Top Stories

January 10, 2020

Climate Change/Corporate Reputation

BlackRock joins pressure group taking on biggest polluters

BlackRock, the world’s largest investor, has joined an influential pressure group calling for the biggest polluters to reduce their emissions, after criticisms that it was undermining action addressing the climate crisis. The US investment firm has signed up to Climate Action 100+, a group of investors managing assets worth more than $35 trillion, that pressures fossil fuel producers and other companies responsible for two-thirds of annual global industrial emissions to show how they will reduce carbon dioxide pollution. BlackRock, which manages assets worth $6.9 trillion including major oil producers such as BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil, has faced a mounting backlash for actions that activists said were preventing oil companies from being held to account. BlackRock has directly voted against multiple shareholder resolutions brought by Climate Action 100+. This included a resolution put to shareholders of BP that forced the British oil supermajor to describe how its strategy is consistent with the Paris climate accord. (The Guardian)

Supply Chain/Sustainable Development

BMW becomes first carmaker to join responsible mining initiative

BMW has become the first automaker to join the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA), in a sign of the mounting pressure on the car industry to ensure electric vehicle production does not come at the cost of people or the planet. Materials such as cobalt and lithium are essential for producing electric cars but are often produced in dangerous or illegal mines in conflict-riven countries. As manufacturers pivot their business models to focus on electric vehicles, boosting transparency and improving the ethics of these supply chains is fast becoming a top priority. IRMA is a certification program for industrial-scale mine sites working to help firms throughout the mining supply chain, from jeweller to electronics companies and energy firms and others, ensure the minerals they purchase are mined responsibly. BMW said the move to join the organisation – which also boasts the likes of Tiffany & Co, Anglo American and Microsoft as members – would help it ensure environmental and social standards are met throughout its supply chain. (Business Green)

Ethics in tech

Dixons Carphone fined £500,000 for massive data breach

Electrical and telecommunications retailer Dixons Carphone has been hit with the maximum possible fine after the tills in its shops were compromised by a cyber-attack that affected at least 14 million people. The retailer discovered the massive data breach last summer and a subsequent investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found the attacker had installed malicious software on 5,390 tills in branches of its Currys PC World and Dixons Travel chains. The rogue software went undetected over a nine-month period between July 2017 and April 2018 and collected a huge amount of data, leaving customers vulnerable to both financial theft and identity fraud. The attacker harvested the payment card details of 5.6 million people as well as the personal information – including full names, postcodes, email addresses and details of failed credit checks – of approximately 14 million, the data watchdog said in a statement announcing the £500,000 fine. Last year the ICO fined Carphone Warehouse, part of the same group, £400,000 for similar security vulnerabilities. (The Guardian)

Sustainable Food/Climate Change

Quorn to be first major brand to introduce carbon labelling

UK meat substitute brand Quorn is to become the first major company to introduce carbon labelling on its products. The new labels, aimed at helping consumers understand the environmental impact of their shopping, will start appearing on some products from June and on the entire Quorn range by next year. From Thursday, the “farm to shop” carbon footprint data, certified by the Carbon Trust, will be available online for Quorn’s 30 best-selling products. Quorn claims to be the first meat-free food manufacturer to achieve third-party certification of its carbon footprint figures which is being integrated into its own food labelling. It says that in 2018 its products enabled savings of 200,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent compared with meat. The greenhouse gas impact of mycoprotein – the fungi-based protein used in Quorn products – is 90 percent lower than beef. The most comprehensive analysis to date revealed that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way in which consumers can reduce their environmental impact. (The Guardian)

Climate Change

Millions donated to Australian bushfires but charities warn long-term assistance needed

Many of Australia’s biggest companies and celebrities are donating tens of millions of dollars to aid with volunteer firefighters, emergency services personnel and fire victims. Corporate philanthropists Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has announced that he will offer up $70 million through his Minderoo Foundation. The National Australia Bank is putting $5 million towards the recovery effort, while Coles is donating $4 million and BHP $2 million. However, charities on the front line of the bushfire recovery effort are pleading with corporate Australia not to exhaust big cash donations too soon. The Red Cross welcomed the outpouring of donations but acting chief executive Noel Clement said that ongoing funding is needed. Disaster recovery experts believe the process of rebuilding communities affected by this season’s bushfires could take more than three years. Mr Clement feared after this initial surge of financial support, the flow of money will turn into a trickle, especially as the bushfires fail to make the headlines. (ABC News)


Image Source: Untitled by Thomas Millot on Unsplash.