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I think that big oil companies like Exxon have an opportunity to be more proactive in their climate change efforts and, in the process, build a better brand reputation as well as better standing with governments in order to avoid costly legislation. In Exxon’s 2016 Corporate Citizenship Report, they advertise investments of $4B in Upstream facilities for emission reductions since 2000, yet reductions in greenhouse gases in the last decade have been largely stagnant. For example, from 2015 to 2016, greenhouse emission grew by approximately 3 million CO2-equivalent metric tons mostly due to new facilities [1]. In order to make a difference, Exxon needs to find a way to deliver breakthrough technologies that can make up for any growth in output and deliver meaningful environmental gains. The trouble I imagine they are having with new technology is finding economically feasible solutions. For example, one of the technologies they promote for reducing climate change effects is carbon capture, but the cost to capture CO2 at coal-fired plants is twice as large as the cost to do so at natural gas plants. Hopefully for all of us, the $1B in annual R&D expenses on new technology will begin to pay off in the near future.

[1] “Mitigating emissions in our operations | ExxonMobil,”, accessed November 2017.

On November 24, 2017, Trevor commented on CSeries Queries: Boeing Takes on Airbus/Bombardier :

Very interesting article, and the cause for concern is clear; In the capital-intensive airline industry that Bombardier plays in, dealing with last minute tariffs and costs can cause a major headache. It seems like they have found themselves in a very difficult situation, with needing government assistance after $6B plus in development costs and now reeling from the import duties charge on their big order with Delta [1]. I do believe the move of adding production to Alabama could definitely provide some benefits to them in their negotiations, as the administration has been heavily focused on adding US jobs and having the ability to claim a win in this area will be welcomed. I wonder how much capacity this will add in the US, because if they are able to support their US based orders out of the Alabama plant, I think they will be able to avoid killing their margins with tariffs. Also, having the support of Airbus production expertise may help them drive down costs for the remainder of the program. The Airbus deal also provides assurance to others thinking of ordering the jet that the program is more likely to last and may help them close a new deal.

[1] “Airbus Snaps Up Bombardier Jet in New Challenge to Boeing,”, accessed November 2017.

Although we are still likely 3+ years before autonomous vehicles start to infiltrate urban areas, I think it is interesting to watch how different companies are approaching their position in the value chain. For example, GM is expected to launch its own autonomous vehicle “well ahead of competitors,” and additionally launch its own transportation service that would compete with others such as Uber and Lyft [1]. Compare this to Uber, which recently announced a deal with Volvo to purchase up to 24,000 vehicles to use in their future autonomous fleet [2]. The vehicles are expected to use a combination of Volvo installed components and add-on technology by Uber. To me, OEMs could have an advantage in the future if they are able to design, produce, and run their own vehicles and services as compared to an Uber or Lyft that has to rely on a partner to deliver on their needs. With that said, Uber and Lyft have a massive head start in acquiring customers to their platforms.

[1] Cheng, E. “GM jumps to record after Deutsche Bank says it will launch self-driving car fleet as soon as 2020,” October 2, 2017,, accessed November 2017.

[2] Isaac, M. “Uber Strikes Deal With Volvo to Bring Self-Driving Cars to Its Network,” November 20, 2017,, accessed November 2017.

As mentioned in your note, with aviation accounting for 10% of transportation-related oil use, it seems gains made in fuel efficiency would provide major environmental benefits. It is interesting to see how different airlines are approaching this challenge and their responsibility to meeting airline industry goals and ICAO regulations. For example, in Delta’s 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report, it does not seem as though they are a big believer in alternative fuels, noting “several airlines have begun to experiment with alternative jet fuel,” but “such fuels have only been proven at fractional blends,” and “are still largely unproven as a replacement for petroleum-based jet fuel with regard to scalability in commercial aviation” [1]. Instead, Delta highlights their investments in Carbon Offset projects for delivering carbon-neutral growth after 2020. To me, this highlights the challenges in making significant gains in actual flight efficiencies. Also, with low fuel prices airlines may be incentivized to keep old, less fuel-efficient planes in service longer. This reminds me of the automotive industry, which has had a tough time getting traction with fuel efficient hybrid vehicles as low fuel prices are allowing customers to go back to big, gas-guzzling SUVs.

[1] Delta Air Line, Inc. Delta 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report, accessed November 2017.

One of the things I find particularly interesting about this development is the “assurance” by the UK government that Nissan would not face additional tariffs or costs related to Brexit in order to convince them to keep their new models in the Sunderland plant. On one hand, it sends a clear signal to Nissan that the UK government is determined to negotiate for open market trade access to the other European countries similar to how they are treated under the current EU membership. With that said, the UK government does not seem liable for actual compensation payments in the case that these tariffs are enacted, as competition laws would outlaw them [1]. I think it will be fascinating to see how things pan out if a deal is unable to be made and Nissan and/or the UK government is forced to eat the additional costs. I would imagine that over the next design cycle, Nissan would look at moving production elsewhere in Europe, yet with the Sunderland plant producing 30% of the UK’s auto exports as mentioned, the UK would likely try to find ways to incentivize them to stay. A similar parallel can be drawn in North America as discussions over NAFTA take place and US OEM’s are assessing the potential ramifications of walking away from the current deal. Companies like Ford manufacture several of their small cars with thin margins in Mexico, and added tariffs could make them uneconomical to produce.

[1] Mason, R. “Nissan’s post-Brexit deal could lead to ‘colossal’ bills for taxpayer,” September 20, 2017, Retrieved from

On November 23, 2017, Trevor commented on Why Wal-Mart will Beat Amazon in E-Commerce :

While I agree that Walmart has made several good moves to grow their e-commerce business organically and through acquisition, I disagree that Walmart will be the long run winner in e-commerce based on their current positioning and the future strategies that have been noted. First, saying Amazon has a head start is an understatement. In 2016, Amazon accounted for $149B or 38% of total U.S. e-commerce sales, whereas Walmart held just a 2.8% share. Projections for 2017 from eMarketer predict market shares for Amazon and Walmart to be 43.5% and 3.6%, respectively [1]. Second, in response to the strategy to leverage their physical assets and people, I don’t buy the fact that their physical stores will aid much in e-commerce sales in anything outside of groceries. The convenience of ordering from my couch and having items show up two days later outweighs any desire to order and pick up in person. In the grocery market, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods gives them stores to serve customers for pick up in mostly urban areas with lots of customers, granted with a smaller reach than Walmart. With Amazon already having nearly 80M customers signed up for their subscription prime service, I think Walmart needs to do something drastic to make meaningful gains against the e-commerce giant. With that said, it will be interesting to see what happens, and I will be happy either way if it makes my life easier!

[1] Molla, R. “Amazon could be responsible for nearly half of U.S. e-commerce sales in 2017,” October 24, 2017,, accessed November 2017.