Top Stories

June 01, 2021


Vote passed for HSBC to phase-out global coal financing by 2040

Shareholders of multinational bank HSBC have passed a management resolution that commits the bank to phase-out financing for the coal industry by 2030 in the OECD and by 2040 worldwide, following successful campaigning from investors. The ShareAction coalition, comprising investors with a combined $2.4 trillion in assets under management, filed a resolution calling on HSBC to publish a strategy that outlines efforts to reduce exposure to fossil fuel assets. Preliminary results showed the resolution passing with over 99% of the vote. The resolution binds HSBC to publish a policy by the end of 2021 with further detail on the phase-out plan, its scope and interim targets, and to engage with ShareAction, representatives of the group of co-filing institutions and other stakeholders in the development of this policy. (Edie)


Four-day working week could slash UK’s carbon footprint

The introduction of a four-day working week with no loss of pay could dramatically reduce the UK’s carbon footprint and help the country meet its binding climate targets. A study by the environmental organisation Platform London and the 4 Day Week Campaign found that moving to a four-day week by 2025 could shrink the UK’s emissions by 127 million tonnes, a reduction of more than 20% and equivalent to taking the country’s entire private car fleet off the road. The shorter working week could reduce emissions from high-energy workplaces and transport and cut the carbon footprint of goods consumed in the UK but produced overseas. The idea has gained traction in the past few years, as consumer goods company Unilever and Spanish and Scottish governments launched national level pilot schemes. (The Guardian)


UK companies face pressure over links to Belarus regime

Rolls-Royce and British American Tobacco (BAT) are among firms pledging to take action on alleged severe violations of workers’ rights to freedom of association in Belarusian state-owned enterprises in their supply chains. This follows the arrest of Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend last week from a “hijacked” Ryanair plane. Since then, activists in the UK have stepped up lobbying of the holders of Belarus bonds listed on the London Stock Exchange. Rolls-Royce is a supplier of BelAZ, a Belarusian vehicle factory and one of the world’s largest manufacturers of large dump trucks. It is investigating concerns raised about the relationship between its Power Systems business, based in Germany, and BelAZ. BAT has connections with the state-owned Grodno Tobacco Factory Neman, which makes cigarettes under licence for BAT. (The Guardian)


China to tighten environmental approval for polluting projects

China plans to strengthen controls in industries such as steel and aluminium which involve high energy use and produce high emissions, in an effort to promote low-carbon developments. China has now vowed to start cutting carbon emissions before 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2060. The Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) has urged local governments to regard environment quality as a "bottom line" particularly if polluting projects are being expanded or relocated into their localities. For oil refining, ethylene, steel, coking, aluminium and other projects that have high environmental impacts or risks, authorities should not lower approval requirements without giving any further details. The MEE also encouraged steel mills in key areas to be transformed into electric arc furnaces from long steelmaking processes that use blast furnaces and converters. (Reuters)


Women could add $280bn to e-commerce in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia’s e-commerce market could grow by over US$280 billion by 2030 by increasing the number of women selling on online platforms and providing better training and financial support, a new report by International Finance Corporation  has found. According to the report, for every year that the gender gap remains unaddressed, the sector loses over US$46 billion of potential value. While Covid-19 caused a surge in online sales globally, it disproportionately impacted women-owned and -run micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises  and caused a drop in women’s sales. Women now comprise half of all active e-commerce vendors in Southeast Asia, but are less prepared to withstand shocks as women-owned businesses tend to be smaller, have fewer resources, and are concentrated in lower margin sectors such as agriculture, catering, and beauty. (Eco-Business)


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