Top Stories

November 23, 2020

Sustainable Investment 

Investors step up pressure on companies over use of antibiotics

A dozen institutional investors, including Amundi and Aviva Investors, with $7 trillion under management are joining forces to pressure food producers, restaurants, retailers and pharmaceutical companies to cut antibiotic usage and tackle the growing dangers of drug resistance to hundreds of thousands of patients. The initiative, Investor Action on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), commits investors to scrutinise food and medicine companies’ use of antibiotics before investing and to engage with businesses in which they already hold stakes to reduce misuse of the drugs. Their action comes at a time of increasing concern over the rising number of patients dying because of resistance to antibiotics. This threat has intensified during coronavirus, which has boosted antibiotics mis-prescribed or used for complications linked to the pandemic. (Financial Times*) 


Germany agrees ‘historic’ mandatory boardroom quota for women

Germany’s coalition government will introduce a mandatory quota for the number of women working as senior management in the country’s listed companies, in a move hailed as a “historic” step towards sexual equality in German boardrooms. The deal agreed means management boards with more than three members must include at least one woman, reversing a voluntary system that critics argue has failed to achieve the required shift towards gender equality. The move comes after recent research found the representation of women in senior management in German companies was lagging behind peers in rival major economies. (The Guardian) 


New rule clears Indonesia’s protected forests for agribusiness  

Indonesia’s environment ministry has issued a new regulation aimed at boosting domestic crop supplies, but critics say it prioritises the interests of agribusiness at the expense of small farmers and the environment. The government’s food estate programme calls for establishing millions of hectares of new farmland, mostly for rice and other staple crops. To ensure there’s sufficient land for the programme, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry issued a regulation permitting protected forest areas to be cleared for that purpose on a “large scale”. However, this regulation has drawn immediate criticism from environmental groups, who warn it strips away what few protections still apply to Indonesia’s last remaining swaths of biodiverse rainforest. (Eco-business) 

Climate Change 

Vodafone brings forward net-zero commitment to 2040

Telecoms giant Vodafone has announced its commitment to cut total global carbon emissions to net-zero by 2040, instead of the original 2050 goal. By 2030, Vodafone will eliminate all carbon emissions from its own activities and from energy it purchases and uses, extending to the rest of its operations by 2040. Vodafone also pledged that by 2030 it will halve carbon emissions from Scope 3 sources, including joint ventures, all supply chain purchases, the use of products it has sold and business travel. It has stated that these reductions are approved by the Science Based Targets initiative as in line with reductions required to keep warming to 1.5°C, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement. (Proactive Investor; Vodafone) 


Kellogg’s and Britvic attack plan to ban junk food ads online

Some of the UK’s biggest food companies have attacked a plan that could see all online junk food advertising banned to tackle childhood obesity, as reported early this month. In a letter to the prime minister, bosses of firms including Britvic, Kellogg’s and Mars said they supported government efforts to tackle obesity. But they said the plans were “disproportionate” and lacked evidence. The letter, which has been signed by 800 food and drink manufacturers and 3,000 UK brands, says food companies have not been given enough time to submit detailed objections. The proposal, still under consultation, could usher in some of the toughest digital marketing restrictions in the world by the end of 2022. (BBC)