Top Stories

October 29, 2014


Volkswagen to launch over 20 green vehicle models in China by 2018

Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest carmaker, plans to launch more than 20 models of battery-driven cars in China by the end of 2018, as it capitalizes on Beijing’s support for low-emission vehicles in the country’s campaign against pollution. By 2020 there could be “some hundred thousand” Volkswagen pure electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in China, most of which would be locally made, said Jochem Heizmann, head of Volkswagen Group China. China has set a target of putting 5 million green vehicles on roads by 2020 and carmakers such as Volkswagen, BMW, Tesla and Nissan are vying for a share. Beijing is subsidising purchases of low-emission vehicles and has published rules that require foreign and Chinese carmakers to meet stringent fuel consumption targets. Heizmann said the targets would be difficult to meet without the help of electric vehicles. Volkswagen will launch its pure-electric car, the e-up! in China this year, and plans to launch its e-Golf and the plug-in hybrid model Golf GTE next year. (Reuters)


Shell seeks to extend Arctic drilling licences beyond 2017

Royal Dutch Shell has reportedly requested the US government for a further five years to explore for oil off the Alaskan coast, in a move likely to spark further criticism from green groups and investors over the impact and expense of its Arctic drilling programme. It emerged this week that Peter Slaiby, vice president of Shell Alaska, wrote to the Interior Department in July to say that as a result of legal challenges and other setbacks the company’s $6 billion Arctic programme is likely to need to continue beyond the 2017 expiration of some of its exploration leases. The letter, written in July, was obtained by NGO Oceana under a Freedom of Information Act request. Susan Murray, Oceana’s vice president for the Pacific, urged the US government to reject the request and accused the company of having “a track record of irresponsible choices that warrants close scrutiny and the highest standards”. The oil major suspended its work in the region for the second time in January this year following a court ruling in Alaska that argued the government had failed to adequately assess the environmental risks associated with the proposed drilling project. (Business Green)


Hotel giant eyes 25% energy reduction with green scheme rollout

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced that its ‘Green Engage’ programme is being extended to incorporate the company’s global estate of over 4,700 hotels. The operator of the InterContinental, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands will be almost doubling the uptake of Green Engage – an online environmental sustainability took which enables individual hotels to track their energy, carbon and water resource efficiency and enables hotels to compare their performance with others. It then provides ‘green solutions’ designed to reduce the environmental impact of hotels. The hotel giant will help unregistered properties to sign up and reach ‘Green Engage Level 1’ certification by the end of 2015, involving training of colleagues, tracking utility data, managing the use of non-essential lighting and implementing best practice in areas such as housekeeping and laundry. Through its Green Engage programme, IHG aims to reduce the carbon footprint and water use per occupied room by 12% each across its entire estate by 2017. (Edie)


Clothing giant champions sustainable design with first CSR report

VF Corporation, the firm behind the North Face and Timberland clothing brands, has released its first Sustainability Report, setting new company-wide targets and detailing the green initiatives it plans to scale-up. The new report follows a two-year programme which saw VF build a global sustainability infrastructure from scratch. The company’s entire portfolio, which also includes Wrangler, Lee and Vans, are collaborating through the ‘One VF’ strategy; to generate ‘meaningful innovation’ around sustainable fashion. Among the successful initiatives outlined in the report is the range of 1,500 eco-friendly styles offered by VF brands, which must meet specific criteria regarding recycled, organic and renewable materials, and water-based adhesives. Likewise, North Face has set a goal to use 100% recycled polyester fabric by 2016, sourced from post-consumer water bottles. The company aims to reach its 5% emissions reduction target by 2015 in addition to its 2020 target to reduce waste to landfill by 40% compared with a 2013 baseline. (Edie)

Responsible Investment

New IBE report: ethical challenges facing pension fund trustees

An ethical approach will help pension fund trustees make the right decisions, says a new report by the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE). Ethical Challenges facing Pension Fund Trustees addresses twelve key questions which pension fund trustees need to ask to help guide them in making sound decisions, against pressures from regulators, sponsoring companies, labour unions and investment firms. Looking at these ethical challenges, ranging from fiduciary duty, investment decisions and conflicts of interest, the report offers answers that, by applying an ethical approach, aim to cut through the uncertainty and help trustees make the fair decisions. The report aims to help pension fund trustees understand the nature of the choices they face, and encourage them to approach decision making in ways that serve their beneficiaries well. At the same time, it seeks to become a tool for any organisation wishing to align its pension fund with its ethical values as well as those working with pension fund trustees, including actuaries, investment managers, advisers and consultants. (IBE)

Image Source: “Icebreaker Fennica” by Marcusroos / CC BY-SA 3.0