Top Stories

May 25, 2022


Home Depot investors back racial audit, deforestation proposals

US-based home improvement retailer Home Depot shareholders have voted in favour of proposals calling for an independent racial audit and a report on the company’s links to deforestation in its wood sourcing. The racial-equity resolution calls for directors to authorise an independent audit into the effectiveness of the retailer’s practices related to stakeholders who are Black, Indigenous or people of colour, and to minority communities. The resolution flagged an incident in which a store employee was suspended when he refused to remove a ‘Black Lives Matter’ logo from his uniform. The racial-audit proposal gained traction after advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. recommended that shareholders back it. Separately, the wood sourcing resolution asks Home Depot to produce a report that assesses if, and how, it could boost efforts to eliminate deforestation from its supply chains. (Bloomberg)*


BoE: UK banks face up to £225 billion in climate-related credit losses

UK banks and insurers that fail to manage the risks associated with climate change could suffer a 10-15% hit to their annual profits, according to the Bank of England. The results of the regulator’s inaugural “climate stress tests” indicated that banks could incur up to £225 billion in credit losses by 2050, while insurers’ asset values could fall 15% under a worst-case scenario. The stress test looked at the exposure of the largest 19 UK banks and insurers to climate-related risks – both physical risks, such as flooding, and “transition” risks, such as potential regulatory changes. Insurers stood to lose out both from the impact of climate change on their investments and payouts. Insurers’ assets could fall 8% in the most benign scenario, but 15% under the most extreme scenario. (Financial Times)*


ONS: hybrid working grew in the UK even as pandemic rules relaxed

More than a third of working adults in the UK spent at least part of their time working from home in 2022, an official survey of working patterns shows. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown that 84% of workers said they wanted to continue splitting their time between home and the office after the pandemic, while the ONS also found hybrid working patterns had shifted towards employees spending more working hours at home. The ONS found improved work-life balance was reported to be the main benefit of working from home for at least some of the week, cited by 78% of hybrid workers. Meanwhile, 52% of hybrid workers said they found it quicker to complete their work at home, due to fewer distractions. (The Guardian)


Clearview AI fined £7 million in UK for illegally storing facial images

Facial recognition company Clearview AI has been fined more than £7.5 million by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and told to delete its data of UK residents. The company gathers images from the internet to create a global facial recognition database. It takes publicly posted images from social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and other sources – usually without the knowledge or consent of the platform. The ICO says Clearview has harvested more than 20 billion facial images globally, and states that this practice breaches UK data protection laws, ordering the firm to stop collecting and using the personal data of UK residents. Clearview no longer does business in the UK, but its previous clients include the Metropolitan Police, the Ministry of Defence, and the National Crime Agency. (BBC News)


UK now third most attractive clean energy investment economy

The UK has climbed two places to the third spot in professional services company EY’s bi-annual ranking of the attractiveness of national renewable energy investment. EY’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index saw the UK rise from fifth place to third just after China and the US. Several policy decisions and major moves in the private sector contributed to the UK’s increase in attractiveness, the report finds. With a target of delivering 95% of electricity generation from low-carbon energy by 2030, the UK hopes to host 50GW of offshore capacity by the same date. According to the report, investors have been drawn by proposals to simplify the planning process for many renewables, and the UK’s decision to relax planning rules for battery storage projects has made the UK an attractive market. (edie)

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