Top Stories

July 16, 2020


Apple has €13bn Irish tax bill overturned

Tech giant Apple will not have to pay Ireland €13bn (£11.6bn) in back taxes after winning an appeal at the European Union’s second-highest court. The decision overturned a 2016 ruling which found the tech giant had been given illegal tax breaks by Dublin. The EU’s General Court said it had annulled that decision because there was not enough evidence to show Apple broke EU competition rules. It is a blow for the European Commission, which brought the case, however it has 14 days to appeal against the decision at the EU’s supreme court, the European Court of Justice. Jason Collins, partner and head of tax at law firm Pinsent Masons, said: “Apple’s victory shows that European courts are unwilling to call beneficial tax regimes state aid, even when designed to attract foreign investment – provided they apply the rules consistently. This will be a very welcome outcome for other multinationals who have been watching this case closely.” However, he said Brussels was likely to appeal and EU efforts to tackle tax avoidance would continue. (BBC)


Scientists concerned by ‘record high’ global methane emissions

Worldwide emissions of methane have hit the “highest levels on record”, according to an international team of scientists. The finding comes from the latest update to the Global Methane Budget, an international collaboration that estimates sources and sinks of methane around the world. By the end of 2019, the concentration of methane in the atmosphere reached around 1875 parts per billion (ppb), the researchers say – more than two-and-a-half times pre-industrial levels. China, South Asia and Oceania were some of the regions that saw the largest increase in methane emissions, jumping to 15 million tonnes between the 2000-06 average and 2017. There is an approximate 60-40 split between human-caused and natural sources of methane emissions, the paper says, but “anthropogenic sources are estimated to contribute almost all of the additional methane emitted to the atmosphere for 2017”. The paper adds: “agriculture and waste contributed 60 per cent of this increase and fossil fuels the remaining 40 per cent, with a slight decrease estimated for biomass and biofuel burning.” (Eco-Business)


Indonesia approves coal road project through highly biodiverse forest

Conservationists and indigenous communities have warned that a new road to transport coal could devastate the ecosystem of a highly biodiverse Indonesian forest, create more habitat fragmentation and facilitate further encroachment for logging, hunting and agriculture. Coal miner PT Marga Bara Jaya (MBJ) plans to build the 88-kilometer road (55-mile), a third of it through the forest, to truck coal from its mine to power plants in South Sumatra province. The Harapan forest represents 20 per cent of Sumatra’s remaining lowland tropical rainforest and is home to some 1,350 species, including 133 globally threatened species such as the Sumatran tiger and elephant. It’s also home to Indigenous groups, such as the Batik Sembilan community. For decades, the expansion of oil palm plantations and incursion of illegal loggers have diminished the size of the forest, but the road project is thought now to be the biggest threat to this patch of biodiverse forest in central Sumatra. (Eco-Business)


Invest in nature-led Covid-19 recovery to reap $10trn economic opportunity, says WEF

Governments and businesses could collectively realise a $10trn (£7.9trn) economic opportunity by including environmental requirements into their Covid-19 recovery strategies according to new analysis by the World Economic Forum (WEF), as part of its Nature Action Agenda. The report provides advice for finance ministers and corporates looking to create ‘green’ Covid-19 recovery packages, noting that, despite strong verbal support for a low-carbon ‘new normal’, far less discussion time and finance has been allocated to nature-based solutions than to clean energy and energy efficiency. Finance ministers should instruct their teams to map the potential nature impact of their incentives as well as their potential to create jobs, the report urges. The report also urges finance ministers to remove subsidies from high-emitting sectors which would not survive without them; increase incentives for nature-based innovation and financial support for existing solutions. The WEF’s latest recommendations have been welcomed by a handful of ministers and by the UN, as well as by some businesses including Unilever, who recently launched a €1bn Climate & Nature Fund. (Edie)


Coca-Cola eyes European plastic bottle recycling plant with CuRe investment

Coca-Cola Europe has announced backing for recycling start-up CuRe Technology, with a view to establishing an innovative pilot factory to turn waste plastic bottles back into high quality packaging for food and drink via a single, on-site process. Announced today via Coca-Cola European Partners’ (CCEP) innovation investment fund, CCEP Ventures, the undisclosed investment sum is aimed at supporting the development and commercialisation of CuRe’s technology, with an ambition to build a pilot plastic bottle recycling plant in Western Europe. Netherlands-based consortium CuRe Technology aims to initially apply its end-to-end “partial depolymerisation” recycling process to opaque and difficult to recycled food grade PET plastic, and claims its system is less energy and carbon intensive than other PET recycling processes. Once the technology is commercialised, CCEP said it would receive the majority of the recycled, food grade plastic from the pilot plant to support the soft drinks brand’s target to completely eliminate virgin oil-based PET plastic from its bottles within the next decade. (BusinessGreen)

Image source: Apple logo in front of a building by Medhat Dawoud on Unsplash