Top Stories

December 12, 2018

Brexit / Environment

Report: Brexit chaos fuels fears over on-going environmental risks

Greener UK Risk Tracker argues that with less than four months to go until the UK leaves the EU huge uncertainties remain over the future of environmental safeguards. The government’s decision to delay the parliamentary vote on its proposed Withdrawal Agreement has further fuelled fears a ‘no deal’ Brexit could unleash major environmental impacts and herald a watering down of green policies across the UK. The Greener UK coalition of environmental groups yesterday (11th December) published its quarterly Risk Tracker, showing the levels of perceived risks across a range of environmental policy areas remain high. “The government has pledged to protect the environment during Brexit, but with less than four months to go until exit day we are unable to assign a low-risk rating to any environmental issue,” said Amy Mount of the Greener UK coalition. (BusinessGreen)

Health / Supply Chain

McDonald’s to curb antibiotic use in its beef supply

McDonald’s said it plans to reduce the use of antibiotics in its global beef supply, fuelling projections that other restaurants will follow suit. The world’s biggest fast-food chain said it will measure the use of antibiotics in its 10 biggest markets, including the United States, and set targets to curb their use by the end of 2020. The move addresses concerns that the overuse of antibiotics vital to fighting human infections in farm animals may diminish the drugs’ effectiveness in people. McDonald’s becomes the biggest beef buyer to tackle the issue in cattle, potentially creating a new standard for livestock producers and threatening sales by drug companies such as Merck & Co and Elanco Animal Health. “McDonald’s iconic position and the fact that they’re the largest single global purchaser of beef make it hugely important,” said David Wallinga, a senior health adviser for the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council. (Reuters)

Policy / Climate Change

Development bank to halt coal financing to combat climate change

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, one of the world’s leading development banks, is expected to vote on Wednesday to adopt a “no coal, no caveats” financing policy and slash lending to oil exploration and production projects as the organisation seeks to combat climate change. The move, if approved as expected by the bank’s board of directors, is set to bring into sharper relief the activities of Chinese and other development banks that finance huge numbers of coal and oil projects around the world. “We are planning a no coal, no caveats policy,” said Nandita Parshad, EBRD managing director for energy and natural resources. She added that the only circumstances under which the bank would finance upstream oil projects would be to reduce emissions by, for example, installing equipment to cut flaring gas from oil wells. (Financial Times)*

Human Rights / Climate Change

Environmental human rights defenders prevented from attending COP24

At least 13 staff members and activists of environmental organizations were refused entry to Poland over the weekend during the UN Conference on Climate Change, COP24, held in Katowice, Amnesty International has found. In a statement released Monday, the human rights NGO said that three staff members of environmental organizations were questioned in their hotels about their IDs by the border police in Katowice, two of them were arrested and detained for 12 hours. These events follow the adoption of a law in January 2018, which banned any spontaneous assemblies during the conference and enhanced surveillance powers. Under the law, the police or other law enforcement authorities can collect and use personal electronic and digital data. Five UN Special Rapporteurs as well as NGOs, including Amnesty International, raised concerns over the impact of the law on the right to freedom of assembly and expression during COP24. (Amnesty International)


Australia: Labor Party urges crackdown on companies outsourcing work to drive down wages

More needs to be done to tackle employers outsourcing and subcontracting work to drive down wages, the Australian Labor Party’s shadow industrial relations minister Brendan O’Connor has suggested. In comments delivered at the National Press Club on Wednesday, O’Connor will make the case for expanding bargaining beyond a worker’s direct employer, arguing that many people are employed in workplaces without a union representative. O’Connor accused larger employers of outsourcing their labour to smaller employers – through the use of franchises, subsidiaries and related corporate entities. “This practice means that it is less likely that a worker is employed by the economic decision-maker – their wages are effectively set by the head of the chain, not by their direct employer,” he said. “It makes it harder for workers to collectively bargain…” (Guardian)

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Image source: oil by Martin Abegglen on Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.