in pink packaging for a stunt designed to call attention to the so-called pink tax on women’s products.To promote the Whopper Detour, Burger King published a video showing customers ordering Whoppers from confused McDonald’s employees.

    introducing the #WhopperDetour. order a Whopper for a penny only “at” McDonald’s with the BK app. yes, you read that right. drive near a McDonald’s and use the BK app. no need to go to their drive-thru. get yours before December 12th. see details: https://t.co/qvUSSf4yuQ pic.twitter.com/Tya17Xo7J3

    — Burger King (@BurgerKing) December 4, 2018

    Machado doesn’t recommend that people go through McDonald’s drive-thrus to redeem their burgers. “We don’t want to disrupt,” he said, noting that one of the reasons the chain settled on a 600-foot radius was to make sure people didn’t have to use the drive-thru to access the promotion.Burger King’s strategy is a bit risky, Hottovy noted. Not only does the tech have to work well, but once Burger King has driven customers to McDonald’s, they may just order food from McDonald’s. “Convenience is really what consumer are looking for,” he noted. That “may even trump free food giveaways.”Burger King didn’t let McDonald’s know what was coming. “We forgot to tell them,” Machado said, adding that McDonald’s hasn’t reached out, but that he hopes the rival sees the stunt as just a bit of fun.

      McDonald’s did not respond to a request for comment. It’s not unusual for fast food rivals to go after McDonald’s (MCD) in their marketing, Hottovy said. “McDonald’s is the largest player in this category,” he noted. That puts “a target on their back.”

Huawei exec’s arrest opens a new front in the US-China trade war

The conflict between the United States and China over trade and technology is expanding.

The arrest of a top executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei at the request of the US government has angered Beijing, alarmed investors and raised new doubts about the fragile truce that the leaders of the world’s top two economies reached just days ago.”You have to see this as a significant escalation in the trade war,” said Christopher Balding, a China expert at the Fulbright University Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City.

    Viewed by US intelligence agencies as a national security threat, Huawei is one of China’s most prominent tech companies. It sells more smartphones than Apple (AAPL) and builds telecommunications networks in countries around the world.Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou arrested in Canada, faces extradition to United StatesCanadian authorities said late Wednesday that Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, had been arrested in Vancouver and that the United States is seeking her extradition. Read MoreThe US and Canadian governments haven’t specified what charges Meng faces, but her arrest follows reports this year that the US Justice Department was investigating whether Huawei violated American sanctions on Iran.”Under the Obama administration, the US indicted Chinese personnel on similar charges, but was reluctant to take more drastic action such as arresting the individuals in third countries, over fear that Beijing would retaliate against US interests in China or in other countries,” Eurasia Group political risk analysts wrote in a note.Meng’s arrest “suggests that the gloves are now fully off in this arena,” the analysts said.What happens next to Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s reclusive founder, could have huge repercussions for the US-China relationship and Huawei’s business.

    What does it mean for the trade war?

    The arrest comes as the US and Chinese governments are discussing ways to tackle problems that led to their trade conflict, which has resulted in new tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of goods.”This type of action will affect the atmosphere around the negotiations — making them less likely to bring a sustainable settlement,” the Eurasia Group analysts said.Huawei exec's arrest sends shudders through stock marketsChina’s Commerce Department said Thursday it was confident a trade agreement with the United States could still be reached in time to hit a 90-day deadline set by President Donald Trump. But the Chinese government is clearly angry about Meng’s arrest. The foreign ministry called on the United States and Canada to “immediately correct the wrongdoing” and restore her “personal freedom.”The big question is what Beijing and Washington do now. Analysts suggest China could retaliate, and the Trump administration may be preparing other moves against Chinese interests.The stakes are extremely high.”This case is like a sharp tug on a loose thread that could be part of an unraveling of the relationship,” said Scott Kennedy, an expert on the Chinese economy at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington. “Both sides need to proceed with abundant caution and a clear sense of their long term interests.”Technology is at the heart of the trade war. The Trump administration says the huge waves of tariffs it has slapped on Chinese goods are part of an effort to stop China from getting its hands on American technology unfairly through practices like cybertheft and forcing companies to hand over trade secrets.Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou is also also known as Sabrina Meng and Cathy Meng. She is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei.The return to the negotiating table follows a ceasefire reached at a dinner between Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on Saturday.Balding pointed out that the deal was reached the same day that Meng was arrested in Canada.”That is very politically embarrassing to Xi,” he said. “It has to be considered an escalation.”

