Top Stories

January 23, 2020

Climate Change/Strategy

AstraZeneca promises to get to net zero 10 years ahead of schedule

British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has said it will invest $1 billion in a bid to reach zero carbon emissions across its global operations by 2025 and ensure its entire value chain is carbon negative by 2030. The new goals were set out in the firm’s ‘Ambition Zero Carbon’ strategy, which brings forward its plans for decarbonisation in line with a 1.5C pathway – first announced in 2015 – by more than a decade. The move will see AstraZeneca accelerate its plans to cut carbon, promising to double energy productivity, use 100 percent renewable energy and reduce total energy consumption by 10 percent from a 2015 base, all by 2025. AstraZeneca said it will achieve zero emissions within its own operations without relying on offset schemes to reach zero emissions on aggregate. The investment will support projects from the development of a new model of respiratory inhalers that don’t rely on greenhouse gasses to reforestation initiatives. (Business Green)


Wealth gap widening for more than 70 percent of global population, researchers find

Inequality has reached unprecedented levels, with more than 70 percent of the global population living in countries where the wealth gap is growing, according to a new UN report. Social and economic disparities have soared even in countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, where inequality had been falling in recent decades, found the World Social Report. The report said that while international inequality has declined in relative terms, the absolute gap between the average incomes of people living in high- and low-income countries has doubled since 1990. The report estimates that the gap between the richest and poorest 10 percent of the global population is 25 percent larger than it would be in a world without global warming. The UN said better use of technology, tackling the climate crisis and improved management of migration and urbanisation could help reduce the inequalities, a target of the UN global goals. (The Guardian)

Policy & Innovation

Defra launches natural capital tool to help businesses make greener decisions

Businesses, policy makers, and landowners will be able to access data, analysis and guidance on the UK’s natural capital in one place, following the launch of a new tool by UK environment department Defra. The ‘Enabling a Natural Capital Approach’ (ENCA) project hopes that putting information and guidance on natural capital in one place, organisations will be encouraged to embed nature-friendly decision-making into their operations. Equally, by placing an economic value on natural services, it is hoped that businesses and policy makers will be discouraged from damaging them in pursuit of economic growth. The UK’s natural capital is worth almost £1 trillion, according to latest assessment from the Office for National Statistics. But the new service arrives at a crisis point for UK nature, with an influential report last year warning wildlife is in unrelenting decline across the UK due to habitat destruction, climate change and pesticide use. Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said the new tool will help counteract the destruction by putting the natural environment “at the heart” of decision-making. (Business Green)

Corporate Reputation

Daimler warns of €1.5 billion diesel scandal profit hit

German car manufacturer Daimler has warned that 2019 profits would be hit by up to €1.5 billion in litigation costs related to the diesel emissions scandal, the latest blow to the struggling carmaker’s efforts to fund its electric shift. The group said it expected a 50 per cent drop to €5.6 billion in earnings before tax and interest, excluding legal expenses, the biggest slide since the height of the global financial crisis. The downbeat results will add to pressure on Berlin to safeguard jobs in Germany’s struggling car industry. Last year more than 50,000 lay-offs were announced by the country’s manufacturers and suppliers, while a state-sanctioned report has said a further 400,000 roles are at risk if carmakers fail to maintain their competitive advantage. This comes as Daimler has been facing a succession of legal claims related to the alleged manipulation of diesel emissions levels in the US, Canada and Germany. (Financial Times*)


Knowledge gap leaving ten million UK households wasting energy

Almost 10 million UK households have done nothing to curb their energy usage in recent years, despite widespread focus on the urgent need to tackle energy waste and easy opportunities to save hundreds of pounds on bills, according to a study by Citizen Advice and Energy Saving Trust. A major reason for the failure to take action was a significant lack of understanding about the importance of energy efficiency and the difference small changes can make, the research concluded. British homes are responsible for around a quarter of the country’s emissions and decarbonising them is one of the biggest challenges facing policymakers as they work towards the UK’s 2050 net zero goal. The research outlines four simple changes that have the potential to save every UK household £100 year, while cutting cumulative emissions equivalent to taking three million cars off the road. Recommended measures include turning the thermostat down by 1 degree, changing all lightbulbs to LEDs and turning appliances off rather than keeping them on standby. (Business Green)


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Image source: green plants with white background by Michael Benz on Unsplash