Top Stories

August 15, 2017


Three CEOs resign from Trump council over Charlottesville

The CEO of Intel, Merck & Co and Under Armour have resigned from U.S. President’s American Manufacturing Council, following Trump’s initially tepid response to weekend violence at Charlotte’s white supremacists rally. Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, said he resigned “to call attention to the serious harm [the] divided political climate is causing” while Under Armour’s CEO Kevin Plank explained he felt “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism”. Merck’s CEO Kenneth Frazier, more directly commented on Trump’s response by calling America’s leaders to “honour [the U.S.] fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal”. Meg Whitman of HP Enterprise made statements in support of Mr. Frazier. It is not the first time that chief executives decide to quit national councils in protest to the President’s actions. Last June, Disney and Tesla’s both left the White House’s business advisory council following announcement of U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. (Reuters, NY Times)

Read more: “Does political activism have a place in corporate social responsibility?” by Mary Ellen Smith and “Stick with the program – corporate climate activism in the US” by George Blacksell


Report: Advertise all UK jobs with flexible working to tackle pay gap

Offering flexible hours to all job applicants will help combat pay disparities between men and women, while increasing job opportunities for disabled people, according to the equalities watchdog Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The report outlines recommendations to tackle pay imbalances across gender, ethnicity and disabilities, including offering working fathers greater levels of paid paternity leave. It revealed stark contrast for certain groups. For example, male Bangladeshi immigrants had the largest pay gap of 48% compared with white British men, while men with epilepsy and depression earn 40% and 30% less respectively than those without the condition. Caroline Waters, the deputy chair of the EHRC, called for “new ideas to bring down pay gaps” and “radical change” following slow progress on the issue. (Guardian)


Report: Australian coal-power pollution would be illegal in US, Europe and China

New investigation by Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) has found Australian coal-fired power stations produce levels of toxic air pollution that would be illegal in the US, Europe and China, and regularly exceed even the lax limits imposed on them with few or no consequences. Based on pollution data from 10 of Australia’s 17 commercially operating coal-fired power stations, the report reveals evidence that operators have been gaming pollution monitoring systems while others have reported unreliable figures. It also found that none of the plants were using the adequate technology to limit toxic emissions. The cost of pollution from coal power plants on national health in Australia is estimated to cost $2.6 billion every year. EJA lawyer Nicola Rivers and co-author of the report said Australia’s air pollution laws were “weak, outdated, poorly monitored and inadequately enforced”. (Guardian)

Responsible Investment

Vanguard seeks corporate disclosure on risks from climate change

Vanguard Group has urged companies, including Exxon Mobil and Occidental Petroleum to disclose how climate change could affect their business and asset valuations. The biggest U.S. mutual fund firm by assets ($4tn) is often the top shareholder in U.S. corporations giving it a major voice on setting corporate agendas. Although the fund had not supported climate activists on the issue of climate risk disclosure, Vanguard’s Investment Stewardship Officer said the issue had evolved “as a matter of economics” in order to “make sure there is long-term disclosure of those risks to the market”. Earlier this year, the firm changed its proxy voting policies to allow greater support for climate risk resolutions, but until now had not explained its thinking unlike State Street or BlackRock. Vanguard also plans to disclose more details about its talks with companies on issues such as gender diversity on corporate boards. (Reuters)

Technology & Innovation

New natural nutritional supplement could be key to ‘climate-friendly’ beef

The Swiss life science company Zaluvida has developed a nutritional feed supplement, called Mootral, that it claims can instantly reduce methane emissions from livestock by at least 30%. Announced at the Future Energy Forum at the World Expo in Kazakhstan, the disruptive technology is the result of a decade of research. Mootral uses natural ingredients in lieu of synthetic products in feed to improve cow’s rumen fermentation which is responsible for methane emissions. The company claims that its widespread adoption could help prevent a total of 1.3 gigatons of CO2 emissions — the equivalent of 500 million cars being taken off the road – and believes it could help reduce reliance on antibiotics thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties (Sustainable Brands)


Image Source: Coal plant by Alex Proimos at Flickr. CC 2.0.