Top Stories

May 06, 2022


UK Government outlines new legislation to rein in Big Tech

Technology giants such as Google and Facebook will have to abide by new competition rules in the UK or risk facing huge fines. The new UK Government Digital Markets Unit is to be given powers to clamp down on “predatory practices” of some firms. The regulation will have the power to fine companies up to 10% of their global turnover if they fail to comply. Alongside fines, tech firms could be handed additional penalties of 5% of daily global turnover for each day an offence continues. Besides boosting competition among tech firms, the rules also aim to give users more control over their data. The law will allow users to switch between phone operating systems such as Apple iOS or Android and social media accounts, without losing data. (BBC News)


Ørsted plans to grow coral reefs on its Taiwan wind turbines

Danish energy firm Ørsted plans to grow corals on the foundations of offshore wind turbines to find out if the method can be carried out on a larger scale, in coordination with Taiwanese partners and the ReCoral initiative. In 2021, ReCoral and Ørsted successfully grew juvenile corals at a quayside site. The proof-of-concept trials in June 2022 will involve a bid to settle larvae and grow corals at the Greater Changhua 1 Offshore Wind Farm, a major facility in waters off Taiwan’s coast. Ørsted states the project aims to “determine whether corals can be successfully grown on offshore wind turbine foundations and to evaluate the potential positive biodiversity impact of scaling up the initiative”. Corals play an important part in ocean ecosystems – acting as a source of shelter, food and protection against erosion. (CNBC)


EU citizens may sue states for unhealthy air pollution levels

Citizens in European Union countries may be eligible to sue their governments for financial compensation if illegal levels of air pollution damage their health, following advisory opinions at the EU Court of Justice. Around 10 EU countries including France, Poland, Italy and Romania have previously been found guilty of illegal air pollution. The Court said in a statement that a lack of “protection in air quality may give rise to entitlement to compensation from the State.” Claimants would need to prove that damage to their health had been directly caused by the air pollution. European Court Advocate Juliane Kokott added that it is often poorer communities that are exposed to highly polluted areas and particularly need judicial protection. EU court opinions are non-binding, but courts typically agree with them in subsequent rulings. (Reuters)


Plans to let hospitality staff keep tips shelved by UK Government

UK ministers are shelving plans to ensure that restaurant workers keep their tips, despite having first promised to do so in 2016, in a move that has angered trade unions. The UK Government announced in September 2021 that it would make it illegal for employers to withhold tips from workers, claiming it would help around 2 million UK workers retain their tips. However, the plan has now been dropped “for the foreseeable future.” Unions say that increasing numbers of businesses add a discretionary service charge on to customer bills while keeping all or part of the service charge. The legislation would have included a requirement for all employers to pass on tips to workers without any deductions, and laid out a statutory code setting out how tips should be distributed to ensure fairness and transparency. (Financial Times)*


Supersonic aircraft manufacturer signs carbon capture deal

Supersonic aircraft manufacturer Boom Supersonic has announced a long-term agreement with direct air capture (DAC) company Climeworks. The agreement will see Climeworks remove and permanently store Boom’s residual emissions from the atmosphere, helping the company achieve its net-zero carbon emissions target by 2025. Boom is currently developing a commercial airliner, ‘Overture’, capable of flying at roughly twice the speed of today’s commercial jets, and designed to be able to fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuel. Boom achieved carbon neutrality in 2021 and aims to reach net-zero by addressing its scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions partly through DAC solutions. DAC technology, listed by the International Energy Agency as a key carbon removal solution, extracts CO2 directly from the atmosphere for use as a raw material or permanently stores it. (ESG Today)

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