Top Stories

January 24, 2022


Oil giants Total, Chevron to leave Myanmar citing human rights

Energy giants TotalEnergies and Chevron Corp have said they are exiting Myanmar due to the worsening human rights situation and deteriorating rule of law following the country’s military coup in February 2021. The announcement by Total followed a call from France aiming to introduce targeted international sanctions on Myanmar’s oil and gas sector to place all revenues in escrow – a move designed at cutting off the military’s biggest source of foreign currency funding. Total, Chevron and other firms were part of a joint venture running the offshore Yadana gasfield and the MGTC transportation system that carries gas from the field to Myanmar’s border with Thailand. Human rights group Human Rights Watch applauded the move, saying that Total’s exit reflects the importance of avoiding complicity in the Myanmar junta’s atrocities. (Al Jazeera)


Aviva to vote against company directors if climate goals not met

The investor arm of British-owned multinational insurance company Aviva has announced that it will vote against the election of directors at companies where their commitments on climate change, biodiversity and human rights fall short of its expectations. Aviva Investors has £366 billion of funds under management and will write to 1,500 companies in 30 countries – including FTSE 100 companies – urging them to set measures to deliver and track progress on key environmental, social and corporate governance issues. In a letter to company chairpersons, Aviva Investors’ chief executive stated the company “will hold boards and individual directors accountable where the pace of change does not reflect the urgency required.” The letter also outlines Aviva Investors’ expectation that companies will tie senior remuneration to progress against environmental and social aims. (The Times)*


Oil industry board members to testify on climate disinformation

A US congressional committee has invited board members at four multinational oil companies, Exxon, Shell, Chevron and BP, to testify in February about the industry’s role in the climate crisis and spreading “disinformation”. The hearings reflect the next phase of the oversight committee’s investigation into the role of fossil fuel companies in blocking action on climate change and misrepresenting the industry’s efforts to address it. The panel concluded the first of these hearings last October, which saw oil company CEOs issued subpoenas for documents on company scientists’ statements about the climate crisis and any funds spent to mislead the public on global heating. The February panel will concentrate on the fact that the companies’ net-zero plans focus mostly on internal operations, and not on Scope 2 and 3 emissions. (The Guardian)


Brussels faces legal challenge over sustainable finance rules

Brussels is facing the threat of legal action by EU governments that do not want nuclear power or natural gas to be labelled as green investments. Energy ministers from Austria and Luxembourg will pursue a lawsuit against the EU, with the Spanish deputy prime minister saying Madrid may opt to use its own green framework which excludes nuclear and natural gas. Austria and Luxembourg argue that the inclusion of nuclear violates the EU’s “do no significant harm” to the environment principle due to the associated production of toxic waste and radiation risks involved. Critics of the taxonomy are seeking legal routes to challenge the text as it is likely to be approved by an alliance of pro-gas and pro-nuclear EU governments. (Financial Times)*


Nanoplastic pollution found at North & South poles for first time

Nanoplastic pollution has been detected in polar regions for the first time, indicating that the tiny particles are now globally pervasive. The nanoparticles are smaller and more toxic than microplastics, which have already been identified globally, but the impact of both on people’s health is unknown. Analysis of a core from Greenland’s ice cap showed that nanoplastic contamination has been polluting the region for at least 50 years. The particles are thought to be blown to Greenland on winds from cities in North America and Asia. Researchers identified that almost 50% of the particles came from polyethylene, which comes from single-use plastic bags and packaging, and a further 25% were from vehicle tyres. This research comes as major consumer brands call for a global pact to cut plastic production. (The Guardian)

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B4SI Annual Review 2021