Top Stories

April 26, 2021


Fashion giants join Textiles 2030 pledge to halve climate impacts

A string of big-name fashion brands including Primark, JD Sports and ASOS have joined a new recycling action  initiative by sustainable resource charity WRAP that mandates them to halve emissions by 2030, with a longer-term view to reaching net-zero. Called ‘Textiles 2030’, the initiative is a spin-off from WRAP’s existing ‘UK Sustainable Textiles Action Plan’ and provides brands with updated environmental targets in light of new climate science. Targets include halving emissions, against a baseline consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5◦C trajectory, by 2030, with a view to reaching net-zero by 2050 at the latest; and reducing the aggregate water footprint of new products sold by 30%. Signatories will also have to become more circular, adopting circular economy initiatives that go beyond one-off products or collections. (Edie)


UK solar projects using panels from firms linked to Xinjiang forced labour

Solar projects commissioned by the UK Ministry of Defence, the government’s Coal Authority, United Utilities and some of the UK’s biggest renewable energy developers are using panels made by Chinese solar companies accused of exploiting forced labour camps in Xinjiang province. A Guardian investigation has found that up to 40% of the UK’s solar farms were built using panels manufactured by China’s biggest solar panel companies, including Jinko Solar, JA Solar and Trina Solar. The report found that Chinese solar companies had ties to indicators of forced labour in Xinjiang, via polysilicon production. These firms have been named in a recent report on the internment of more than 1 million men and women from the Muslim Uyghur community, in what UK MPs on Thursday voted to describe as genocide. (The Guardian)


UBS tightens lending criteria to coal, Arctic drilling, oil sands

Swiss lender UBS has tightened its financing criteria for companies involved in coal-fired power generation and mining, Arctic oil and tar sands. The move comes after UBS joined UN climate envoy Mark Carney’s global initiative to accelerate efforts by financial services to decarbonise the global economy – the ‘Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero’. For companies already involved in coal-fired power generation, thermal coal mining or with significant reserves or production in Arctic oil or oil sands, lending will be limited if they rely on those fossil fuels for 20% or more of their energy, revenue and production or reserves respectively. Those surpassing the 20% threshold  who have a transition strategy a aligning with the 2015 Paris Agreement, or  requiring lending for renewable energy or clean technology, will be exempt. (Reuters)


Activist investor warns Exxon faces ‘existential’ risk over fossil fuel focus

ExxonMobil faces an “existential business risk” by pinning its future on fossil fuels as governments move to slash emissions, activist hedge fund Engine No 1 will tell investors in its push to overhaul the oil major’s board. The fund’s investor presentation argues “ExxonMobil still has no credible plan to protect value in an energy transition”. The fund claims Exxon has captured less than 1% of its own emissions once the pollution from its sold products was included, and that despite its recently-announced 15-20% reduction targets by 2025 for its greenhouse gas intensity, its total emissions will keep rising by 2025 as it plans to continue expanding production. Institutional investors including BlackRock and Vanguard, Exxon’s two largest shareholders, have also been vocal about making climate concerns central to their investing strategies. (Financial Times*)


UK public shows support for green taxes to achieve net zero 

A clear majority of the British public support the idea of green taxes and think the government should increase spending to address environmental issues, a nationwide poll by think-tank Britain Thinks for the Green Alliance has found. Nearly two-thirds of the British public supported taxing environmentally damaging behaviour and ranked the environment the third-most important priority. However, the survey also pointed to areas with low public support for levies such as road pricing, which could be needed to replace lost revenue from fuel duties as cars go electric. Climate experts said the findings could embolden the government to take difficult steps when preparing its net-zero review, which will determine how the costs of achieving net-zero emissions will be distributed. (Financial Times*)

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Thursday, 6th May 2021

Worker Health & Wellbeing: A Material Sustainability Issue for Business