Top Stories

February 08, 2019


Democrats float ‘Green New Deal’ to end fossil fuel era

Democrats on Thursday laid out a “Green New Deal” that would eliminate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions within a decade, an effort to make climate change a central issue in the 2020 presidential race. The document, unveiled by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey, marks the first formal attempt by lawmakers to define potential legislation to create government-led investments in clean energy and infrastructure to transition away from fossil fuels. The non-binding resolution outlines several goals, including meeting 100 percent of power demand from zero-emission energy sources like wind and solar within 10 years. The plan also calls for new projects to modernize transportation infrastructure and cut emissions from manufacturing and agricultural sectors. The Green New Deal also aims to create an economic safety net for communities that will be affected by the impacts of climate change and the shift away from fossil fuel use, including thorough guarantees of healthcare, jobs, and jobs training. (Reuters)

Responsible Investment

World’s largest wealth fund to press firms for climate data at AGMs

Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund will push the 9,000 firms it invests in to disclose more data on greenhouse gases they emit and how they adapt to climate change during the coming AGM season. “We want clear targets for CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases, including methane. And we want to see reporting of progress against the targets. We would like to see it more disaggregated, meaning not for the whole company, but more broken down, for instance regional or even on an asset level,” said Carine Smith Ihenacho, the fund’s chief corporate governance officer. As part of its green push, the fund has been developing an in-house software, called Angle, which can take non-financial data such as emissions and combine it with trading and earnings data, and see how it will affect a company years ahead. That tool has informed divestments in some 30 companies in 2018, helping show that these companies did not have a sustainable business model over the long-term. (Reuters)


Facebook to link employee bonuses to progress on social issues

Facebook has said it will link its employee bonuses to criteria such as “making progress on the major social issues” the social network faces, marking a move away from its historic focus on growth. Previously, Facebook judged employees on how their performance contributed to growing the company’s user base and revenues, and making savings through efficiency, among other factors. Instead, employees will now be rewarded based on new goals that chief executive Mark Zuckerberg set out in the group’s earnings call last week. These include tackling social issues faced by the company, such as the spread of fake news and misinformation, as well as data privacy and security. It is unclear how exactly the company will monitor and measure employees against these criteria, and what precise metrics they will use. The news marks the first effort by Facebook to shake up the way it incentivises its workers. It also comes amid reports of sinking employee morale and as the pace of Facebook’s annual revenue growth has slowed in the past two years. (Financial Times)*

Modern Day Slavery

Danone and Nestlé-owned company could join Brazil’s slavery ‘dirty list’ – officials

Global food companies Danone and Dairy Partners Americas Brasil (DPA), partly owned by Nestlé, are in danger of being added to Brazil’s “dirty list” of companies that have engaged in slave labor, government officials said on Wednesday. The list is considered one of the country’s best tools to fight slave labor and organizations on it are barred from accessing credit from state banks or other public financial support. Danone and DPA are accused of being complicit with a businessman who kept 28 people in debt bondage, because their affiliated distributors sold him their products in bulk without monitoring working conditions at his operation. While Danone and DPA were not directly involved, inspectors want to hold them accountable for not monitoring their distribution chain. Both companies denied wrongdoing. DPA said that upon finding out about the case, on October 2018, it ceased its relationship with the distributor involved. It also said that it is in the final stages of hiring an external auditor to verify the conditions in which their micro-distributors operate. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)


English language medical journals fail to comply with international ethical standards – study

A world-first study has called for the mass retraction of more than 400 scientific papers on organ transplantation, amid fears the organs were obtained unethically from Chinese prisoners. The Australian-led study exposes a mass failure of English language medical journals to comply with international ethical standards in place to ensure consent from organ donors. Author of the study and professor of clinical ethics, Wendy Rogers and her team obtained all research papers reporting on Chinese transplant recipients published in medical journals between January 2000 and April 2017. Of the 445 studied identified, 99% of them failed to report whether organ donors had given consent for transplantation. The 19 studies which claimed no organs from executed prisoners were used took place prior to 2010, when there was no volunteer donor program in China. While China vowed to stop using organs from executed prisoners in 2015, no new law or regulation has been passed banning the practice. Humanitarian groups including Amnesty International have voiced concerns that the practice is continuing. (Guardian)

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Image source: Emission by onnola  on Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.