Top Stories

March 03, 2014


Apple CEO argues business isn’t just about making a profit         

Apple chief executive, Tim Cook, made an impassioned attack on the single-minded pursuit of profit, and a direct appeal to climate-change deniers not to buy shares in his firm. Cook, who succeeded Steve Jobs as boss of the technology giant in 2011, shot down suggestions from a conservative think-tank that Apple give up on environmental initiatives that aren’t profitable. He said that Apple did “a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive” adding that, “we want to leave the world better than we found it.” Addressing the National Centre for Public Policy Research at the shareholder meeting last week, he said that, “if you want me to do things only for ROI [return on investment] reasons, you should get out of this stock.” Cook insisted that he places more importance on helping people and the environment than on pure profit, saying, “when we work on making our devices accessible to the blind, I don’t consider bloody ROI.” (Independent, CNet)

Community Investment

Disney to pull Boy Scouts funding over policy banning gay leaders

The Walt Disney Company has given notice to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) that it will pull all funding to the group from 2015 due to a BSA membership policy that bans gay leaders. Disney does not give money directly to the national organization but does allow employees to volunteer in exchange for cash donations to charities of their choice through its VoluntEARS programme. Under the new policy, employees taking part in the VoluntEARS programme will no longer be able to submit funds to the Boy Scouts. Though the Boy Scouts voted last year to allow gay youths to join its ranks, the group maintains a ban on gay Scout leaders. Scouts for Equality, which works to end discrimination within the BSA, praised Disney with co-founder Zach Wahls saying that, “we’re never happy to see Scouting suffer as a result of the BSA’s anti-gay policy, but Disney made the right decision to withhold support until Scouting is fully inclusive.” (CNN)


Britain ‘ahead of curve’ on green targets  

According to a new study by the Grantham Research Institute, Britain has committed to make more reductions in emissions than most other European countries over the next decade. The findings come as the British government reviews its pledge to cut greenhouse gases by 50 percent on 1990 levels by 2025, after claims by manufacturers that it risks forcing jobs overseas by making energy too expensive. The study praises Britain for its forward thinking but says there is a risk that other countries will not follow suit. It revealed that despite the EU’s legally binding targets for member states for 2020, some countries had yet to set new targets for the following decade. The study said that Britain was “ahead of the curve”, and concluded, “we find that the UK is a global leader on climate-change policy action. However, the UK is not alone. Rather, it is part of a leading group of nations which are taking policy action on climate change.” (Times*)


US Environmental Protection Agency set to reveal new emissions rules  

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to unveil new regulations forcing oil refiners to strip out sulphur, a smog-forming pollutant, from American gasoline. When burned in gasoline, sulphur blocks pollution-control equipment in engines, leading to increased vehicle emissions. Supporters of the rule say it will be a significant public health achievement, but opponents, chiefly oil refiners, say it is unnecessarily costly and an unfair burden. The EPA estimates that the new rule will drastically reduce soot and smog in the US, and thus rates of diseases associated with those pollutants, while slightly raising the price of both gasoline and cars. The rule will require oil refiners to install new equipment to clean sulphur out of gasoline and force automakers to install new, cleaner-burning engine technology. William Becker, director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies said that, “until now, the sulphur content standards in American gasoline lagged far behind those used in the EU, Japan and South Korea. The new rule will close that pollution gap by cutting American gasoline sulphur content by more than 60 percent.” (New York Times)


UK insurers open the door to apprentices  

UK insurers will launch a collaboration today aiming to double the number of apprentices across the sector. The initiative, which coincides with the start of the government-backed ‘National Apprenticeships Week’, is supported by leading trade bodies, as well as Aon and other companies from across the insurance industry. The apprenticeships will give school-leavers aged between 16 and 19 an opportunity to learn how insurance works and to take industry qualifications with the chance of a permanent job at the end. The British Chambers of Commerce said that demand for apprenticeships still outstrips available places by a factor of twelve to one. It is urging the government to announce a two-year extension to the Apprenticeships Grant for Employers scheme, which it said would boost the supply of places and spur business investment in young people. It is also calling for a new £1,000 payment to businesses that hire a 16 to 24-year-old this year. (Times*)


(*Requires subscription)