Top Stories

June 16, 2022


Race to Zero upgrades membership criteria on fossil fuels

The UN-backed Race to Zero campaign has updated its minimum membership standards. Among the additions are requirements for its members to end fossil fuel finance and lobbying which goes against climate science. Launched in the lead-up to COP26, Race to Zero has thousands of businesses and cities as its members. The campaign has now changed its criteria following an international consultation that received more than 200 comments. The new criteria include the “phase down and out all unabated fossil fuels as part of a just transition”. Another criterion is for all participants to publicly release a transition plan document on their long-term net-zero goals and 2030 targets. The updated criteria come into effect immediately for new joiners, while existing participants will have 12 months to update their approaches if needed. (edie)


Thinktank that briefed against XR given $30k by ExxonMobil

A new investigation into thinktank Policy Exchange  has shown that it received money from US oil company ExxonMobil and later published a report advising the UK government to criminalise Extinction Rebellion. Several Conservative MPs and peers cited the 2019 report in support of tougher new crime laws. Many of the report’s recommendations, including “to strengthen the ability of police to place restrictions on planned protest and deal more effectively with mass law-breaking tactics”, later appeared in the ‘Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts’ Act. An investigation by news website openDemocracy reveals that in 2017, the thinktank received $30,000 from US oil company ExxonMobil through the thinktank’s US fundraising wing the American Friends of Policy Exchange. Since 2012, the US wing has received almost $5 million in anonymous donations, according to publicly available financial filings. (The Guardian)


Instagram launches new parental control options in UK

Parent technology company Meta is launching new parental controls across its Instagram social media website. These include the option of setting daily time limits of between 15 minutes and 2 hours, after which a black screen appears on the app. Parents can also schedule break times and see any accounts their child reports, and why they did so. In addition, Meta is rolling out a parent dashboard on all Quest virtual reality headsets worldwide. Parents can now invite their children to activate the supervision tools. The VR controls include purchase approval, app blocking and the option to view their child’s friends’ lists. Another Instagram feature being trialled is a “nudge" tool which prompts teens to look for different subjects if they are repeatedly searching for the same thing. (BBC News)


Joe Biden calls for ‘immediate action’ on US oil refiners

US President Joe Biden has criticised oil refiners for not producing more petrol, saying their rising profit margins “at a time of war” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are “not acceptable”. In letters sent to seven oil companies including ExxonMobil, BP, Shell and Valero, Biden called for “immediate actions” to supply more fuel, and said the administration was prepared to use “all reasonable and appropriate” tools to help increase near-term supply. Biden called on the refiners to explain why they had shut down some plants that make fuel, which had contributed to “an unprecedented disconnect between the price of oil and the price of gas”. The president of the American Petroleum Institute lobby group welcomed the opportunity to “open increased dialogue with the White House”. (Financial Times)*


Almost 650,000 UK retail jobs have been lost since 2017

Almost 650,000 jobs have been lost in the UK’s retail sector over the past five years, according to new figures from the Centre for Retail Research. Researchers added that 72,580 stores have closed across the country since 2017. The 650,000 job losses include the 105,727 jobs lost in 2021 as the continuation of the furlough scheme kept losses below previous years. The figures come as high streets face significant increases in business rates with industry experts calling on the UK’s Prime Minister for caution over the rates to protect UK high streets. Business rates liabilities, the tax on UK commercial properties, are worked out based on a property’s “rateable value”. Tax office HM Revenue & Customs will conduct a revaluation of around two million non-domestic properties for business rates in 2023. (ITV News)

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