Top Stories

January 22, 2021


Google threatens to shut search engine in Australia over news row

Google has threatened to close its search engine in Australia if the government proceeds with a plan to force Big Tech groups to pay news providers for their content. The warning is Google’s strongest yet against the landmark proposal, which would compel the company and fellow US tech group Facebook to pay news organisations and publishers in exchange for circulating stories. Google stated that that the laws were “unworkable” and “unreasonable”, escalating a months-long stand-off between the technology companies and the government. Australia’s threat comes as Google, Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies face mounting scrutiny from global regulators over their market dominance. The proposal involves an arbitration system that would make binding decisions on the fees social media groups must pay media companies. (Financial Times*)


UK Government urged to stop export of plastic to non-OECD countries

The UK government has been accused of breaking its promise to maintain or improve environmental standards post-Brexit after failing to match a new EU ban on the export of plastic waste to emerging economies. Various public figures and over 20 cross-party peers and MPs have called on the government to emulate a new EU law banning the export of unsorted and contaminated plastic waste to non-OECD countries. The Conservative government is yet to fulfil its 2019 campaign promise to ban the practice of shipping plastic waste to poorer countries. Campaigners, who signed the open letter, accused the government of setting a “dangerous precedent” by failing to maintain its environmental promises. The letter comes in the same week as the government voted to allow food imports with lower environmental standards. (Business Green)


Major gas grid companies team up to outline hydrogen deployment plans

Britain's five major gas grid companies have launched a major collaborative plan to create the UK's first hydrogen town by 2030 in addition to creating a network of hydrogen refuelling stations for transport and helping to decarbonise industrial clusters. The UK’s gas network companies, including Cadent, National Grid, Northern Gas Network, SGN & Wales & West Utilities, have outlined a roadmap to meet these aims. The UK will aim to generate 5GW of “low-carbon” hydrogen production capacity by 2030. Up to £500 million will be invested in a bid to create a Hydrogen Neighbourhood in 2023, a Hydrogen Village by 2025, and to create the first town running entirely on hydrogen. (Edie)


Tesco's first sustainability-linked bond more than six times oversubscribed

UK supermarket Tesco attracted over Є5 billion of investor demand for its first sustainability-linked bond (SLB), priced at Є750m, according to official advisor BNP Paribas. The bond is the first in the company’s history whereby rates and interest will vary according to progress in tackling climate change. BNP Paribas is acting as the Joint Sustainability Structuring Advisor and Joint Bookrunner on the SLB, which has an 8.5-year maturity. Rates and interest will drop if Tesco delivers strong progress against its climate targets relating to Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. Tesco is striving to bring emissions from these sources down by 60% by 2025 and 80% by 2030, against a 2015-16 baseline. (Edie)


European firms improve gender diversity scores in pandemic year

The number of major European companies with high participation of women in leadership positions has doubled over the past year, but there was less progress on top jobs, according to the Gender Diversity Index. Brussels-based association European Women on Boards, which runs the index, analysed 668 of Europe's top listed companies included in the STOXX 600 index and national benchmarks. It said the number of those with high scores on its Gender Diversity Index rose to 62 from 32 in 2019 with women making up just over a third of the analysed companies' boards. However, women held only 14% of "C-suite" jobs and only 6% of companies had female CEOs, a small improvement from 4.7% in 2019. (Thomson Reuters Trust)

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Wednesday, 27th January and 3rd February

Climate resilience: Aligning disclosure with TCFD recommendations