Top Stories

November 21, 2014


General Mills CEO says water is critical to business

General Mills chairman and CEO Ken Powell addressed attendees of the Nature Conservancy’s Global Water Summit this week on the company’s efforts to conserve and protect global water resources critical to the business. He shared the company’s journey of “über-collaboration” with stakeholders to improve the health of watersheds. “As a food company, food security is important to us, and we’re tied tightly to nature,” said Powell. This week, General Mills released a new water policy, covering the company’s supply chain as well as its direct operations. It has also pledged to factor water risk considerations into business decisions, including where to locate new facilities. In addition, Powell announced General Mills’ signing of the CEO Water Mandate, a public-private initiative launched in 2007 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to encourage companies to develop, implement and disclose water sustainability policies and practices. (3BLMedia)

Responsible Investment

Students take Harvard to court over fossil fuel divestment

Frustrated with Harvard University‘s refusal to divest from fossil fuels, students are going to court. Seven law students and undergraduates have filed a lawsuit against the president and fellows of Harvard College, among others, for what they call “mismanagement of charitable funds.” The complaint asks the court to compel divestment on behalf of the students and “future generations.” While a number of US universities have joined the growing divestment movement, Harvard’s president has argued against dropping fossil fuel investments. The university’s endowment, she said, “is a resource, not an instrument to impel social or political change.” The students said that they drew inspiration from John Bonifaz, a graduate of Harvard Law School who, with other students, sued the university in the 1990s over racial diversity in the law school’s hiring practices. His suit was ultimately unsuccessful, but it was widely considered influential in nudging the school’s actions. (New York Times)


China’s energy plan reduces reliance on coal

Chinese officials have announced limits on growth in energy consumption aimed at making the country less dependent on coal. Under a development plan issued by China’s Cabinet, energy consumption by 2020 must be no more than 28 percent higher than the 2013 level. For coal specifically, the increase would be limited to 16 percent. Meanwhile, non-fossil fuels must make up 15 percent of the country’s total energy needs by 2020. The State Council released the plan a week after the country announced it would stop the growth of its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 at the latest. China is the world’s biggest energy user and emits more greenhouse gases than any other country, with coal a top contributor. The environmental group Greenpeace said the 2020 coal target is too lenient, and should only allow 8 percent growth. (Washington Post)

Corporate Reputation

Cable & Wireless helped Britain spy on the world, says report

Telecommunications firm Cable & Wireless helped Britain eavesdrop on millions of Internet users worldwide, UK broadcaster Channel 4 has reported, citing previously secret documents leaked by a fugitive former U.S. National Security Agency contractor. Cable & Wireless, which was bought by Vodafone in 2012, provided British spies with traffic from rival foreign communications companies, Channel 4 said, citing documents stolen by Edward Snowden. Cable & Wireless allegedly gave Britain’s GCHQ eavesdropping agency access by renting space on one of the arteries of global communications, a cable that runs to the southern English region of Cornwall. Vodafone said in a statement that it had examined the history of Cable & Wireless compliance and found no evidence that would substantiate the allegations. (Reuters)


First UK bus journey powered entirely by human waste

Bath Bus Company, part of RATP, the French state-owned public transport company, has launched a new service powered entirely by human waste. Bio-Bus is a 40 seater shuttle bus service between Bristol Airport and Bath in the west of England. The bus can travel up to 186 miles on one tank of gas, produced from the treatment of human and food waste. The service expects to bus up to 10,000 passengers per month. The gas is produced by GENeco, whose general manager sees the production of bio methane gas as a way of boosting the supply of renewable energy to the gas network to the extent of being able to fuel 8,500 homes. The bus is seen as a sustainable mode of transport that can help boost urban air quality. Unsurprisingly, the bus has attracted a range of nicknames including ‘Poo Bus’ and ‘The Number Two Bus’. (The Independent)


Image source: GENeco