Top Stories

October 28, 2020


Banks lent $2.6tn linked to ecosystem and wildlife destruction in 2019, says report

The world’s largest investment banks provided more than $2.6tn of financing linked to the destruction of ecosystems and wildlife last year, according to a new report by Portfolio Earth, a new initiative led by finance, economics and environmental experts to better understand the role of the finance industry in environmental destruction. Led by Wall Street giants Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase, 50 top investment banks provided financial services to sectors driving mass extinctions and biodiversity loss worth more than the GDP of Canada in 2019. The report argues that financial institutions are unable to monitor and measure the impact of their activities on the environment because of limited policies on protecting ecosystems when providing loans or underwriting services. (The Guardian) 

Climate Change 

South Korea to put new net-zero by 2050 climate target in law, while Australia avoids setting targets

South Korea is to enshrine a new climate target in law to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, bringing its climate commitments in line with the likes of the UK and Japan. The new climate target will be supported by the Green New Deal, which earmarks $61.9bn for sectors including renewable energy generation and distribution, electric vehicle manufacturing and charging, low-carbon hydrogen and recycling. It is hoped that some 320,000 green jobs will be created in the next two years with this support. Meanwhile Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, says he will not be dictated to by other governments’ climate change goals, declaring he is not worried about the future of Australia’s exports despite four of the country’s top trading partners – China, Japan, UK and South Korea – adopting net-zero emissions targets. (Edie; The Sydney Morning Herald) 


Uber sued by drivers over ‘automated robo-firing’

Former Uber drivers have accused the taxi app firm of using automated “robo-firing” algorithms to dismiss them. British drivers want courts in the Netherlands – where Uber’s data is based – to overrule the algorithm that they say caused them to be fired. Experts say the legal challenge is the first of its kind to test the protections of GDPR Article 22. Uber says that drivers’ accounts were only deactivated following manual review by humans. The App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU), which is bringing the legal challenge, says that since 2018, it has seen well over 1,000 individual cases where drivers have allegedly been wrongly accused of fraudulent activity and immediately had their accounts terminated without a right of appeal. (BBC) 

Digital Ethics 

Facebook removes Trump campaign ads claiming it was election day

The Trump campaign sent Facebook advertisements to tens of thousands of voters in swing states, erroneously telling them it was election day after the social media group’s adblockers failed to detect messages that violated its rules on misinformation. Facebook removed the messages, but only after being viewed by about 200,000 voters, mostly in swing states such as Florida, Arizona and Georgia. Democratic strategists raised concern that the messages evidence the Trump campaign trying to dissuade voters in swing states from voting on the correct day. However, they added that the advertisements might also be the by-product of a botched attempt by Facebook to restrict political advertising in the week before the election. Facebook banned all new political advertising for a week before the election and all political advertising for a week afterwards. (Financial Times)* 


Unilever claims it is on track to halve its plastic waste by 2025

Consumer goods giant Unilever claims it is “on track” to halve the amount of virgin plastic it uses across its enormous product portfolio by 2025, a year on from first announcing the target in 2019. Initiatives are helping the firm achieve industry-leading goals to reduce its annual plastic packaging output by 100,000 tonnes over the next five years and accelerate its use of recycled plastic in the next five years. These include the introduction of new packaging formats such as paper-based Carte D’Or ice cream tubs and removal of plastic film from PG Tips boxes and trials to transition to more sustainable business models relying on reusable and refillable products. It revealed that roughly 10% of its plastic footprint is now post-consumer recycled plastic, a “significant increase” from 2019. (Business Green) 


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