Daily Media Briefing

Daily Media Briefing

 

Posted in: Climate Change, Corporate Reputation, Daily Media Briefing, Energy, Sustainable Investment, Tax

Top Stories

May 02, 2018

Corporate Reputation

Companies ignore calls for greater disclosure on labour practices

More than 40 large companies including BAE Systems, Tesco and Walmart have ignored calls to disclose more information on their labour practices despite being called to do so by a coalition of institutional investors with more than $10 trillion under management. Many companies also fail to match their official policies in areas including ensuring fairer pay and greater diversity with concrete plans and systems to monitor their progress, according to a survey of 76 companies conducted by the Workforce Disclosure Initiative. The WDI wants companies to provide greater disclosure on workplace practices, including supply chains, employee contracts and whether board members have oversight of the workforce. WDI’s report said workforce data were available but “often not packaged and presented in a suitable format for institutional investors”. Companies that did disclose information in the survey included Associated British Foods, HSBC, Inditex and Microsoft. (Financial Times*)

Tax

Apple to buyback $100 billion in stock, in line with wider trend following US corporate tax reform

Apple has announced that it would buy back an additional $100 billion in stock, by far the largest increase in its already historic record of returning capital to investors having now returned $275 billion to shareholders since 2012. Apple also increased its dividend by 16 percent to 73 cents a share, pushing past Exxon Mobil to become the largest dividend payer, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. Apple’s stock buyback fits into a broader trend of companies using the financial windfall from President Trump’s tax cut to reward shareholders. Share buybacks, which are reaching record levels, are great for investors because they reliably lift stock prices by limiting the supply of shares for sale. However, critics have said that such actions can take money away from potential investments in hiring or research and development, and can increase economic inequality because they typically benefit wealthier people. (NY Times)

Read more: Check out this month’s CCB guest article from Rob Du Boff, who explains the findings of JUST Capital’s rankings on the controversial US corporate tax reform.

Sustainable Investment

Ben & Jerry’s and 350.org campaign for a freeze on Australian fossil fuel investments

American ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has partnered with climate activism group 350.org Australia to launch a campaign to freeze fossil fuel investments, by encouraging Australians to lobby their local governing bodies to ensure that none of its assets are in coal, oil and gas. “Ben & Jerry’s has a long history of championing climate justice and now we are urging local councils across Australia to join us on our mission. For those Councils yet to divest, we encourage them to get behind our campaign and we ask the Australian community to help us do that by signing the petition,” said Ben & Jerry’s Australia spokesperson Bert Naber in a statement. As part of the campaign, Ben & Jerry’s has also said that many of its best-selling flavours are “endangered” as a result of climate change, and that fossil fuel divestment will help to sustain the production of its ice creams in the long term. (Eco-Business)

Climate Change

UN Climate Change secretariat releases first annual report

The UN’s official climate change secretariat, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has launched its first annual report into its work in combatting climate change, marking the opening round of international climate talks in Bonn ahead of the COP24 Summit in Poland later in December 2018. The report summarises the work of the UNFCCC, the progress of the Paris Agreement, including climate financing commitments, and the various programmes that are seeking to accelerate the adoption of climate action around the world, such as the Talanoa Dialogue and first-ever climate-related Gender Action Plan. Despite recently receiving a $4.5 million donation from Michael Bloomberg to plug a funding gap, the secretariat also warned that funding remains an issue – noting that €5.7 million of contributions from countries were outstanding at the end of 2017. (BusinessGreen)

Energy

EDF plan for tallest UK onshore wind turbines prompts outcry

EDF Energy has said its plans for two major windfarms on the Isle of Lewis may need to reach heights normally the preserve of turbines at sea, prompting an outcry from local opponents. The French company’s renewables unit said it may need to go higher for the project to be economically viable and win millions of pounds in government subsidies. Kerry MacPhee, who heads community liaison, told locals that one of the windfarms could be 200 metres (650ft) tall, with the other 187 metres, up from 150 metres and 145 metres previously. This would make it taller than the UK’s largest existing onshore turbine (193.5 metres) and be on a par with some of the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbines, which are 60 metres taller than the London Eye. MacPhee said the potential changes were designed to increase the projects’ chances of winning future auctions for low-carbon electricity and unlock “substantial benefits for Lewis”. (Guardian)

 

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Image Source: Bangui Windmills by Douglas Cataylo on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

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