Top Stories

February 11, 2016

Responsible Investment

Fund managers who ignore climate risk ‘could face legal action’

Pension and investment fund managers who ignore the risks of climate change face the prospect of legal action, according to financial and legal experts. The authors from the Alan Turing Institute in London, ClientEarth and University of Oxford, argue global warming poses a systemic risk to the world economy and could significantly cut the value of investments, so those with fiduciary responsibility have a duty to act to reduce that risk, or be taken to court. An article published in the journal Nature on Wednesday argues that investors will be crucial in ensuring the largely voluntary climate change deal sealed in Paris in December, COP21, is implemented. “Investors will play a major part, either voluntarily or because they will be forced by the courts to meet their legal obligations to manage climate risk,” they argue. (Guardian)


Unilever: Any business can take steps towards becoming zero waste

Unilever reached a new industry-leading achievement of sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill across more than 600 sites in 70 countries including factories, warehouses, distribution centres and offices. The company identified the different non-hazardous waste streams in their operations and found alternative waste routes. In January 2015, Unilever’s 240 factories had achieved zero waste to landfill status. By replicating this zero waste model in other parts of the business, nearly 400 additional sites have now eliminated waste to landfill. This has been achieved through the four ‘R’ approach of reducing, reusing, recovering or recycling, proving that waste can be seen as a resource with many alternative uses.  “I firmly believe that any business, whatever they are producing and wherever they are operating, can make steps towards a zero waste model. The potential rewards are huge. We all need to see waste in a different way – as a resource” said Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Unilever’s Chief Supply Chain Officer. (Unilever; BusinessGreen)

Corporate Reputation

Co-op named ‘most ethical’ British supermarket

The most and least ethical supermarkets in the UK have been named, amid calls for the British government to follow the example of France and ban stores from throwing away food. Ethical Consumer, a consumer organisation, ranked the UK’s biggest chains based on their environmental efficiency, animal rights, workers’ rights, product sustainability and financial practices. It says Asda is the least ethical, followed by Lidl and Iceland. Co-op was named as the most ethical, followed by Marks & Spencer and Ocado. There is no legal requirement for British supermarkets to donate waste food to charity, but a number of politicians have backed calls for the UK to adopt a similar law. Only Tesco, among major British supermarkets, reveals how much it throws away each year. (Independent)


Report: Bank of England’s recovery policies have increased inequality

Bank of England policies to help Britain’s economic recovery have made inequality worse and increased the wealth gap between young and old, according a study by  Standard & Poor’s, a ratings agency. The report found that the low interest rates and quantitative easing used to rescue the economy after the 2008 crash have handed extra wealth to the richest households by propping up stock markets and supporting booming house prices. The report said the wealthiest 10 percent of households held 56 percent of all net financial assets in 2008. By 2014 the proportion of the nation’s wealth in the hands of this group had risen to 65 percent. The income gap in the UK remains among the greatest of OECD’s 34 member countries. (Guardian)

Circular Economy

Green procurement offers ‘quick win’ for circular economy

A new report from the All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG) found procurement departments within Government and businesses now play a pivotal role in resource efficiency as they are the “gatekeepers of purchasing decisions”. “Green procurement is one of the few policy levers that influence all aspects of the circular economy, from product design to innovation in service models and management of post-consumer discards”, the report reads. The APSRG suggests that retail procurement departments could share ‘real-time’ information on supply chain activity with farmers; reducing avoidable waste, mitigating food security challenges by diverting or finding alternative uses for food stocks, and easing price shocks. The report adds that Green Public Procurement, a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle, is a “particularly potent policy measure promoting resource efficiency”, since public authorities are such major consumers. (edie)


Image source: Unilever building in Helsinki by Sean Biehle / CC BY-SA 2.0