Top Stories

January 13, 2021


BlackRock holds $85bn in coal despite pledge to sell fossil fuel shares

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, holds investments worth $85 billion in coal companies, a year after it promised to sell most of its shares in producers of the fossil fuel. A loophole in the asset manager’s policy means it is still allowed to hold shares in companies that earn less than a quarter of their revenues from coal, meaning it has held on to shares or bonds from some of the world’s biggest coalminers and polluters. Those companies included the Indian conglomerate Adani, the UK-listed commodities companies BHP and Glencore, and the German energy company RWE. Campaigners are now calling BlackRock to divest fully from coal, including from its $24bn in assets in companies planning to expand coal production, such as Japan’s Sumitomo and Korea’s Kepco. (The Guardian)


Pinduoduo hit by new allegations over working practices

A social media post by a former software engineer at Pinduoduo, who alleges he was fired after criticising its work practices, has added to concerns over employee welfare at China’s fastest growing ecommerce company. A video by the former employee alleges Pinduoduo staff had to work from 300 to 380 hours a month, equating to a longer work week than the controversial ‘996’ approach that is common across the Chinese technology sector, with workers expected to work from 9am to 9pm, six days a week. Pinduoduo has denied the allegations. This news follows the recent death of a Pinduoduo employee who collapsed late at night on their way home from work, and the death of another employee who committed suicide last week after requesting leave from work. (Financial Times*)


Beefeater removes plastic from new bottle range

Alcoholic beverage brand Beefeater has launched a new 100% recyclable bottle that will be rolled out globally across its range this month. The new bottle replaces a plastic cap for an aluminium variant, while the previous PVC label has been replaced with paper. According to the company, the replacements will deliver annual savings of 410 tonnes of plastic, which is equivalent to 17 million water bottles. The bottle launch aligns with the broader sustainability strategies of parent company, Pernod Ricard. Pernod Ricard has moved a target to end the use of single-use plastic point-of-sale (POS) items forward four years. Beefeater is the latest alcoholic beverage to be housed in new sustainable packaging. Last year, Diageo unveiled a plastic-free, paper-based spirits bottle. (Edie)


Uber expands ‘green trip’ option to over 1,400 cities in North America

Ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc is expanding its electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid ride option to over 1,400 new cities in North America. Riders in some cities, including Washington D.C., Houston, New York City and Winnipeg, can now opt for the ‘green trip’ option, which includes lower-emission rides. The company said drivers can now rent a zero-emission vehicle through rental car service provider Avis, which Uber plans on expanding across the US in 2021. This follows Uber’s target that every vehicle on its global ride-hailing platform will be electric by 2040. Uber also vowed to contribute $800 million through 2025 to help drivers switch to battery-powered vehicles, including discounts for vehicles bought or leased from partner automakers. (Reuters)


UK report reveals 'disgraceful' gender inequality in the arts

Gender inequality across the theatre industry is of rising concern and likely to grow in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic if it is not urgently addressed, warns a report published by the Women in Theatre Forum. The report flags the underrepresentation of women on the Cultural Renewal Taskforce, which is responsible for supporting the culture sector in the pandemic, with no leadership positions occupied by women and only three women on the whole taskforce. The report also highlights how the pandemic has increased gender inequalities, with women more likely to take on greater childcare responsibilities and caring roles than their male counterparts. This follows recent projections by UN Women showing that while the pandemic will impact global poverty generally, women will be disproportionately affected, especially women of reproductive age. (The Guardian; Philanthropy Women)


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