Top Stories

May 13, 2021


EU to protect public health with air and water pollution targets

The European Union will tighten regulations on air pollution, waste and use of chemicals to protect public health and address biodiversity loss. The plan includes reducing air, water and soil pollution to levels no longer considered harmful to health and nature by 2050. Targets for 2030 include reducing premature deaths associated with air pollution by 55%, a 25% reduction in ecosystems where air pollution threatens biodiversity, and a 50% reduction in marine plastic litter. Proposed measures include phasing out chemicals that interfere with hormones, capping ammonia emissions from livestock farming and factories, and revising pesticides regulations to reduce the use of chemicals. Over the coming years, the EU will also introduce and review laws to tighten quality standards for drinking water, improve recycling and reduce waste generation. (Reuters)


Instagram and Twitter blame glitches for deleting Palestinian posts

Social media platforms Instagram and Twitter have blamed technical errors for deleting posts mentioning the possible eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, but data rights groups fear "discriminatory" algorithms are at work and want greater transparency. By Monday, 7amleh, a non-profit focused on social media, had received more than 200 complaints about deleted posts and suspended accounts related to possible evictions from homes in Sheikh Jarrah, which have fuelled tensions between Israeli police and Palestinians. Instagram and Twitter said the accounts were "suspended in error by our automated systems" and the issue had been resolved and content reinstated. However, a joint statement by 7amleh, Access Now, and other digital rights groups called on Twitter and Instagram to use "transparent and coherent moderation policies" and be more open when take-downs happen. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)


Sustainability bonds accused of failing to address human rights

A group of 208 global investors, including Aviva, NN Investment Partners and Nordea Asset Management, organized by the Investor Alliance for Human Rights and representing US$5.8 trillion in assets under management, announced it has sent a statement to 106 companies that scored zero on human rights indicators in the 2020 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark report. Coffeehouse chain Starbucks was one of the companies scoring zero in the human rights assessment, potentially casting doubts on its issued sustainability bonds. Other zero-scorers include PetroChina, Devon Energy, Costco Wholesale, Yum! Brands, Target, General Motors and Honda. This is the fourth time investors have reached out to some zero-scoring companies requesting that they disclose through the Benchmark, with the vast majority having previously failed to do so. (Responsible Investor; Investor Alliance for Human Rights)


Asian cities face greatest environmental pollution & climate risks

Asian cities face the greatest risk from environmental issues, including air pollution and natural disasters, according to a report by research firm Verisk Maplecroft. Of the 100 most vulnerable cities, 99 are in Asia. Of those, 37 are in China and 43 are in India, the world’s first and third biggest emitters of greenhouse gases respectively. Jakarta topped the list, while India houses 13 of the 20 riskiest cities in the world due to extreme levels of air and water pollution. Globally, 1.5 billion people live in 414 cities at high risk from pollution, water shortages, extreme heat, natural hazards and physical impacts of climate change. A significant danger for many cities is how climate change will amplify weather-related risks, cause higher temperatures and increasing severity and frequency of extreme events. (Bloomberg Green)


Businesses urge leaders to prioritise climate and nature at G7 Summit

A string of the world's biggest trade bodies are urging world leaders to prioritise international response to the climate and nature crises at next month's G7 Summit. A communique from the B7 group – including CBI, BusinessEurope and the US and Canada Chambers of Commerce – warns climate, nature and digital transformation must be on the agenda as the Summit is set to focus on Covid-19. The communique urges G7 members to build on long-term net-zero targets with “detailed policy plans and incentives to support industry, workers and communities impacted by the transition”, and to develop “sustainable finance taxonomies”, in which measures such as taxes and risk disclosure rules align with long-term climate goals. It also urges the G7 to prioritise national policies to support the development of markets that value “nature-positive” businesses. (Edie)

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