    What does it mean for Huawei?

    The arrest is one of the strongest moves yet against Huawei by US authorities. The company is largely shut out of supplying telecommunications equipment to US carriers. American officials have repeatedly alleged that the Chinese government could use Huawei products for espionage — claims the company denies.Inside China's Silicon Valley: From copycats to innovationMeng’s case “could be a prelude to further action against the firm and its senior officials,” Eurasia Group analysts said.Huawei’s smaller rival, ZTE (ZTCOF), provides an example of how the US government could go further. The Chinese company was crippled for months after the US Commerce Department blocked it from buying vital parts from American companies. The ban threatened to put ZTE out of business and highlighted China’s continued reliance on American technology, a vulnerability Beijing is eager to reduce. ZTE eventually got a reprieve after Xi personally asked Trump for help. But the crisis caused disruption for telecommunications carriers ZTE supplies around the world.A similar ban on Huawei would have a bigger impact because its equipment is more widely used.A Huawei stand at an artificial intelligence conference in Shanghai. The company is one of China’s leading tech businesses, filing huge numbers of patents.Huawei said in a statement about Meng’s arrest that it “has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng.” “Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU,” it added.

      The next moves in Meng’s case are key.”There is a lot of legal and diplomatic wrangling ahead,” Balding said. “The US and Canada would not have taken this move lightly and it puts everything in a brand new light.”

Trump promised to rescue the coal industry. But he can’t

The Trump administration attempted a daring rescue of the coal country, but the pro-coal agenda is failing to jump-start a renaissance — and analysts don’t see one on the horizon.

Despite trying for nearly two years to prop up coal by rolling back climate regulations, the industry remains in sharp decline — coal consumption peaked in 2007. The shale boom created a glut of cheap natural gas in America, and the costs to deploy wind and solar continue to plunge. US coal consumption is projected to decline by nearly 4% in 2018 to the lowest level since 1979, the US Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday. At year-end, appetite for coal will be a staggering 44% below 2007 levels.

    Xcel pledges carbon-free electricity by 2050

    It’s all about an industrywide shift by power plants away from coal in favor of natural gas and solar, wind and hydro power. Read More”We’re seeing energy Darwinism,” said Matt Gray, senior analyst for utilities and power at London-based think tank Carbon Tracker. “Coal’s not really in the equation anymore. It’s a battle between gas and renewables.”Just one tiny coal-fired generator is expected to come online by the end of 2019, according to EIA, a data and analysis unit within the Department of Energy. This point was underscored by ambitious targets rolled out on Tuesday by Xcel Energy (XEL). The power company pledged to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050. Xcel, which is based in Minneapolis and serves eight Western and Midwestern states, plans to slash its carbon emissions by 80% by 2030 from 2005 levels. .leftside-floating-image { width:100%; display:block; margin:0 auto 1.5rem; } @media screen and (min-width: 200px) { .leftside-floating-image { float:left; width:50%; max-width: 200px; display:block; margin:0 1.5rem 1rem 0; } } “We’re on a path to provide a more sustainable, prosperous energy future,” CEO Ben Fowke said in a statement. Xcel hopes to achieve what it calls the most aggressive carbon-reducing goals in the industry by doubling its wind generation, continuing to operate carbon-free nuclear plants and leaning on natural gas as backup. Xcel plans to retire 20 coal units between 2005 and 2026, representing 40% of its coal-powered capacity.

