Top Stories

May 20, 2021


WWF study reveals rising demand for sustainable products

New research commissioned by environmental charity WWF, highlights that public concern for nature loss is mounting, growing by 16% globally in the last 5 years. The research found that this trend has translated into digital activism and a surge in internet searches for sustainable good,s which have risen by 71% since 2016. Findings of the ‘Eco-Awakening’ research show that 93% of EU citizens consider biodiversity loss a serious or very serious issue. These concerns were mirrored in regions like Latin America, where 96% of respondents cited worries about the lack of protection for nature and ecosystem services. The research covered 80% of the world’s population from 2016-2020, and aims to underline the apprehension towards accelerating anthropogenic climate change and urgency felt by many in emerging markets to mitigate environmental risks. (Forbes; WWF)


Twitter AI bias cropping Black people and men from photos

Social media platform Twitter’s image-cropping algorithm has a bias toward excluding Black people and men, the company said in new research, adding that "how to crop an image is a decision best made by people." The study by three of the platform’s machine learning researchers was conducted following user criticism about image previews in posts excluding Black people's faces. The paper cited several possible reasons, including issues with image backgrounds and eye colour, but said none were an excuse. To counter the problem, Twitter recently started showing standard aspect ratio photos in full, without any crop, on its mobile apps and is trying to expand that effort. The findings are another example of racial and demographic bias in artificial intelligence systems that use facial recognition and text analysis. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)


Ikea, BrewDog and others back green pensions commitment

A string of 50 major businesses, NGOs and trade bodies have pledged to ensure their pension plans are 'green' this year and are urging others to follow suit. Signatories of the new ‘Green Pension Charter’, convened by Ricard Curtis’s Make My Money Matter campaign and community coalition Count Us In, include EY, Ikea, BrewDog, Ramboll UK, Ella’s Kitchen and Triodos Bank. The Charter commits signatories to ensure that their pension schemes are “not investing in industries that harm our planet” by the time COP26 takes place this November. It covers fossil fuels and other businesses in sectors with high environmental impact, like mining and extractives firms with no clear transition plans. Transition plans should clearly outline how projects receiving finance will align with net-zero by 2050 at the latest. (Edie)


UK announces series of environmental protection action plans

The England Peat Action Plan will ban  sales of peat products, including compost, by 2024 in a bid to protect the UK’s carbon-storing peatlands. Ministers will give £50 million to support the restoration of 35,000 hectares of peatland by 2025. The UK’s peatlands store three times as much carbon as its forests but, concerningly, the vast majority are in a degraded state and emitting CO2, which drives the climate crisis. The Environment Secretary also announced £500 million to fund a tripling of tree planting in England to reach 7,000 hectares a year by 2024 and said a new 2030 target for wildlife populations would be set. A species reintroduction taskforce was also unveiled, to take forward work on recovering species lost to England, such as wildcats and beavers. (The Guardian; Edie)


Boohoo links executive bonuses to supply chain issue resolution

Online fashion retailer Boohoo will start to link multimillion pound bonuses for its executives to improvements in its supply chain, including workers' rights. In September, Boohoo accepted the recommendations of an independent review which found major failings in its supply chain in England following newspaper allegations about working conditions and low pay, and vowed to set out steps to tackle the issues. The Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee recommended that the company’s new £150 million three-year bonus scheme for founders and executives be linked to ESG improvements, which Boohoo accepted. Under this new target, Boohoo's remuneration committee must be satisfied that the group's "Agenda for Change" programme to fix supply chain issues has been successfully implemented over the three-year performance period before the vesting of any management incentive plan awards. (Reuters)


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