Top Stories

August 21, 2020

Diversity & Inclusion

Lego launches braille version of its plastic bricks

Lego is launching a new version of its plastic bricks featuring braille in seven countries. The new bricks are the same shape as the regular ones, but the studs on top have been rearranged. “The bricks are moulded so that the studs on top reflect individual letters and numbers in the braille alphabet while remaining fully compatible with the Lego system,” a statement from the Danish toymaker said. The bricks also feature a printed version of the symbol or letter. Lego said it wanted to encourage blind and visually impaired children to explore new ways of learning to read and write. In 2019, Lego allocated 25 percent of its earnings to the Lego Foundation, which helps disadvantaged children. The new bricks will be sold first in Brazil, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and the US, before being extended to another 13 countries in early 2021. (The Guardian)

Sustainable Investment

Green-energy shares rise along with Joe Biden’s polling

Investors betting that Joe Biden will win the presidential election are buying up clean-energy stocks, sending the share prices of some companies to all-time highs. The WilderHill Clean Energy Index, a compilation of green-power companies listed on U.S. exchanges, surged to an over nine-year high on Wednesday. It has climbed 33 percent since the beginning of July. Its biggest companies include First Solar and Tesla. “A Biden victory would add huge impetus to the transition” to a lower-carbon economy, said Simon Webber, a Schroders portfolio manager for global equities. “The growth outlook for electric vehicles, renewables, hydrogen power, battery storage and many more industries would be turbocharged.” The iShares Global Clean Energy ETF, which tracks S&P Global’s index of clean energy companies around the world, has risen by nearly 30 percent in the same time frame. The fund’s assets under management swelled to $1.2 billion from $431 million at the start of the year. (The Wall Street Journal)


GM says over 40% of new China launches in next five years will be EVs

General Motors is planning an electric car offensive in China with more than 40 percent of its new launches in the country over the next five years set to be electric vehicles (EVs), the U.S. carmaker has said. GM’s electric vehicles, many of which will be all-electric battery cars, will be manufactured in China with almost all parts coming from local suppliers, the company said in a statement released at its Tech Day event in Shanghai. Reuters reported earlier this week that GM was planning to overhaul its Chinese line-up to stem a slide of sales after more than two decades of growth in a country that contributes nearly a fifth of its profit. GM’s new China boss Julian Blissett told Reuters that new technologies, such as EVs and cars with near hands-free driving for highways, would play a key role in GM’s China initiatives, which are part of a push to get annual sales in the country back to the 4 million peak it hit in 2017. (Reuters)

Sustainable Fashion

Fashion’s reliance on dirty coal exposed

The fashion industry is not doing nearly enough to shift away from coal and other fossil fuels in the supply chain, which is responsible for most of the industry’s carbon footprint, according to a report by environmental advocacy group The report, titled Fashion Forward: A Roadmap to Fossil Free Fashion, argues that brands’ pledges in the G7 Fashion Pact and UNFCCC Fashion Charter to reduce emissions would still leave the industry short of what climate scientists say is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. That’s the level beyond which scientists predict the environmental impacts will be catastrophic for human health and the economy. Getting fossil fuels and coal out of fashion’s supply chain should be not only a top priority, but an urgent one, says Gary Cook, the non-profit’s global climate campaigns director. “It’s a moral responsibility but it’s also a critical business decision.” The findings are a blow for an industry that has been trying to improve its environmental image. (Vogue Business)


RWE eyes renewables deals as part of $8.4 billion expansion

Germany’s largest power producer RWE plans to spend part of its 7 billion euro war chest on growing its 24.7 gigawatt (GW) pipeline of renewables projects, its CFO said, just weeks after BP announced a major low-carbon push. Unfazed by the COVID-19 crisis, Markus Krebber said that the environment for renewables had improved in the course of the year, adding RWE would be able to realise more of its current pipeline of projects than previously thought. He said the company, Europe’s third-largest renewables player, would expand that offering through smaller deals, below the 2.7 GW it recently bought from wind turbine maker Nordex for 402.5 million euros. The share sale proceeds come on top of a separate 5 billion euro spending plan by the end of 2022, intended to grow RWE’s installed renewable capacity to beyond 13 GW from around 9 GW now. The company wants to expand in North America and Europe, where Krebber aims to add more solar and offshore wind projects to further bolster its renewables position, which was boosted by a major asset swap with peer E.ON. (Reuters)


Image source: More Lego by Xavi Cabrera on Unsplash.