Top Stories

February 23, 2021


UK companies face greater scrutiny on climate risks at upcoming AGMs

British companies that fail to thoroughly report the risks they face from global warming will come under scrutiny during the upcoming annual meeting season after influential investor lobby group The Investment Association (IA) said it would issue “amber warnings” for climate laggards. The IA will flag companies in high-risk sectors who fail to report under the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Flagged companies will be issued with “amber tops”, which indicate a significant issue for investors to consider, and could lead to shareholders voting against either directors or the accounts. The IA found that, despite the number of FTSE 100 companies using TCFD in reporting doubling to 77 in 2020, only half reported under all four pillars of the framework: governance, strategy, risk management and metrics, and targets. (Financial Times*)


Sainsbury's rolls out flexible plastic take-back and recycling scheme

UK supermarket Sainsbury's has begun collecting hard-to-recycle flexible plastic film at 63 of its stores and will use the material to trial an innovative new recycling process. The scheme will enable customers in the North East of England to recycle polypropylene (PP) film, which is commonly used to make carrier bags and packaging for products such as bread, cereal, biscuits, cakes, cheese and frozen foods, but is not recycled by most local authorities. Given that PP film continues to be the most appropriate material to package food and keep products fresh, its recyclability is important for the firm. If the trial is successful, it will be rolled out to all Sainsbury’s stores by the end of 2021. (Edie)


H&M, IKEA and Stora Enso backed TreeToTextile builds sustainable fibre demo plant

A venture part-owned by Finnish forestry group Stora Enso, Swedish retailer H&M and furniture giant IKEA is set to build a demonstration plant in Sweden to create a new, more sustainable wood-based textile fibre. Following years of research, the so-called ‘TreeToTextile’ plant is aiming to have a production capacity of 1,500 tonnes with its owners funding the bulk of the €35 million investment. To reduce their climate footprint and pollution, large apparel and furniture brands are in need of affordable greener alternatives to cotton, traditional viscose and polyester. The project is one in a handful carried out by Nordic pulp makers trying to develop new clean ways to turn trees into textile fibre. (Reuters)


Trinity College Cambridge to divest from fossil fuel companies this year

Trinity College Cambridge, Oxbridge’s wealthiest institution, has pledged to sell all fossil fuel companies owned by its £1.5 billion endowment before the end of December following a four-year student campaign. Trinity will sell its holdings in 172 fossil fuel companies worth around £15 million, or 1% of the endowment’s assets. Additionally, any fossil fuel companies held in Trinity’s illiquid private equity portfolio will be sold within 10 years. The college has also committed to target reductions in the carbon footprint of its property portfolio, which accounts for 60% of the endowment’s assets, and to achieve net zero emissions before 2050. The move comes after Cambridge University’s main endowment fund pledged to divest from fossil fuels by 2030, following mounting pressure from students to align its investments with climate goals. (Financial Times*)


Study finds global freshwater fish populations at risk of extinction

Freshwater fish are under threat, with a third of global populations in danger of extinction, according to a by 16 global conservation organisations, including the WWF, Global Wildlife Conservation and the Zoological Society of London. ‘The World’s Forgotten Fishes report’, claims populations of migratory freshwater fish have plummeted by 76% since 1970. It also states that large fish, weighing more than 30kg, have almost disappeared in most rivers. The global population of megafish is down by 94%, and 16 freshwater fish species were declared extinct last year. Problems include pollution, overfishing and destructive fishing practices, the introduction of invasive non-native species, climate change and the disruption of river ecologies. The report calls on governments to take action on rivers and waterways as part of biodiversity and nature recovery targets. (The Guardian)

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2021 Actions for Business