Top Stories

January 17, 2019

Plastic Waste

Plastic polluters launch US$1.5 billion waste collection and recycling fund

A coalition of the world’s biggest plastic producers and users has set up a new US$1.5 billion fund to improve waste collection and recycling, focused in Southeast Asia. The Alliance to End Plastic Waste is made up of 30 companies including Shell, ExxonMobil, Dow, and Procter & Gamble. The alliance was coordinated by the World Business Council of Sustainable Development, which has set up an office in Singapore to help manage the project. The alliance includes a programme to help design waste management systems in cities where infrastructure is lacking, and create an information hub to support waste management projects globally. The initiative, however, has been criticised by some NGOs for focusing on clean-up, rather than seeking to reduce the use of plastic by adopting alternative packaging. (Eco-Business)


EAT-Lancet Report: Cut meat and sugar intake by half, scientists say

The world’s red meat and sugar intake needs to be cut by half, according to leading academics and scientists who are calling for a drastic change in food production and consumption in order to improve human health and environmental sustainability. “Current dietary trends, combined with projected population growth to about 10 billion by 2050, will exacerbate risks to people and planet,” says the report, which lays out dietary guidelines to address the impact of poor diet on human health and the environment. “Achieving healthy diets from sustainable food systems for everyone will require substantial shifts towards healthy dietary patterns, large reductions in food losses and waste, and major improvements in food production practices,” said the research, commissioned by the medical journal Lancet and non-governmental organisation EAT Forum, and written by 16 leading specialists in fields such as health and environmental sustainability. (Financial Times)*

Corporate Reputation

Hoaxers publish fake version of BlackRock CEO Larry Fink’s annual letter

Larry Fink’s annual letter to Corporate America is widely anticipated. But an email on Wednesday purporting to be from the BlackRock CEO wasn’t the real thing – even though it contained lofty rhetoric and finger-wagging about the risks of climate change, one of Fink’s favourite subjects. It also included a series of purported initiatives including an eyebrow-raising plan to divest from fossil fuel companies. The hoaxers were certainly media-savvy, not to mention thorough: The fake letter was accompanied by a fake website, and followed by a separate, fake statement from one of BlackRock’s top public relations people. A (real) BlackRock spokesman said the company is investigating. In a tweet, BlackRock said “Don’t be fooled by imitations…Larry’s real CEO letter coming soon.” The real letter is expected in the next few days. (Barron’s)

Gender Reporting

Citigroup reveals female employees earn 29 percent less than men do

Citigroup offered an uncharacteristically blunt assessment of the pay gap between men and women in its global workforce on Wednesday, revealing that female employees earn 29 percent less than men. The disclosure – a comparison of median total compensation – offers a more complete picture of pay, compared with the figures Citigroup and other big banks released last year under pressure from shareholders in the US and regulators in the UK. The gap reflects a company that’s mostly male at the highest levels. Women make up more than half of Citigroup’s workforce, but only 37 percent of employees at the assistant VP level through the managing director level. The bank also reported that, among its US employees, people of colour earn 7 percent less than their white colleagues. In 2017, Citigroup saw a drop in black bankers for the eighth consecutive year. (Bloomberg)

Climate Change

‘This is not controversial’: Bipartisan group of economists calls for US carbon tax

Forty-five top economists from across the political spectrum are calling for the United States to put a tax on carbon, calling it by far the best way for the nation to address climate change. “A carbon tax offers the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary,” the economists wrote in letter published Wednesday evening in the Wall Street Journal. They called climate change a “serious problem” that needs “immediate national action.” Nearly every Republican and Democratic chair of the Council of Economic Advisers since the 1970s signed the letter, including Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke and Janet L. Yellen, who are also former chairs of the Federal Reserve. Numerous Nobel laureates in economics also added their names. “Among economists, this is not controversial,” said Greg Mankiw, who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush and signed the letter. “The politics is complicated, the international relations is complicated, but the economics is really simple.” (Washington Post)


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Image source: IMG_1014.jpg by Tom Page on Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.