Top Stories

May 06, 2021


UK food giants threaten to boycott Brazilian suppliers over deforestation

Several big-name supermarkets, food-to-go chains, suppliers and manufacturers have threatened to boycott Brazilian products if lawmakers there do not bolster laws designed to protect the Amazon rainforest. Firms including Aldi, Asda, Co-Op, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose & Partners and Morrisons signed an open letter sent to the Deputies and Senators of the National Congress of Brazil, urging lawmakers not to pass a new legislative proposal. Under the new legislation, private-sector firms or individual asset owners would be permitted to transform lands that were occupied by local communities as recently as 2014, without conducting an on-site inspection. The bill would also enable those currently occupying land illegally to apply for formal ownership, while many green groups want to see such pieces of land made public once again. (Edie)


Unilever says majority of shareholders voted in favour of climate action plan

Consumer goods giant Unilever has said an overwhelming majority of its shareholders voted in favour of its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across its supply chain to net-zero by 2039. Unilever is the largest company globally to give investors a say on its climate transition action plan. Over 99% of shareholders who voted, voted in favour of the non-binding resolution. The company's emission reduction plans include transitioning to renewable energy sources, eliminating fossil fuels from its cleaning products, reducing corporate travel and refrigeration emissions. It will first eliminate emissions to net-zero within its own operations and halve the impact of its products across its supply chain, compared to 2010 levels, by 2030. It aims to achieve its goals through emissions reductions, rather than offsetting. (Reuters)


US declares support for patent waiver on Covid-19 vaccines to boost access

The US has declared its support for a patent waiver on Covid-19 vaccines to boost their production and distribution around the world. The waiver will not take place immediately, as it has to be approved by consensus at the World Trade Organization (WTO), but the decision of the Biden administration to throw its weight behind a waiver is expected to have a strong influence on the outcome of that decision. India and South Africa have been backing a waiver proposal since October, with the support of about 100 emerging economies, but wealthier countries including Switzerland and the European Union have been blocking a debate on the issue at the WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights council. Proponents argue a waiver is essential to achieving greater equity in vaccine distribution.  (The Guardian)


Mars’ brand Sheba unveils 'world's largest' coral reef restoration programme

Cat food brand Sheba, owned by Mars petcare, will restore more than 185,000 square metres of coral reefs around the world by 2029, as part of a 10-year investment initiative announced in partnership with US environmental group The Nature Conservancy. Dubbed 'Hope Reef', the project saw the installation of a web of artificial steel structures developed by The Nature Conservancy that encourage coral growth. Sheba claims the coral restoration programme is the world's largest to date. It forms part of Mars' wider coral reef restoration efforts, which have seen it invest more than $10 million in research, restoration, and community engagement. Coral reefs are under serious threat from the changing climate, with grave ramifications for the estimated 500 million people depending on them for food, income, and storm protection worldwide. (Business Green)


Germany increases its ambition in its new carbon emissions targets

Germany is to raise its target for reducing carbon emissions by 2030 from 55% to 65%, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, after the country’s supreme court ruled its previous climate goals were not ambitious enough. A landmark ruling by Germany’s constitutional court last week said Germany’s current climate plan placed too great a responsibility for reducing carbon emissions on future generations. The judges’ main criticism was that authorities were too vague about what measures needed to be taken after 2030 to bring carbon emissions to almost zero by 2050. The amended version sets out more granular climate goals – like a target to slash emissions by 88% by 2040 – and is intended to represent a fairer offer to the younger generation. (Financial Times*)


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