Daily Media Briefing

Daily Media Briefing


Posted in: Campaigns & Activism, Daily Media Briefing, Employees, Environment, Human Rights, Policy & Research, Waste

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July 07, 2014

Policy & Research

Report: UK climate change policies have not harmed economy

The UK’s climate change policies have not damaged business competitiveness, according to leading economists. A new report by Samuela Bassi and Dimitri Zenghelis of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment argues that climate change policies have not hampered the performance of the UK’s economy, and that these same policies can increase the competitiveness of the UK in the long term by encouraging greater innovation and efficiency. The report argues that carbon prices have not been high enough to prompt “any detectable” re-location of carbon-intensive firms overseas. As a result, it says there is no reason to weaken the scale of ambition in the UK’s Fourth Carbon Budget, which requires UK annual emissions to be 50 per cent lower in 2025 compared with 1990. Leading businesses, including Kingfisher, EDF Energy, Unilever, Shell and BT, have also repeatedly argued that there is no case for watering down the current targets. (BusinessGreen)


World Bank email leaks reveal internal row over ‘light touch’ $50bn loans

Environmentalists and human rights campaigners have sounded the alarm at radical plans to ease conditions for World Bank loans, enabling more than $50bn of public money a year to be made available for large power, mining, transport and farming projects. Leaked emails seen by the Observer show the bank’s managers are keen to increase its overall lending and feel that the present standards are too onerous and deter prospective borrowers.  But they reveal that senior figures at the bank feared that light-touch regulation would lead to an increase in “problem projects”. Critics are also worried that the door could be opened to large-scale environmental destruction and a lack of protection for communities affected by projects. The email exchanges indicate that the bank may expand the use of “biodiversity offsetting” – which lets developers destroy nature in one place if they compensate elsewhere. Many social and environmental safeguards appear to have been dropped under the plans, which have not been made public but are at an advanced stage. (The Guardian)


Ikea bumps up minimum wage for US workers

Ikea, the Swedish home furnishings retailer, has announced that it is to raise the average minimum wage in its US stores to $10.76, a 17 percent increase over the current wage and $3.51 above the current federal minimum wage. The furniture company says the increase will impact around half of its US retail workforce. Hourly wages will vary based on the cost of living in each store location and are centred on employee needs. The wage increase is based on the MIT Living Wage Calculator, which takes into consideration housing, food, medical and transportation costs plus annual taxes. The move sees Ikea join a growing number of companies to recognise living wage campaigns across the world, such as Nestlé, which last week committed to paying the living wage to all UK staff. Ikea says the transition to the new minimum hourly wage structure is not only the right thing to do, but also makes good business sense. The company is betting that focusing on employee satisfaction will allow it to better serve customers and contribute to overall business success. (TriplePundit)


M&S and Sainsbury’s unite to increase plastic tray recycling

A consortium of organisations from UK packaging, retail and recycling industries, led by supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer (M&S), are to launch a market trial aimed at recycling up to 1.3 billion plastic food trays each year. The initiative focuses specifically on black CPET trays, most commonly used in supermarket ready meals. Although they are recyclable, the black colour of the trays makes them undetectable with optical sorting equipment used at plastic sorting and recycling facilities. Resource efficiency group WRAP has worked with industry experts to create a new, detectable tray, with market trials to begin this month across the M&S and Sainsbury’s ready meals range; to examine sorting efficiency and carbon footprint reduction. In June, M&S chief executive Marc Bolland said that “We don’t want a competitive edge when it comes to being a sustainable business … This is a joint journey we all need to be on-board with, so we are happy to work and collaborate with other companies.” (Edie)

Renewable Energy

Insurers to cover withdrawal of solar and wind subsidies

Insurers are developing plans to protect investors in solar and wind power projects against the sudden withdrawal of crucial state subsidies that have battered the European renewable energy industry. Willis, the world’s third largest insurance broker, is in advanced discussions with insurers including at Lloyd’s of London to put together such a policy and hopes to begin offering it next year. Backers say the cover would provide a much-needed boost to the renewable sector after governments across Europe cut funding for schemes following the financial crisis. Spain and several other countries have angered investors by making what companies say are retrospective subsidy cuts that endanger the viability of existing projects. A spokesperson for Willis said the broker had received a surge in inquiries over the past year from renewable energy investors and lenders for insurance to protect against retrospective changes in state support. (Financial Times*)


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Image source: Local Malawi variety of sorghum by Swathi Sridharan / CC BY-SA 2.0