Top Stories

January 12, 2021


Britain tightening laws on imports linked to Chinese human rights abuses

Britain is to tighten the law on importing goods linked to alleged human rights abuses in China. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is to make a statement in the Commons on the UK Government’s response to forced labour in Xinjiang, the northwest Chinese region that is home to around 12 million Uighur Muslims. The Government is expected to unveil a raft of measures, including expanding the Modern Slavery Act, in response to concerns that items manufactured under duress by the Uighur Muslim minority may be entering the UK. Heavier fines for firms that breach the legislation terms are understood to be under consideration, along with new due diligence criteria that oblige firms to ensure no one in their supply chain has been part of a forced labour transfer scheme. (Reuters)


Corporate America pulls political donations after Capitol assault

Many of the biggest corporate donors on Wall Street and across the US are reviewing their political spending after last week’s assault on the Capitol building, threatening to pull millions of dollars from lawmakers whose opposition to the presidential election result contributed to the unrest. Financial services firms such as JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and technology groups Facebook and Microsoft are among those suspending all donations from their political action committees. Others, such as AT&T, the largest public company donor to those lawmakers, tech giant Amazon, chemical company Dow, and financial services firm American Express have cut off funding to the Republicans who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s election victory. The moves reflect a rethink of political spending across corporate America. (Financial Times*)


Unilever and Alibaba launch 'world first' AI-powered closed-loop recycling system

Two of the globe's biggest consumer goods firms, Unilever and Alibaba, have partnered on the Waste Free World initiative to create recycling machines that use artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically identify and sort plastic packaging. Consumers can scan QR codes on plastic bottles before placing them into the newly designed machines. AI technology then identifies the type of plastic and sorts it accordingly, freeing it up to be fast-tracked for reuse at recycling centres, rather than degraded. Twenty machines are currently operational in offices and community spaces in Shanghai and Hangzhou, with a further 500 set to be installed throughout 2021, to help collect over 500 tonnes of plastic. The project aims to drive changes in consumer behaviour through incentives of Unilever coupons and e-wallet service AliPay rewards. (Business Green)


Boris Johnson promises £3 billion of climate finance for nature by 2026

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to allocate at least £3 billion of the international climate finance that the UK will spend through to 2026 on nature-based solutions. The figure represents over 25% of the UK’s existing commitments within the five-year timeframe, which total £11.6 billion. Finance will be provided through bodies including BEIS, Defra and UK Export Finance. Funding from the commitment will go towards the conservation and regeneration of marine habitats, forests and mangroves. Mangroves can sequester more carbon per square foot than traditional forests and could absorb 380 million tonnes of CO2e by 2040 if scaled up. So far, like all nations, the UK has failed to meet the Aichi biodiversity targets for 2011-2020 as part of its commitment to the global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. (Edie)


OnePlanetCapital launches specialist green economy investment fund

Venture capital firm OnePlanetCapital has launched a specialist sustainability investment vehicle fund to invest in businesses tackling climate change. The new sustainably-driven investment house said the enterprise investment scheme fund targets investments that will have a positive environmental impact, aiming to deliver market rate returns and support the emerging green economy. The OnePlanetCapital fund aims to focus on three interrelated areas – climate change, the environment and consumer sustainability with each area underpinned by an ESG framework looking at environmental impact, social purpose and corporate governance in its investee companies. The launch came as the Prince of Wales launched a new 10-point green recovery charter, the Terra Carta, urging businesses worldwide to accelerate efforts to combat the escalating environmental and climate crises over the coming decade. (Business Green)


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