Top Stories

September 02, 2021


Investors step up pay protests at European companies

European companies have been hit with a rise in shareholder protests over pay at annual meetings this year as big investors sought to punish businesses they think funnelled too much cash to executives during the pandemic. According to a report by Georgeson, a corporate governance consultancy, there was an 18 percent rise in shareholder dissent over remuneration-related resolutions across seven major European markets, including the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, is among the big investors that have taken a tougher stance on pay this year, punishing companies that made adjustments to previously agreed performance metrics in order to boost bonuses. It voted against management on 33 per cent of “say-on-pay” proposals in Europe in the 12 months to the end of June, up from 26 per cent in the previous year. (Financial Times*)



Shell campaign promoting carbon offsetting is greenwashing

The Netherlands' advertising watchdog has urged Royal Dutch Shell to stop running a campaign promoting fuel purchases as 'carbon neutral'. Shell’s campaign promotes an offer whereby those buying petrol and diesel can choose to pay an extra fee that will fund carbon offsetting. Shell uses carbon credits that support nature-based projects including tree planting. Campaigners had called out that the advertisement implies that the offsetting will be equivalent to the emissions which will be generated by burning the fuel in their vehicles. However, they said that this would be unlikely given the cost of the service, which stands at one euro cent per litre of fuel. Whilst the advertising watchdog ruled the campaign as greenwashing, the ruling is not legally binding. As such, Shell has not yet issued a formal response but has stated that it will “consider any necessary changes to communications”. (edie)



Green bond market on track to pass record-breaking half trillion-dollar milestone

The global green bond market is on track for another record-breaking year, despite the disruption and economic headwinds caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest update from the Climate Bonds Initiative. The update revealed the annual market is on track to exceed half a trillion dollars for the first time since the market's inception in 2007, with $496.1 billion green and sustainability bonds already issued in the first half of the year, representing 59 percent growth on the equivalent period in 2020. It also highlighted the strong performance in the sustainability-linked bonds market, which amounted to $32.9 billion in the first half of 2021, compared to no issuances recorded in the first half of 2020. Social and sustainability bonds, which raise funds for projects with a broader positive impact beyond simple emissions reductions also continued to grow, up 18 percent from the first half of 2020. (Business Green)



'Business-as-usual' Covid-19 recovery plans set to burn through 1.5C carbon budget by 2030

The world is on track to drain its remaining carbon budget for a 1.5C scenario by the end of this decade and put world on track for 2.3C of warming by 2100, according to latest edition of DNV's  Energy Transition Outlook. Despite the rapid electrification of the power sector and shrinking demand for fossil fuels, DNV GL warned the energy transition is not happening fast enough to deliver on global climate goals, predicting that global emissions will shrink by just 9 percent by 2030. Analysts predict that the world is on track to experience a global temperature rise of 2.3C by 2100, exceeding the ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement. Whilst renewable energy costs continue to fall and beat fossil fuel power plants, the report warns that fossil fuels are on track to maintain a 50 percent share of the global energy mix by the middle of the century. The report promotes the importance of energy efficiency, highlights the need to strengthen carbon recovery and storage technology development to recover carbon emissions and encourages government and industry to accelerate the timeline to bring hydrogen to market. (Business Green*)



UK children’s digital privacy code comes into effect

A sweeping set of regulations governing how online services should treat children’s data have been welcomed by campaigners as they come into effect. The Age Appropriate Design Code mandates websites and apps from Thursday to take the “best interests” of their child users into account, or face fines of up to 4 percent of annual global turnover. The code prohibits the use of “nudge” techniques aimed at encouraging children to give up more of their privacy than they would otherwise choose to, calls on companies to minimise the data they collect about children and requires them to offer children privacy options that default to the maximum security. In the weeks leading up to the passage of the code, a number of major tech platforms have already introduced significant changes. At Google, a new policy now lets anyone under 18, or their parents, request the removal of images from search results, whilst YouTube also updated its default privacy settings, and turned off the autoplay option by default for all users aged 13-17. (The Guardian)

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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