Also: the best books coming out this week; the return of Haruki Murakami; and Ian McEwan's crisis of faith.
A vote in the European Parliament tomorrow could deal a fatal blow to one of the key measures for tackling climate change.
Europe’s emissions trading system aims to make it more costly for companies to emit harmful greenhouse gases, but the system is creaking at the seams. There are too many so-called carbon permits in circulation; the price of the permits has slumped and the cost of emitting carbon has now fallen to a derisory $5 a ton. That’s not much of a deterrent against pollution.
Tomorrow the European Parliament votes on a potential remedy. The influential environment committee will decide whether the European Commission should be given the power to halt the issuing of new permits and so drive their price up again.
Mark Nicholls, Editor of Environmental Finance Magazine, says a great deal is riding on the vote:
“There’s lots of interest in emissions trading as a solution to climate change, but if the EU’s system is seen to be collapsing, it could damage the credibility of the approach,” says Nicholls.
If the European system does fall apart, the Chinese might well shelve their plans for emissions trading. And it could undermine confidence in some of the systems that are already up and running in the United States.
For two decades, international calls --- made through traditional phone companies --- had been growing at a clip of about 13 percent a year. Then things hit a speed bump.
"We saw about 9 percent growth in 2011 and estimate about five percent growth in 2012," says Stephan Beckert, an analyst at the research and consulting firm TeleGeography.
Meanwhile Skype's international calls grew about 45 percent. Beckert estimates that Skype handles about one-third of the international calls being made today.
Charles Golvin, an analyst at Forrester, says international calls were once a high-profit business for traditional phone companies but today, "it's a small part of their business, they don't feel the pinch."
Golvin says phone companies have moved onto data. Selling data plans for smartphones is a growth spot for companies like Verizon and AT&T.
And as more Voice-over-Internet calls, like the ones made on Skype, move from the desktop to the smartphone -- that means selling more data -- and the phone companies will make out just fine.
Not happy with your career? It might be time to look at who your friends are, according to the new book, Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are.
According to author Carlin Flora, it all starts with the friends we make as teenagers. "If you are from a lower socio-economic status and you befriend people in a higher socio-economic status, it sort of opens up vistas for you. You see other people's parents and their careers and it helps you envision yourself in those careers," she says.
As we get older, we may experience something akin to career peer pressure -- adapting to the high or low career standards of our friends.
"In a more tangible sense, if you are hanging around friends who are doing well, they are going to give you more opportunities to say, invest in venture or they are going to give you tips," says Flora.
To hear more about how friendships can affect your career choices, click on the audio player above.