Top Stories

September 13, 2019


Nestlé sets net-zero climate goal for 2050

Nestlé has today unveiled wide-sweeping plans to enhance carbon sequestration, procure 100 percent renewable electricity and launch more food and drink products that have improved environmental footprints, as part of an overall goal to reach net-zero emissions across its supply chain by 2050. Over the next two years, the company will lay out a time-bound plan including interim targets consistent with the 1.5°C path of the Paris Agreement. Nestlé will strengthen its farmer relations to introduce programmes that restore land and limit greenhouse gas emissions in its dairy supply chain, by replanting trees and enhancing biodiversity. The company will also aim to use 100 percent renewable electricity in its own operations and increase engagement with suppliers to do the same. As part of its commitments to reducing packaging, Nestlé has joined Project STOP, which aims to prevent plastic pollution in waterways in South-East Asia. (edie)


Chief executives of 145 companies urge US Senate to pass gun control laws

Leaders of 145 companies have signed a letter to the US Senate, urging it to take action on gun safety. The letter notes recent gun violence in Chicago and Virginia amongst other places, calling it a “public health crisis”. The letter urges the Senate to “stand with the American public” by passing a bill to require background checks on all gun sales and a strong ‘Red Flag law’ that would allow family members or law enforcement to petition a court to prevent someone temporarily from obtaining firearms. The signers of the letter include the CEOs of well-known companies Uber, Levi Strauss, Gap, Lyft and Beyond Meat. Edward Stack, CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, also signed the letter. The retailer stopped selling guns in 125 stores this year and stopped selling assault-style weapons after the Parkland, Florida, shooting in 2018. However, according to a report in the New York Times, executives at both Google and Facebook debated whether to join the group — and ultimately declined. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly “decided that activism on this issue would only intensify the spotlight” on his company, and Google executives felt similarly. Fellow Silicon Valley companies Apple, Amazon and Microsoft were also absent from the letter.(CNBC; New York Times)


US House passes two bills to ban new offshore drilling

The US House of Representatives has passed two bills banning new offshore oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and Florida and was set to vote on a third banning drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The bills were not expected to gain traction in the Senate but send a signal in the Democratic-led House of Representatives to Republicans who have supported rollbacks of environmental regulations on oil and gas. Oil and gas interests opposed the bills, saying that bans only increase US dependency on foreign oil. President Donald Trump has called for the opening of oil and gas production and reversed or weakened regulations on methane emissions from oil and gas operations and carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. Democratic lawmakers hope to gain momentum on climate issues as hopefuls in the 2020 presidential campaign tout their climate change plans, seeking to reverse some of Trump’s energy policies. (Reuters)

Sustainable Investment

AllianceBernstein sends staff to climate school

US fund manager AllianceBernstein is sending its investment staff back to school. The $580bn fund house has developed a training course with New York’s Columbia University on the financial risks of climate change, which the firm’s analysts and portfolio managers will be required to attend. A pilot group of 35 employees attended sessions at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to learn how to factor climate risks, such as rising sea levels, wildfires and extreme weather, into their investment decisions. Since the 2015 Paris agreement on how nations could work together to combat climate change, the number of institutional investors committed to cutting fossil fuel stocks from their portfolio recently passed 1,100. Wellington Management and CalPERS, the $360 billion California state employees’ pension fund, said this week they have been working with the Woods Hole Research Center since 2018 to quantitatively assess climate risks. They have recently launched a new framework designed to help companies and their executive teams assess and disclose the potential effects of the physical risks of climate change on their business. (Financial Times*; Business Wire)


Plastic alternatives may worsen marine pollution, MPs warn

Compostable and biodegradable plastics could add to marine pollution because there is no infrastructure in place to make sure they break down correctly, a committee of MPs has warned, stating the UK should reduce use of plastics rather than replace it with other materials. The use of alternatives to plastic are being adopted by many food and drink companies, takeaway coffee venues, cafes and retailers. But evidence given to MPs on the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee (Efra) said the infrastructure required to deal with the new packaging was not in place and there was a lack of consumer understanding about these alternatives. Green Alliance, a coalition of NGOs, said there was evidence that the term biodegradable made consumers think it was fine to discard it into the environment, which would make pollution on land and at sea even worse. The committee recommend that the government should conduct a review of reusable and refillable packaging systems to determine what works and where government intervention might be appropriate. (Business Green*; Resource)


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Image source: nestle chocolate by inma · lesielle on Unsplash.