Top Stories

July 21, 2020

Reporting/ Corporate Reputation

Morgan Stanley pledges to measure CO2 impact of loans and investments

Morgan Stanley has become the first major US bank to commit to measuring and disclosing the climate impact of its loans and investments. The bank achieved the feat by becoming the latest financial firm to join the Global Carbon Accounting Partnership (PCAF), a coalition of 66 formal members representing more than $5.3tr in assets working to push the finance industry toward contributing to the goals of the Paris climate accord. Morgan Stanley also will be on the partnership’s steering committee and help PCAF develop a global accounting standard that can be used by financial institutions to measure and cut their impact on the climate. PCAF said the measurement of the emissions associated with loans and investments – the financial sector’s Scope 3 emissions – would provide crucial data to help banks and financial firms to assess climate risk, manage impact, meet the disclosure demands of stakeholders and customers, and assess progress towards climate goals. (Bloomberg)

Food security

New report identifies 27 countries heading for Covid-19-driven food crises

New analysis by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) has identified 27 countries that are on the frontline of impending COVID-19-driven food crises. The research found that the pandemic’s knock-on effects aggravate pre-existing drivers of hunger in a number of countries. ‘Hot-spot countries’ were identified across all world regions and include Afghanistan, Venezuela, Sudan, Syria and Mozambique among various others. These countries are at high risk of—and in some cases are already seeing—significant food security deteriorations in the coming months, including rising numbers of people pushed into acute hunger. The countries were already grappling with high levels of food insecurity and acute hunger even before COVID-19, due to pre-existing shocks and stressors such as economic crises, instability and insecurity, climate extremes and plant pests and animal diseases. In a bid to counter these trends, FAO today released a revised appeal for $428.5 million under the UN system’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19. (Eco-Business)

Employees/ Gig Economy

Uber in final UK court appeal that its drivers are not employees

Ride hailing firm Uber will this week make a last-ditch attempt to overturn a UK court ruling that its drivers are workers rather than independent contractors in one of the most significant British employment cases for years. The company begins today an appeal at the UK Supreme Court where it will argue that it is not an employer but instead is an intermediary that uses technology to connect self-employed drivers and customers. It is hoping to overturn the decisions of three lower courts, which all ruled in favour of the 35 Uber drivers led by James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam who are involved in the case. They claim they are workers for Uber and the company, which has about 60,000 drivers in the UK, controls much of their work, allocating them customers and dictating prices. As workers, they argue they should be entitled to the minimum wage as well as holiday and sick pay. The hearing will shine a light on the gig economy of insecure contract work. (FT)*

Sustainable Investment

UK Government unveils £400 million green aviation funding as it touts ‘FlyZero’ R&D initiative

The UK government has unveiled £400 million in private and public sector funding for technologies and research aimed at helping the aviation sector to “go green”. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) today announced that projects aiming to develop high-performance engines, new wing designs and ultra-lightweight cabin seats that reduce fuel consumption are among the winners of a £200 million funding round led by its Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) programme. Gary Elliott, chief executive of the ATI, insisted the FlyZero iniative announced today could help establish the UK as a global leader in aviation technology as the industry seeks to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, which has seen passenger numbers slump to unprecedented levels and thousands of job cuts announced in the sector. “We need to help UK companies to recover while also creating new approaches to technology development and innovation”, he said. (BusinessGreen)


Vertical Future inks £4.5 million licensing deal for ‘fully automated’ vertical farming technology

Vertical farming start-up Vertical Future has signed a £4.5 million licensing deal enabling its “fully automated” vertical farming system to be rolled out across various locations over the next ten years, it announced yesterday. The London-based firm claims its technology offers a 172 per cent increase in output per meter squared compared to traditional growing methods by relying on a number of patent-pending innovations that combine automation with more efficient use of space. The system, which contains hardware and software elements, is fully powered by clean energy and avoids the carbon emissions, food miles, and food waste incurred by traditional farming methods. An advanced data-driven software-as-a-service platform called DIANA automatically monitors and adjusts plants’ growing conditions to optimise crop productivity. The ten-year agreement would see UK-based developer Groundworks supply Vertical Future with a number of services, including construction support, project management, and operations. (BusinessGreen)

Image source: Person holding black smartphone by Austin Distel on Unsplash

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