Top Stories

May 05, 2022


Shell quarterly profits soar to $9.1 billion admit calls for windfall tax

Oil and gas company Shell has reported a record quarterly profit of $9.1 billion for the first three months of 2022, piling on pressure on the government to implement a windfall tax to fund soaring household energy bills. The first-quarter profit was boosted by a sharp rise in oil and gas prices, and compared with $3.2 billion during the first quarter of 2021. Campaigners have called for a one-off levy on companies benefitting from soaring energy prices to fund initiatives to reduce the burden of rising bills. However, the government has rejected windfall tax, saying it would discourage investment into domestic energy. Despite this, oil giant BP, which saw highest quarterly profit in over a decade, has stated none of its £18 billion UK investments would be dropped if a windfall tax were imposed. (The Guardian)


Data broker stops selling information on visits to abortion providers

The online data-location broker SafeGraph said it has stopped selling information on visits to abortion clinics after a report from magazine Vice revealed how easily the data could be purchased. The report raises concerns that “anti-abortion vigilantes” could use the data to target providers and their clients. Vice reported that it purchased a week’s worth of location data for over 600 Planned Parenthood locations across the US for just over $160 from SafeGraph. The data showed where groups of people visiting the reproductive health non-profit’s facilities came from, the duration of their visits and where they travelled afterward. The company responded to say its data is anonymised to protect the privacy of individual visitors. SafeGraph obtains and aggregates location data from apps installed on people’s mobile phones. (CNBC)


Barclays and Standard Chartered shareholders reject climate plans

Annual general meetings of banking giants Barclays and Standard Chartered were disrupted by climate activist investors calling for heightened climate targets. For Standard Chartered, almost 12% of its shareholders voted for a stronger resolution on climate finance, with a further 17% rejecting current climate plans to reach net-zero. While Standard Chartered has pledged to reach net-zero portfolio emissions by 2050, the company admits its target excludes more than half the markets it operates in. Activist investors such as ShareAction and Market Forces argue the bank should align with the International Energy Agency’s net-zero pathway. Similarly, Barclays saw 19.9% of its shareholders oppose its current climate strategy. Its strategy has faced criticism for lacking detail as it contains no new commitments to limit or end oil and gas financing. (edie)


EU accuses Apple of breaking competition law over contactless pay

The European Commission has accused technology company Apple of abusing its market position for contactless smartphone payments. In a preliminary finding, it said the company may have broken competition law by preventing rivals from accessing its “tap and go” technology. If the charges are upheld, Apple could be fined up to 10% of its global turnover of $36.6 billion based on its revenue last year. The Commission argues this behaviour has an “exclusionary effect” on competitors and “leads to less innovation and less choice for consumers for mobile wallets on iPhones”. In response, Apple said its payment system was only one of many options available to European consumers. It added that it has “ensured equal access” to mobile payment technology. More than 2,500 banks in Europe use Apple Pay. (BBC News)


US consumers recycle just 5% of their plastic waste, studies show

A report from NGOs the Last Beach Cleanup and Beyond Plastics has found that the recycling rate for post-consumer plastic in the US was just 5% to 6% in 2021. Similarly, the US Department of Energy released a new research paper analysing data from 2019, similarly concluding that only 5% of plastics are being recycled in the US. The researchers state that landfilled plastic waste in the US has been on the rise due to “low recycling rates, population growth, consumer preference for single-use plastics, and low disposal fees in certain parts of the country”. The problem has also been exacerbated by shifts in the global recycling market, including China’s 2017 ban on most US plastic exports. Around 85% of plastics end up in landfills, and the remaining 10% are incinerated. (The Guardian)





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