Top Stories

December 10, 2020

Climate Change 

Emissions hit new record, putting world on track for 3C warming

Greenhouse gas emissions reached a new high last year, putting the world on track for an average temperature rise of 3 degrees Celsius, according to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The report notes that despite government commitments around the world to limit warming, emissions have grown by an average 1.4 percent per year since 2010, with a steeper increase of 2.6 percent last year due, partly due to a large increase in forest fires. This year, there has been a temporary emissions dip as economies slowed due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, that translates to a 7 percent reduction in emissions and only a 0.01C reduction in global warming by 2050. The UNEP called for countries to back commitments with strong near-term policies and action. (Reuters) 

Sustainable Investment 

BlackRock vows to back more shareholder votes on climate change

BlackRock has vowed to back more shareholder resolutions on climate and social issues at annual meetings, as the world’s largest asset manager faces growing pressure to use its clout to change companies’ behaviour. The $7.8 trillion investment giant has faced years of criticism after overwhelmingly backing management rather than voting for shareholder proposals on issues such as climate change. However, BlackRock has acknowledged that supporting investor resolutions will play an “increasingly important role in our stewardship efforts around sustainability”. The pledge comes almost a year after BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink said that sustainability would be at the heart of the group’s investment strategy. The asset manager has not set any targets for the number of resolutions that it will support. (Financial Times*) 


Women running ethical businesses worse hit by COVID than men

Women who run ethical businesses were harder hit by the pandemic than their male counterparts, a United Nations-backed survey has found, raising fears of another sector where women bear the economic brunt of COVID-19. The survey found that about 7 percent of companies had shut temporarily in the pandemic and 1 percent closed down. In comparison, about 10 percent of female social entrepreneurs had been forced to close temporarily, with 3 percent ceasing operations altogether. The report said women-led companies were more likely to report that they had no government support and saw a 30 percent reduction in business activities. Yet female social entrepreneurs were more likely to adapt and create new products or services. (Thomson Reuters) 

Sustainable Investment 

China to improve green finance standards to support carbon neutrality goal

The Governor of People’s Bank of China (PBOC), Yi Gang, has announced that China will improve its green finance standards to support carbon neutrality objectives and make it easier for foreign investors to enter the green finance market. This follows from President Xi Jinping promise in September that China would bring climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions to a peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, committing the country to an accelerated transition to renewable energy. Yi called on financial technology, including big data and artificial intelligence and block chains, to play an increasing role in supporting green finance. He added that China would strengthen its study on the potential impact of environmental and climate risks on financial stability. (Reuters) 

Inclusive Business 

Unilever pledges to protect staff with afros and dreadlocks

An anti-discrimination campaign focused on black people’s hair has won the backing of one of the UK’s biggest employers, Unilever, which has pledged to protect workers with afros and dreadlocks. Unilever has signed a new code intended to end bias against students and employees with hairstyles associated with their racial, ethnic, and cultural identities. This follows from a survey by the founders of the Halo Code which reported one in five black women feel societal pressure to straighten their hair for work and more than half of black students have experienced name calling or uncomfortable questions about their hair at school. The Halo Code is an example of activists asking employers and academic institutions to take steps themselves. (The Guardian) 

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