Top Stories

February 01, 2022


HSBC pledges $100m to Bill Gates' clean energy innovation fund

Multinational bank HSBC has announced it will invest $100 million in Breakthrough Energy Catalyst – a private-public accelerator programme for technologies to support the energy transition founded by Bill Gates. HSBC said its contribution will be used to finance initiatives in the fields of low-carbon hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuels, long-duration energy storage and direct-air capture technologies. In providing the funding, it has secured representation on the initiative’s leadership council which will allow it to influence what projects receive backing. Breakthrough Energy Catalyst provides funding directly to specific projects rather than companies, which HSBC says was a key motivation behind its backing. HSBC has notably committed to reaching net-zero financed emissions by 2050 and has outlined plans to finance at least $750 billion of low-carbon activities within a decade. (edie)


UAE set to start taxing corporate profits next year for first-time

The United Arab Emirates will impose a federal levy on corporate earnings for the first-time in 2023. The measure comes as the UAE seeks to align itself with international standards for fiscal policy, including supporting a global minimum tax on multinationals endorsed by the G20. The UAE has confirmed its 9% rate will come into effect in June 2023, however many corporations in the UAE operate within free zones which will remain exempt. The measure comes as a money-laundering watchdog the Financial Action Task Force listed Dubai on its “grey list” of countries failing to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The UAE has taken several steps to dilute its tax haven reputation by introducing a 5% VAT in 2018 and a 5% customs duty on imports. (Al Jazeera)


UK Government to assess green impact of future trade deals

The UK government has promised that environmental sustainability will become a “key” factor in the development of future free trade agreements (FTAs). The pledge was made in response to a report published by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) in 2021. The report recommended assessing the environmental impacts of all future FTAs and to use the findings as a deciding factor on whether to pursue the agreements and what green requirements to implement if they are signed. The response confirms that environmental assessments will be taking place for FTAs going forward, ensuring that sustainability is a priority metric. The EAC welcomed the pledge, saying it reflected the government’s commitment to restoring global biodiversity. However, environmental NGO WWF argued the commitments on environmental assessments are too “vague” and don’t set binding targets. (edie)


Pandemic response generates thousands of tons of Covid waste

The response to the Covid-19 pandemic has produced tens of thousands of tons of extra medical waste, challenging disposal systems and threatening human health and the environment, according to a new World Health Organisation (WHO) report. The WHO examined the lifecycle of 87,000 metric tons of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic, finding that most of it ended up as waste, alongside 144,000 tons of waste produced from administering vaccines.  The WHO estimates that around a third of healthcare facilities aren’t equipped to deal with existing waste loads. It raises concerns that overwhelmed waste systems in low-income nations mean that health-care workers face greater risks and those residing near landfills are at risk of contaminated air and poor water quality. (Bloomberg)*


‘Alarming’ racial inequality in booster vaccinations, says charity

Research-based charity Blood Cancer UK has said there is “alarming” racial inequality in England for people who are severely immunocompromised and require a third Covid-19 vaccine. Blood Cancer UK said 84% of immunocompromised people from a white British background had three vaccine doses by mid-December, compared to just 43% of immunocompromised people from a Pakistani background. It added that the figures were 46% for people from an African background, 47% for people from a Caribbean background, and 49% for people from a Bangladeshi background. The charity said it believes the main reason for a gap in third dose uptake is due to poor government management of the rollout of third doses, which they state left many people struggling to access doses despite being eligible. (The Independent)

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B4SI Annual Review 2021