Top Stories

August 09, 2022


US-China diplomatic breakdown clouds global climate progress

China’s decision to halt bilateral talks on climate change with the US has cast doubt over the success of future global climate talks to address global warming and avert its worst impacts. Tackling climate change has been a key area of cooperation between the two superpowers and two biggest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions. However, China has now suspended talks on the issue less than 100 days before the next landmark climate summit, COP27, as part of its escalating retaliation over US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. Climate change was previously a consistent avenue for cooperation between the US and China even as tensions escalated on other issues like human rights, forced labour, sovereignty and trade, paving the way for the Paris Agreement in 2015 and COP26. (Reuters)


Merck accused of exploiting legal loopholes to reduce tax bill

Drugmaker Merck has defended the company’s approach to tax after a US congressional committee accused it of exploiting loopholes to avoid paying billions of dollars and blocking an inquity into its practices. Merck’s chief financial officer said it operates with the highest ethics and is continuing to cooperate with the Senate finance committee’s investigation. Merck is one of several US-based multinationals that have come under scrutiny from the committee, which is investigating how ‘Big Pharma’ uses a combination of offshore subsidiaries, tax exemptions and legal loopholes to slash their tax bills. In 2021, Merck paid an effective tax rate of 11%, almost half the US corporation tax rate of 21%. The Senate finance committee also accused Merck of stonewalling its investigation, adding that Merck twice declined to provide information to the committee. (Financial Times)*


Home Depot announces sustainability fixes across its business

US home improvement retailer Home Depot has announced it has reduced its combined Scope 1 and 2 direct carbon emissions by approximately 172,000 metric tonnes in 2021. In its new 2022 ESG Report, Home Depot reveals it has reduced its electricity consumption by approximately 11% year-on-year in US stores, while adding five new stores to its portfolio. Saving measures have enabled the company to reduce its electricity usage by 50% across its entire US portfolio since 2010. The report also details how Home Depot is working to encourage its customers to make more sustainable choices. Investments have allowed the company to reduce the number of trucks it needs on the roads to curb fuel emissions, and instal LED lighting to reduce operating costs and electricity consumption. (Business Green)*


India proposes national blue bond standard to attract listings

India’s financial regulator wants to align the country’s sustainable bond framework with international standards to boost domestic demand and participation for eligible securities. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) said that local issuers currently find foreign exchanges more attractive to list green bonds due to more favourable pricing. Indian companies have raised just $0.5 billion under its national green bond framework in the five years since its introduction. A draft update of SEBI’s framework is aligned to the most recent iteration of the ‘Green Bond Principles’, including blue bonds focused on supporting investments in healthy oceans such as sustainable fishing, coral restoration, offshore wind and eco-tourism. SEBI is also looking to enhance requirements for Indian green bonds including ongoing reporting and social and environmental risk disclosure. (Responsible Investor)*


Researchers develop algorithm to rate nature impact of food

Supermarket shoppers could soon be checking the environmental impact of the food they buy according to new research. Researchers from the University of Oxford have estimated the composition of 57,000 foods and drinks in UK supermarkets. The team assessed the impact of growing methods, processing and transport, against key environmental measures including greenhouse gas emissions and impact on nature. The researchers developed an algorithm to calculate an eco-score for the environmental impact of individual food and drink products. The algorithm rated products containing more meat and dairy much higher than those with more plant-based ingredients, reflecting a higher environmental impact. By contrast, many meat alternatives had between a fifth and less than a tenth the environmental impact of meat-based equivalents. (BBC News)

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