    Coal retirements accelerate

    Many other companies have been saying goodbye to coal. In 2017, 529 coal-fired power generators were retired, wiping out total capacity of 55 gigawatts, according to the EIA. In 2018, another 11 gigawatts of coal-fired generating capacity were retired through September and an additional 3 gigawatts are slated for retirement by year-end, the EIA said. That would make 2018 the second-highest year ever for coal retirements. “The industry is looking at its aging coal fleet and saying, ‘I can either fix this at great risk or move to renewables and natural gas at much lower costs,'” said Andy Roberts, research director of global thermal coal markets at consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. “It’s kind of a no-brainer.”

    "As a society, we need investors and local governments to come together to make sure the workers in those mines and plants aren't left hung out to dry."

    Matt Gray, Carbon Tracker analyst

    That thinking will continue in longer the run. Between 2019 and 2024, another 23.1 gigawatts of coal plant retirements have been announced or already received regulatory approval, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Renewables have been bolstered by incentives from the state governments and at the federal level. Thanks to those incentives, NextEra Energy (NEE) said that the new cost to build wind and solar is now below that of operating existing coal and nuclear plants in the United States, according to S&P.John Ketchum, NextEra Energy’s chief financial officer, recently called it the “best renewables environment in our history.”

    Coal still king in 18 states

    Coal is not going away completely. It’s still the most-used electricity generation source in parts of Appalachia, including Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia, as well as coal-producing states such as Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. Coal is the leading source of power in 18 states, down from 28 states a decade ago, according to the EIA. And the industry has sought to cushion the decline of coal by boosting exports. Emerging markets including China and India continue to rely on coal to power their rapid growth. US exports of coal soared 61% to 97 million short tons of coal last year. But that’s still below the 2012 export peak and pales in comparison to the total US demand for coal of 691 million short tons in 2018, according to the EIA.Duke Energy continues to operate this coal-fired power plant in North Carolina but it has shut 47 other units since 2011. Photographer: Charles Mostoller/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesIn addition to announcing plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, the Trump administration has also reduced environmental regulations that pressured coal. The EPA, led by former coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, is expected on Tuesday to roll back Obama-era climate change regulations, which made building new coal plants difficult, according to reports. The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

    $78 billion in stranded assets

    Still, power companies are under pressure to wind down their coal-fired plants — before it’s too late. The risk is that these coal facilities become stranded assets, meaning they’re obsolete and can no longer earn an economic return. Under the existing market structure, US energy companies face $78 billion in stranded asset risk from coal, according to a Carbon Tracker study released last week. The think tank estimates that it costs more to run 70% of US coal capacity than to build new renewable generation. And that figure will rise to 100% by 2030.Duke Energy (DUK) alone faces an industry-leading $5.9 billion in stranded asset risk by 2030, according to estimates by Carbon Tracker. In a statement, Duke Energy told CNN Business that it retired 47 coal-fired generating units between 2011 and 2017 and it plans to retire nine more by 2024. Duke Energy said it “continuously evaluates” its fleet, maintains assets that make “economic sense” and retires ones that are no longer viable.Vistra Energy (VST) and Southern Company have about $4 billion in stranded asset risk by 2030, Carbon Tracker estimates. Vistra said in a statement that earlier this year it retired multiple coal plants that were “uneconomic.” “We do not believe we currently have any assets that meet the Carbon Tracker definition of stranded assets,” Vistra said. Southern Company (SO) did not respond to a request for comment. The company recently said that more than 50% of its coal units have been retired or converted to natural gas.

      Gray, the Carbon Tracker analyst, said the risk is that coal workers themselves will eventually get stranded as well. “As a society, we need investors and local governments to come together to make sure the workers in those mines and plants aren’t left hung out to dry,” he said.

GM’s Mary Barra heads to Capitol Hill to explain plant closures

General Motors chief executive Mary Barra is heading to hostile territory: Capitol Hill.

The automaker’s plans to close four US plants has turned GM into “the most thoroughly disliked company in Washington, DC, right now,” Debbie Dingell, a Democratic member of the House from Michigan, told CNN last week.Barra will aim to change that in her meetings with members of Congress, which are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, according to a person familiar with discussions.

