Top Stories

December 09, 2016


Shell considering linking executive bonuses to GHG emissions management

Royal Dutch Shell has announced plans to continue its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint by linking part of its executive bonuses to greenhouse gas emissions and conducting more active screening of future investments. This new initiative comes in response to mounting pressure from investors to adapt to an expected flattening in oil consumption within as little as five years, and international plans to phase out fossil fuels by the end of the century. Shell’s Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said Shell will focus on renewable energy, particularly wind and solar, as well as low-carbon biofuels and hydrogen as a key growth engine beyond 2020. However, Juliet Phillips, part of the campaign group ShareAction, criticised Shell for focusing its targets on operational emissions, which play “a very limited role in ensuring portfolio resilience under low-carbon, low-demand scenarios”.  (Sustainable Brands)


Amazon launches checkout-free shop

Amazon has launched a real-world shop that allows customers to walk in, take what they want and walk out. The new model of shopping not only challenges established retailers, but it raises serious questions about the future of work and the changing nature of the economy more generally. In the US, around five million people are employed in retail, while Australia has 1.3 million and Britain 2.8 million. Stores like Amazon Go could therefore mean many job losses. Writing in the Guardian, Tim Dunlop argues that such technologies are a recipe for massive inequality and insecurity. Platforms like Uber or Amazon Go, because they need so few workers, tend to funnel the wealth they generate to owners and investors rather than distribute it broadly via wages. (Guardian)


Dutch companies pioneer ‘healing office’ to cut staff sick days

The Edge, a tower in the Zuidas business district of Amsterdam, has won an Urban Land Institute Global Award for Excellence, on top of a 98.36% sustainability score from British environmental agency BREEAM. The building uses 70% less electricity than similar offices – and apparently results in a happier, healthier workforce. Consultancy firm Deloitte is The Edge’s largest tenant. It says the office’s comfort and climate has led to a reduction in the level of staff absenteeism. Colin Powell, project manager for the World Green Building Council’s Better Places for People campaign, says its recent report on the business case for green building suggests an office that is “more conducive to work” can improve productivity. (Guardian)

Responsible Investment

HSBC to launch new sustainable finance unit

UK banking giant HSBC has announced plans to form a new dedicated sustainable finance unit in response to rising client interest in the sector. The new unit aims to act as a central point of coordination and support for sustainability as it rises in importance for more clients in the future. The launch of the new unit comes after a survey commissioned by HSBC found two-thirds of institutional investors want to put more capital into low carbon and climate-related investments but lack the required information on firms’ climate credentials to do so. “We want to be ahead of the curve on this, so we want to be able to continue to be a leading bank for supporting our clients as they manage the transition towards a low carbon economy,” said Michael Ellam, managing director of HSBC’s public sector banking team. (Business Green)


McDonald’s moves tax base to UK amid EU attack on burger giant

McDonald’s has announced plans to switch its non-US tax base to the UK, ditching Luxembourg where its fiscal arrangements are under attack from European Union regulators. Based in Britain, the new company will be responsible for most of the royalties received from licensing McDonald’s intellectual property rights outside the US. It will pay UK corporation tax. Alex Cobham, chief executive of campaign group Tax Justice Network, said the McDonald’s announcement “provides a more public example of what has been happening quietly , which is the winding-down of many of the structures used to shift profits from across the EU into Luxembourg”. The European Commission said last year that one McDonald’s unit had paid no tax in Luxembourg since 2009, despite recording large profits. (Bloomberg)


Image source: BMW at night by Richard Bartz / CC BY-SA 2.5