Top Stories

April 26, 2022


EU unveils ‘largest ever ban’ on dangerous chemicals plan

Thousands of potentially harmful chemicals could soon be prohibited in Europe under new restrictions, which would constitute the world’s “largest ever ban of toxic chemicals”, according to the European Environmental Bureau. The EU’s “restrictions roadmap” was conceived as a first step to reducing chemical pollution by using existing laws to outlaw toxic substances linked to cancers, hormonal disruption, reprotoxic disorders, obesity, diabetes and other illnesses. For the first time as a rule, the plan focuses on entire classes of chemical substances to be put on a “rolling list” of substances to be considered for restriction by the European Chemicals Agency. The new regulations will have significant impact on products such as packaging, cosmetics and single-use nappies. (The Guardian)


UK Taskforce set up to assist corporate climate disclosure

HM Treasury has unveiled the UK ‘Transition Plan Taskforce’ (TPT) that will oversee the development of a “gold standard” for climate transition plans for UK companies, following the government pledge at COP26 to “rewire the global financial system for net-zero” through plans on sovereign green bonds and corporate climate disclosures. The TPT will be led by a steering group of business leaders, and will be co-chaired by Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen and Aviva’s chief executive Amanda Blanc. It is supported by representatives across industry, academia, regulators and civil society groups. The TPT will develop guidance for financial institutions and listed companies to help create transition plans and inform the implementation of the UK’s Sustainability Disclosure Requirements, with a two-year mandate in place. (edie)


B Corp movement gains momentum in Asia as record number of companies certified

Interest in B Corp sustainable business certification has surged in Asia since the start of 2022, with a record number of companies in the region achieving B Corp status in the first quarter of the year. China and Taiwan are currently the region's biggest markets for firms that meet the most rigorous environmental and social standards of the certification’s owner B Lab, followed by South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The increase in Asian B Corps certifications mirrors the global growth of 18% in 2021, partly due to the growing recognition of ESG issues in the wake of the pandemic. The past few years have also seen a surge in demand for sustainability consulting services, driven by regulatory change and pressure on firms to re-engineer their businesses around sustainability. (Eco Business)


Office return stalls as UK staff stick to flexible working

The return of workers to offices in the UK has stalled for the first time since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, sparking frustration among some bosses even as their staff welcome new policies of hybrid working. Travel, footfall and occupancy data show that the numbers returning to workplaces have plateaued after recovering strongly following the lifting of restrictions. Office occupancy is running at around a quarter of pre-pandemic levels, while travel via the Tube to the City of London is about half of what it was before coronavirus hit. The slowing return has several implications for the long-term function of city centres, where retailers and restaurants rely on the steady traffic of workers to offices. (Financial Times)*


US President Biden resumes oil & gas leases on federal land

The US Biden administration will restart oil and gas leasing on federal lands as it comes under increasing pressure to bring down high petrol prices, backing away from a freeze that had riled industry executives. The move comes as President Joe Biden finds himself under intensifying political pressure over high fuel prices, which have driven soaring inflation. The new leases will charge higher royalty payments from oil and gas producers than before — 18.75% compared with 12.5% previously — and significantly cut back on the amount of land that will be auctioned compared to what the industry had asked for. The energy crisis has taken precedence over the administration’s climate agenda in recent months, frustrating environmentalists who supported the president’s election campaign pledge for “no more drilling” on public lands. (Financial Times)*

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