    She will sit down with congressional delegations from each of the three states where the targeted plants are located — Michigan, Ohio and Maryland. “I look forward to continuing our engagement with GM,” said Senator Rob Portman, Republican from Ohio, where the company said it plans to shut its 52-year old facility in Lordstown. “I hope the company sees the incredible potential in this plant by keeping it open.”Read MoreGM said it needs to cut about 8,000 salaried workers, as well as about 3,300 hourly workers at the four US plants, to cut costs and invest more in the next generation of electric and self-driving cars. The plants currently slated to close are in Lordstown; Detroit and Warren, Michigan; and Baltimore.The plans to shutter the plants has caused a backlash on both sides of the aisle.GM has barely paid federal taxes for years. Here's why”This company has done something that nobody else has done for the last two years — Republicans and Democrats united,” said Dingell, a former GM executive.In one example of that bipartisanship, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, released a joint statement with Portman calling on GM to change its decision on the Ohio plant.”Senator Portman and I are committed to saving these jobs and call on GM to work with us to find solutions,” said Brown.The meetings come just as the Trump administration is pressuring European carmakers to increase production in the US — and asking Congress to ratify Trump’s replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the Trump administration hopes will attract manufacturing back to the United States. Dingell said last week that she particularly wants to ask GM if it planned to build new plants in Mexico at the same time they are planning to close US plants.”We need to get a far better understanding of what GM is up to. I don’t like what I’m hearing on the grapevine, which is that they’re going to move production to another country,” she said. “We need to understand what their product plans are.”But GM has insisted it is not looking to shift production to other countries. Instead it will stop building the cars built at the Lordstown and Detroit plants, such as the Chevrolet Cruze, Impala and Volt, the Buick LaCross and the Cadillac CTS. engines for those models. GM says it’s dropping those products because there’s less demand for car models as car buyers shift to SUVs.GM workers will have job options — but they may not be as goodGM’s plans have also come under attack by President Donald Trump, who vows to take action to cut government subsidies going to GM as a way of forcing it to keep the plants open. Dingell said she would support Trump taking action against her former employer.

      “I’m not sure they showed an ounce of support or caring for the working men and women who were impacted by this announcement,” she said. But the money GM gets from government research grants and even from sales of cars to the federal government pales in comparison to the annual cost savings of $6 billion that GM says it will achieve with these cuts.

Maersk wants to slash carbon emissions from shipping to zero. But it needs help

The world’s biggest shipping company wants to slash its carbon emissions to zero by developing a new kind of container ship to ply the oceans.

Maersk (AMKBY), which is based in Denmark, said it’s aiming to become carbon neutral by 2050 and is urging other shipping companies to do the same and help it develop the technology for a new generation of vessels.”This is a call for action,” Maersk Chief Operating Officer Soren Toft told CNN’s Richard Quest on Tuesday, describing climate change as “one of the most significant issues facing the planet.”

    The shipping industry “will need to find new technologies, new innovative ways of basically providing the future efficient ships,” Toft said. “These ships are not available today, and that’s why we are reaching out.”Shell is first energy company to link executive pay and carbon emissionsThe shipping industry burns huge quantities of heavy fuel oil and is estimated to account for roughly 2% to 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Read MoreThat compares to roughly 3% generated by international aviation and 11% by agriculture, according to 2014 data from the European Environment Agency. In April, the IMO pledged to reduce the industry’s annual emissions by at least half by 2050.But Maersk is pushing for it to go much further. “It’s vital that we find solutions for this problem,” Toft said. “We want many future generations to have a healthy and peaceful existence on this earth.”

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      CNN Meteorologist breaks down climate report 04:16The company believes the next 5 to 10 years will be crucial to carrying out the research and development needed to get environmentally friendly container ships on the seas by 2030.Maersk has invested $1 billion over the past four years in energy efficient technology but says it can’t make the new ships a reality on its own.3 things businesses can do to win the climate change fight”We can only do this when we work together,” Toft told Quest.British engine maker Rolls Royce (RYCEY) said in August that it had developed a lithium-ion battery system for ships that would help reduce emissions.

