Top Stories

October 26, 2020

Sustainable Investment 

Oil and gas lobby moves to embrace green investors

The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), an oil and gas lobby group which has previously sparred with green activists over climate policy, is embracing an environmental, social and governance (ESG) message to win back investors. It has launched The ESG Centre’, which will advise companies on “how to build an authentic and effective programme” in the ESG agenda that is sweeping the fund management industry. The action contrasts with the IPAA’s agenda in Washington, where it has endorsed the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks and backed the repeal of federal regulations on leaks of methane from oil and gas wells, a move opposed by oil majors including BP and ExxonMobil. While the IPAA argues the move is critical to stakeholder and investor confidence, environmental critics have argued the step lacks authenticity. (Financial Times)* 


Brazil prosecutors accuse BHP and Vale of colluding to reduce disaster victims pay-outs

Brazilian federal prosecutors have accused mining giants BHP and Vale of colluding with a lawyer to reduce compensation for victims of a fatal dam collapse and interfere with a landmark lawsuit against BHP in the UK. A mining waste dam burst in 2015 at BHP and Vale’s Samarco joint venture, releasing a torrent of sludge that killed 19 people. The collapse is considered the country’s worst-ever environmental disaster, contaminating a river for hundreds of miles to the ocean. Prosecutors have criticized a judge who accepted compensation limits to all victims in Baixo Guandu. The decision would end liabilities for BHP, Vale and Samarco for victims who accept the compensation, the prosecutors said. Victims who received payouts under the decision would have no chance to claim further compensation outside the country. (Thomson Reuters Foundation) 

Campaigns & Activism 

Businesses across UK pledge to provide free school meals over holidays

Amid growing criticism over the UK government’s decision not to extend free school meals for disadvantaged children in England across school holidays, scores of businesses have pledged to provide support. The campaign to end child food poverty has been spearheaded by professional footballer Marcus Rashford and has since received a groundswell of support from cafes, businesses, charities and community groups to feed children following last week’s parliamentary decision. Using his Twitter platform, Rashford has shared messages from local businesses, pledging support of the campaign. These pledges have been turned into an interactive Google map, for families to find local participating businesses and secure food. Since the coronavirus outbreak, the number of disadvantaged children eligible for free school meals in England is estimated to have grown to 2 million. (The Guardian; BBC) 

Climate Change 

WSP to halve carbon footprint of engineering designs and advice by 2030

Engineering consultancy WSP has pledged to halve the carbon footprint of all its designs and client advice by 2030, in a move praised as setting a new bar for the consultancy sector. The target for 50% CO2 cut from its services represents an “absolute reduction” and supports the company’s goal to achieve netzero carbon emissions across its operations by 2025, in line with limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5°C. The carbon footprint associated with client work is where professional services firms have the “largest impact and opportunity” to tackle the climate crisis. WSP aims to halve the carbon footprint of the materials specified in its designs, in addition to halving the in-use carbon emissions generated from projects where it is the lead designer for key emissions sources. (Business Green) 

Climate Change 

Exports of used cars are a pollution problem, UN warns

Millions of highly polluting used cars from rich countries are being “dumped” on developing nations, according to a new UN report. Between 2015 and 2018, some 14 million older, poor quality vehicles were exported from Europe, Japan and the US. Four out of five were sold to poorer countries, with more than half going to Africa. Experts say that up to 80% failed to meet minimum safety and environmental standards in exporting countries. As well as causing accidents, these cars make air pollution worse, contributing heavily to climate change. Car ownership is booming all globally with an estimated 1.4bn vehicles on the roads, a number that’s expected to reach around two billion by 2040 with much of that growth happening in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. (BBC)