Top Stories

December 07, 2020

Sustainable Investment 

EU plan to label climate-harmful investments faces finance industry pushback

A European Union plan to label polluting activities as “unsustainable” is facing resistance from some leading finance firms amid concerns it could prevent investment getting to companies trying to clean up their act. The EU’s sustainable finance taxonomy aims to steer money to companies and projects that will help the EU meet its climate goals. This additional plan would create a list of polluting activities such as coal mining and force providers of financial products to flag them as “unsustainable” investments. Several opponents of the plan said the EU should focus on promoting investment in climate-friendly activities, rather than penalising polluters. Some were also concerned that labelling activities as unsustainable would cut off funding to companies that need cash to retool their business models. (Reuters) 

Digital Ethics 

Brussels looks to impose two-tier Big Tech regulation

The European Union is considering two-tier legislation to impose greater responsibility on Big Tech over the removal of illegal content and the fight against counterfeit products, in the first overhaul of the bloc’s internet rules in two decades. According to an executive summary from the upcoming Digital Services Act, Brussels’ preferred option is to adopt “asymmetric measures”, where large tech companies are subject to greater scrutiny and penalties than their smaller rivals. The move comes as companies such as Facebook and Google are accused of using their clout to undermine European rivals and confirms tech giants’ worst fears that the new EU rules will hit them particularly hard. (Financial Times*) 


Food and consumer goods firms struggle to make progress on diversity

Employers in the food and consumer goods industry have seen the Covid-19 crisis as a catalyst to take action to improve diversity and inclusion, a report by consumer goods charity IGD has claimed, but many are struggling to make progress on ethnicity in particular. According to a survey of 30 companies and interviews with senior HR leaders at major retailers, food service providers and manufacturers, only half have put a D&I strategy in place, although more than 80 percent are talking about the issue at senior level. Half found making progress on ethnicity was their biggest issue, largely due to inaccurate data and the lack of relatable role models in the sector. Some 60% said a lack of diverse role models within their organisation was a significant challenge. (Personnel Today) 

Sustainable Investment 

Japan may create up to $19 billion fund to promote green investment

Japan’s government is considering creating a multi-billion dollar fund to promote investment in projects that benefit the environment. The fund, thought to be in the range of $9 billion to $19 billion, will be part of the government’s third stimulus package to be compiled this week, which will also consist of measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and spending for disaster-proof infrastructure. It is one of several funds the government is considering creating, with targets including technical development in battery storage and carbon emission reduction. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged to make green investment a pillar of his policy agenda as Japan aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. (Reuters) 


COVID deepens south and north of England inequalities, study finds 

Covid-19 has deepened inequalities between the north and south of England, with little sign of the government’s “levelling up” agenda becoming a reality, thinktank IPPR North has warned. The north is experiencing levels of unemployment not seen since 1994, with areas put under the strictest tier 3 restrictions among the worst affected. The report noted that the government’s “one size fits all” approach to compensating affected areas takes no account of the fact the UK entered the global pandemic with deep, growing divides between and within England’s regions caused by decades of centralisation and 10 years of austerity. The director of IPPR North, Sarah Longlands, called for a “clear programme of regional devolution in England” in order to create the “conditions for a good life for everyone in the north”. (The Guardian) 

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