Top Stories

March 11, 2021


Wells Fargo is latest US bank to adopt net-zero financing pledge

US-based investment bank Wells Fargo has pledged to achieve net-zero across its operations and investment portfolio by 2050, becoming the final of the "big six" US investment banks vowing to reduce the carbon emissions of their lending activity. The bank will measure, disclose and set interim financed emission reduction targets for carbon-intensive portfolios, including oil and gas and power, by the end of 2022. Disclosure and emissions targets will eventually be expanded into other sectors. The pledge comes after a shareholder resolution filed late last year by campaign group As You Sow and a number of investors demanded the bank report on how it would align its financing activities with the Paris Agreement's goals. (GreenBiz)


UK banks lost about 10,000 women last year in diversity blow

More women than men have left British banks during the pandemic, undermining the sector’s pledges to become more diverse. The number of women at the UK’s five biggest lenders - NatWest, Standard Chartered, Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC – shrank by 3% during 2020 compared to a 2.1% decline for men, as banks undertook long-planned cost cuts and adapted to Covid-19. At NatWest, women-filled roles dropped by 9% compared to a 5.2% fall for men. Standard Chartered kept roughly the same number of men but its female staff declined by 2.2%. In finance, and across most sectors in the European Union, the COVID 19 pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on women, according to a report by the UN, as women are more likely to renounce full-time jobs and bear the brunt of home-schooling. (Bloomberg; EcoBusiness)


HSBC tables company vote on phasing out financing of coal

Banking firm HSBC has bowed to investor pressure by tabling a shareholder vote on plans to phase out coal financing by 2040. Fifteen pension and investment funds – which included Europe’s largest asset manager, Amundi, and Man Group, one of the world’s biggest publicly-listed hedge funds – led by the campaign group ShareAction, put pressure on HSBC to reduce loans and underwriting services offered to clients relying heavily on fossil fuels. The resolution put forward by its board will commit HSBC to phasing out financing for coal-fired power and thermal coal mining across the EU and OECD by 2030, and across the world by 2040.  HSBC is Europe’s second largest financier of fossil fuels after Barclays. (The Guardian)


American Airlines and Kuehne+Nagel ink pioneering sustainable aviation fuel agreement

American Airlines has announced an agreement in principle with logistics and transport firm Kuehne+Nagel to allocate a portion of the emissions reduction benefit the airline generates from its use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to the logistics company in a move designed to signal growing customer demand for lower carbon fuels. The agreement in principle covers three million gallons of fuel and is believed to be the largest SAF collaboration between a freight logistics company and an airline. The SAF covered by the deal is expected to deliver lifecycle emissions savings of around 26,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide  over three years, the equivalent of a Boeing 787-9 passenger aircraft flying around the world 25 times. (Business Green)


Mondelez and PepsiCo set new plastic pledges following NGO pressure

Food and snack retailers Mondelez International and PepsiCo, two of the world's largest users of plastics, have agreed to set new reduction targets following shareholder proposals to reduce plastic packaging filed by campaign group As You Sow. Mondelez, which owns the Cadbury brand, has set a new reduction target for 2025, against a 2020 baseline, that will result in a 5% absolute reduction in virgin plastic used in packaging, including a 25% reduction in rigid packaging. The company expects  a 10,000-tonne reduction in plastic use as a result. PepsiCo, meanwhile, is building on its current 35% reduction in virgin plastics for its beverage portfolio by 2025 target, to include snack and food divisions. PepsiCo is still assessing the size of the cuts it will commit to. (Edie)


2021 Actions for Business