Top Stories

December 16, 2020

Sustainable Investment 

Europe’s banks have a way to go on sustainability, according to new study

Europe’s banks are not integrating climate change and other sustainability concerns into their risk management systems as quickly as regulators expect, a study by BlackRock for the European Union showed. In an interim report, BlackRock said it had analysed feedback from the region’s lenders and found most were only just starting to reflect environmental, social and governance (ESG) related risks in their internal processes. It also found that only a minority of regulators provide guidance to banks on ESG risks or reflect it in their oversight processes, such as through climate-related stress tests. A final report, which will be used by Brussels to help develop new regulations, is due by April next year. (Reuters) 

Sustainable Transport 

European truckmakers to phase out diesel sales decade earlier than planned

Europe’s largest truckmakers have pledged to stop selling vehicles that produce emissions by 2040, a decade earlier than originally planned. An alliance of Daimler, Scania, Man, Volvo, Daf, Iveco and Ford have signed a pledge to phase out traditional combustion engines and focus on hydrogen, battery technology and clean fuels. The truckmakers, under the umbrella of EU carmaker association ACEA, are working with the German funded Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research to consider the best technologies and approaches. The pledge comes as European regulators and governments seek to phase out emissions from road transport. The EU plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 per cent by the end of the decade. The group is also calling for a higher carbon tax in the EU, to disincentivise investments into fossil fuel technology. (Financial Times)* 


Exxon sets new emissions goals following investor criticism

Exxon Mobil has said it will reduce upstream emissions intensity – those caused by pumping oil and gas from the ground – by as much as 20% by 2025 as well as cutting flaring and methane leaks. Exxon described its new plan as consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement, which calls for countries to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. Its new targets aim to reduce emissions per barrel of oil and disclose, for the first time, data on pollution related to customers’ use of its fuels. Like Chevron., Exxon’s climate goals are linked to reducing emissions intensity, meaning less pollution per barrel of oil produced, as opposed to cutting absolute emissions. That leaves the company wiggle room to increase its overall contribution to climate change in the future if crude output grows. (Bloomberg) 

Digital Ethics 

Tech companies face multibillion-pound UK fines over harmful content 

The UK will target the world’s biggest tech companies with multibillion-pound fines if they fail to rapidly remove illegal and harmful content from their platforms. The UK’s “online harms” proposals, the result of more than 18 months in consultation, come as Silicon Valley faces hostility in Brussels, where tough new EU legislation is set to be introduced this week. Antitrust authorities in the US and EU are also taking aim at Facebook, Amazon and Google. Ofcom, the UK’s independent media regulator, will enforce penalties for tech companies of up to £18m, or 10 per cent of annual global turnover, whichever is higher. The proposed fine is larger than the 4 per cent previously suggested by the government. For Facebook, 10 per cent of last year’s revenues would amount to $7bn.  (Financial Times)* 


‘Unconscious bias training’ to be scrapped by UK ministers

“Unconscious bias training” is being scrapped for civil servants in England, with ministers saying it does not work. The training, intended to tackle patterns of discrimination and prejudice, is used in many workplaces. The government says there is no evidence it changes attitudes – and is urging other public sector employers to end this type of training. The Government Equalities Office says there has been “no evidence” that the training improved workplace equality. Among the researchers cited is psychologist Patrick Forscher, who examined more than 400 studies on unconscious bias. The value of such training was defended by Jane Farrell, chief executive of the EW Group, a diversity and inclusion consultancy. (Reuters) 


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