Top Stories

September 20, 2016


More companies put price on their carbon emissions

Walt Disney and Goldman Sachs are among more than 1,200 companies preparing for a future in which governments make businesses pay for their carbon pollution to help stop climate change. According to a report by CDP, some 1,249 businesses – 23 per cent more than last year – now have an internal carbon price or plan to adopt one soon. Voluntary carbon pricing by companies has grown as countries have started ratifying the Paris climate change accord, and China has set about launching what is likely to be the world’s biggest carbon trading scheme.

Some of the businesses setting carbon prices said they were doing so to help shape future investment decisions. This month, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, warned that investors could no longer ignore climate change as they confronted “a swelling tide of climate-related regulations and technological disruption”. However, more than 500 companies in high-emitting industries had no carbon price or any plans for one, which CDP said could be a concern for investors. (Financial Times*)


Agri-businesses launch global alliance to boost green farming

A group of 36 leading agricultural businesses, including Besana Group, Mitsubishi Corporation, Olam International and Wilmar International, have joined together to launch the Global Agri-business Alliance (GAA) to tackle environmental challenges in farming supply chains and communities around the world. The CEO-led private sector initiative is seeking to “contribute significantly” to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “Members will collaborate to improve rural livelihoods and working conditions, mitigate climate risks and manage natural capital sustainably at the landscape level,” the GAA said. According to the GAA, of the estimated 795 million undernourished people globally around 50 percent are from smallholder farming communities, while agriculture also generates around 12 percent of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions. (GreenBiz)


Investigation reveals scale of UK supermarket waste

The London Evening Standard has released the first-ever ranking of the UK’s top 10 supermarkets according to the proportion of surplus food they donate to charity for human consumption. The newspaper says it has taken “months of probing and clarifying” to assemble the ranking. Tesco began publishing data three years ago, but others have been slow to follow. Sainsbury’s leads the way in the ranking, with 7.6 per cent of its surplus food donated to charities, followed by Tesco on 4.5 per cent and Waitrose and Asda on 3.3 per cent. However, according to waste charity Wrap, 55 per cent of surplus food is “practically avoidable” and could be donated for human consumption. The Evening Standard accuses Sainsbury’s of “wasting” more than 90 per cent of its fresh surplus food by sending it to anaerobic digestion or to become animal feed. (Evening Standard)


France becomes first country to ban plastic plates and cutlery

France has passed a law that will make him the first country in the world to ban plastic plates, cups and utensils. It will go into effect in 2020 and is a part of the country’s Energy Transition for Green Growth Act. However, some argue that the laws violate existing European Union legislation. “We are urging the European Commission to do the right thing and to take legal action against France for infringing European law,” said Eamonn Bates, the secretary general of industry group Pack2Go Europe. The French environment minister had initially considered the ban an “anti-social” provision, on the grounds that low-income families relied on plastic utensils and plates. (Independent)


McDonald’s could face EU order to pay almost $500 million in back taxes

Fast food giant McDonald’s is facing a $500 million bill in Luxembourg as the European Commission rules on a so-called “sweetheart” tax deal. The Financial Times says Luxembourg granted two bespoke tax exemptions. Initially it gave McDonald’s an exemption from taxation on royalty revenues so long as it could prove it declared the profit and paid tax in the US. Later, it offered the exemption without any proof being required of tax being paid whatsoever. The FT’s analysis of the case suggests McDonald’s paid an effective rate of just 1.49 per cent on $1.8 billion of profit booked in Luxembourg. This latest case, along with another targeting e-commerce giant Amazon, is the latest in a crackdown by European officials on bespoke tax deals. (The Week)


Image source: Supermarket by Lustrous Taiwan / Public Domain