Top Stories

January 27, 2017


US climate action under siege ahead of Trump meeting with May

As Theresa May prepares to become the first world leader to meet officially with Donald Trump, a flurry of reports have suggested the US president is likely to diminish the country’s climate change commitments. The Trump administration is preparing an executive order that would reduce the US’ role in multilateral treaties, and will review those that are not “directly related to national security, extradition or international trade”. For instance, the now-ratified Paris Agreement is likely to come under review.  The World Resources Institute‘s David Waskow and Andrew Light published op-read on the matter reads: “America cannot afford to be a climate loner, nor can the world afford for it to become one”. This is aggravated by the unlikely future of the Environmental Protection Agency which will be facing deep environmental regulation cutbacks. The Prime Minister has so far refused to confirm whether she will address Trump on his climate-scepticism, as senior figures -including former Labour leader Ed Miliband – implore her to “reassure” the President that climate change is “not a hoax invented by the Chinese”..(Edie)

Corporate Reputation

Shell ruling gives green light for corporations to profit from abuses overseas

A High Court ruling that two Niger Delta communities devastated by oil spills cannot have their claims against Shell heard in the UK could allow UK multinationals to commit abuses overseas with impunity, Amnesty International said today. Yesterday, the High Court ruled that Royal Dutch Shell cannot be held responsible for the actions of its Nigerian subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. This is despite the company having profited from decades of abuses and environmental destruction in the Niger Delta. Shell disputed the jurisdiction of the UK court, arguing that the case concerned Nigerian plaintiffs and a Nigerian company. Two Nigerian communities whose local environments have been devastated by oil spills brought separate legal actions against Royal Dutch Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary in 2016. Joe Westby, Campaigner on Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International said “this ruling could mean that the communities will never receive meaningful compensation, and that the oil spills will be not be properly cleaned up.” The communities are expected to appeal. (Amnesty International)


Toshiba, desperate for cash after scandal, will sell Microchip Business

Ill-fated investments in nuclear power projects by Toshiba of Japan have already precipitated an embarrassing accounting scandal at the company. Now the company is planning to sell its most valuable business, its microchip division, to try to undo the damage. In December, Toshiba warned it was preparing to write off “several billion U.S. dollars” because of ballooning expenses at its American nuclear subsidiary, Westinghouse. This followed Toshiba’s admission in 2015 that it had inflated its earnings by $1.2 billion over seven years. Banks have indicated they will keep lending money so the company can pay its bills, but without that lifeline, Toshiba, a 140-year-old business, could collapse. Toshiba said it had not yet decided what form the semiconductor spinoff would take, or how much of the business it would sell to outsiders. Damian Thong, an analyst at Macquarie Securities, said bringing in a minority investor was “clearly the default option” for Toshiba, which is eager to keep a foot in the door of the semiconductor business.  Canon’s chairman Fujio Mitarai -the Japanese camera company, which uses Toshiba’s chips- said that the semiconductor business was a valuable asset for Japan and “must be protected” and that Canon “would positively consider” investing. (The New York Times)


BEIS commits £28m to energy innovation

The government has committed £28m to energy innovation projects. It will be dedicated to encouraging progress in smart systems, industrial energy reduction and offshore wind, explained Nick Hurd, minister for climate change and industry at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). However, The Renewable Energy Association said that while funding will support growth, major policy barriers still remain before the deployment of grid-scale storage. It urged Government to address these barriers in a “timely manner”. This follows the launch of a consultation on the Government’s new Industrial Strategy on Monday in which the Government set out its intention to cut business energy costs in the UK, while maintaining commitment to clean energy sources. The paper also proposed that a £4.7bn Industrial Challenge Fund should be set up to accelerate the commercialisation smart energy technologies as well as robotics, artificial intelligence and 5G mobile networks. (Edie)

Supply Chain

BBFAW: US food companies continue making gains in farm animal welfare

In its fifth year, the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) provides companies with a clear set of expectations on farm animal welfare management practice and reporting, enabling them to benchmark themselves against industry peers and to progressively drive up welfare standards in their supply chains. This year’s report, which is compiled in collaboration with animal welfare organizations Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection and investment firm Coller Capital, reveals that companies are increasingly focusing more attention and resources on farm animal welfare within their supply chains. With its Benchmark, BBFAW aims to progressively increase corporate emphasis on performance measurement and reporting of several key animal welfare areas, such as the proportion of animals that are free from intensive confinement. Thirteen US companies, including Cargill and McDonald’s, currently occupy leadership positions in the Benchmark’s top two tiers, reserved for companies that demonstrate strong commitments to farm animal welfare and have established management systems and processes.(Sustainable Brands)

Imgae source:  The Replica Oval Office in the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Wikipedia. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.