Top Stories

January 19, 2022


BlackRock says stakeholder capitalism is not "woke"

In his annual open letter to CEOs, Larry Fink, the chief executive of the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock has defended the company’s focus on the interests of society alongside profits as good business sense. Fink calls on companies to set a clear sense of purpose and to engage with stakeholders on key issues, such as climate change. Fink argues that this “foundation of stakeholder capitalism” is not “woke” or driven by politics, but makes business sense. To tackle climate change “as capitalists”, BlackRock is now asking companies to set short-, medium- and long-term targets for greenhouse gas reductions, in addition to previous TCFD reporting expectations. Fink also defends BlackRock’s stance on engaging with companies on a low-carbon transition rather than pursuing a divestment policy for oil and gas, stressing that divesting alone “will not get the world to net-zero”. (The Times)*


New campaign aims to stop more encrypted apps

Government-backed social media safety campaign No Place to Hide is calling on tech giants to stop rolling out end-to-end-encryption (E2EE), which it argues makes it harder to detect child abuse. Messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal use E2EE to protect user privacy, with Meta planning to deploy it on Facebook messenger. The campaign is calling on social media platforms to make a commitment to ensuring children’s safety is not jeopardised when implementing E2EE. Data from the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children suggests 14 million reports of suspected online child sex abuse could be lost every year if further roll out of encryption is not stopped. Critics are concerned that stopping E2EE could lead to an increase in scams, blackmail, and criminal abuse of personal messages. (BBC News)


ExxonMobil targets 'net-zero' operations by 2050

US oil major ExxonMobil has announced plans to achieve net-zero across its “operated assets” by 2050. The firm is seeking to use a range of measures from energy efficiency and electrification to methane mitigation and equipment upgrades to reduce emissions from its operations. The target announcement is the latest in a series of net-zero objectives from the oil and gas sector and marks a significant shift in tone from Exxon’s leadership which previously questioned the credibility of the wave of net-zero targets announced by its European competitors. However, Exxon’s plan only targets a small portion of the company’s whole emissions footprint. It fails to take responsibility for the company’s scope 3 emissions, despite these accounting for 85% of Exxon’s total GHG emissions output. (Business Green)*


Lidl UK fruit & veg farmers to achieve eco-label by end of 2023

German-owned discount retailer Lidl GB has announced plans to help all UK suppliers of fresh produce to achieve eco-label LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Marque certification within 24 months. The LEAF scheme is an eco-label given to farmers working to reduce carbon and waste while restoring nature. It is one of the world’s largest certification programmes for farmers, recognising the uptake of more sustainable approaches to food production. The new LEAF commitment comes after Lidl GB trialled ‘eco-labels’ on dozens of its most popular own-brand product lines in 2021. The supermarket is yet to announce plans for an expansion and/or extension of this approach. In 2021, around 45% of produce grown in the UK was LEAF-certified with the eco-label aiming to cover 85% of UK-grown fruit and vegetables by 2026. (edie)


Green hydrogen to become globally cost-competitive in 2030s

A report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) forecasts that green hydrogen will become cost-competitive with grey hydrogen on a global basis in the mid-2030s. Price parity of green hydrogen is likely to happen sooner in markets including China, India, Brazil, and Europe, where the technology is being developed at a large scale. The forecast cautions that governments and large businesses are not currently focused on the end-uses for hydrogen that should be a priority. Priority areas include sectors challenging to electrify, such as refineries, shipping and steelmaking, long-haul aviation, high-temperature heating, long-haul trucks and trains. IRENA lists residential heating at the bottom of its priority classification, noting this can be performed by existing heat pumps, despite gas companies advocating for hydrogen in heating residential homes. (edie)

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