Top Stories

July 04, 2022


India introduces ban on single-use plastic to combat waste

India has imposed a ban on single-use plastics on items ranging from straws to cigarette packets to combat worsening pollution in the country. Announcing the ban, the government dismissed the demands of food, beverage and consumer goods companies to hold off the restrictions to avoid disruption. Rapid economic growth has fuelled consumer demand for single-use plastic products but India, which uses around 14 million tonnes of plastic annually, lacks an organised system for managing plastic waste, leading to chronic littering. India's ban on single-use plastic items includes straws, cutlery, ear buds, packaging films, plastic sticks for balloons, candy and ice-cream, and cigarette packets, among other products. FMCG companies PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, India’s Parle Agro, Dabur and Amul had lobbied for straws to be exempted from the ban. (Reuters)


US investors to step up pressure on utilities after court ruling

Activist investment leaders who have urged US companies to cut carbon emissions said they expect more such efforts following a milestone US Supreme Court ruling that diminished the power of federal environmental regulators. By containing the US Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emission from coal- and gas-fired power plants, activist groups argue the court put responsibility on investors looking to slow climate change. Non-profit shareholder activist group As You Sow warned that investors will likely launch more engagements with companies ahead of the 2023 annual meeting season, adding that executives lately have been more receptive to suggested changes. Climate advocacy group Ceres also argued that utilities companies are unlikely to change course regardless of regulatory limitations by the court’s decision, due to significant existing investments in clean power technologies. (Reuters)


Switzerland offers finance-related voluntary climate disclosures

The Swiss Federal Council has launched a set of ‘Swiss climate scores’ as a new disclosure standard for financial institutions in the country. The scores, intended to be applied by all financial institutions and developed with a focus on equity and bond portfolios, contain five mandatory metrics and one optional metric. Institutions disclosing against the standard must publish Scope 1, 2 and relevant Scope 3 emissions from portfolio companies versus their benchmark, as well as their fossil fuel exposure, the proportion of portfolio companies with a verified net-zero target, their own net-zero targets, and details of stewardship and voting activities. The scores are currently voluntary, with the Council saying it would not be making formal checks to ensure they were being applied properly, but that it would review uptake. (Responsible Investor)*


UK to make single-sex toilets compulsory in new public buildings

New offices, schools, hospitals and entertainment venues will be expected to have separate male and female lavatories, UK government sources confirmed, in a move to curb the sole installation of gender-neutral facilities. Ministers are expected to formally announce that they will prevent non-residential buildings from being built solely with “universal” lavatories. The move will involve changes to building regulations and planning guidance. First proposed in 2021, the policy has been criticised as being transphobic as it offers no alternative plan for trans and non-binary people. Campaigners for trans rights have pointed out that gender-neutral toilets can be reassuring for some transgender men and women who fear harassment and discrimination in binary toilets. The secretary of state for housing at the time rejected the claims, saying gender-neutral facilities “reduced privacy” and “increased queueing”. (The Guardian)


‘Perfect storm’ of crises is widening global inequality says UN

Humanity is facing a “perfect storm” of crises that is widening inequality between the global north and south, the UN secretary general has warned. António Guterres added that the divide is not only “morally unacceptable” but dangerous, further threatening peace and security in a conflicted world. According to the secretary general, the global food, energy and financial crises unleashed by the war in Ukraine have hit countries already reeling from the pandemic and the climate crisis, reversing what had been a growing convergence between developed and developing countries. Guterres warned “all crises are contributing to the dramatic increase in inequality in the world and to a serious deterioration in living conditions of the most vulnerable populations”. Guterres also warned that the climate crisis is accelerating faster than the worst predictions of a few years ago. (The Guardian)

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