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Elon Musk waves after speaking at a Boring Company community meeting in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California, May 17, 2018.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

Elon Musk waves after speaking at a Boring Company community meeting in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California, May 17, 2018.

Elon Musk said on Thursday that an underground tunnel developed by his privately held The Boring Company will open on Dec. 18 — an eight-day delay from the initial date.

The billionaire entrepreneur also claimed the postponed date will be “more than a tunnel opening,” pointing to “modded but fully road legal autonomous transport cars.”

The tunnel, in the southern suburb of Hawthorne in the Los Angeles area, was initially slated to open on Dec. 10 with free rides for the public scheduled the next day. The high-speed transit tunnel can whisk vehicles from place to place at up to 150 miles per hour.

Boring, in a separate Twitter post, said the company needs “another few days to finish the snail habitat” and will provide details soon.

— Reuters contributed to this report.



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How fashion is coming to terms with sustainability

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For many of us, the availability of cheap, mass-produced clothing is a blessing. For a few dollars we can bulk buy everything from shirts and shorts to pants, underwear and sweaters.

While “fast fashion” may be a boon for our wallets because of its value, its impact on the environment is significant.

In October 2018, the U.K. Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee highlighted just how much our appetite for clothing affects the planet, publishing submissions it had received from experts for an inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry.

The findings make sobering reading. According to a submission from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, in 2015 the global fashion industry generated 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This represents more emissions than maritime shipping and international flights combined, the submission added. In 2017, the European Union said that the EU textile industry produced an estimated 16 million tons of waste annually.

In the Netherlands, a business called Mud Jeans wants to produce jeans in a sustainable manner using organic cotton and recycled denim. The company’s goal is to eventually design jeans produced from 100 percent recycled denim.

When it comes to the manufacturing process, it is also looking to use sustainable methods.

“Energy efficiency is very high up on our agenda,” Eva Engelen, who works on corporate social responsibility at Mud Jeans, told CNBC’s “Sustainable Energy.” “We do this through prioritizing energy efficient production processes and supply chain partners.”

“For example, our fabric mill, Tejidos Royo, they have an energy generation system … in their factory, which uses the steam from the production lines to produce energy through a steam turbine,” she added. Engelen explained that the system allowed the site to be “100 percent self-sufficient with regards to energy.”

In a bid to prevent waste in the clothing industry, Mud Jeans has also developed a leasing system for its products, through which customers can pay 12 monthly instalments of 7.50 euros ($8.51).

At the end of that period, they can decide to keep the jeans or send them back to the business. Mud Jeans’ CEO Bert van Son told CNBC that if the latter took place, “we promise that we will use the raw material again.”

Looking at the broader picture, work still needs to be done to ensure that the fashion sector becomes sustainable.

“The clothing industry is recognized as possibly the second most polluting industry globally,” Steve Evans, director of research in industrial sustainability at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Manufacturing, told CNBC.

“It knows this and it’s energetic in trying to change it,” Evans added. “It’s a very convoluted industry though: The brands don’t own their own factories, so their ability to influence what the factories do, how they create pollution in their local water, air and land, is difficult.”

Evans added that well-known brands were becoming more sustainable every year. Issues will not be sorted out overnight, however.

“Most factories and industries around the world are pushing very hard to make sure that their products arrive to consumers at the lowest possible cost,” Evans went on to explain. “You love them for doing that for you,” he added.

“Unfortunately, it means that they’re really focusing hard on labor productivity and capital productivity and they’ve put less attention on things like energy productivity. With 200 years of not tackling energy productivity, that gives them a really juicy thing to squeeze and if they do tackle it they can go a long way very quickly.”

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ECB’s Coeure opens door to new cash boost for banks

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Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, Benoit Coeure

FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP / Getty Images

Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, Benoit Coeure

European Central Bank board member Benoit Coeure said the ECB was discussing the idea of issuing new multi-year cheap loans to banks, which in some countries face a funding cliff-edge next year when previous loans must be repaid.

Banks in Italy and other southern European countries in particular could face funding problems as the ECB’s most recent Targeted Long-Term Refinancing Operation (TLTRO) nears its repayment date in 2020.

Speaking in New York, Coeure said a new TLTRO was possible and there might be scope for it but such an operation should serve “a purpose”, likely meaning it should help the ECB achieve its inflation target rather than simply helping banks.

“It is possible, we are discussing it,” Coeure said. “But we want to be sure that it serves a…purpose.”

He later added: “There might be scope for another TLTRO.”

His were the clearest remarks to date on the subject. ECB President Mario Draghi was non-committal at his latest press conference, on Jan 24, simply saying the issue had been raised by some policymakers at that day’s meeting.

Coeure, seen as one of Draghi’s possible successors when the latter’s term runs out on Oct 31, added that the euro zone’s recent economic slowdown is more pronounced than earlier expected, suggesting that the path of inflation will also be more shallow.

The ECB will next meet on March 7 and policymakers are widely expected to slash growth and inflation projections as the euro zone is suffering its biggest slowdown in half a decade.

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Orsted’s huge offshore wind farm in UK produces first power

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The first turbine at Hornsea One, an offshore wind farm situated 120 kilometers off the coast of Yorkshire, has started to generate power.

In an announcement Friday, Danish renewable energy firm Orsted said that, when fully operational, the Hornsea One offshore wind farm would be almost double the size of Walney Extension, which is currently the world’s biggest.

The Hornsea One site will be made up of 174, 7-megawatt turbines from Siemens Gamesa. It is a joint venture between Orsted and Global Infrastructure Partners.

Turbine installation for Hornsea One is set to continue until “late summer 2019”, according to Orsted. The wind farm will have a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts and will be able to power more than one million homes in the U.K.

“Hornsea One is the first of a new generation of offshore power plants that now rival the capacity of traditional fossil fuel power stations,” Matthew Wright, Orsted’s U.K. Managing Director, said in a statement.

“The ability to generate clean electricity offshore at this scale is a globally significant milestone, at a time when urgent action needs to be taken to tackle climate change.”

In other wind energy news Friday, Norway’s Equinor announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Korea National Oil Corporation to jointly explore opportunities to “develop commercial floating offshore wind in South Korea.”

Equinor operates Hywind Scotland, the world’s “first full-scale commercial floating offshore wind farm.” Located off the coast of Scotland, the facility has a capacity of 30-megawatts and can produce enough power for around 20,000 homes.

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