- Airbnb comes out against Supreme Court decision upholding Trump travel ban
- Singapore slides to third place in 2018 sustainable trade index
- Housing and car industries should be “ashamed” of climate record
- United Utilities to reap rewards from AI-assisted energy efficiency tech
- SFO to prosecute Monaco-based Unaoil on corruption charges
Airbnb has come out against the US Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban on majority Muslim countries. “We are profoundly disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the travel ban — a policy that goes against our mission and values,” Airbnb co-founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk said in a joint statement on Twitter. “To restrict travel based on a person’s nationality or religion is wrong,” the statement continued. “We believe that travel is a transformative and powerful experience, and we will continue to open doors and build bridges between cultures around the world.” Airbnb also called out the Trump administration last year when the president’s executive order temporarily banning people from Muslim-majority nations from entering the country first took place. “Barring people from entering our country because of where they’re from was wrong the first time around — still wrong,” Chesky said at the time. (The Hill)
Ratings and Rankings
Singapore has lost grip of its top position in the Hinrich Foundation Sustainable Trade Index, falling to third place among 19 other Asian economies and the US. The Index, which evaluates economies based on economic growth, social capital and environmental protection, revealed that Singapore had performed generally well, ranking first in the economic pillar in 2018. However, lower scores on the environmental pillar have caused the country to slide by two places in the overall ranking compared to 2016 when it topped the list. Performance in environmental sustainability had generally deteriorated among richer economies, according to the report. With air pollution, deforestation and transfer emissions having worsened in 2018, Southeast Asian economies – particularly Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand – experienced major score declines. Singapore also had one of the highest levels of inequality in the Index based on the Gini coefficient which measures the inequality between the upper and lower income brackets of a country. Chris Clague, the EIU’s managing editor, said: “Governments are still the driving force behind sustainable trade and the results of the 2018 Index clearly show that many in Asia-Pacific need to be doing more.” “But it is encouraging to see that the private sector has come to see sustainability … as a vital component of corporate strategy,” he added. (Business Insider – Singapore)
The homebuilding and carmaking industries “should be ashamed” of their efforts to tackle global warming, according to the UK government’s official climate change advisor. Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), said housebuilders were “cheating” buyers with energy-inefficient homes and that motor companies were holding back the rollout of clean cars. The CCC’s annual report found the UK is on track to miss its legally binding carbon budgets in 2025 and 2030, due to lack of progress in cutting emissions from buildings and transport. It also said ministers were spurning low-cost options, such as onshore windfarms, home insulation and tree-planting, meaning people would end up paying more than needed to fight climate change. Home insulation installations are among the cheapest carbon cutting measures but the cancellation of government incentives has caused a 95% drop since 2012, the CCC said. (Guardian)
Water company United Utilities is set to reduce its yearly electricity bills and energy intensity by 10 percent after installing an energy flexibility platform which incorporates artificial intelligence (AI). The firm, which currently generates 21 percent of its electricity consumption through its own renewable arrays, will install the platform at two of its waste water treatment plants in Bolton and Chorley by the end of summer 2018. It aims to install the technology, called Dynamic Demand 2.0 and designed by Open Energi, in eight of its UK plants within the next year, representing up to 8MW of demand flexibility. This makes United Utilities the second UK-based company to install the technology after heavy building materials firm Aggregate Industries. Last week, United Utilities also announced plans to electrify its entire fleet within the next decade – reducing its annual diesel consumption from four million litres to zero by 2028. (Edie)
The Serious Fraud Office is to prosecute an oil company following a two-year criminal investigation into alleged bribery in the energy industry. The SFO has announced that it was bringing four charges of corruption against Unaoil, a Monaco-based oil consultancy. The company is accused of conspiring to making corrupt payments to secure Iraqi construction contracts for two multinationals. The charges against the company follow the SFO’s previous decision to prosecute four executives with conspiring to make corrupt payments to secure Iraqi contracts. According to the SFO’s announcement, the first pair of charges relate to alleged corrupt payments to secure the award of a $733m (£555m) contract to build two oil pipelines in southern Iraq for Leighton, an Australian construction firm. The second pair of charges relate to alleged corrupt payments to secure the award of contracts in Iraq to SBM Offshore, a Dutch firm that manufactures oil platforms. The SFO described SBM Offshore as a Unaoil client. SBM said it would not comment as it was “not a party to these proceedings”. (Guardian)
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