Top Stories

February 26, 2020

Ethical Tech/Consumers

Facebook offers to pay users for their voice recordings

Tech giant Facebook is offering to pay its users for personal information including recordings of their own voice, in a rare example of internet companies directly compensating people for collecting their data. The recordings, made through its new market research app Viewpoints, will help to train the speech recognition system that powers Facebook’s portal devices, which rival Amazon’s Echo speakers and its Alexa virtual assistant. Makers of smart speakers, including Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google, faced criticism last year when it emerged that they were routinely sending users’ voice recordings to human moderators, without revealing the practice to customers or obtaining their consent. Facebook’s move also opens the door to an idea that politicians and regulators have long mooted: that the data Facebook and other online platforms collect is so valuable to the companies and their advertisers that consumers ought to be paid for it. (Financial Times)*

Climate Change

Accountants must aid fight against climate change, industry bodies urge

The UK’s top accounting bodies have today called on the profession to use its skills to support efforts to accelerate climate action, publishing a declaration urging the world’s accountants to put environmental sustainability at the forefront of their work. The move is coordinated by the Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) Accounting Bodies Network, which collectively represents more than 2.5 million accountants worldwide. The declaration highlights how accountants are key to helping businesses build sustainability into their working practices, commercial relationships, and supply chains. It calls on professionals to flag risks to businesses posed by climate change, such as the impact of flooding or the effect of drought on the price of crops needed in a firm’s supply chain. The declaration also commits the accounting bodies to supporting their members in driving economy-wide climate action, recognising that accountants could play a key role in reshaping policy frameworks and market mechanisms to support the net zero transition. (Business Green)


Film and TV giants vow to phase out red meat, ditch plastic bottles and save energy

Netflix, Warner Bros. and Sky are among the 30 businesses to have signed a new film and TV industry commitment to sustainability, covering issues such as plastics, food waste and energy efficiency. Orchestrated by the Motion Picture Association (MPA), the ‘Joint Declaration for Sustainable Film and Series Production’ pledge binds signatories to removing single-use plastic water bottles from productions and production facilities; donating all surplus food from catering to those in need; re-using props, costumes and furniture, or donating them to non-profits; and switching to energy-efficient LED lighting. The Declaration also urges signatories to reduce the amount of red meat served during production catering and replacing it with other proteins. The Declaration also requests only 100 percent recycled paper is used in production and all wood used to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The Oscars and BAFTA have both taken note of the environmental impact of red meat, opting to serve plant-based menus at their events this year. (edie)

Sustainable Investment

JP Morgan Chase to restrict Arctic oil and coal lending

JP Morgan Chase is set to become the latest global banking giant to restrict lending to the most carbon intensive fossil fuel projects. According to various media reports, the US investment bank will today use its annual ‘Investor Day’ to unveil a number of new climate policies, including restrictions on financing for coal and Arctic drilling projects. The new rules would effectively end all investment in Arctic drilling projects by the bank and impose tough new criteria for financing companies involved in coal mining and coal power. In addition, the company is set to announce a new $200 billion target for investing in green projects that “support climate action” and the UN‘s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The new target builds on a previous 2017 pledge to mobilise $50 billion of green financing. The move comes just days after JP Morgan sent a briefing note to clients highlighting potentially catastrophic risks arising from escalating climate impacts. (Business Green)

Climate Activism/Corporate Governance

VW to appoint ‘aggressive’ climate activist to scrutinise policies

Volkswagen’s chief executive has pledged to employ a young climate campaigner to “aggressively” challenge the company’s environmental policies, as he acknowledged the world’s largest carmaker was moving too slowly in the race to roll out electric vehicles. “I’m looking to hire an activist,” Herbert Diess told the Financial Times. “We have so many ideas, but they take too long to implement in our big organisation, so I need someone really aggressive internally.” In a rare move for a multinational, the appointee will be granted direct access to Mr Diess, and other top VW executives. Diess, who is overseeing the German group’s €33 billion push into battery-powered vehicles, has been increasingly vocal about the need for a CO2 price — a carbon tax that applies to all industries as opposed to individual sectors — and has called on Brussels to crack down on coal-fired energy plants in Europe. (Financial Times)*


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Image Sourceblack and gray corded microphone by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash.