Top Stories

September 22, 2020

Technology & Innovation

Airbus unveils futuristic designs for zero-emission hydrogen planes

Airbus has offered a glimpse of a potential zero emissions future for flight, revealing concept designs for three hydrogen-powered aircraft which it claims could enter service within just 15 years. All three concepts rely on hydrogen as a primary power source in some form, with the aerospace giant touting the fuel – which is also seen by many as a crucial means of decarbonising heavy shipping and road transport – as a climate-friendly solution for transforming the aviation sector. The largest ‘turbofan’ model designed can carry up to 200 passengers with a range of 2,000 nautical miles. Global aviation emissions currently account for 3.5 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions, but the sector’s share of global emissions is expected to double by 2050 if the industry continues to grow at its projected rate, making slashing aviation emissions a major challenge in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. (Business Green)


General Electric will stop building coal-fired power plants

In a dramatic reversal, one of the world’s biggest makers of coal-fired power plants, General Electric (GE), is to exit the market and focus on greener alternatives. GE has said in the past it would focus less on fossil fuels, reflecting the growing acceptance of cleaner energy sources in US power grids. But just five years ago, it struck its biggest ever deal – paying almost £10bn for a business that produced coal-fuelled turbines. GE said it would continue to service existing coal power plants but warned jobs could be lost as a result of its decision. In a statement, the firm suggested the decision had been motivated by economics. The firm is already cutting up to 13,000 job cuts at GE Aviation, which makes jet engines, due to the pandemic. (BBC)

Human Rights

Big businesses face mandatory digital modern slavery reporting

The UK Government has made the first major changes to the Modern Slavery Act since its introduction in 2015, extending requirements to public bodies including local authorities and tightening rules for big businesses. Under the changes, businesses with an annual budget of £36m or more, regardless of sector, will be required to publish their Modern Slavery Act statements on a new digital reporting platform. Until now, they had been able to simply place statements on their websites. This resulted in statements sometimes being hard to find and to compare. Public bodies with a budget of £36m or more will also be required to publish statements, in what the UK Government is describing as a world first. Businesses and public sector organisations which do not comply with the new requirements will be subjected to civil penalties, to be confirmed in the coming months. (Edie)


Walmart aims to become a regenerative company

Walmart Inc. has announced a goal to become a regenerative company, targeting zero emissions across the company’s global operations by 2040. To achieve its goal, Walmart plans to harvest enough wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to power its facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2035; electrify and zero out emissions from all its vehicles, including long-haul trucks, by 2040; and transition to low-impact refrigerants for cooling and electrified equipment for heating in its stores, clubs and data and distribution centres by 2040. Additionally, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed to help protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030. Walmart currently powers about 29% of its operations with renewable energy and diverts approximately 80% of its waste from landfills and incineration globally. (Food Business News)


Global banks seek to contain damage over $2 trillion of suspicious transfers

Global banks faced a fresh scandal about dirty money as they sought to limit the fallout from a cache of leaked documents showing they transferred more than $2 trillion in suspect funds over nearly two decades. The report was based on 2,100 leaked suspicious activity reports (SARs), covering transactions between 1999 and 2017, filed by banks and other financial firms with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Banks are required to file an SAR whenever handling funds that cause grounds for suspicion of criminal activity. While some banks said many of the transactions happened a long time ago, and they had since put robust checks in place, the reports revealed broader problems with the monitoring system at the heart of global policing of money laundering and other criminal activity. The reports drew calls from some industry groups and activists for reforms. (Reuters)