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February 04, 2016

Responsible Investment

Green Climate Fund holds ‘crisis’ talks over future

Crisis talks on the future of the UN’s flagship green investment bank are taking place in Cape Town this week after key donors expressed concern it lacks focus and direction. The US, UK and Germany, who contributed more than half of the Green Climate Fund’s initial US $10 billion capitalisation, flagged their fears in December. Officials from Australia, Switzerland, Sweden and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are also warning of opaque decision-making, weak investment guidelines and poor engagement with the private sector. The fund was conceived at the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks to help poor countries tackle global warming. December’s Paris climate deal saw its role as the world’s top climate fund confirmed by 195 countries. Half the fund’s cash is reserved for projects to protect communities from floods, droughts and rising sea levels linked to climate change. The other half is to drive clean energy access and fuel efficiency. (Climate Home)


Intel fails to improve diversity data

Intel has failed to increase its proportion of African American and Hispanic employees despite the computer chip giant making a public pledge last year that it would ensure “full representation” by 2020. The company revealed on Wednesday that just 3.34 percent of its tech workers are African American, exactly the same proportion as a year ago. The proportion of Hispanic tech workers decreased by 0.08 percentage points from this time last year, when Intel’s chief executive Brian Krzanich announced a US $300 million drive to increase the diversity of its employee base. Intel has struggled to hire more new African American and Hispanic tech workers than are leaving the company, and at the same time the number of white and Asian staff has increased. Lack of diversity is a problem across Silicon Valley companies, with African Americans representing less than 2 percent of employees at Facebook and Twitter. (Guardian)


NYC mayor to boost solar power capacity five-fold

Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, wants to increase the solar power capacity of city-owned buildings five-fold from what it is now, mayoral aides have announced. The push comes as part of an ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the country’s most populous city by 80 percent by 2050. De Blasio plans to make the announcement in his State of the City address Thursday in the Bronx. As part of the new initiative, the panels will be placed on 88 additional buildings. The solar construction, part of an effort to retrofit all public buildings to make them more environmentally friendly by 2025, will be partly funded through a power purchasing agreement that allows the city to avoid up-front costs. The existing solar installations have created about US $1.2 million in annual savings, according to city statistics. (ABC News)


EU Parliament fails to close loopholes in car emission tests

MEPs have failed to veto loopholes in air pollution limits on new diesel cars, despite public anger in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions will now be allowed at twice the EU’s 80mg per km limit from 2019 and 50 percent more from 2021, despite the exemptions being deemed unlawful in a separate vote by the parliament’s legal committee. The issue of NOx pollution exploded as a political issue in September when Volkswagen was caught using sophisticated software programmes to cheat emissions tests, producing up to 40 times more pollution than allowed. “Today’s vote in the European parliament is a disaster,” said Dr Penny Woods, the chief executive of the British Lung Foundation. “After the VW emissions affair, now is not the time to weaken legal limits on diesel cars. If the UK government is serious about cleaning up the air we breathe, this decision cannot go unchallenged.” (Guardian)


Demand for cheap food forces new easyFoodstore to close

Airline easyJet on Monday launched a discount food store in north London selling everyday groceries for 25p each. But just two days after opening, the food store was forced to close temporarily as it had run out of stock. Haji-Ioannou, easyJet’s founder, said he had been inspired to launch easyFoodstore by the widespread use of food banks. His charity has long handed out free food in Greece and Cyprus. The venture is seen as a threat to the “big four” supermarket chains – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – as well as their low-cost competitors Aldi and Lidl. EasyFoodstore sells a range of just 76 grocery items, and no fresh meat or fruit and vegetables. A spokesman for easyFoodstore, said: “The level of interest has been completely overwhelming… We anticipated we had enough stock to last a couple of weeks but it has just gone in a day and a half.” The store plans to continue selling items for 25p each throughout February as an introductory offer. (Guardian 1, 2)


Image source: Intel logo by Jiahui Huang / CC BY-SA 2.0