Top Stories

April 19, 2022


Biden resumes oil and gas leases on federal lands to tackle energy prices

The Biden administration will restart oil and gas leasing on federal lands as it comes under increasing pressure to bring down surging petrol prices. Around 144,000 acres of public lands will be put up for sale next week, marking the end of a moratorium on new leases imposed by the president in one of his earliest acts of office. The new leases will charge higher royalty payments from oil and gas producers, at 18.75% compared to 12.5% previously and will significantly cut back on the amount of land that will be auctioned compared to what the industry has asked for. The energy crisis has taken precedence over Biden’s climate agenda, frustrating environmentalists. However, analysts argue that restarting leasing is unlikely to significantly impact global oil prices in the immediate future. (Financial Times)*


BMW pledges not to cut a single job in transition to electric vehicle production

Vehicle manufacturer BMW will not cut a single employee in its transition from combustion engines to electric models, its chief executive has pledged. His comments come as the European auto sector, as well as leading economists, warn that plans to ban petrol and diesel cars will lead to mass unemployment. A German automotive association, the VDA, argued in 2021 that an EU proposal to ban new combustion-engine sales by 2035 was “almost impossible to achieve” and the impact on jobs would be “significant”. A VDA survey found that more than 100,000 jobs would be at risk in Germany’s automotive sector. But BMW said it would train employees worldwide with the skills to work on battery-powered models and transition its factories step by step rather than exclusively converting its plants. (Financial Times)*


Survey: employees more likely to accept jobs from sustainable companies

A survey by business services provider IBM has found that potential employees are increasingly likely to apply for and accept jobs from companies they view as environmentally sustainable. The survey, part of a wider study, covered responses from over 16,000 people from 10 countries looking at topics from employment to consumption and investing. The survey found a growing interest in employees wanting to apply and accept jobs from environmentally sustainable companies, with 67% of the respondents reporting that they are more willing to apply for, and 68% more willing to accept positions from such companies. Additionally, the survey found that 62% of personal investors take sustainability into account, a rise from 48% in 2021. For consumers, 77% of people want to make more sustainable choices. (ESG Today)


G20 ministers urged to use Ukraine sanctions to tackle tax haven jurisdictions

G20 countries are being urged to use the crackdown on Russian oligarchs’ wealth amid Ukraine sanctions to tackle tax havens. An open letter sent to the 20 finance ministers written by the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT) includes economist signatories such as Gabriel Zucman, Joseph Stiglitz and Thomas Piketty. The letter argues that the concentration of extreme wealth hidden in tax havens exacerbates inequality and impoverishes the poorest in society. It argues that the current financial system is “skewed in favour of wealthy tax abusers”. Sanction efforts have also been stifled by offshore finance, according to the ICRICT, which has provided wealthy oligarchs with “high levels of financial opacity”. The letter argues for a global registry to tackle illicit financial activity and increase tax transparency. (The Guardian)


CEMEX and Sasol to use captured CO2 to generate sustainable aviation fuel

Construction and building materials companies CEMEX and Sasol announced a project with renewable energy company ENERTRAG to capture CO2 from cement production to generate sustainable aviation fuel. The project hopes to accelerate decarbonisation of some of the most hard-to-abate sectors. Cement production accounts for approximately 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions with over 900kg of CO2 emissions generated for every 1,000kg of material produced. Additionally, aviation is responsible for 2-3% of global carbon emissions. ENERTRAG will supply hydrogen for the project, generated exclusively from wind and solar energy and Sasol will provide the technology to produce e-kerosene, which can be blended to constitute up to 50% of jet fuel. The CO2 will be captured from CEMEX’s Rüdersdorf cement plant to be combined with the blend to produce sustainable aviation fuel. (ESG Today)

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