Top Stories

September 22, 2014

Climate Change

Hundreds of thousands participate in People’s Climate March

Over 310,000 people turned out for the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday, with 40,000 marching in London and thousands more in cities around the world. The marches took place just days before many of the world’s leaders are expected to debate environmental action at the United Nations climate summit. The event organisers have hailed the turnout as the largest climate march in history. High-profile environmentalists including Bill McKibben, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall and Vandana Shiva marched alongside policymakers, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, fresh off his announcement that he was committing the city to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. Some companies got involved in the action too: Patagonia closed its four New York City stores on Sunday so its employees could participate in the march, while the CEO of IKEA and over a hundred Unilever employees also participated. (Huffington Post; New York Times)

Supply Chain

Bacardi partners with WWF to create model for sustainable sugarcane farms

World famous rum maker Bacardi and the World Wildlife Fund are aiming to advance sugarcane standards in Fiji with a model sugarcane farm program. The purpose of the initiative is to protect Fiji’s Great Sea Reef and tropical farmland. The changes in farming that are part of the initiative include terracing and carefully distancing rows of sugarcane, which help control nutrient and seed runoff into the waterways that lead to the reef. Beyond making a positive environmental impact, the initiative also aims to help sugarcane farmers, who are among the poorest people in Fiji, by increasing yields. Bacardi has pledged that by 2022, 100 percent of the sugarcane-derived products used for its rum will come from certified, sustainable sources. The pledge is the first of its kind in the industry, and the company hopes to influence other companies with its commitments. (Triple Pundit)

Responsible Investment

Rockefeller oil dynasty abandoning fossil fuel investment

The Rockefeller family, whose legendary wealth flowed from Standard Oil, is planning to announce on Monday that its $860 million philanthropic organisation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is joining the global fossil fuel divestment movement. In recent years, 180 institutions – including philanthropies, religious organisations, pension funds and local governments – as well as hundreds of wealthy individual investors have pledged to sell assets tied to fossil fuel companies from their portfolios and to invest in cleaner alternatives. In all, the groups have pledged to divest assets worth more than $50 billion from portfolios, and the individuals more than $1 billion. Steven Rockefeller, a son of Nelson A. Rockefeller and a trustee of the fund, said that he foresees financial problems ahead for companies that have stockpiled more reserves than they can burn without contributing significantly to climate damage. “We see this as having both a moral and economic dimension,” he said. The fund has already eliminated investments involved in coal and tar sands entirely while increasing its investment in alternate energy sources. (NY Times)

Data Privacy

Apple committed to protecting personal data with new system encryption

Apple is rolling out new privacy protections for iPhones and iPads, with a new system that makes it impossible for the company to unlock a device even with a warrant. Apple’s privacy terms updated late Wednesday indicate that under its new mobile operating system, iOS 8, the company will not have access to customer passwords. The move comes as Apple and other tech firms have come under scrutiny for how much information is handed over to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook said the company is dedicated to protection of personal data. Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said it was “good news for Internet users and iPhone users,” but said other privacy issues still need to be addressed, notably how Apple handles personal data for its HealthKit system for fitness monitoring. (Jakarta Globe)

Corporate Reputation

Goldman Sachs admits cultivating ties with Gaddafi-era Libya fund

Goldman Sachs has admitted in court documents that it used an internship, training, small gifts, occasional travel and entertainment to cement a “strategic partnership” with the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) under the former Gaddafi regime. The bank’s defence to a $1bn lawsuit filed by the LIA in London in January lifts a veil on techniques deployed by the company and other western financial institutions to win and deepen client relationships with the $66bn sovereign wealth fund – techniques that law enforcement agencies in the US are probing as to whether they tipped over into potential bribery. Goldman argues that none of its actions amounted to improper or unusual influence and that it maintained at all times “an arm’s-length banker and client relationship”, according to its defence filed at London’s High Court last week. (FT*)


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Image source: People’s Climate March 2014 NYCCC BY-SA 2.0