Top Stories

July 22, 2021


US bans China solar material imports tied to forced labour

The United States has banned all imports of Xinjiang-produced polysilicon coming from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang), citing allegations of forced labour . The Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act passed unanimously in the US Senate on 14 July, reinforcing the 24 June Withhold Release Order (WRO) on imports from Hoshine Silicon Industry Co, a Xinjiang-based manufacturer of silica-based products. The US has also blacklisted three other Xinjiang-based solar energy companies — Xinjiang Daqo New Energy, Xinjiang East Hope Nonferrous Metals, and Xinjiang GCL New Energy Material Technology. As the main material needed for solar panels, some experts have suggested the USA’s crackdown on human rights abuses in supply chains may cast a shadow on its path towards generating up to 50% of energy through solar by 2035. (Eco-Business)


Bank of England admits shortcomings in promoting diversity

The governor of the Bank of England has pledged to do more to tackle systemic racial inequality after a newly released review found the institution was failing to do enough to promote diversity. The review said staff from ethnic minority backgrounds were less likely to be promoted, earned less and were more likely to feel they were being treated unfairly than their white colleagues. The review also added the Bank’s strategy for racial and ethnic inclusion lacked focus and clarity, with diversity given a lower priority than other work. Among the review’s The report makes recommendations is that senior managers should be held accountable through their pay packets for meeting inclusion targets. The Bank’s governor has pledged to make diversity and inclusion one of its core strategic priorities for the coming years. (The Guardian)


UK carbon capture sector eyes £41bn investment by 2030

Capital investment in carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) projects in the UK could reach £41 billion by the end of the decade, opening up an opportunity to rapidly develop a strong domestic supply chain that can support UK jobs and economic growth, a new industry report by the Carbon Capture and Storage Association argues. Expenditure on CCUS infrastructure, including hydrogen production and greenhouse gas removal projects, is set to surge over the coming decade in response to UK climate targets, including the recent goal to slash emissions 78% against 1990 levels by 2035. CCUS investment in the UK could reach £41 billion by the end of the decade, with around 85% of it estimated to focus on onshore power generation, industrial capture, and hydrogen production plants. (Business Green)


Extreme weather led to insurers’ biggest payout in 10 years

Insurers will have to pay out the largest amount of compensation in 10 years to cover the damage caused by natural disasters in the first half of 2021, including extreme freezing temperatures in the US, according to  research by London-based insurer Aon. Global natural disaster insured losses are forecast to be as high as $42 billion for the six-month period, as the global climate crisis continues to contribute to more frequent extreme weather events, including storms, floods and heatwaves..  The rise in insured losses was mainly caused by extreme weather events in the US, such as freezing conditions in Texas that caused electricity blackouts in southern US states.  The Texas freeze event resulted in insured losses of $15 billion, making it the costliest instance of extreme winter weather on record. (The Guardian)


Hong Kong anti-doxing bill to allow blocking of social media

The Hong Kong government will gain powers to restrict local access to the world’s biggest technology platforms under legislation to punish “doxing” offences.  The anti-doxing bill, which will amend Hong Kong’s privacy laws, has been criticised as being too broad, leaving internet service providers and citizens vulnerable to arbitrary accusations and unfair prosecution. Hong Kong could order platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to remove content classified as doxing and block local access to the platform if the company failed to comply. Employees of the technology companies who are based in or enter Hong Kong could also face jail for failing to remove material. This news follows a recent industry letter by tech giants, warning they would stop offering services in Hong Kong if it changed its privacy laws. (Financial Times*)

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Senior Climate Change Consultant, London

Executive Assistant and Office Manager, New York

Sustainability Senior Consultant, North America

Sustainability Senior Researcher, North America