CEO Daily: Monday, December 14
An awful lot of carbon-absorbing trees were cut down to print newspapers this morning filled with long analyses of the 195-nation Paris climate accord. We will spare the trees and save you some reading time here.
The agreement aims to hold global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius from the levels of the Industrial Revolution, and puts in place a system for tracking efforts to cut carbon emissions and report on progress every five years. Rich countries agree to help finance the efforts of poor ones, to the tune of $100 billion a year.
But for the most part, the agreement sets goals, not requirements. Indeed, it almost fell apart at the 11th hour because someone inserted the word “shall” – which in the arcane world of global agreements suggests mandates – for the less onerous “should.” Among other things, that change would have required President Obama to get approval from Congress. In the end, “should” was reinserted, and the deal was saved. Huzzah.
Whether the agreement lives up to its description as “historic” depends entirely on what happens next. Government policies will provide part of the answer. But we think the Paris accord mainly puts the ball back where it belongs — into the hands of forward-thinking businesspeople and entrepreneurs who ultimately must find practical solutions to the world’s energy problem. (Fortune will be assembling the best of those folks next May 16-17 at our Brainstorm E conference in Carlsbad, California, to scope out next steps. You can request an invitation here.)
Separately, count shareholder activist Dan Loeb this morning as a sore winner. The merger-and-then-breakup of Dow and Dupont is exactly the sort of thing he’s been pushing for over the last couple of years. But Loeb now claims the deal “was rushed through” before his standstill agreement with Dow expired, to prevent him from weighing in. And he wants to make sure Dow CEO Andrew Liveris “doesn’t have any role in a post-merger entity.” Details here. (Subscription required.)
More news below.
• France's far-right party fails to gain power in regional elections
French mainstream voters turned out at the polls to reject the far-right Front National (FN) party led by Marine Le Pen in the country's regional elections. Le Pen's party failed to win even one of the six regions where it had led in an early voting round last week, as Socialist and center-right voters dominated the regional polls despite an overall surge for the FN. Investors seemed to be pleased with the results, as France's benchmark CAC-40 index gained more than 1% on Monday, outpacing its European counterparts. Fortune
• Fosun shares fall despite CEO's reported return
Shares of China's Fosun International plummeted on Monday after trading was halted at the end of last week over reports that company chairman Guo Guangchang had gone missing. The Chinese billionaire, who has been described as "China's Warren Buffett," was reportedly located and back at work to start the week—after working with authorities in an investigation into his disappearance—but that did not stop Fosun's stock from dipping more than 9% on its first day returning to full trading. Bloomberg
• Walmart brings back deals for "Green Monday"
Black Friday and Cyber Monday weren't enough, apparently, as retail giant Walmart is bringing back its holiday season discounts today for another day of deals. Called Green Monday, the manufactured retail holiday falls on one of the final Mondays before Christmas and it gives the retail industry another chance to spur a spike in shopping activity during it biggest period of the year. Last year, shoppers spent $1.6 billion on Green Monday and the sales total could eclipse that mark this year, which is why Walmart is getting aggressive with its discounts today as the company looks to compete online with rival Amazon. Fortune
• Cheniere replaces CEO Souki
Cheniere Energy's board voted over the weekend to oust chief executive Charif Souki just four months after activist investor Carl Icahn took a large stake in the Houston-based company and won two board seats. The company has struggled to turn a profit for years and the board was concerned with Souki's ambitious expansion plans. Director Neal Shear will take over as interim CEO while Cheniere looks for a permanent replacement. Bloomberg
Around the Water Cooler
• As industry appeals, net neutrality rules remain up in the air
The broadband industry still awaits a decision in its high-profile court challenge of the net neutrality rules Federal Communications Commission implemented over the summer. While opponents of the rules argue that they stall innovation online, some leaders in the tech industry have lobbied Congress to keep in place rules that would prevent broadband companies from creating so-called "fast lanes" for certain content providers or charging others more for faster access. Read about both sides of the issue at Fortune here and here.
• The U.S. economy is still missing 6.4 million jobs
Last year, economists heralded the labor market's recovery from the recession, as the economy supposedly recouped all of the roughly 8 million jobs lost following the financial crisis. However, a new study from Georgetown University says the U.S. economy is still missing 6.4 million jobs—a tally the study says represents the number of additional jobs that would have been added to the economy had the recession not halted job creation. Fortune
5 things for the week ahead
Star Wars, Oracle, and the Fed's Big Decision—5 Things to Watch for in the Week Ahead. This week's story can be found here.