Top Stories

August 14, 2020


Wind and solar produce record 10% of world’s electricity, but scientists warn faster change is needed 

Use of coal is falling and renewables are surging around the world, but the progress is not enough to meet the targets set under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, according to a report by independent climate think tank Ember. The report examined data from 48 countries which make up 83 percent of global electricity production. Over the first half of 2020, wind turbines and solar panels together produced a record 10 percent of the world’s electricity – a rise of 14 percent compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile power output from coal plants fell by 8.3 percent, and overall electricity demand fell 3 percent due to coronavirus lockdowns. Despite the drop, coal plants still produced 33 percent of the world’s electricity during the period. But far more dramatic cuts to the use of fossil fuels are required if we are to avoid planetary catastrophe due to the climate emergency, the scientists said. (Independent) 


BHP to steer mining lobby groups’ climate change policies 

BHP Group has said it will closely monitor the work of industry associations to ensure they match its climate position on keeping the world’s warming to well less thanbelow 2 degrees Celsius. The world’s largest listed miner has faced increasing pressure from investors worried that some mineral lobby groups, particularly in Australia, are promoting coal use in contravention of the goals of the Paris climate pact and have urged BHP to stop funding them. BHP said it would instead work with industry associations to outline its priorities and approach for advocacy around climate goals. BHP, which quit the World Coal Association in 2018, said it will publish annually a list of material association memberships and disclose in real time if one any of the associations breaches its global climate policy standards. The Minerals Council of Australia said it welcomed BHP’s findings and would will work with BHP and state associations to progress the key issues raised. (Reuters) 

Climate Change 

Flora owner to introduce carbon labelling across its products 

Flora spread owner Upfield has become the latest company to embrace carbon labelling, announcing that it intends to print environmental information on the packaging of much of its range of plant-based spreads, creams, and margarines. The on-pack labels are designed to help consumers understand the impact their food choices have on the climate and will be rolled out over the coming months to its biggest brands, Flora, Becel, ProActiv, and Rama, the company said. Environmental labelling has gained traction in recent years across multiple industries as companies look to appeal to growing consumer appetite for sustainable goods, with advocates ranging from dairy-free milk firm Oatly to consumer goods behemoth Unilever and electronics giant Logitech. Upfield, which specialises in plant-based products, stressed today that its products are significantly more sustainable than dairy-based alternatives. Sally Smith, head of sustainability at the company, said the firm was committed to ongoing assessments of its environmental impact. “Living within environmental limits for a growing global population requires a shift from growers, manufacturers and consumers,” she said. (Business Green) 


China’s billion-dollar pig plan met with loathing by Argentinians 

A government-sponsored plan to turbocharge Argentina’s hog industry with Chinese capital is generating unprecedented resistance among its supposed beneficiaries – the Argentinian general public. The plan to turn Argentina into one of China’s main pork suppliers is being sold to the public by authorities as a $3.5 billion investment that will generate $2.5 billion in annual pork exports and provide 9,500 new jobs. China hopes that South American pork can make up for its bruising losses after the recent spread of African swine fever (ASF) through its own hog herd, killing millions of animals. But nearly 400,000 people have signed petitions opposing the move. “We never had such a huge response before,” said environmental lawyer Enrique Viale, one of the group who banded together last month to challenge the government’s initiative. His petition currently has 200,000 signatures; another on has almost 120,000 additional signatures, and three separate petitions on the same platform have clocked up another 55,000 between them. (The Guardian) 

Diversity & Inclusion  

Cartier faces scepticism over China ring ads featuring same-sex couples 

A new Chinese commercial for a Cartier ring has drawn scepticism for portraying people who viewers believe were meant to be gay couples as family or friends. The 60-second clip shows several groups of people, including a man and a woman being obviously romantic, as well as two men cycling together, and two women. The commercial has no dialogue or text until the end, when it says: “How far would you go for love?” According to local media, Cartier also posted static adverts on its Tmall store page. Under an image of two women it said: “Mutual understanding beyond words. Witness our everlasting friendship.” A photograph of the two men said they were father and son. When it was pointed out the men were very close in age, different text was posted that said: “Father and son are like brothers.” Yanzi Peng, the director of the China Rainbow media awards, told CNN businesses should be “more courageous”, but also suggested the ad may have been made to contribute to LGBTQ+ visibility while getting past the censors. (The Guardian)