Top Stories

May 25, 2021


Investors reject record number of US executive pay packages

Investors have rejected a record number of executive compensation plans in non-binding votes of US-listed companies this year, objecting to pay rises and easing of performance targets in the wake of COVID-19, according to analysis by consulting firm ISS Corporate Solutions. The argument that companies are protecting executive pay in a downturn to keep top managers incentivized has been increasingly met with scepticism from investors who say that the shifting of performance goalposts is unwarranted and demoralizes other employees. A record 14 S&P 500 companies had more than 50% of investors reject executive pay packages so far this year, including oilfield services firm Halliburton Co. Investors have also rejected executive pay plans at industrial company General Electric, coffee retailer Starbucks and tech company Intel.  (Reuters)


Extreme climate displaced more people than conflicts in 2020

The number of new people forced to move within their own countries by climate disasters rose to the highest in at least a decade in 2020, more than three times those displaced due to conflict and violence. People who migrated domestically due to extreme weather events rose to 30.7 million, 75% of total internal migrations, according to research by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. A record 55 million people in total had been forced to move at the end of 2020, with the number of migrants likely to be significantly underestimated due to incomplete data. Countries like China, India, the Philippines and Bangladesh were hit by intense cyclones, monsoon rains and floods, while 1.7 million people were displaced within the US during the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record. (Bloomberg)


British banks finance 805m tonnes of CO2 production a year

The amount of CO2 production financed by Britain’s banks and asset managers is nearly double the UK’s annual carbon emissions, according to a new published by environmental campaign groups Greenpeace and WWF. The study shows the City of London provided loans and investments for projects and companies that emitted 805 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019, which is 1.8 times the UK’s own annual net emissions for the same year. It highlights the financial industry as one of the UK’s largest contributors to the climate crisis, meaning that if the City were its own country, it would outrank Germany as the ninth largest emitter of CO2 in the world. The charities are calling on the government to introduce new regulations that would align the sector with Paris agreement targets. (The Guardian)


European groups pump money into Swedish ‘green steel’ start-up

A range of leading European companies and funds have invested in a Swedish “green steel” start-up that is promising to build the world’s first large factory for emissions-free production of steel. The Agnelli, Wallenberg and Maersk families as well as Mercedes-Benz, Scania – an Ikea foundation –and the chief executive of Spotify have helped H2 Green Steel raise $105 million in its first round of venture capital financing. Steelmaking is one of the biggest emitters of CO2 globally. Its total greenhouse gas emissions account for 7% - 9% of direct emissions from the global use of fossil fuels. The move comes as automaker Mercedes-Benz, one of the investors, announced a commitment to launch green steel in vehicle models by 2025, marking a step in its efforts to decarbonize its supply chain. (Financial Times*; ESGToday)


Firms are dialling back on video calls to avoid ‘Zoom fatigue’

HSBC and Citi have introduced so-called “Zoom-free” days, setting aside a day of the week where employees aren’t expected to be on video calls. These decisions are based off anecdotal feedback from staff, as well as an emerging research around the effects that constant video calls on Zoom, or a range of similar tools that companies use like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex, are having on employees. The research examines some of the main causes of this fatigue: excessive eye gaze, seeing yourself reflected back to you for hours, being tethered to one physical location for extended periods of time, and increased difficulty in interpreting non-verbal cues. Tech giants TikTok and Salesforce have also imposed limits on the amount of video meetings their employees do. (CNBC)

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