Top Stories

October 19, 2022


Cement firm admits paying IS $6m to keep Syrian plant open

French cement company Lafarge has pleaded guilty to paying $6 million to the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in exchange for permission to keep open a plant in Syria. The US justice department fined Lefarge $778 million. Prosecutors accused Lafarge of turning a blind eye to the conduct of the militant group, making payments in 2013 and 2014 as IS occupied a broad swath of Syria. The payments were designed to ensure the continued operations of a $680 million plant. According to Lafarge, the money was to be used to protect employees and keep a competitive edge. The US justice department said it was the first instance in which a company had pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organisation. (The Guardian)


HSBC climate ads misled consumers, says UK ad authority

Financial services company HSBC has been penalised by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over an advertising campaign that promoted the bank’s climate and nature investments. The ASA said ads for the bank “omitted material information” about HSBC’s significant investments in polluting businesses. The ASA said it had received 45 complaints about the adverts, which touted the bank’s plans to invest $1 trillion in helping clients transition to net-zero, and plant two million trees. In response, HSBC claimed its financing of greenhouse gas emitting infrastructure was “not in conflict” with modelling produced by the International Energy Agency. ASA added that it had told HSBC to ensure that future marketing communications featuring environmental claims were adequately qualified and did not omit material information about on-going contribution to greenhouse gas-emissions. (Business Green)*


Baileys liqueur becomes world’s biggest B Corp spirits brand

Diageo-owned cream liqueur brand Baileys has been certified as a ‘B Corp’, making it the largest spirits brand to achieve the certification. To be certified as a B Corp, brands must prove they are implementing best practice in managing their impact on consumers, communities, the environment and workers. They must also evidence having strong governance structures in place. B Lab, the certifying body, needs to give a brand an overall score of at least 80 points out of 200 for certification. Baileys scored a total of 83.3 points. On worker treatment, Baileys earned points for its benefits package and diversity and inclusion progress, including six-months paid annual leave for parents. On environment, Baileys is working towards net-zero operational emissions by 2030 alongside Diageo’s wider portfolio of drink brands. (edie)


Private firms lagging listed corporates in setting net-zero targets

Privately-owned corporates are setting net-zero targets only half as rapidly as their publicly-listed counterparts, analysis from Net Zero Tracker has revealed. The organisation compared the climate plans of the world’s 100 largest private firms, plus the world’s largest 100 public firms. Of publicly-listed companies, 69% have publicly disclosed a net-zero target, compared with just 32% of privately-owned firms. The gap was found to be more pronounced in corporates in high-emitting sectors, with 70% of public fossil fuel, infrastructure, manufacturing and materials companies listing a goal, compared to 17% in the private sector. Net Zero Tracker also found a gap between the credibility of climate plans from private firms compared with listed firms. 73% of the publicly-listed companies have disclosed plans to reach their long-term climate goals, compared with just 13%. (edie)


BlackRock, Vanguard tell UK inquiry they will not quit fossil fuels

The world’s two biggest asset managers BlackRock and Vanguard are among the financial institutions that have told a UK inquiry they will continue to invest in fossil fuels. BlackRock is among the asset managers attempting to take a neutral investment stance after Republican state governors in the US accused the institutions of staging a “boycott” on fossil fuels. BlackRock and Vanguard’s statements were in response to a request by the UK’s Environmental Audit Committee. BlackRock said its “role in the transition is as a fiduciary to our clients – it is not to engineer a specific decarbonisation outcome in the real economy”. Brookfield Asset Management also told the committee it had no exclusion policies for fossil fuels. Brookfield said it instead encouraged companies it invested in to reduce their emissions. (Financial Times)*

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