Top Stories

January 05, 2021


Over 200 US Google employees form a workers’ union 

Over 200 Google and Alphabet Inc employees in the United States and Canada have formed a workers’ union, the first group at a big tech company to do so. The group is forging a unique path to organising – it will not be seeking ratification through the US labour regulator the National Labor Relations Board, as is typical. Instead it will form a “minority union”, meaning it will not necessarily have legally protected rights to action like collective bargaining but will be able to include a wider range of workers, including third-party contractors and support staff. Backers believe the “Alphabet Workers Union,” which evolved from an informal group of activist employees, will better shield members from firings or other forms of retaliation. (The Guardian) 


Tesco removes one billion pieces of plastic packaging 

Britain’s largest supermarket Tesco claims to have met its pledge to remove one billion pieces of plastic by the end of 2020 through working with suppliers to remove unnecessary and excessive packaging. In August 2019, 1,500 Tesco suppliers were informed that packaging would form a key part of future procurement decisions, with partners warned that products reliant on excessive packaging or hard-to-recycle materials would be at risk of being axed from Tesco supermarkets. Tesco calculated banning plastic-wrapped multipacks saved 67 million pieces of plastic, and the supermarket expects its nationwide partnership with online shopping service Loop to increase its share of groceries delivered in reusable packaging. Paula Chin, sustainable materials specialist at conservation charity WWF, commended Tesco for its progress in tackling plastic waste and urged other firms to follow. (Business Green) 


South Korea to cut railway CO2 emissions by replacing diesel trains by 2029 

South Korea aims to cut some 30% of carbon emissions from railway travel by replacing all diesel passenger locomotives with a new bullet train by 2029, President Moon Jae-in said on Monday. The train, built by Hyundai Rotem Co, only produces around 70% of the emissions produced by diesel-powered trains. South Korea is one of the world’s most fossil-fuel reliant economies but envisages a greener’ recovery from coronavirus. The move aims to cut 70,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in hopes to advance to a carbon neutral society. Moon has declared South Korea’s aim to be carbon neutral by 2050 through a “New Green Deal” investing in more environmentally friendly energy and transport.  (Thomson Reuters Foundation) 


CDL secures $740 million green loan for property portfolio 

Real estate company City Developments Limited (CDL) has confirmed a new green revolving credit facility totalling $740 million that will be used to refinance its Republic Plaza property in Singapore’s Central Business District and future low-carbon projects. The company issued its first green bond in 2017, which raised $100 million towards retrofitting the Plaza with energy efficient lighting. The five-year RCF will commence in January 2021 and has been approved and provided by lenders including: the Agricultural Bank of China, Credit Industriel et Commercial, DBS, HSBC, MUFG, Malayan Banking and SMBC. CDL joins other companies turning to green RCFs to assist with large-scale sustainability initiatives, such as Tesco’s £2.5 billion RCF which tied rates and interest to progress against the company’s environmental targets. (Edie) 


Trump administration opens more Arctic land to oil leasing 

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration announced on Monday that it has made final its plan to open up vast areas of once-protected Arctic Alaska territory to oil development. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management released its plan for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, a 23 million-acre swath of land on the western North Slope. The record, signed by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, allows lease sales to proceed under relaxed standards. The decision is one of a number of pro-drilling actions taken by the Trump administration in its final days. The plan allows oil development on about 80% of the reserve. Under Obama-era rules, about half of the reserve was available for leasing, with the other half protected for environmental and indigenous reasons. (Reuters) 


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