Jeff Bezos’s superyacht, a Shell climate protest, and fashion industry tactics for 2021

Planet Business: Trying to avoid a known ‘serious health hazard’ as best we can

A climate activist is covered in black paint as she takes part in a protest at a Shell gas station in The Hague. Photograph: Bart Maat/ANP/AFP

A climate activist is covered in black paint as she takes part in a protest at a Shell gas station in The Hague. Photograph: Bart Maat/ANP/AFP

 

Image of the week: Oily protest

Environmental campaigners zeroed in on Royal Dutch Shell this week as the Anglo-Dutch company held its annual meeting in The Hague, at which a majority of investors voted against a resolution from campaign group Follow This that would have accelerated its emissions reductions. Some 89 per cent of shareholders instead voted in favour of Shell’s own plan to become a net-zero emissions business by 2050, which is far enough away that current shareholders don’t have to worry about it too much. Shell said the rival resolution wasn’t needed because its own approach “comprehensively details its energy transition strategy”, which wasn’t quite assurance enough for everybody concerned, with a protest action by Extinction Rebellion and Dutch activist group Code Rood resulting in black paint at a Shell gas station in the city.

In numbers: Work epidemic

745,000

Number of deaths from stroke and heart disease in 2016 associated with long working hours, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said this week

30%

Increase in the number of such deaths since 2000, according to a global study by WHO and the International Labour Organisation. The pandemic is “accelerating developments that could feed the trend towards increased working time”, WHO added.

55

Working this number of hours or more per week is “a serious health hazard” associated with a 35 per cent higher risk of stroke and a 17 per cent higher risk of dying from heart disease compared with a 35-40 hour working week.

Getting to know: Y721

Y721, or Project Yacht 721 to give it its full name, is a superyacht currently being constructed for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, by Dutch yachtmaker Oceanco. When it’s work is done Bezos’s yacht will be 127m (417ft) long, with three masts, several decks and its own “support yacht”. Why a support yacht? Well, a man needs somewhere to put his helipad, obviously.

According to Bloomberg, the yacht heralds Bezos’s “transformation from geeky technologist to globe-trotting mega-billionaire”, while also reflecting buoyant times for the yacht business as the pandemic’s big winners shell out on status symbols with a few extra feet than the other guy’s status symbol - gone are the days when a mere 100-footer with a bowling alley will do. Maybe if Amazon succeeds in buying Hollywood studio MGM, Bezos can lease the yacht to the makers of the next James Bond film.

The list: Wardrobe renewal

“Non-essential” shopping is back, which means the fashion business is slinking out of its online-only mode into the bright lights of actual stores, marketing “occasionwear” to consumers after 15 months deprived of occasions. But what exactly are they flogging us?

1. Gingham. Government “outdoors summer” policies are having a visible impact on the rails, with an alarming surge in gingham aimed at picnic-goers.

2. Deadstock fabrics. The fashion industry is prone to over-production at the best of times, and 2020 was not the best of times. Use of recycled materials or “deadstock fabrics” is its next public relations offensive.

3. Slouchy tailored. The “perfect work-from-home option”, according to Arnotts, which might be news to those of us who prefer more slouchy than tailored.

4. Distressed hems. It used to be claimed that skirt hems go up in boom times and drop during recessions, so here, for your K-shaped economic recovery, are some (purposefully frayed) distressed hems.

5. Joy in clothes form. It’s the season to “pile it all on”, says fashion magazine Elle, with “shiny, happy styles that max out on colour and volume”. A sort of Russian Eurovision entry look.

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