Top Stories

January 18, 2022


Over 70 big brands call for global pact to cut plastic production

More than 70 big brands, including consumer goods giant Unilever and international conglomerates Coca Cola and PepsiCo, have signed a joint statement calling for a global pact to combat plastic pollution. The statement calls for a reduction in virgin plastic production and use, a key growth sector for the oil industry. Meanwhile, production of plastic is forecasted to double within 20 years – a key source of future revenue for energy majors. Other signatories include consumer goods company Nestle, as well as retailer Walmart and French bank BNP Paribas. World officials will meet at a United Nations Environment Assembly conference later this year to negotiate a treaty to tackle plastic waste globally. It remains unclear whether any deal will focus on recycling or take tougher steps to curb new plastic production. (Reuters)


Climate crisis could cost £1 billion a year by 2050, says UK Government

The UK Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published a new report, the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2022, outlining a series of climate-related risks facing the UK according to two warming scenarios of 2°C and 4°C. For eight of the risks assessed, scenarios show economic damages will exceed £1 billion annually by 2050, even if warming is limited to 2°C. The report highlights high-cost risks such as: the loss of natural carbon stores; water scarcity; risk to agricultural productivity; coastal erosion; risks to infrastructure networks and water services; risks to health and wellbeing from high temperatures; risks to buildings and communities from flooding; and risks to finance, investment, and insurance. The report commits Defra to delivering a new National Adaptation Programme in Parliament in 2023. (edie)


Big Tech bears brunt of fines spike for breaches of EU privacy law

European Union data protection authorities handed out €1.1 billion in fines over breaches of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) since January 2021, a sevenfold increase from 2020. While notifications of data breaches from firms to regulators climbed more modestly, by 8% to 356 a day on average. Big Tech has taken the brunt of the penalties. Luxembourg’s privacy watchdog issued a €746 million to e-commerce giant Amazon and authorities in Ireland ordered a €225 million penalty to messaging app WhatsApp, which both firms are in the process of appealing. Legal experts stress that there is legal uncertainty surrounding EU-US data transfers due to a mismatch in data protection standards. Data transfer concerns also led to a dispute between the Irish Data Protection Commission and Facebook parent company Meta. (CNBC)



UK offshore windfarm capacity to triple in ScotWind programme

Offshore wind farm capacity in the UK is set to triple with Scotland agreeing to lease thousands of square kilometres of its seabed to new projects set to bring in £700 million in revenue. The ScotWind programme has received approval to deliver new wind farm developments forecast to boost capacity by 25GW. According to government figures, the current offshore wind capacity installed in the UK is around 11GW. ScotWind is the first auction for wind farm developments to take place in Scotland in a decade. It was announced that 17 applications have already been accepted, with SSE Renewables and Shell New Energies among the successful bidders. The new wind farm developments are also estimated to create thousands of new jobs in the industry. (The Independent)


Ozone harms to East Asian crops cost $63 billion annually

A study published in the journal Nature Food has shown that with high levels of ozone pollution, China, South Korea and Japan are seeing diminished crop yields accounting for $63 billion in annual losses. According to the study, China alone is losing a third of its potential wheat production and nearly a quarter of rice yields as ozone exposure disrupts plant growth. The findings have worrying implications beyond the region, with Asia providing the majority of the world’s rice supply. Experts argue that ozone pollution is an “under-recognised problem”, stating that in some parts of the world it “is comparable to or even worse for crops than the other big stressors of heat, drought, and pests.” (Reuters)



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B4SI Annual Review 2021