Top Stories

January 15, 2021


Health and tech groups aim to create digital Covid ‘vaccination passport’

Health and technology groups are collaborating to create a digital vaccination passport in the expectation that governments, airlines and businesses will require proof people have been vaccinated against Covid-19. The Vaccination Credential Initiative, a coalition of organisations including technology companies Microsoft, Oracle and the US healthcare non-profit Mayo Clinic, aims to establish standards to verify whether a person has received a vaccine and prevent people falsely claiming to be protected against the disease. Each country can set its own rules such as, which vaccines it will accept.  The coalition builds on work done by one of its members, The Commons Project, to develop an internationally accepted digital certificate to prove travellers have tested negative for Covid-19. (Financial Times*)


Concern grows over WhatsApp's privacy disclaimer

Facebook-owned messenger app WhatsApp did not clearly communicate to users changes to its privacy policy, potentially making it difficult for people to decide whether to drop the service, Italy's data protection authority said on Thursday. WhatsApp has said it reserved the right to share some data, including location and phone numbers, with Facebook and its units, social media platforms Instagram and Messenger. The move has sparked protests among users in Italy, and prompted a growth in rival services such as Signal or Telegram. Elsewhere, the changes to WhatsApp's privacy policy have come under scrutiny, with Turkey's competition board launching an investigation and a legal challenge filed in India. (BBC; Thomson Reuters Foundation News)


Chevron and Shell-Exxon invest in carbon capture and storage

Energy multinational Chevron Corporation has made an investment in Blue Planet Systems, a start-up company that uses its proprietary carbon capture process to repurpose flue gas from refineries and other industrial operations into building materials. The amount invested was not disclosed but it follows Chevron’s 2018 pledged to commit $100 million to its the Future Energy Fund to fund new technologies like these. In similar news, a consortium that includes oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil has requested a total of $2.55 billion in subsidies for a project to store CO2 gasses in empty Dutch gas fields in the North Sea. The Dutch government has said it will grant a total of €5 billion in subsidies in 2021 for technologies that will help it achieve its climate goals. (S&P Global; Offshore Engineer)


PepsiCo sets net-zero by 2040 goal

PepsiCo has become the latest global brand to sign up to an ambitious net-zero emissions target, pledging to fully decarbonise its business by 2040 and announcing it has strengthened its near-term emissions targets. The drinks giant has more than doubled its science-based climate goal, and is now targeting an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain by more than 40% by 2030. Specifically, PepsiCo is planning to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 75% against a 2015 baseline by 2030, while also cutting its Scope 3 emissions by 40% by the same date. To meet its targets, PepsiCo will roll out of a low-emission fertiliser made from potato waste at its Walkers and Lays factories, and develop renewables-powered manufacturing, warehousing, transportation and distribution sites. (Business Green)


Toyota settles US probe into delayed emissions defect reports for $180 million

Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp has settled a Justice Department civil probe into its delayed filing of emissions-related defect reports for $180 million, which resolves the company’s longstanding violations of the Clean Air Act. Toyota first disclosed in 2016 it was under investigation for the delayed reports to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Justice Department has now confirmed by the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan that the government had filed a civil lawsuit against the automotive manufacturer. It simultaneously announced the settlement, which includes a consent decree that requires semi-annual compliance reports. Toyota will record $180 million in after-tax charges against earnings in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021, for costs relating to the agreement. The fine is the largest civil penalty for violation of EPA’s emission-reporting requirements. (Reuters)

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