- Global disasters in 2017 caused an estimated $306 billion in economic losses, says Swiss Re
- China to require polluters to pay for environmental damage
- Uber to face stricter EU regulation after ECJ rules it is transport firm
- New York Pension Fund to explore strategy to divest from fossil fuels
- A small number of farms are responsible for the majority of antibiotic use
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Disasters caused an estimated $306 billion in total economic losses in 2017, up 63% from the previous year, according to figures by Sigma, the research arm of reinsurance giant Swiss Re. The report says that 2017 was the third-most expensive year on record and the second-costliest hurricane season, with the biggest impact felt by the US. The second half of the year was especially high in losses because of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and wildfires in California. According to Swiss Re, this year’s global insured losses – about $136 billion – exceeded the industry’s 10-year annual average of $58 billion. The most expensive year on record remains 2011, when the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster struck, followed by 2005 when the Katrina, Rita and Wilma hurricanes hit. (CNBC)
China plans to roll out nationwide by 2020 a system that forces individuals or companies that cause environmental damage to help restore the environment or pay compensation if damage is beyond repair. The penalties, which have not yet been detailed, are aimed at tightening oversight of land, water and air pollution, and holding companies accountable after major accidents. The government is also considering a separate plan that would penalise offshore oil companies for damage to the marine environment. The country has ramped up its war on pollution this year, shutting some factories and holding officials accountable after central inspections. It has also launched an unprecedented campaign to switch households and businesses from coal to natural gas in north China this winter. Yesterday, China announced the world’s biggest carbon market. (Reuters)
Uber is a transport services company, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled, requiring it to accept stricter regulation and licensing within the EU as a taxi operator. The decision will apply across the whole of the EU, and cannot be appealed against. Lawyers for Barcelona’s Asociación Profesional Elite Taxi, which brought the case, argued that Uber was directly involved in carrying passengers and should be legally considered as a transport service, while the firm argued it was a computer services business. Maria Ludkin, legal director of the UK’s GMB union, said the ECJ decision would have significant consequences across a series of court challenges. The GMB has recently been granted permission to intervene in Uber’s appeal against the decision by Transport for London not to renew its private hire vehicle operator’s licence. (Guardian)
New York State Controller Thomas DiNapoli has announced that the New York State Common Retirement Fund will start exploring a decarbonisation pathway, including through halting investment in fossil fuels, diversifying current holdings and increasing investment in renewable energy. The announcement follows calls from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to set up a ‘decarbonisation’ strategy to secure future pensions from financial climate risks. The Fund is the third largest in the US, and currently has holdings in at least 50 oil and gas companies. Although there are no immediate plans to break away from its energy holdings, the news comes as signs of fossil fuel divestments are mounting. This month, the UK government said it will allow workplace pension schemes to dump their shares in oil, gas and coal companies while the World Bank announced it will no longer finance upstream oil and gas after 2019. (Climate Action)
A small number of the UK’s dairy farms account for an outsized proportion of antibiotic use, recording “extremely high levels” for a few farms and below average use in most of other farms surveyed, according to new research. Researchers examined 358 dairy farms over a 12-month period, including more than 81,500 cows – about 7% of all the dairy cows in England. They were unable to pinpoint why the top 25% of farms used over half of the total antibiotics across the sample, but said that identifying the reason for this could help reducing antibiotic use. Yesterday, M&S for the first time published data on the use of the medicines in their farming supply chain, followed by Waitrose a few hours later, showing that both were below the industry average in their usage. (Guardian)