Top Stories

January 31, 2022


US unveils plan to improve cyber defences for water utilities

The White House has unveiled a plan to upgrade its cybersecurity in the nation’s water sector in an effort to prevent attacks against critical infrastructure. Senior officials have stated that water facilities use automation and electronic networks that are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, which could include producing unsafe water, stopping flow to consumers, and damaging infrastructure. The government’s plan to push for new technologies will offer detection of cyber threats, improve incident response, and provide increased data sharing with US authorities. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will invite water utilities to a voluntary pilot programme. Cybersecurity has been a major focus for the Biden administration following a series of high-profile cyber breaches that compromised American companies and government agencies, including a ransomware incident which disrupted gasoline supplies. (Reuters)


Almost all large firms neglecting social sustainability pledges

Sustainable business NGO the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) has released its Social Transformation Baseline Assessment of 1,000 companies, including some of the largest organisations in the world. Of these 1,000 companies, the WBA found that only 1% meet the principles of the Alliance’s Core Social Indicators. These indicators measure companies’ responsibility to respect human rights, promote decent work, and practice ethical conduct in lobbying and taxation. The WBA examined that only 4% of scoped companies were able to disclose aspects such as paying workers living wages, and that 78% scored zero against three human rights indicators. With the 2030 deadline approaching for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the WBA is warning that companies are neglecting key social sustainability issues. (edie)


Spotify announces plans to target Covid misinformation

Music streaming service Spotify has announced that it is working to add advisory warnings to any podcast on its platform that discusses COVID-19. CEO Daniel Ek said that the new warning will redirect users to a data hub on COVID-19 information. The platform also published its long-standing ‘Platform Rules’ which bar Spotify contributors from sharing false information that could cause harm. The rules state that creators should avoid content that “promotes dangerous or false deceptive medical information that may cause offline harm”. The move comes as Spotify faces criticism, including calls from musicians to remove their own music from the platform, over interviews hosted by podcaster Joe Rogan who has discouraged vaccination in young people and promoted the use of unproven anti-parasitic drug ivermectin. (BBC News)


G20 urged to lead on nature protection with more finance

The world’s 20 richest nations should more than double their annual spending to protect and restore nature to $285 billion by 2050, according to a new report from the United Nations. The UN has estimated that spending by the G20 was $120 billion in 2020 and must be doubled to better tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation crises. Funding from G20 nations represented 92% of global investment in nature, with the vast majority (87%) allocated to programmes inside their own borders. Finance from the private sector also remains small at 11 per cent of the G20 total, or $14 billion a year. The report calls for companies and financial institutions to fully disclose climate and nature-related financial risks and for greater investment in nature protection. (Eco-Business)


Report urges no new coal plants for India as batteries improve

A green transition think-tank the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) has published a report which has called on India to stop building new coal-fired power plants, after concluding that renewables can meet the country’s future need for electricity. The institute found that the addition of low-cost renewable energy capacity could “handle the expected growth in electricity demand”. The report’s findings stress that India can retire its coal capacity with 450 gigawatts of “variable renewables” capacity by 2030. It mentions that peak power can be supplied through a combination of battery storage technology, pumped storage, conventional gas and coal, and hydropower. With costs falling fast over the last decade for solar and battery storage, the IEEFA says that renewable technology is now cost-competitive with new coal plants. (Eco-Business)



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B4SI Annual Review 2021