Top Stories

February 24, 2022


EU publishes human rights accountability directive

The European Commission has published a proposal for a corporate sustainability due diligence directive, including a mixture of due diligence processes, public oversight and civil liability measures to drive more sustainable trade. The directive would require companies to identify, prevent and mitigate human rights and environmental violations in their value chain. Companies would also be required to establish a complaints procedure for victims and to monitor their own due diligence measures and those of their suppliers. The Trade Commissioner said the directive responded to public demand across Europe, adding that there had been over 500,000 replies in the public consultation process. While countries like Germany and France have existing due diligence legislation, the directive is designed to give businesses legal certainty and provide a level playing field across the bloc. (edie)


Investigation finds child grooming in ‘metaverse’

An investigation by BBC News has found that some apps in Facebook-owner Meta’s virtual reality ‘metaverse’ are “dangerous by design”. An undercover researcher found evidence of child grooming, sexual material, racist insults and rape threats in virtual-reality apps bought through the Meta Quest headset.  researcher, using an app with a minimum age rating of 13, visited virtual-reality rooms where avatars were able to have simulated sexual contact and be approached by numerous adult men. The app can be downloaded without age verification checks. Children’s charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said it was “shocked and angry” at the potential for children to be groomed in the metaverse, and emphasised the urgency for improvements in online safety.  (BBC News)


Airbus to test hydrogen-powered engine on A380

Multinational aerospace company Airbus plans to use a superjumbo A380 to test hydrogen-powered jet engines. Airbus will partner with aircraft dealer CFM International to develop an engine that can run on hydrogen, aiming to produce an aircraft that will fly by 2026. The test aircraft will keep its four conventional turbines, while a fifth engine, adapted for hydrogen, will be mounted on the rear fuselage. Under the plans, 400kg of liquid hydrogen will be stored in four tanks at minus 253ºC requiring a to-be-developed cryogenic distribution system. Engineers at Airbus are working on several different zero-emission concepts, all of which rely on hydrogen as their primary power source. The venture comes amid increasing pressure on the aviation industry to cut pollution and meet zero-emission targets by 2050.  (Financial Times)*


Innocent ad banned for false environmental claims

Drinks company Innocent has had an advert banned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after environmentalists reported it for making false claims. The advert claimed that drinking its smoothies could “fix up the planet”. The brand, majority owned by Coca-Cola, has been making an effort to improve its climate credentials among consumers. Complainants, including the activist group Plastics Rebellion, argued that the ad implied that drinking smoothies from a disposable plastic bottle was environmentally positive. In response, Innocent said it is a B Corp granted by the sustainable corporate certification organisation B Lab. It also reiterated its commitment to being carbon neutral by 2030. The ASA ruled that Innocent “did not demonstrate that their products had a net positive environmental impact”, making the advert invalid within its current form. (The Guardian)


US offshore wind auction attracts record bidding

The largest ever US sale of offshore wind development rights – for areas off the coasts of New York and New Jersey – has attracted record bids. It is the first offshore wind lease sale under the Biden Administration, which has made offshore wind expansion a cornerstone of his strategy towards electricity decarbonisation. With bidding still underway, the auction is on track to top the $405 million offshore wind auction record set in 2018. Following 11 rounds, bidding stood at $250 million for a single lease site off the coast of New Jersey. The sale’s 25 approved bidders include entities controlled by Equinor ASA, Avangrid, BP, and Electricite de France. The energy generated from the newly offered areas could one day power nearly two million homes, the administration has said. (Al Jazeera)

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