Daily Media Briefing

Daily Media Briefing

 

Posted in: Climate Change, Daily Media Briefing, Diversity, Environment, Health & Nutrition, Technology & Innovation, Uncategorized, Water

Top Stories

March 25, 2020

Health

Coronavirus: Tech giants team up to tackle Covid-19

Tech giant Amazon is teaming up with researchers funded by Bill Gates to pick up and deliver coronavirus test kits. The Gates Foundation-backed Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) is learning how the infection spreads by analysing swabs among residents of Seattle’s King County in Washington, among the areas hardest hit by the virus in the US. Pilot healthcare service Amazon Care will assist by delivering test kits to people’s homes and then picking them up for researchers. If the virus is detected, the participant will then be put in touch with healthcare workers. The partnership could help improve coronavirus testing in the US. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday reported 33,453 cases of coronavirus in the country. That’s an increase of 18,185 cases from its previous count, while the death toll almost doubled to 400. The Gates Foundation along with research charity Wellcome and Mastercard‘s Impact Charity have committed $125 million in funding to develop treatments for the coronavirus. (BBC)

Diversity/Heath

Coronavirus: UK companies given break from reporting gender pay gap due coronavirus

The UK government has suspended the need for companies to report on the gender pay gap in their workforces amid the coronavirus pandemic, with assurance given that this would not derail attempts to pay men and women fairly. Since 2017, the British government has required employers with over 250 employees to submit gender pay gap figures every year in a bid to reduce the 17.9% average difference in pay between men and women. But the Government Equalities Office and the Equality and Human Rights Commission said they would not enforce court orders or fines for this reporting year if businesses do not meet their April 4 deadline, or March 30 for public sector organizations. The move comes as many businesses continue to struggle with the effects of coronavirus, with many being forced to close indefinitely. Businesses welcomed the move and said it would allow them to prioritize responding to the coronavirus pandemic, but companies were urged not to lose focus on gender equality when the crisis comes under control. (Reuters)

Water/Health

Coronavirus: 4.2 billion people without sanitation amid coronavirus

A continuing shortfall in water infrastructure investments from national governments and the private sector has left billions exposed to the Covid-19 pandemic and will make the climate crisis worse in both the short and long-term. These were the findings of the UN’s World Water Development Report, released World Water Day last Sunday. According to the report, 2.2 billion people globally are without access to safely managed drinking water, and a further two billion also without access to any sanitation, at a time when we are all being encouraged to wash our hands frequently to prevent the spread of Covid-19. This poses not only immediate health and social risks to these communities but places them at greater risk of the worst impacts of climate change, the report states. Businesses, meanwhile, are urged to decarbonise in line with 1.5C and invest in natural, technical and technological adaptation and resilience measures across their supply chains. (Edie)

Climate Change

US clears Exxon and Chevron to dismiss shareholder climate reporting requests

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has enabled oil giants Exxon and Chevron to ignore proposals from a group of shareholders on climate reporting requirements. The shareholders had called on Exxon to outline how it intends to reduce its total carbon footprint and align to the Paris Agreement ambition of net-zero ambitions by 2050, but the SEC enabled the company to reject the request. In a separate ruling, the SEC enabled Chevron to avoid responding to questions on how it will set out targets aligned to the global climate accord. Chevron is estimated to spend $4m per year on advertising and communications to suggest that it opposes high-carbon products, climate change and rising GHG emissions – but this is reportedly matched by $28m of lobbying to weaken climate legislation. As for Exxon, the company spent $9bn on technologies to lower emissions since 2000, including carbon capture, biofuels and flare reduction. Since 2008, its net GHG footprint has decreased from 126 million metric tonnes of CO2e to 122 million metric tonnes of CO2e. (Edie)

Innovation/ Environment

Toyota unveils heavy-duty fuel cell truck plans

Car producer Toyota has teamed up with its truck and bus focused subsidiary Hino Motors Ltd to jointly develop zero emission trucks based on heavy duty fuel cells. The fuel cell truck currently under design is based on Hino’s Profia brand and will draw on Toyota’s existing fuel cell car technologies, which feature in its Mirai model. The Japanese giants said the chassis for the new truck has been specially designed, boasting the “optimum packaging for a fuel cell vehicle”, while steps are also being taken to ensure a sufficient load capacity for customers. Cruising range will be set at approximately 370 miles, providing operators with significant range between fuelling stops. Toyota has been a long-standing advocate of fuel cell vehicles. Supporters of battery electric vehicles maintain that rapid improvements in battery performance and range mean that it is possible to develop plug-in HGVs that could ultimately enjoy lower running costs than hydrogen alternatives. (Business Green)

Image source: cardboard robot toy on wooden tree by Daniel Eledout on Unsplash

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