Top Stories

November 10, 2020

Climate change 

UK to make climate risk reports mandatory for large companies

Large companies and financial institutions in the UK will have to publicly report on their exposure to climate risks within five years under the terms of a tougher regime announced by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak. The Treasury said the new disclosure rules and regulations would cover a significant portion of the economy and that its requirements will go beyond the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). In effect, this announcement makes compliance with TCFD mandatory by 2025. This is in contrast to the previously reported results of a recent survey that found 52 percent of the UK’s biggest businesses have done either little or no work so far to prevent climate-related risks. (The Guardian) 


COVID-19 vaccine: wealthy countries must not hoard supplies

Activists are calling for Big Pharma to prioritise the health of billions over profits in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. This follows news that Pfizer and BioNTech have trialled a potential vaccine that is effective in 90 percent of people. Pfizer-BioNTech has already agreed deals for more than one billion potential doses of its vaccine for the US, UK, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and the EU. Given production projections this leaves only a small fraction of potential doses for other countries. In May, the World Health Organisation set up the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, a scheme for pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily share technology, data and property rights related to COVID-19 vaccines. So far, no company has signed up and Pfizer’s CEO described it as ‘nonsense’ when it launched. (Amnesty) 


McDonald’s to introduce plant-based burgers and fast food

Fast food giant McDonald‘s has announced it will introduce a line of plant-based meat alternatives called “McPlant” in 2021. The move towards meat substitutes has been driven primarily by concerns over meat’s effects on health, the environment and animal welfare. Barclays Bank forecasts that consumption of meat alternatives might be worth $140 billion by 2029. McDonald’s has tested out a plant-based burger in Canada with Beyond Meat – a producer of plant-based meat. However, McDonald’s is relatively late to enter the meat-free market. Other fast-food outlets including Burger King, White Castle and Dunkin’ Brands Group have already introduced plant-based burgers. (BBC) 


Australia state unveils $23 billion energy roadmap in renewables push

Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) state has announced it would shift toward renewable energy from coal and aimed to lure A$32 billion of private investment into the sector in the next decade. As part of this it will cut red tape and speed up approvals for businesses to invest in renewable energy projects, with four of its five coal-fired power plants expected to close in the next 15 years. The plans would create close to 10,000 jobs and aimed to bring 12 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar power and 2 GW of storage, such as pumped hydro, online by 2030. Most Australian states support greater use of renewable energy but the federal government has refused to match other developed countries in setting a target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. (Reuters) 

Human Rights 

EU bank supports projects linked to human rights violations, NGOs claim

The EU-funded European Investment Bank (EIB) has been using taxpayer cash to support infrastructure projects linked to alleged human rights violations, an investigation by campaign groups Counter Balance and the CEE Bankwatch Network has shown. The investigation pointed to the EIB’s involvement in controversial projects, including the EIB’s financial backing in Georgia of the Nenskra dam, which on top of biodiversity and natural disaster threats linked to the dam, the report claims that EIB failed to apply its own standards to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. However, the EIB has claimed that the report contained “several inaccurate and misleading statements” and that its lending mandates and investments have been “consistently assessed” by independent evaluators. (The Guardian)