Top Stories

May 12, 2021


Gig-economy riders in Spain must become staff within 90 days

Food delivery companies based in Spain have three months to employ their couriers as staff under new rules approved by the government, one of the first laws in Europe regarding gig-economy workers' rights. The decree aims to clarify the legal situation of thousands of riders after Spain's Supreme Court ruled last year that companies must hire them as employees. Nearly 17,000 riders without a contract have already been identified. Just-Eat, the Spanish branch of Take Away, has already hired some of its workers and covers peak demand with workers from transport companies. Others, such as Glovo, have hired some riders through temporary employment agencies. The government also approved new rules obliging all platforms, not just food delivery companies, to explain to their staff how their workload-sharing algorithms work. (Reuters)


HSBC has stakes in firms that plan more than 70 new coal plants

A loophole in HSBC’s pledge to phase out financing for coal by 2040 will allow the bank to support companies with plans to build more than 70 new coal plants. According to a report from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, such an investment could cause an estimated 18,700 deaths from air pollution a year. The bank’s asset management arm, which is not included in the coal phase-out pledge, holds ownership stakes in companies that plan to build 73 coal power plants across 11 countries in Africa and Asia, almost enough to supply fossil fuel electricity to all the UK’s homes three times over. These plants would emit more air pollutants than all the coal-fired power plants in the EU and the UK combined in 2019. (The Guardian)


Toymaker Mattel launches ‘Playback’ toy recycling scheme

Toy giant Mattel has launched a new take-back and recycling scheme for used toys. The ‘Playback’ scheme is available in markets including the UK and US. Consumers will be able to return used Barbie, Matchbox and MEGA toys at this point, with other Mattel brands set to be added in the future. The brand is using a free postal service to collect the toys. Once the toys reach Mattel, they will be sorted and separated by material before recycling. Components that cannot be recycled to produce new toy components will be either downcycled – turned into different products which require lower-grade input – or used in energy from waste facilities. The scheme forms part of Mattel’s ambition for all plastic products and packaging to be 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based by 2030. (Edie)


Climate activists bring legal challenge over UK oil and gas strategy

Climate activists are seeking to challenge the UK’s support for continued North Sea oil and gas production through the High Court, hoping to end fossil fuel production in British waters. The campaigners, who are supported by environmental groups including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth Scotland and the UK Student Climate Network, have applied for a judicial review of the Oil & Gas Authority’s (OGA) strategy to “maximise the economic recovery” of the country’s reserves of hydrocarbons. They will argue that the OGA’s strategy is “irrational” considering the UK’s legally binding 2050 net-zero emissions target. The case marks the latest effort by campaigners to end UK North Sea production after the government earlier this year resisted calls to follow other countries, such as Denmark, in banning new oil and gas exploration. (Financial Times*)


Climate change threatens millions of tea workers in Kenya

Climate change is set to ravage tea production in Kenya, the biggest global supplier of black tea, threatening the livelihoods of millions of plantation workers, a report by British charity Christian Aid has warned. Tea is one of Kenya's top foreign currency earners, along with tourism and remittances, employing about three million people. The country is likely to see the areas with optimal and medium tea-growing conditions shrink by about 25% and 40% respectively by 2050, given shifting temperatures and rainfall patterns. Climatic changes will also make it increasingly difficult for tea growers to move into new, previously uncultivated regions, with the decline in output already being felt on the ground. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

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