        But Maersk’s giant cargo vessels, which carry thousands of containers over thousands of miles of open ocean, will need entirely new technology in order to meaningfully cut carbon emissions or eliminate them entirely.The shipping company says it plans to start a dialogue next year with “all possible parties” — including cargo owners, investors, lawmakers and technology developers — to start working on the challenge.

Why Carlos Ghosn remains silent two weeks after his arrest

Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Tokyo on suspicion of financial misconduct more than two weeks ago, yet the world hasn’t heard a word from the auto industry icon since.

The reasons for his silence have a lot to do with Japan’s legal system.The multimillionaire executive has been fired as chairman of Nissan (NSANY) and Mitsubishi Motors (MSBHY), and sidelined at Renault (RNSDF), even though prosecutors have yet to file any formal charges against him.

    An indictment would be ominous for Ghosn. More than 99% of people charged with a crime in Japan are eventually convicted, experts say.Ghosn has retained lawyers to represent him but has issued no public statement. Read More

    Why has Ghosn stayed silent?

    Unlike in the United States, it’s rare for criminal suspects in Japan to comment publicly on legal proceedings — even to deny the allegations.The relationship between a suspect and prosecutors in Japan can be like a game of poker in which neither side wants to give too much away, especially in the early stages of the process.After Carlos Ghosn, Japan may never hire another foreign CEO”Usually a good criminal defense lawyer would advise the client to remain silent,” said Kana Sasakura, a criminal law professor at Kobe’s Konan University. “If they talk, it might become detrimental.” Prosecutors are yet to announce full details of the allegations they are pursuing against Ghosn. Anything he and his lawyers say now could be used against him later if prosecutors introduce more allegations. Even after more than two weeks of detention, Ghosn is unlikely to be aware of the full extent of the allegations against him, Sasakura said.The executive also faces practical obstacles to getting a public message out. Visits from lawyers, family and friends are strictly controlled by prosecutors, making it difficult for suspects to establish a defense or give their side of the story to the media. An icon of the auto industry, Ghosn is now in a Tokyo jail.

    How does Japan’s system work?

    Prosecutors are extremely powerful in the Japanese system.After an arrest, they can hold a suspect for 72 hours without charging them with a crime. They can extend that by as much as 20 days with court approval. After that, prosecutors can allege new crimes and rearrest the suspect, starting the whole process again. During this time, prosecutors generally disclose few details about the case publicly, but often leak information to the local media to help build momentum in their favor. Lebanon put Carlos Ghosn on its postage stamps. His downfall has stunned BeirutJapan also has no pre-indictment bail, so suspects stay in jail throughout this process. Unusually, they can be subject to lengthy interrogations without their lawyer present. Prosecutors aim to wear suspects down and make them confess, at which point they formally indict them. The case then proceeds to trial, where a sentence is handed down. “Presumably, trying to get a confession out of at least one of them is a goal,” said Colin Jones, a law professor at Kyoto’s Doshisha Law School, referring to Ghosn and former Nissan director Greg Kelly, who has also been arrested for suspected financial misconduct. Jones, and other legal scholars, have criticized the system for being too stacked in prosecutors’ favor. But the prosecutors themselves dismiss such complaints.”Every country has its own background, history and culture,” Shin Kukimoto, a Tokyo deputy public prosecutor said at a news conference about Ghosn’s case last week. “I wonder if it is fair to criticize [Japan’s justice system] because it is different from their own countries.”

    What’s likely to happen next?

    Based on the allegations that have been made so far, Ghosn could face up to 10 years in prison if he’s eventually found guilty. But it’s unlikely he has confessed to anything, experts say, and he could even be refusing to talk to prosecutors at all.

      After holding such a high-profile suspect for so long, it would be deeply embarrassing for prosecutors to release him without charge.”There will be a public uproar if the prosecutors decide not to prosecute Ghosn,” Sasakura said.