Top Stories

May 04, 2021


UK banks’ support for coal industry has risen since 2015 Paris Agreement

British banks’ financial support for the coal industry has risen since the 2015 Paris agreement, despite pledges to curb financing for the sector, according to research by campaign groups Reclaim Finance and Urgewald. UK lenders provided loans and underwriting services worth £21.9 billion to companies that sold or burned coal, or provided coal industry services, during 2019, up from $21.5 billion in financing provided in 2016. Barclays was the biggest financier, followed by HSBC and Standard Chartered. In related news, a collective of Indonesian campaign groups has filed a complaint about ING loans financing the Cirebon 1 and 2 coal plants in West Java before introducing a no-coal policy. NGOs are asking ING to withdraw its support, or to explain how it tried to prevent harm caused by the project. (The Guardian, Eco-Business)



Amazon’s zero corporation tax raises questions on company tax avoidance

Tech giant Amazon’s latest corporate filings revealed the company collected record sales income of €44 billion in Europe in 2020 but did not have to pay any corporation tax. Accounts for Amazon’s Luxembourg unit, which oversees operations in eight Western European countries including the UK, show that despite collecting record income, the unit made a €1.2 billion loss and therefore paid no tax, raising questions about the ability of big tech companies to shift profits for tax avoidance. The unit was granted €56 million in tax credits it can use to offset any future tax bills should it turn a profit, which means Amazon is unlikely to make a meaningful tax contribution in years to come given it has built up €2.7 billion in carried forward losses so far. (The Guardian)


European Central Bank to challenge banks on view of climate risks

The European Central Bank (ECB) is preparing to challenge lenders in the region on their view of how much risk they face from climate change and may impose individual requirements for those found to be most exposed. The ECB is examining assessments by 112 relevant big lenders on whether they meet expectations set by its supervisory watchdog. Where banks are not managing their exposures to climate-related risks in an adequate manner, the bank will draw on its full supervisory toolkit to correct that situation. The ECB has started to incorporate climate risk into its annual review of whether banks have sufficient financial reserves to cope with losses. It won’t result in capital requirements for the industry this year, but individual firms may be held to qualitative or quantitative requirements. (Bloomberg Quint)


Pandora to stop selling mined diamonds and focus on lab-made

Jewellery maker Pandora will stop selling mined diamonds and focus on more affordable, sustainable, lab-grown gems, following the growing acceptance of man-made diamonds by millennials attracted to cheaper stones guaranteed not to have come from conflict zones. Opponents of mined diamonds say their extraction causes environmental damage and so-called blood diamonds help fund conflicts. Pandora's new collection of lab-grown diamonds will be launched initially in the United Kingdom and will be available in other key markets next year. The brand will get its lab-grown stones from suppliers in Europe and North America. Any existing mined diamonds already in stores will still be sold. (Reuters)


UK Government taskforce urges permanent job flexibility for all workers

Millions of employees could be given the chance to switch permanently to more flexible working arrangements under forthcoming guidance designed to encourage firms to make long-term some of the emergency changes ushered in by the pandemic. The UK government’s flexible working taskforce is drawing up guidance – before the expected lifting of the remaining lockdown restrictions on 21st June – to support the emergence of new, hybrid ways of working. For example, staff might come into offices only occasionally and work remotely for the rest of the week. The co-chair of the taskforce, said the pandemic had demonstrated that people could work productively away from traditional workplaces, with 71% of firms reporting that home working had either boosted or made no difference to productivity. (The Guardian)

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Thursday, 6th May 2021

Worker Health & Wellbeing: A Material Sustainability Issue for Business