Daily Media Briefing 31st July

Daily Media Briefing

 

Posted in: Consumers, Daily Media Briefing, Environment, Policy & Research, Tax, Technology & Innovation

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July 31, 2013

Policy

Lords say Amazon-style tax avoidance schemes must end

The UK’s House of Lords has warned that “once-in-a-century” reforms to the global tax system proposed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) may not be enough to stop multinational companies such as Amazon, Google and Starbucks avoiding billions of pounds in tax payments.  The report published today by the Economic Affairs Select Committee states that HM Revenue & Customs may not assertive enough in negotiations with some of the UK’s largest companies.  The report states that India, China and Brazil are taking a more robust approach to taxing large companies, and that naming and shaming firms may encourage them to avoid inappropriately aggressive tax avoidance strategies.  The committee urged the Treasury to "urgently review" the UK's corporate tax regime. (The Times*; The Guardian)

Consumers

Sainsbury’s and Tesco in ethical price war

A dispute over ethics and food provenance has emerged between two of the UK’s largest supermarkets. Sainsbury’s claimed that Tesco’s price promise misled consumers because it was not comparing like with like.  However the industry regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has deemed that the comparison was fair because Tesco was comparing products that were targeted at similar consumers.  Among the discrepancies highlighted by Sainsbury’s was that Tesco’s was comparing non-Fairtrade bananas with Fairtrade bananas and that a comparison of fish prices did not take into account that Sainsbury’s fish is approved by the Marine Stewardship Council, the certification NGO for sustainably sourced seafood.  In response to the ruling, Sainsbury’s has announced that it is launching an advertising campaign to highlight the provenance of its products to consumers. (The Times*; The Guardian)

Environment

US fracking industry wasting $1 billion a year in gas flaring

A new report from the US-based Ceres group of sustainable investors suggests that the gas flaring undertaken by the North Dakota fracking industry resulted in approximately $1 billion of gas being wasted last year.  The high cost of oil relative to gas is cited as the reason that many developers who are drilling for oil are failing to invest in the infrastructure needed to capture the gas.  Investors are also calling on developers to stop wasting the fuel.  Pat Zerega, senior director at Mercy Investment Services, said that “the flaring of natural gas is a tremendous economic waste, and it threatens the oil and gas industry’s license to operate, as well as the environment.” (Business Green)

Research

Value of recycling reward schemes to be investigated

The role that recycling initiatives schemes can play in delivering more cost-effective waste services is to be explored in a new piece of research that will help to inform UK Government strategy.  The UK Government services company Serco Group plc has appointed Eunomia Research & Consulting to undertake the research, which has been designed in collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).  The research is intended to complement a current Defra study which is examining the impact of its funded trials of recycling incentives.  Serco and Defra are planning to release stand-alone reports and a joint summary report this autumn.  Serco’s direct services business development director said that the study should gather “real evidence” about what works in recycling reward schemes. (Edie)

Technology and Innovation

Green tech for growth

The Malaysian Green Technology Corporation (GreenTech Malaysia), the Malaysian Government’s green technology agency, has launched a five year plan aimed at developing the country into a global hub for green technology.  Initially, the plan will focus on energy, manufacturing, buildings, information and communications technology (ICT), water, waste and transport.  The corporation’s CEO, Ahmad Hadri Haris, said that “it’s not just about planting more trees, but creating a sustainable ecosystem,”  citing the example of the German town Freiburg, where the infrastructure is designed and built to have low carbon emissions.  GreenTech Malaysia has also working with organisations to develop different green building certifications, including Persatuan Akitek Malaysia (PAM) and the Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM) which had jointly initiated Malaysia’s Green Building Index in 2009. (Eco Business)

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