Top Stories

May 05, 2021


Blackstone asks its PE-funded companies to regularly report on sustainability

The world’s largest manager of alternative assets Blackstone has for the first time asked executives in companies controlled by its private equity arm to regularly report on environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters to their boards. In a letter to the portfolio company CEOs, the asset manager suggested they should report to their boards on climate risks, environmental certifications such as green building ratings, diversity among employees, and commitments to human rights. The move corresponds to the company’s recognition that ESG factors are attracting greater focus globally, and that providing transparency for directors on ESG-related matters is “best practice”. Companies in Blackstone's real estate division have been reporting on ESG since 2019 but this has not been standardised across the firm’s portfolio. (Reuters)


French parliament approves climate change bill to green the economy

France's National Assembly has approved a wide-ranging climate change bill aligned with its vow to cut greenhouse emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The legislation would ban the use of gas heaters on outdoor terraces from April 2022. Supermarkets will have to reduce wasteful packaging to cut plastics use, while goods like clothing will carry an "ecoscore" measuring their impact on the environment. The bill also prohibits the construction of new airports or expanding the capacity of existing airports, and bans domestic flights on routes served by train rides of under 2.5 hours, unless they connect to an international flight. Meanwhile, the sale of cars emitting more than 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre will be banned from 2030, and a subsidy for electric bicycles is extended. (Reuters)


Co-op reduces price of plant-based food to match meat-based equivalents

British supermarket The Co-operative Group (Co-op) is slashing the price of its plant-based burgers and sausages to push back against the “unfair” price of vegan food, as part of its bigger plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2040. Consumers trying to reduce or give up meat often complain alternative meat is more expensive than actual meat. As such, Co-op is making a seven-figure investment in its vegan range Gro with some products, including burgers and sausages, more than halving in price to bring them into line with the meat-based equivalent sold in its 2,600 stores. A recent survey found vegan products to be 14% more expensive on average than their non-vegan equivalent per serving, with some vegan products costing nearly three times as much. (The Guardian)


Experts suggest carbon offsets used by major airlines based on flawed system

The forest protection carbon offsetting market used by major airlines for claims of carbon-neutral flying faces a credibility problem, warn environmental experts. A joint investigation by the Guardian and Unearthed, Greenpeace’s investigative arm, looked at 10 forest protection schemes from six major airlines including British Airways and EasyJet and found that although many projects were doing valuable conservation work, the credits that they generated by preventing environmental destruction appear to be based on a flawed system. The study found that predictions made by offsetting projects to estimate emissions prevented, based on how much deforestation and land clearing would have occurred without a company’s actions, were often inconsistent with previous levels of deforestation in the area. In some cases, the deforestation threat may have been overstated. (The Guardian)


Ikea starts buy-back scheme for unwanted furniture in recycling push

Furniture giant Ikea has launched a buy-back and re-sale scheme, in efforts to reduce the number of products going to landfill. Customers will get vouchers to spend in-store if items they no longer need are returned in good condition. Used products returned in as-new condition will be bought for 50% of the original price, while items with minor scratches will be bought for 40%. Furniture that is well used with several scratches will be bought for 30%. The move is part of Ikea’s sustainability drive to become "climate positive" by 2030. Customers will be able to buy used items instore and through online retailer Gumtree. The initiative, originally scheduled to launch in November but postponed due to the pandemic, is now available in all 27 countries in which Ikea operates. (BBC News)

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