Top Stories

December 20, 2021


Nest dumps energy firms including ExxonMobil over climate risks

Nest, the £20 billion UK government-backed workplace pension scheme , has sold its £40 million holdings in ExxonMobil and four other energy companies Imperial Oil, Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco), Marathon Oil and Power Assets, after criticising their progress on managing climate change risks. The pension scheme, which manages the retirement savings of 10 million UK workers, claimed the companies will not return to its portfolio until they “demonstrate clear progress in preparing for a low-carbon economy”. Nest has also committed to a 30% reduction in the carbon footprint of its portfolio of publicly traded stocks and bonds by the end of 2025, as part of its plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050. (Financial Times)


Asda, Unilever partner with WRAP to up uptake of refillable packaging

NGO Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has forged a partnership with Asda and Unilever, to collect data from ongoing refillable product trials and develop ideas for making refill more accessible and attractive to UK shoppers. This year, Unilever launched pre-filled returnable and reusable stainless steel bottles at Asda’s “sustainability store” in Leeds, alongside in-store refill stations and empty bottles, to test which format was most popular. Asda also launched over a dozen additional product lines in refillable formats at the store in Middleton in Greater Manchester. Under the partnership, researchers will engage with shoppers as they plan their shopping lists, make choices in store, and use products at home, in hopes of understanding consumer behaviour around the retailers’ refill offering. The findings are intended to help retailers and FMCG brands to reduce their waste footprint. (edie)


California probes Google's treatment of Black female workers

California's civil rights regulator is investigating Google's treatment of Black female workers following alleged incidents of harassment and discrimination, Reuters has found. Attorneys and analysts at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) have repeatedly interviewed several Black women who have worked at Alphabet about their experiences, according to the documents and the sources seen by Reuters. The DFEH has interviewed workers who have filed formal complaints and those who have not, showing that the regulator has sought more examples of potential mistreatment, and has centred questions on alleged harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Google said it is focused on "building sustainable equity" for its Black workers, and that 2020 was its largest year for hiring what it calls "Black+" workers, a designation inclusive of people belonging to multiple races. (Reuters)


Peat sales to gardeners in England and Wales to be banned by 2024

The sale of peat to gardeners in England and Wales will be banned by 2024 under plans by the UK government. Ministers said they also aimed to end peat use in the professional horticulture sector by 2028. However, the government consultation also contains measures that fall short of an outright ban, instead including an additional charge on the price of peat compost, or the provision of information on the environmental impact of peat at the point of sale. The government said it did not intend to ban the sale of plants in pots that contained peat and that its plans would not affect current licences for peat extraction. Peatlands filter water and reduce flooding, and are the UK’s largest carbon store, as well as vital habitats for rare wildlife species. (The Guardian)


UK-Australia trade deal has no new requirements on climate, nature

The UK and Australia have finalised the text for their post-Brexit trade deal, with green groups and trade bodies sounding the alarm about the implications for environmental standards. The UK Government has touted the deal as a “gateway” to future trade with the Indo-Pacific region as well as a boost for the international trade of renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and hydrogen electrolysers. But several green groups have questioned the claims on cleantech and continue to ask why the UK has not pushed Australia for stronger environmental and animal welfare standards in agri-food sectors. WWF has claimed that Australia currently permits the use of “71 highly hazardous substances and thousands of pesticides banned in the UK” and has “the highest rate of deforestation in the OECD”. (edie)


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B4SI Annual Review 2021