Top Stories

October 22, 2015


Apple and Foxconn step up renewable energy push in China

Apple and its biggest supplier Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer, are together pledging to build solar power plants to produce more than 600 megawatts of electricity, in a big step towards making the Chinese factories that produce the iPhone run entirely on clean energy. Foxconn has committed to building solar capacity of 400 megawatts in China’s Henan province by 2018. At the same time, Apple said it would build 200 megawatts of solar projects, spread across China, to offset the carbon produced by its supply chain in the region, where much of the electricity is produced from coal. “Climate change is one of the great challenges of our time, and the time for action is now,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive. “We believe passionately in leaving the world better than we found it and hope that many other suppliers, partners and other companies join us in this important effort.” Greenpeace, the environmental campaigner, welcomed the supply-chain initiative and called on other technology companies to follow suit. (FT)*

Responsible Investment

Report: largest global banks failing to play long game on climate change

A new report examining 61 of the world’s largest banks on their management of climate-related risks concludes that despite welcomed statements and announcements by some banks ahead of COP21, few are taking a strategic approach to these potentially game-changing developments. The report conducted by Boston Common Asset Management and backed by a $500 billion coalition of 80 global investors, reports there remains a huge divide between banks’ current practices and the financial sector’s potential to support the transition to a low-carbon future. The results showed inadequate disclosure across the industry, with some of the biggest banks absent from the table. John Fleetwood of 3D Investing said: “It’s astonishing that no bank currently measures its carbon footprint…  It strikes me as incongruous that many banks claim to be concerned about climate change but continue to lend to some of the most carbon intensive industries.” According to the report the top five performing banks on climate management are: Westpac Banking Corporation, National Australia Bank, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya and Citigroup(Blue and Green Tomorrow)


EU orders two nations to recover taxes from Starbucks and Fiat

The European Union has ordered the Dutch government to recover money from Starbucks and told Luxembourg to claw back funds from a Fiat Chrysler unit, in an expanding crackdown on tax avoidance by corporations. Margrethe Vestager, the antitrust chief of the EU, said that Luxembourg and the Netherlands had given the multinational corporations illegal state aid by letting them shift profits and pay lower tax rates than those available to other companies. The decisions are a sign of Europe’s determination to counter increasingly sophisticated tax strategies used by multinational companies. These moves could be only the first of a series of enforcement actions by Ms Vestager’s office, which has been investigating tax arrangements that some European countries have used to attract multinationals, including big American technology companies like Apple in Ireland and Amazon in Luxembourg. (NY Times)

Corporate Reputation

Report: Chinese factory producing Apple products exposed for ongoing labour abuses

A new 43-page investigative report published today by China Labor Watch (CLW) and The Future in Our Hands concluded that there has been little progress in the conditions for workers making Apple’s iPhone at the Shanghai-based Pegatron Technology factory. The report found workers at Pegatron to be working overtime without getting paid for it whilst living in unhygienic and cramped housing. They face hiring fees and unreasonable fines and receive inadequate training in safety and prevention measures that is covered up by Pegatron through fraudulent documentation. Furthermore, workers’ ability to fight for fair treatment is weakened by an absent labour union. This grim reality casts a shadow over the company’s unprecedented profits, which rely in part on the labour of more than a million people in China. CLW compared findings from its new investigation with those of a 2013 investigation of Pegatron. Among 21 categories of legal and ethical violations that were identified, 11 went unchanged, five problems deteriorated further, and four showed partial but incomplete improvement. (Blue and Green Tomorrow)


Airbnb apologises for posting controversial ads aimed at schools and libraries

Spare room rental site Airbnb is apologising for a series of ads posted in San Francisco that seemed critical of schools, libraries, parking enforcement and other government services. The residential hosting company admitted to placing the ads, which many believed to be a hoax, but said they will be coming down “immediately.” Each ad was addressed to various public agencies and told them how to spend the estimated $12 million in hotel taxes paid by Airbnb hosts and guests. “Dear Public Library System,” read one ad. “We hope you use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open later.” Another told schools to use the $12 million to fund arts education. An Airbnb spokesman said the intent of the ads was to show the hotel tax contributions made by the company’s guests and hosts. “It was the wrong tone and we apologize to anyone who was offended,” he said. “These ads are being taken down immediately.” The company has reportedly spent $8 million to fight San Francisco’s ‘Proposition F’, a ballot measure that would limit private rentals to 75 nights per year. (Huffington Post)


Image Source: Starbucks Coffee by 4028mdk09 / CC BY SA 3.0

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