UN sounds environment alarm ahead of Rio summit
Population growth, urbanisation and consumption are set to inflict irreversible damage on the planet, the United Nations said on Wednesday, and called for urgent agreement on new environmental targets. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) sounded the alarm in its fifth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5) report, published two weeks before the Rio+20 sustainability summit in Brazil. The report, three years in the making and the United Nations' main health-check of the planet, urges governments to create more ambitious targets or toughen existing ones, most of which have failed to deliver. UNEP reported progress on targets to prevent ozone depletion and provide access to clean water, but detected little or no progress on 24 goals, including on climate change, depleting fish stocks and expanding desertification.
'World's biggest float' to kick-start explosion in nuclear construction
China National Nuclear Power, the biggest nuclear power developer in China, has announced that the proceeds from its stock market listing will help to fund the $27 billion cost of five new reactors. China wants to build 100 reactors in the next 20 years, racing ahead of Western countries, such as Britain, that also want to expand their fleets. The German companies E.ON and RWE recently scrapped a joint venture to build new reactors in the UK and fears are growing that EDF Energy will scale back or cancel its planned British investment.
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Mexico allegations spark dissent at Walmart
More than a quarter of independent shareholders have voted against senior Walmart directors in a protest over alleged bribery in Mexico and the company's governance. While all of the retailer's board nominees were elected, support for its chairman and chief executive fell sharply from last year, when they secured more than 99% of the total vote. "This is a warning shot across the bows," said Anne Simpson, head of corporate governance at the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the US’s biggest public pension fund, which voted against nine directors. "Everybody who could be implicated in this [alleged corruption] should step off the board."
Nike enlists hackers to find sustainable solutions
Sportswear maker Nike has announced a new partnership with Random Hacks of Kindness, a joint initiative between Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, NASA, HP and the World Bank which promotes "technology for social good". The partnership will make public Nike's database of sustainability information on materials, which lies behind its 'Materials Sustainability Index'. Nike hopes that software developers will create tools which make use of the data, increasing awareness of sustainable options and enabling clothing designers and manufacturers to make sustainable choices of materials and suppliers.
Brands join forces to pioneer plant-based packaging
Some of the world's biggest consumer brands have formed a global alliance to push forward the development of bio-plastics packaging in their products. Coca-Cola, Ford Motors, Heinz, Nike and Procter & Gamble have formed a strategic working group known as the Plant PET Technology Collaborative (PTC). Its remit is to accelerate the development and use of 100% plant-based PET materials and fibre in items such as plastic bottles, footwear and automotive fabric, building upon the success of Coca-Cola's 'PlantBottle' technology, which is partially made from plants. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), plant-based PET has the potential to offer a valid and sustainable alternative to fossil fuel derived material.