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February 28, 2017

Corporate Reputation

Shell knew’: oil giant’s 1991 film warned of climate change danger

The oil giant Shell issued a stark warning of the catastrophic risks of climate change more than a quarter of century ago in a prescient 1991 film that has been rediscovered. Shell’s 28-minute film, called Climate of Concern, was made for public viewing, particularly in schools and universities. It warned of extreme weather, floods, famines and climate refugees as fossil fuel burning warmed the world. The serious warning was “endorsed by a uniquely broad consensus of scientists in their report to the United Nations at the end of 1990”, the film noted. The predictions in the 1991 film for temperature and sea level rises and their impacts were remarkably accurate, according to scientists, and Shell was one of the first major oil companies to accept the reality and dangers of climate change. “They knew. Shell told the public the truth about climate change in 1991 and they clearly never got round to telling their own board of directors,” said Tom Burke at the green thinktank E3G, who was a member of Shell’s external review committee from 2012-14. (Guardian)


Waterstones under fire for secret shops

Waterstones, the UK’s leading bookshop chain, is on the defensive after going incognito at some of its newer stores. The firm has opened three shops that do not feature its distinctive branding, prompting accusations of deception. They are Southwold Books in Suffolk, The Rye Bookshop in East Sussex and Harpenden Books in Hertfordshire. But Waterstones’ chief executive, James Daunt, told the BBC the move was justified, saying he wanted the shops to have a more independent feel. The policy was quietly introduced in mid-2014, when Southwold Books was launched as “a quintessentially local bookshop”. No-one paid much attention at first, but now Waterstones is under fire for apparently masquerading as the little guy in a world of increasingly homogenised High Streets. By giving Waterstones small stores a more independent feel, Daunt said he hoped to change the way in which staff worked. “Part of the reason that we do it is to convince our own booksellers that they have the autonomy that they do have,” he added. (BBC)


Google gives $11.5 million to reform the Criminal Justice System

Although African Americans are only 13 percent of the U.S. population, they make up 40 percent of America’s prisoners and are incarcerated at over five times the rate of white men. Google believes it can help be part of the solution to the racial disparities present in the U.S. justice system. The company plans to invest $11.5 million in grants to American organizations working to reform the criminal justice system. “Mass incarceration is a huge issue in the United States, and a major area of focus for our grants,” Justin Steele, principal of, Google’s charitable arm, wrote in a blog post. will give $5 million to the Center for Policing Equity’s (CPE) National Justice Database (NJD), the first database in the nation to track and standardize police stops, use of force and other police interaction data from law enforcement agencies. The grant will allow CPE to incorporate resident surveys that directly link police behavior to the community perceptions of police, expand the NJD to more cities, and reduce reporting times back to police departments once data analysis is complete. Google is also supporting two California-based organizations that focus on ways data can help bring more equity in U.S. court systems. (TriplePundit)

Sustainable Agriculture

Food production ‘in jeopardy’ unless new agri-practices are introduced, says FAO

The global population’s ability to feed itself could be “in jeopardy” unless new technologies and sustainable agriculture policies and practices are introduced, a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned. Released late last week, the Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges report highlights that climate change and an increase in global population could lead to the introduction of resource-intensive farming practices that accelerate the degradation of the natural environment. In response, the report calls for countries to invest in research & development (R&D) that can introduce new technologies that promote environmental protection during agri-practices and that also cut back at rising food waste amounts. “Major transformations in agricultural systems, rural economies and natural resource management will be needed if we are to meet the multiple challenges before us,” the report states. Satisfying increased demand using a “business as usual” approach is likely to lead to “intense competition for natural resources” as well as increased emissions from the agri-sector, which the report claims accounts for 30% of global energy consumption. (Edie)

Supply Chain

H&M plans proper pay structures, worker committees in garment factories by 2018

Swedish fashion retailer H&M announced last week that it planned to have elected committees and proper pay structures for workers in its main supply factories across the world by 2018 in a bid to curb labour exploitation. Elin Astrom, head of H&M’s Sustainability Program in India, said the clothing firm was aware of the exploitation of workers in the garment industry and was working on several initiatives with its main suppliers to improve worker conditions. “We do face challenges ourselves within the industry when it comes to working conditions, excessive overtime, wages etc and we are trying to address this in several ways.” Astrom outlined that H&M has strict expectations of suppliers through a code of conduct, but added that they faced challenges in making factory owners understand issues such as freedom of association and the need for workers’ voices to be heard. She said the clothing retailer had set goals with its main suppliers to listen to workers, as well as pay scales that ensure adequate wages based on skill and experience. (Thomson Reuters)

Image source: A P Monblat (2015) Waterstones Bookshop: CC-BY-SA-4.0