Top Stories

December 18, 2018

Policy / Climate Change

EU agrees deal to cut greenhouse emissions from cars by 37.5 percent by 2030

The European Union agreed on December 17 to a goal of cutting carbon emissions from cars by 37.5 percent in a decade, finally settling differences between vehicle-producing countries and environmentally-conscious lawmakers. The 28-nation bloc has been divided for months over how strict to be on carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles as part of its push to reduce greenhouse gases overall by 40 percent by 2030. Germany, with the EU’s biggest auto sector, had warned tough targets and the drive towards more electric cars could harm its industry and cost jobs. Representatives of the European Parliament and the EU countries finally struck a compromise on Monday, after nine hours of talks, to cut emissions from cars by 37.5 percent and vans by 31 percent by 2030 compared with 2021. “This is an important signal in our fight against climate change,” said current EU president Austria’s Sustainability Minister Elisabeth Koestinger. (Straits Times)

Sustainable Investment / Climate Change

Investors push Exxon to list emissions targets in annual reports

A number of institutional investors in ExxonMobil have said they will file a shareholder resolution which calls on the world’s largest oil company to set targets for lowering its greenhouse gas emissions. The call, led by the New York State Common Retirement Fund (NYSCRF) and the Church Commissioners of England (CCE), comes in the wake of shareholder moves at other major energy firms seeking to make them more responsive to climate change and its impact on the business. The statement released on Sunday by the CCE asked Exxon to disclose, for the first time, short, medium and long-term targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from both its operations and the use of its products. “We want to see ExxonMobil develop a clear strategy for long-term sustainability, in line with international commitments for a safer climate,” Edward Mason, head of responsible investment for the CCE, said in the statement. (Financial Times; Reuters)*


Google has reportedly ended China search project

Google has set aside its controversial push to launch a censored search service in China, according to a new report by The Intercept. Alphabet’s latest move comes after hundreds of employees protested the project, known as Dragonfly, and would reflect another response on the part of executives to internal disagreement with company plans. Following years of being absent from China’s web search market, Google had wanted to launch the Dragonfly product in early 2019, although now, amid outcry inside and outside of Google, the pressure seems to have caused leaders to “shelve it at least in the short term,” said the report, which cited two unnamed sources. Google CEO Sundar Pichai responded vaguely to questions about the Dragonfly project in a Congressional hearing last week. “Right now, we have no plans to launch search in China,” he said. (CNBC)


Workers get new rights in overhaul but zero-hours contracts remain

The UK government has introduced what it claims to be the biggest package of workplace reforms for 20 years after concerns that ministers have failed to appeal to voters who are “just about managing”. Legislation will increase fines for employers who have deliberately victimised their staff, and give workers details of their rights from the first day in their job. The reforms plan to stop the “unfair” use of pay-between-assignment contracts which allow businesses to opt out of equal pay arrangements for agency employees. Measures will also be taken to ensure that seasonal workers get the paid time off they are entitled to. The government claims the reforms will make the UK the first country in the world to address the opportunities and challenges of the gig economy and its impact on a modern economy. (Guardian)

Environment / Policy

UK: Packaging producers to pay full recycling costs under waste scheme

Retailers and producers of packaging will be forced to pay the full cost of collecting and recycling it under the UK government’s new waste strategy. Supermarkets and other retailers could be charged penalties for putting difficult to recycle packaging – such as black plastic trays – on the market as part of the strategy, which aims to make the “polluter pay”. They would be charged lower fees for packaging that was easy to reuse or recycle. It will see the producers of the waste cover the full costs of recycling and collecting it. Currently the taxpayer, through local authorities, funds 90 percent of the costs of recycling and businesses just 10 percent. The scheme could also see retailers and producers pay for the cost of clearing up the litter created by their waste and for the enforcement of the scheme. (Guardian)

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Image source: UBER Eats Delivery Cyclist Riding Through a Busy Oxford Road in Manchester by shopblocks on FlickrCC BY 2.0.