Monday, May 10, 2021

Toyota's new £50,000 hydrogen fuel cell car: Should you steer away from traditional EVs and choose the Mirai with its 400 mile range?

Toyota's new eco-friendly Mirai gives a whole new meaning to 'stepping on the gas.'

Because when I got behind the wheel of this sporty four-door five-seater saloon, that's exactly what I was doing.

Except that in this case the 'gas' I was stepping on was not gasoline – or petrol as we call it in the UK – but lighter than air hydrogen: the most abundant element on the planet and probably the universe.

And, just like liquid petrol, also highly inflammable.

The new and surprisingly agile and sporty Mirai is the second generation of Toyota's zero-emissions motor and the Japanese car-maker says improvements have helped it boost fuel economy by 10 per cent to achieve a 30 per cent increase in range to 400 miles.

And although hydrogen is the principle source of the power that drives it, the Mirai is actually an electric car driven by electricity and electric motors.

That's because it uses a special fuel-cell which acts as a mini on-board power-station taking the hydrogen gas and, through a chemical reaction, creating electric power from the fusion of hydrogen from the fuel tank and oxygen atoms sucked in from the atmosphere.

The other by-product – as you may recall from school-days' chemistry lessons, is H20 – otherwise known as water.

This is what dribbles out of the exhaust pipe – and is so pure you can drink it.

Indeed, the car is such a marvel, that it even purifies the air around it as it goes as the air it sucks thanks the on-board chemical reaction.


The 'Great Reset' is about to become the law in Europe — and America could be next

Citing concerns over climate change and the "golden opportunity" for societal change created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Economic Forum launched in June 2020 a radical "Great Reset" initiative, in partnership with various leaders from the public and private sectors.

CEOs of major corporations, as well as banks, central banks, financial institutions, labor unions, international organizations, and government leaders — including John Kerry, the Biden administration's "climate czar" — quickly signed on to the plan, which pledges to push the "reset" button on the global economy.

As World Economic Forum head Klaus Schwab wrote in an op-ed about the Great Reset published in June, "The world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a 'Great Reset' of capitalism."

Supporters of the Great Reset aim to alter the global economy through two different reform strategies. The first is to create a variety of new government programs, including policies similar to the far-left Green New Deal resolution proposed in 2019 by New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The second, even more far-reaching part of the Great Reset is the widespread adoption of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards, which change the way businesses are evaluated.

Under an ESG model, companies are not only rated using traditional metrics, such as revenues and the quality of goods and services offered, but also on a variety of social justice metrics, such as their carbon footprint, air quality of a business' supply chain, and having the "right" ratio of Asians to Hispanics working in the company, among many other factors.

Thousands of companies have already adopted ESG standards around the world, including an estimated 82% of large companies in the United States, and to this point, they have done so voluntarily.

There are a number of reasons why the Great Reset has caught on among the heads of the largest corporations in the United States and many of the planet's wealthiest financial institutions, not least of which is that there is a great deal of money invested in the ESG movement. The highly influential Principles for Responsible Investment group claims investors controlling more than $100 trillion in wealth have already agreed to funnel immense amounts of cash into businesses that support ESG systems.

But supporters of the cause have also routinely suggested that voluntary ESG standards could soon become government mandates, and thus, smart businesses are better off getting on government's good side now, before the regulatory hammer drops.

It appears that those warnings could soon become a reality in Europe. On March 10, the European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution that demands all large companies in the European Union, as well as some smaller businesses, put ESG standards in place, or else face harsh penalties from their respective national governments.

Although the resolution passed by the European Parliament is not yet binding on EU member states, it is strong sign that it is likely to occur. In order for the resolution to become binding, the European Commission must first formally propose the resolution as legislation, and then the Parliament and member states must vote in favor of the legislation. This is a move that seems highly likely to occur, due to the overwhelming support for the resolution in the EU Parliament. The commission is expected to provide official legislation as early as June 2021.

According to international law firm Shearman and Sterling, the "proposed due diligence framework targets three categories of 'potential and/or actual adverse impacts,'" including "human rights," the environment, and "good governance."

These categories are deliberately broad and would in many cases require businesses to make sweeping reforms to align with left-wing goals, imposing them on the societies in which they operate. For example, the "human rights" category "means any potential or actual adverse impact that may impair the full enjoyment of human rights by individuals or groups of individuals in relation to human rights, including social, worker and trade union rights."

Protecting the environment would involve, according to Shearman and Sterling, "the right to a safe, clean, healthy, sustainable and biodiverse environment" as defined by "internationally recognized and EU environmental standards."

Further, the resolution demands that business "strategies should be aligned with ... the European Green Deal, and the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, and Union international policy, especially the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Paris Agreement," among other standards.

Perhaps most importantly for Americans and U.S. businesses, the Parliament's resolution calls for these ESG requirements to cover all of a business' activities, including its "value chain."

The "value chain" is defined in the resolution as "all activities, operations, business relationships and investment chains of an undertaking and includes entities with which the undertaking has a direct or indirect business relationship, upstream and downstream, and which either: (a) supply products, parts of products or services that contribute to the undertaking's own products or services, or (b) receive products or services from the undertaking."

Or, put more simply, if an American company wants to do business in the European Union or with any of the European Union's large businesses, it will also have to have ESG standards of its own, or it will at least be contractually obligated to adopt policies in line with European ESG mandates.

The Shearman and Sterling law firm confirms this interpretation of the resolution in its report, in which it wrote, "A company therefore will have to make all efforts within its means to ensure that its business partners (both direct and indirect, and upstream and downstream) have in place human rights, environmental and good governance policies that are in line with the company's obligation of due diligence."

