Top Stories

September 16, 2016


Most CFOs are not ‘absolutely convinced’ of the value of the sustainability report

New research released today shows that sustainability professionals need to prove the value of CSR Reporting. Ethical Corporation are calling for corporate sustainability professionals to increase engagement with their CFOs and prove the value of CSR, following the results of the first ever State of CSR Reporting and communications survey. The survey, which asked 948 sustainability professionals to share their perspectives on the upcoming trends in CR reporting, showed that only 25 per cent of them believe that their CFO is ‘absolutely convinced’ by the value of their CSR Report and over half believe too much time is being spent on the reporting process. The number one CSR reporting and communications opportunity in 2016 and 2017 is ‘proving the value of sustainability’. The second and third biggest opportunities are ‘quantifying CSR impacts financial terms’ and ‘engaging investors’. (Ethical Corporation)


Indonesia and EU announce historic deal on timber trade

Indonesia will in November become the first country in the world to export wood products to the European Union meeting new environmental standards. From mid-November special licences issued by Jakarta will certify the legality of timber products destined for the EU such as pulp, plywood and furniture. Once the agreement takes effect, timber exports from Indonesia that do not carry this certification will be prohibited from trade within the EU. Jakarta hopes the pact will help it double timber exports to the EU to the tune of $2 billion a year. Consumers in Europe can soon purchase wood products knowing they come from audited factories and forests, EU ambassador to Indonesia, Vincent Guérend, said. It is the first country to meet these standards but the EU is negotiating similar agreements with 14 other countries, which together provide the continent with 80 per cent of its timber imports. (Guardian)

ICC widens remit to include environmental destruction cases

Environmental destruction and landgrabs could lead to governments and individuals being prosecuted for crimes against humanity by the international criminal court (ICC). The ICC said it would prioritise crimes that result in the “destruction of the environment”, “exploitation of natural resources” and the “illegal dispossession” of land. It also included an explicit reference to land-grabbing. The ICC is not formally extending its jurisdiction, but the court said it would assess existing offences, such as crimes against humanity, in a broader context. “Today’s announcement should send a warning shot to company executives and investors that the environment is no longer their playground,” said Alice Harrison, an adviser at Global Witness. The new ICC focus could also open the door to prosecutions over climate change, as a large percentage of CO2 emissions had been caused by deforestation as a result of illegal land-grabbing. (Guardian)


Oil disaster investigator alarmed by BP Great Australian Bight response

A leading global expert on oil disasters has said the response to concerns about potentially faulty equipment in offshore drilling planned for the Great Australian Bight by BP is an early warning sign of problems that could potentially lead to disasters. Bob Bea, an emeritus professor and founder of the center for catastrophic risk management at Berkeley, said process surrounding BP’s “high risk” application to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight lacked adequate transparency, proper regulatory processes had not been followed and that responses from the companies involved were “inadequate” and “very alarming”. The Australian regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority, said it had made sure one particular type of bolt was not being used in Australia but could not point to any action it had taken on the wider problem. (Guardian)

Technology & Innovation

Bill Gates’ $14 million sees a future in low-carbon plastics

The startup Renmatix has announced a $14 million investment round led by the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft. Renmatix said this allows it to begin to take its patented scientific process from the lab into commercial use. The process uses high-pressure, high-temperature water to convert biomass into usable cellulosic sugar state, or intermediary material that can be made into plastic-like materials for products ranging from drinking cups to cell phone parts to industrial adhesives. The technology has the potential to infuse a renewable energy process into the industrial base, changing how plastic is manufactured. “Instead of using fossil fuel to make those chemicals or fuels, [you] can now use the supercritical water to get biomass to become cellulosic sugar,” which can be used in other processes as a petro-fuel substitute, Renmatix CEO Mike Hamilton said. (Business Green)


Image source:  Kalimantan deforestation and degradation by Josh Estey / CC BY 2.0