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December 01, 2020

Climate Change 

Temperature analysis shows UN goals ‘within reach’

New analysis the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) group suggests the goals of the UN Paris climate agreement are getting “within reach”. The research looked at new climate promises from China and other nations, along with the carbon plans of US President-elect Joe Biden. These commitments would mean the rise in world temperatures could be held to 2.1C by the end of this century. Previous estimates indicated up to 3C of heating, with disastrous impacts. Despite the potential improvement, CAT have called out that near-term plans to cut carbon by 2030 are still not sufficient. Countries that have signed up to the Paris agreement are expected to lodge new carbon-cutting plans for 2030 by the end of this year. However, there are several countries who are still reluctant to set goals, and many poorer nations are still looking to invest in coal. (BBC) 

Human Rights 

Nike and Coca-Cola lobby against Xinjiang forced labour bill 

Nike and Coca-Cola are among the major companies and business groups lobbying the US Congress to weaken a bill that would ban imported goods made with forced labour in China’s Xinjiang region. The bill, which would prohibit broad categories of certain goods made by persecuted Muslim minorities in an effort to crack down on human rights abuses, has gained bipartisan support. Congressional aides say it has the backing to pass the Senate and could be signed into law by either the Trump administration or the incoming Biden administration. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would require companies sending goods to the United States to scrutinize the opaque Chinese supply chains, or perhaps abandon Chinese suppliers altogether. (NY Times) 


Mckinsey proposed paying pharmacy companies rebates for OxyContin overdoses

Last month, it was reported that Purdue Pharma agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges involving the controversial pain relief medication OxyContin. It has now been revealed that Purdue’s advisor McKinsey & Company played a role in driving sales of the addictive painkiller even as public outrage grew over widespread overdoses. A press officer for McKinsey has said the firm had been “cooperating fully with the opioid-related investigations” and had announced in 2019 that it “would not advise any clients worldwide on opioid-specific business”. The documents released reveal detail to McKinsey’s work with Purdue going back to 2008, the year after the drugmaker pleaded guilty to misleading regulators. (NY Times) 


Amazon deforestation surges to 12-year high under Bolsonaro 

A vast expanse of Amazon rainforest seven times larger than Greater London was destroyed over the last year as deforestation surged to a 12-year high under Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro. Figures released by the Brazilian space institute, Inpe, showed at least 11,088 sq km of rainforest was razed between August 2019 and July this year – the highest figure since 2008. The Observatório do Clima group said soaring destruction came as no surprise to those “following the dismantling of environmental policy that has been underway in Brazil since January 2019”. But despite a growing “green” government propaganda campaign, environmentalists and foreign investors are sceptical about its efforts to protect the world’s biggest rainforest. (The Guardian) 


Blue chips team up to launch climate tech accelerator

Microsoft, FedEx, Shell, Wells Fargo, and BP Ventures are among the top corporates to have teamed up to launch an accelerator programme geared at scaling and commercialising technology start-ups working to address the climate crisis. Fifty start-ups spanning the energy, transportation, buildings, industry, agriculture, and food sectors have been selected from more than 600 applicants to join the programme’s first cohort, the two organisations behind the initiative, the Rocky Mountain Institute and New Energy Nexus, announced. The hope is that the programme, dubbed Third Derivative (D3), will reduce the barriers to market entry often faced by climate-focused start-ups, which often require significant capital investment and have to navigate complicated market, regulatory, and policy conditions that can favour incumbents. (Business Green)