Top Stories

November 13, 2014

Renewable Energy

Carbon Tracker predicts renewables, not coal, will solve African energy crisis

A new report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative rejects claims that carbon-intensive fuel is critical for tackling energy poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. The study analyses the economics of energy access in a host of developing economies and reveals that in many parts of rural Sub-Saharan Africa, renewable energy can undercut coal on costs, particularly when the cost of building new grid infrastructure is factored in. The report highlights that only seven percent of those without access to energy in Sub-Saharan Africa live in the handful of countries with producing coal assets, meaning that many African nations are likely to look to alternative energy sources to boost access to energy. The report comes just days after a separate study by the Australia Institute similarly questioned whether coal will play a major role in tackling global energy poverty, highlighting how many coal companies themselves do not use coal in their poverty prevention programmes. (Business Green)


Report: Reducing deforestation is good for business

Some of the world’s largest companies are making progress in disclosing and addressing deforestation risk within their commodity supply chains, but much work is left to be done to shift to more sustainable practices, argues a new report from CDP. The report looks specifically at the four commodities – cattle products, palm oil, timber, and soy – that account for more than a third of tropical deforestation globally. It notes a discrepancy between deforestation commitments and actual implementation, stressing that there are “a number of inconsistencies concerning corporate action, both across commodities and supply chain”. Nonetheless, some companies, including Wilmar, Cargill and Unilever are on the right track to moving from commitment to action. Findings from CDP’s survey indicate that there is a strong business case for eliminating deforestation from supply chain, as companies that fail to do so run the risk of lagging behind their competitors. CDP noted that a number of companies, including IKEA, Amazon and most major airlines, did not respond to requests for disclosure. (Eco Business)

Supply Chain

Mondelez takes ‘bold step’ with third-party evaluation of sustainable coffee programme

Mondelez International has unveiled ‘a new way of approaching sustainability in the coffee industry’ with the development of a more stringent and transparent evaluation framework to measure the impact of its global sustainability programme. The company – the world’s second largest coffee producer – has invited a third party organisation to tangibly measure its $200 million Coffee Made Happy scheme against its 2020 targets to improve farmers’ businesses and livelihoods. The new evaluation method is outcome-based, with annual reporting based on farmers’ net income and the relative attractiveness of coffee farming. A separate advisory board – which includes members from the Rainforest Alliance, WWF and 4C Association – has also been created to guide this new reporting process. For Mondelēz, this new framework will collect data from various projects, across Honduras, Indonesia, Peru and Ethiopia, to build the world’s largest database of coffee farm metrics. (Edie)

Community Investment

Dangote and UBA join African business fund to fight Ebola

The Dangote Foundation and the United Bank for Africa (UBA) have donated $3 million and $1 million respectively to a fund established by African business leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to contain the Ebola virus in West Africa. This is an addition to previous interventions in Nigeria, where the Foundation contributed about $5 million to evolve a two-pronged strategy to support the Nigerian government efforts to contain the virus. The AU Ebola Fund was set up in response to the African Union’s call for $30 million from Africa’s private sector to support the efforts against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Announcing UBA’s donation, chairman of the bank, Mr Tony O. Elumelu, said the $1 million was to assist the fight against Ebola currently present in three West African countries where UBA does business: Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. He commented: “This donation is an affirmation of our unshakeable commitment to the continent, and a message that Africa can triumph over this terrible affliction”. (Leadership)

Corporate Reputation

Shell ignored internal warnings over Nigeria oil spills, documents suggest

Documents filed at the London high court by Amnesty International suggest Shell did not act on advice to fix aged pipeline and underplayed the magnitude of two spills in Nigeria in 2008. Internal Shell Nigeria documents show that the company was advised by its own staff in 2002 to immediately replace a leaking 30-year-old pipeline passing through impoverished delta communities. But it was not until the key 24-inch trans-Niger pipeline burst twice in November 2008, spilling thousands of barrels of oil and wrecking the livelihoods of up to 15,000 villagers, that the company publicly admitted responsibility. The admission of the documents amplifies the voices of those 15,000 villagers who have sued Shell. A preliminary judgment in the case suggested that the company could be legally liable for all illegal activity on its pipelines if it is shown that it failed to take reasonable steps to protect its infrastructure. (Guardian)

Image Source: “Coffee farmer in Brazil” by USAID / USAID Commons