Top Stories

June 27, 2022


Businesses tread caution after Supreme Court abortion ruling

The US Supreme Court’s reversal of the constitutional right to an abortion has handed an instant challenge to business leaders, fearful of reprisals for taking sides on the topic. Few executives reacted publicly to the news, despite having had weeks to prepare after the draft decision to overturn the 1873 ‘Roe vs Wade’ ruling was leaked to Politico. Some have chosen to speak out including technology company Bloomberg’s founder who described the ruling as “the worst attack on the rights of American women in generations”. Other companies such as Walt Disney, Meta, Amazon, Citigroup and Microsoft said they would cover travel expenses for employees to access medical procedures. Meanwhile, however, campaign group UltraViolet calculated that 112 of the 250 largest US companies contributed to the campaigns of legislators who sponsored abortion bans. (Financial Times*; Reuters)


NHS Property Services pledges all-electric fleet on road to net-zero

NHS Property Services (NHSPS), which manages more than 10% of the NHS’s estate, has pledged to switch to electric vehicles (EVs) and to draw up a long-term biodiversity plan by 2025. The commitments form part of the Government-owned company’s new ‘Green Plan’, which outlines steps to be taken before the end of the 2024-25 financial year to support the NHS’s transition to net-zero emissions by 2040. The Plan includes a commitment to transition its 800 service vehicles and 130 company cars to electric. The organisation is in the process of developing an EV strategy, detailing plans for installing vehicle charging points and for procuring new vehicles. Other key commitments include using technology to mitigate paper use and provide web-based patient services, and prompting low-carbon approaches to construction and minor works. (edie)


Co-op funds new projects aimed at tackling farming emissions

British supermarket chain Co-op in partnership with its Foundation, has awarded £1.3 million across 14 innovation projects aimed at reducing emissions in the food, farming and aquaculture sectors. Successful projects that applied for finance from the retailer’s ‘Carbon Innovation Fund’ include Fal Fishery, which will increase production of oyster larvae at its hatchery, and Iona Development that will “kelp” the environment by doubling their harvest of sugar kelp to reduce the methane emissions of cattle. Other winning projects include the Fairtrade Foundation in Uganda which will scale up the production of fuel for cookstoves made from coffee farm waste. The Carbon Innovation Fund is financed through donations from Co-op based on the sales of its compostable carrier bags with the Foundation providing the rest of the fund’s budget. (edie)


Progress stalls on global biodiversity deal to halt nature loss

Efforts to draft an ambitious global agreement on halting nature loss has ended with little progress made in the Nairobi negotiations, leaving limited time for brokering a biodiversity pact in 2022. About 1,000 negotiators from 150 countries were supposed to finalise a new draft agreement on protecting nature and wildlife, which would then be considered for adoption at the next UN Biodiversity summit, known as ‘COP15’, in Canada. However, talks ended with wording of just two of the more than 20 goals being agreed. Those two goals address the sharing of knowledge and technology, and promotion of urban green spaces. Some critical environmental groups have argued that delegations are becoming less ambitious, with parties still debating whether to address issues such as pesticide use. (Reuters)


Anti-ESG laws pushed up cost of borrowing for Texas municipalities

Anti-ESG laws in Texas are harming the pricing of the state’s municipal bonds, according to a newly published research paper. The report explores the impact of two bills that came into effect in Texas in 2021, which exclude banks from government contracts if they have restrictions in place around fossil fuels or the firearms industry. The paper compares bond offerings of public issuers in Texas previously reliant on banned banks. It found that yields increased by 19.3 basis points for issuers that had at least 10% of their previous underwriting business with the banned banks. Texas’s anti-ESG legislation resulted in the “abrupt exit” of five of the largest bond underwriters from the state, including Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Fidelity Capital Markets. (Responsible Investor)*

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