The Great Reset is about to become the law of the land throughout most of Europe, and it is highly likely that if the European Commission passes legislation comparable to the resolution already approved by Parliament, it will, in effect, become the law for many of the largest corporations in the United States — a spectacularly disastrous development that will impose left-wing ideological changes to society on all Americans, whether they want them or not.


Banks and Biden – here's how they'll team up to adopt AOC's Green New Deal

President Joe Biden, like many on the left, sells himself as a champion of the working class. But, time after time, Biden has proven that in order to promote his ideology, he will eagerly empower many of the same billionaires and massive financial institutions he claims to hate, often at the expense of hardworking American families.

A recent regulatory move governing financial institutions provides the latest, and perhaps best, example.

In January 2021, just weeks before President Trump left the White House, the Trump administration’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued a new regulation – titled Fair Access to Financial Services – that would have made it illegal for large banks to discriminate against politically disfavored industries, such as fracking.

The Trump-era rule would have applied to banks "with more than $100 billion in assets" and "that may exert significant pricing power or influence over sectors of the national economy."

However, a little more than a week after Biden’s inauguration, his administration announced that it had "paused" the already finalized Trump-era banking regulation, sending a clear message that it will not survive a Biden presidency or even be allowed to appear temporarily in the Federal Register.

Although Biden will likely never talk about it in public, his administration’s decision to stop Trump’s Fair Access regulation – a decision widely supported by Democrats in Congress – will undoubtedly allow banks to push progressive ideas on the American people, whether they like it or not.

This is especially true when it comes to climate and energy policy. Public opinion polls have consistently showed that when the American voters are given all of the relevant information, including costs, they typically oppose many of Democrats’ most radical and expensive climate proposals.

For example, one 2019 survey by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 68% of Americans said they would not support paying even $10 more per month in higher electric bills as part of an effort to slow climate change. A whopping 83% of Americans, including many Democrats, said they would not pay $75 per month extra.

Perhaps even more telling, the highly publicized Green New Deal resolution promoted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., had become so politically toxic by the time it came up for a vote in 2019 that it failed miserably in both chambers of Congress. In the Senate, AOC’s resolution failed 0-57.

Fortunately for Democrats, however, Biden’s rule change will once again allow banks to cause immense harm to the fossil-fuel industry, as well as to any other business sector that relies on fossil fuels, by allowing banks to discriminate against businesses that aren’t "green" enough for the left.

If enough banks refuse to do business with fossil-fuel companies and related businesses, those companies will not be able to survive in the long run, forcing Americans to turn toward whatever energy options left-leaning banks allow to exist.

Banks have repeatedly promised to phase out conventional energy from their business operations.

This is not a warning or a problem that could emerge at some point down the road. It is already here.

Banks have repeatedly promised to phase out conventional energy from their business operations. In fact, they have gone much further.

Many banks are now telling investors that they will, over the next few decades, require their entire financial operations to become net-zero carbon-dioxide emissions. This means banks are planning a future in which they will only work with companies that agree to the left’s environmental agenda, regardless of how harmful that might be to the overall economy or how many jobs it could cost.

For example, in February, Bank of America said, "Building on Bank of America’s long-standing support for the Paris climate agreement, the company today outlined initial steps to achieve its goal of net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its financing activities, operations and supply chain before 2050."

Similarly, Citi CEO Jane Fraser said on March 1, "We believe that global financial institutions like Citi have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to play a leading role in helping drive the transition to a net zero global economy and make good on the promise of the Paris Agreement."

On March 8, Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf announced, "Climate change is one of the most urgent environmental and social issues of our time, and Wells Fargo is committed to aligning our activities to support the goals of the Paris Agreement and to helping transition to a net-zero carbon economy."

Godman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley have also made similar pledges.

Of course, had Trump’s rule been allowed to stand, none of this would have been possible. Banks would have been required to base financing decisions on the creditworthiness of the applicant and other relevant financial information pertaining to a potential borrower’s business activities.

Banks would not have been allowed to simply throw up a sign saying, "Natural gas companies are not wanted," and then refuse to do business with anyone related to fracking, for example.

However, thanks to the regulatory changes now being made by the Biden administration, banks will have the power to collectively kill any industry they – or their allies in Washington – want, and not just those linked to fossil fuels, either. Gun manufacturers and sellers have also been targeted by some banks in recent years, for example.

Because many banks are private institutions, some, including many on the political right, might argue that they should be free to discriminate against any business they want, and if we lived in a truly free-market economy, I’d agree with them. But America doesn’t have a totally free-market economy.

Corporations and banks benefit from special tax provisions, legal protections and from laws that allow the nearly endless printing of money. In other words, large corporations are creatures of government, so it is more than reasonable that they should have to treat other businesses and individuals fairly and not become quasi-political institutions that do the bidding of political groups.

Why are banks so willing to go along with the left’s goals? This is just speculative – and there are many other potential reasons, including fear of regulatory retribution – but the catalyst most likely driving their decisions is that many banks, financial institutions and big Wall Street investors are convinced that the infrastructure and energy policies that Democrats are now attempting to put into place, as well as actions taken by central banks, offer a massive financial opportunity.

The flood of Federal Reserve-printed cash cascading into the financial system to stop a "climate crisis," as well as gigantic new spending bills by Biden and the Democrat-led Congress, would make bankers even richer than they already are. All banks must do to help move things along is to assist Democrats by promoting wind and solar energy companies and killing their competitors.

All of this sounds so diabolical, I know, but this is simply how business is done in the Swamp, and right now, the Swamp creatures are running the show in Washington.




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