Top Stories

January 21, 2021


Biden returns US to Paris climate accord hours after becoming president

Joe Biden has moved to reinstate the US to the Paris climate agreement just hours after being sworn in as president, as his administration rolls out a cavalcade of executive orders aimed at tackling the climate crisis. Re-entry to the Paris agreement means that the US will have to set a new emissions target that, along with President Biden's commitment to reaching net zero emissions by 2050, will become the guiding standard for the US economy and society. Biden is also set to block the Keystone XL pipeline, a contested project that would bring oil from Canada to the US to be refined, and halt oil and gas drilling at two national monuments and the Arctic national wildlife refuge wilderness. (BBC; The Guardian)


Unilever sets supply chain living wage aim and €2bn diversity commitment

Unilever has unveiled new commitments aimed at building a more equitable and inclusive society by vowing to ensure the people across its value chain earn at least a living wage by 2030 and spending €2 billion annually with suppliers consisting of under-represented groups by 2025. Unilever will spend this with SME suppliers that are owned and managed by women, under-represented racial and ethnic groups, people with disabilities and those identifying as LGBTQI+. A new Supplier Development Programme will give these businesses access to new skills, financing and networking opportunity. Unilever’s new living wage commitments aim to ensure that any person involved in an organisation that supplies goods and services to the company earns at least a living wage or income by 2030. (Edie)


Asian garment makers fashion united front to pressure Western brands

Manufacturers from the six nations that make most of the world's clothes have forged a common front to negotiate better pay and delivery terms with Western fashion brands, whose cancelled orders devastated Asian garment workers early in the pandemic. The group represents nine associations in six nations: the world's largest garment producers – China, Bangladesh and Vietnam – as well as Pakistan, Myanmar and Cambodia. Collectively, they represent 60% of the world’s clothing exports and employ around 60 million workers. Their aim is to bolster the textile sector, devastated by a pandemic that has worsened widespread job insecurity and low pay. Western fashion companies cancelled billions of dollars’ worth of orders at the start of the pandemic, leading to garment workers’ wage losses of up to US$6 billion. (Malaysia Now; Thompson Reuters Foundation)


Microsoft teams up with UK start-up to curb climate impact of aircraft contrails

Technology behemoth Microsoft has partnered with UK technology and engineering start-up Satavia to study the impact of aircraft contrails on the climate in a move that aims to lead to smarter flight planning and ultimately reduce the warming impact of the aviation industry. Aviation is estimated to account for 2-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but studies suggest the climate impact could be higher when considering the effect of aircraft contrails. Satavia uses artificial intelligence and data analytics to study and reduce the formation of aircraft contrails, which trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere, amplifying aviation’s impact on the climate. The venture forms part of Microsoft's efforts to become carbon negative by 2030 and "remove" all the carbon dioxide ever emitted by the company since it was founded in 1975. (Business Green)


Heinz removes plastics from canned product packaging

American food company Heinz is switching to a paperboard sleeve for multipack canned products. The new “eco-sleeve” is fully recyclable and approved by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. The new sleeve also uses 50% less material than a fully enclosed box and 10% less than traditional paperboard sleeves. Heinz estimates that a rollout across all canned products and major UK retailers will remove 550 tonnes of shrink-wrap packaging. The first products are available in the new packaging, with a UK-wide launch in Autumn.  Heinz is aiming to reduce carbon emissions from packaging manufacturing transport. The new packaging sleeves have an 18.7% lower carbon footprint compared to shrink-wrap equivalents. The solution is part of a three-year £25m investment into low-carbon and efficiency. (Edie)

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