Top Stories

October 20, 2020

Climate Change 

Rich countries are not delivering on $100bn climate finance promise, says Oxfam 

Wealthy nations are giving less money to poorer ones for climate projects than official statistics suggest, according to analysis by Oxfam. Nearly 80% of climate finance to developing countries took the form of loans, rather than grants, with poor nations expected to pay richer countries back, often for investment in projects with weak climate credentials. In 2009, rich countries committed to mobilise $100 billion per year by 2020 to help vulnerable nations cut their emissions and cope with climate impacts. However, in total, rich countries gave just $12.5bn in the form of grants, $22bn in loans with better-than-market rates and around $24bn in loans with standard market rates. Oxfam have called on donor countries to record the ‘grant equivalent’ of their climate finance and terms of loans in annual reports. (Climate Change News) 


NatWest pledges to boost number of black staff in senior roles

UK bank NatWest Group has pledged to boost the number of black staff in senior roles from 1% to 3%, as part of a new racial equality pledge that includes shutting the accounts of customers who racially abuse its workers. It follows a review into the experiences of the bank’s black staff, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. A survey of nearly 22,000 of NatWest’s 63,000 staff found that while 79% felt all employees had the same opportunities at the bank, that dropped to 28% among its black workers in the UK. Some also said they felt NatWest’s recruitment process was skewed by racial bias. The new targets build on NatWest’s wider BAME targets to increase the number of non-white staff in senior roles to 14% by 2025. (The Guardian) 

Digital Ethics 

Sweden bans Huawei, ZTE from upcoming 5G networks

Swedish regulators have banned the use of telecom equipment from China’s Huawei and ZTE in its 5G network. The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority said the setting of the licence conditions followed assessments by the Swedish Armed Forces and security service. European governments have been reviewing the role of Chinese companies in building their networks following pressure from the United States, which says they pose a security threat because, among other concerns, Chinese companies and citizens must by law aid the state in intelligence gathering. Sweden’s security service called China “one of the biggest threats against Sweden”. In July, the UK ordered Huawei equipment to be purged completely from Britain’s 5G network by 2027, becoming one of the first European countries to do so. (Reuters) 


Unilever and UK Government back chemical plastic recycling innovation

A joint project hoping to scale-up chemical recycling for hard-to-recycle plastics waste, involving Unilever and synthetic fuel giant Neste, has received a £3.1m grant from UK Research and Innovation. The recycling process was developed by specialist plastic recycling technology scale-up Recycling Technologies. It involves heating fossil fuel-based plastic and cooling it to produce a solid oil material, called Plaxx, which can be incorporated into new plastic products. It is a potential solution to recycling low-grade soft and flexible plastics, which are difficult to recycle mechanically. The funding will be used to support testing at a new chemical recycling plant. Neste will take the produced Plaxx and use it to manufacture new items, while Unilever will supply materials experts to help Recycling Technologies apply the process to films, sachets and pouches. (Edie) 

Waste/Sustainable Business 

Asda debuts ‘sustainability store’ with refill stations

UK supermarket Asda has opened a trial “sustainability store” in Leeds, for shoppers to refill on packaging-free household staples such as tea, coffee, shampoo, laundry detergent, rice and pasta, as well as an aisle of plastic-free fruit and vegetables. The store features 15 refill stations of loosely-stacked household products in order to help cut down on unnecessary packaging, as well as recycling facilities to help shoppers correctly dispose of hard-to-recycle items such as toothpaste tubes, clothes hangers, makeup containers and crisp packets. A reverse vending machine deposit return scheme for cans, plastic and glass drinks bottles has also been installed at the store. Around 53 fresh produce lines will be sold in loose and unwrapped format at the store and will not cost more than their wrapped equivalents. (Business Green)