Top Stories

September 23, 2013

Human Rights

Bangladesh clothing workers still exploited, finds BBC

Five months after the fire that killed more than 1,100 workers at the Rana Plaza factory, an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama programme has reportedly found factory workers in Bangladesh working 19 hour shifts to produce clothes for the cut-price German supermarket chain Lidl.  According to the investigation, in the past 10 months there have been more than 50 factory fires, with workers killed because they were locked in by factory owners and unable to escape.  The factory at the centre of the investigation, which has not yet been named, has said that the programme’s allegations are false.  Another factory, which reportedly supplies Gap and H&M, was also found to be forcing employees to work 15 hours a day.  The factory said that workers are not forced to do overtime and that some employees were working additional hours in order to extend their holidays.  (The Independent)


Responsible Investment

Fidelity Investments demands companies make executive pay plans longer term

The US firm Fidelity Investments, one of the largest investors in European companies, has announced that next year it will start voting against boardroom pay plans unless firms force executives to hold shares for more than three years before cashing them in.  This announcement follows increasing shareholder agitation over executive pay, sparked by concerns that some senior business executives are being paid high sums despite lacklustre results and regardless of pay constraints elsewhere in the economy.  Fidelity, which manages assets of approximately $240 billion, said that it had conducted a review of more than 300 of the UK’s largest listed companies and found 238 had either no long-term, share-based pay plans in place or ran schemes that had too short a time frame.  Dominic Rossi, Fidelity's Chief Investment Officer, said that the company believed "that lengthening incentive schemes will change corporate behaviour for the better, reducing the temptation to maximise short-term financial performance and instead promote investment and growth."  (Reuters)


Study: economic growth and low carbon “can co-exist”

A new study by the Energy Futures Lab and the Grantham Institute of Climate Change at Imperial College, London, suggests that economic growth and carbon reductions may not be mutually exclusive.  The researchers participating in the study said that the key is employing technology to radically decarbonise the world’s energy sector, which can be accomplished with current technologies.  The researchers, who focused on the industry, buildings and transport sectors, divided the world into ten geographical regions and projected both economic output and population growth to 2050 in each area.  While the researchers admit that the global transition to low carbon energy is challenging in technological, operational, social and political terms, they state that it is both achievable and affordable.  The study analysis indicates the transition to a low carbon energy future would cost approximately US $2 trillion a year by 2050, which the researchers state would amount to only about one percent of global gross domestic product, based on projected 2050 GDP figures. (Eco Business)

Samsung pushes cooler technology to deal with household food waste

Samsung’s UK Digital Appliances division has announced that it is collaborating with the UK Love Food Hate Waste campaign across its retail electronics outlets to raise awareness of reducing food wastage through storing and organising food more efficiently.  The initiative, which was launched by the UK circular economy and resource efficiency organisation WRAP in 2007 to help UK households tackle the issue of food waste, will allow Samsung to demonstrate how its customers can minimise their food waste and cut down on their household food bill at the same time.  Across its refrigeration range, Samsung claims to offer features that enable people to reduce their household food waste through storing food in the optimum conditions, including custom temperatures, energy efficiency and cooling performance technology.  Emma Marsh, who leads the campaign, said that "there are potential savings of around £200 million if we all use our fridges to store foods such as apples, oranges and carrots and lower the temperature below five degrees."  (Edie)


Ecotricity announces plans to undercut ‘Big Six’ electricity prices

The UK clean energy supplier Ecotricity has announced that it will start providing electricity to consumers at a lower cost than the major ‘Big Six’ energy firms.  Ecotricity said that as “around 40 percent of our electricity supply is self-generated by our own fleet of wind and sun parks, and we have planning permission to more than double that supply in the near future – this degree of energy independence now means we can be price independent.”  Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, said that “people often falsely assume that green electricity is always more expensive.” This follows the announcement in July 2013 that five of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies, Npower, EDF Energy, E.ON, SSE and Scottish Power, were abandoning their renewable energy tariffs, with only British Gas maintaining its Sustainable Energy tariff.  (Blue and Green Tomorrow)

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