Top Stories

July 15, 2022


Facebook-owner Meta releases its first human rights report

Facebook owner Meta has released its first annual human rights report, following years of accusations that it turned a blind eye to online abuses that fuelled real-world violence in places like India and Myanmar. The report, which covers due diligence performed in 2020 and 2021, includes a summary of a controversial human rights impact assessment of India that Meta commissioned law firm Foley Hoag to conduct. In its summary, Meta said the law firm noted the potential for "salient human rights risks" involving Meta's platforms, including "advocacy of hatred that incites hostility, discrimination, or violence." Meta said it was studying recommendations but did not commit to implementing them as it did with other rights assessments. Critics have accused the report of being “selective” and downplaying the company’s role in citing hate speech. (Reuters)


Microsoft signs 10-year carbon removal deal with Climeworks

Technology company Microsoft has signed a 10-year agreement with direct air capture (DAC) company Climeworks. The company first announced its intention to source carbon removal solutions from Climeworks in January 2021, a year after pledging to achieve carbon-negative operations and supply chains by 2030. Climeworks claims its deal with Microsoft is one of the largest in the DAC space and will support the removal of tens of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. According to Microsoft’s chief environmental officer, the multi-year offtake agreement with Climeworks will put the company on track to reach net-zero by 2030. Climeworks currently operates 17 DAC plants, including Orca, which is operating on a commercial basis. Orca came online in September 2021 with CO2 removal capacity of 4,000 tonnes per year. (edie)


Asda employees ‘skipping meals’ due to monthly payroll errors

Some employees at UK supermarket Asda are having to skip household bill payments, take out loans, and use food banks due to regular payroll errors that have seen thousands of staff underpaid by £500 or more a month. The scale of the problem emerged after Asda admitted to members of the Scottish parliament that its external payroll firm had made nearly 11,000 errors in recent months, affecting the wages of 5,500 staff. Reports found staff using food banks and payday lenders because of inaccuracies in their pay. Others reported that overpayments, clawed back the following month, had resulted in their benefits being cut. Asda stated that it is working closely with its payroll partner to ensure the issue doesn’t happen again. (The Guardian)


Pensions minister opens taskforce to scrutinise ‘S’ in ESG investment

UK ministers have launched a new taskforce to scrutinise environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing by pension schemes amid concerns that the ‘social’ factor of investment has been neglected by fund managers. The group, headed by pensions minister Guy Opperman, will focus on the ‘social’ aspect of ESG and look to gauge the impact of pension cash on issues like community engagement, consumer protection and modern slavery. Opperman said that while environmental and governance aspects of ESG had seen strong uptake from pension funds, social factors still lacked enough standardisation and clarity to be practical for investors. The new taskforce will span both public and private sectors and set out metrics by which fund managers can be held to account on the social impact of their investments. (City AM)


SEC moves to soften filing threholds for shareholder proposals

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed new rules that could make it easier for shareholders to get ESG resolutions onto the ballots of companies. Three existing rules will be impacted by the proposal, including one that has historically been used by listed companies to block ESG and climate resolutions from investors. The SEC plans to change the wording of the ‘substantial implementation’, to require companies to prove they have implemented the “essential elements” of the resolution before they can justify vetoing a vote. Another rule – ‘substantial duplication’ – will prevent proposals that use the same wording but have opposing objectives from being omitted. Under revised rules, a resolution would only be excludable if it addresses the same subject matter and the same objective by the same means. (Responsible Investor)*

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