International CSR Watch - December 10 2020 Weekly Issue

The editorial team | 10 Décembre 2020 | 1932 mots

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Our international bulletin on sustainability, governance and responsible finance (22 news)

Deutsche Bank to link management pay to CSR targets

On Monday, Deutsche Bank announced it planned to link management pay to ESG criteria. From 2021, management compensation would be tied to reaching targets on sustainable finance investments, on the sustainability ratings it receives from five ESG rating agencies and on succeeding in reducing the lank's own energy consumption. The bank did not disclose how much of management pay is related to ESG. Banks such as BNP Paribas have tied around 20 per cent of variable pay to meeting ESG criteria.
#Governance

Shell top executives leave after discord over green push

Among a split over how far and how fast Royal Dutch Shell should shift towards cleaner fuels, key executives resigned from the group. Marc van Gerven, who headed the solar, storage and onshore wind businesses at Shell; Eric Bradley, who worked in Shell’s distributed energy division; and Katherine Dixon, a leader in its energy transition strategy team, have all left the company in recent weeks. While Shell is expected to announce its strategy for the energy transition, the executives pushed for a more aggressive shift from oil, while the top management is more inclined to stick closer to the company's current path. 
#Governance

Downer completes $1.4 bn SLL facility

Downer, a leading provider of integrated services in Australia and New Zealand, has completed the refinancing of the Group's debt platform with the establishment of a $1.4 bn sustainability linked loan facility. The sustainability aspect of the new facility is underpinned by KPI metrics relating to Downer’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions and social sustainability (being cultural awareness and mental health and wellbeing training of Downer employees) that, if achieved, will lead to a reduction in financing costs.  
#Responsible finance

New York state pension fund to divest fossil fuels

After an eight-year fight with climate activists, New York State's controller, Thomas DiNapoli, announced this week that the state would divest its pension fund from gas and oil companies by 2025 and that it would decarbonize the entire portfolio by 2040. This new move is the largest by a pension fund in the United States.  
#Responsible finance

American companies might have to disclose ESG data

If the Biden administration sticks to its election promises, American companies might have to disclose more information on carbon emissions, diversity and other sustainability metrics. Today, listed companies only have to disclose ESG information if they consider it material to investors' perception of the business."Until we have some authoritative body, and maybe regulation mandating what to do, it’s just going to be the Wild, Wild West when it comes to standards and reporting for the time being," said Louis Coppola, executive vice president at the Governance & Accountability Institute. 
#Responsible finance #ESG reporting

Allegations of sexual harassment at a Mattel toy factory 

Two NGOs, China Labour Watch and Action Aid France, recently disclosed a report on working conditions in two Chinese factories, one of them a Mattel-owned factory, and the other one a supplier of Mattel, Chicco, Fisher-price and Tomy. According to the report, employees face workplace psychological violence, as well as insufficient health and safety prevention. The report also reveals that female workers are exposed to sexual harassment. 
#Human rights #Responsible procurement - Supply Chain

Gap steps up sourcing of sustainable cotton

Gap Inc., accelerating efforts to have 100 percent of the cotton used in its products sustainably-sourced by 2025, has joined the US Cotton Trust Protocole and Textile Exchange's 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge. Alice Hartley, director of product sustainability for Gap Inc., said in a statement "Continuous improvement is important to Gap Inc., which is why we have decided to begin sourcing more sustainable fibre through the US Cotton Trust Protocol. As part of our commitment to address climate change by aligning with the best science and industry practices, we have ambitious targets across metrics to lower carbon emissions and preserve precious natural resources like water."
#Human rights #Responsible procurement - Supply Chain

US Supreme Court assesses corporate complicity in child slavery

After years facing accusations over child labor, Nestlé USA and Cargill were auditioned by the US Supreme Court this week. Six former child slave are asking for damages from both companies, alleging they were trafficked and forced to work on Ivory Coast cocoa farms. According to their attorney, the companies knew their suppliers in Africa were using child labor. On the other side, lawyers for Nestlé USA and Cargill argue that the defendants are "not the locators, not the overseers, and not the farm". The final ruling is expected by the end of June. 
#Human rights #Responsible procurement - Supply Chain

Google workers condemn firing of Black AI ethics experts

More than 1,200 Google employees and more than 1,500 academic researchers spoke out in protest after Timnit Gebru, a Black specialist of the ethics of artificial intelligence, said she was fired by Google. Previously, she emailed an internal group of women and allies, expressing frustration at Google's diversity programs. Within Google, a dispute over her research arose in November, when a senior manager told her she would have to either retract or remove her name from a paper she had co-authored. "I felt like we were being censored and thought this had implications for all of ethical AI research," she told Wired. "You’re not going to have papers that make the company happy all the time and don’t point out problems. That’s antithetical to what it means to be that kind of researcher." 
#Controversy #Diversity - gender equality

Vitol will pay $163 million to settle corruption and manipulation charges

Swiss-based energy trader Vitol agreed to pay $163 million to settle criminal and civil charges that its employees paid bribes to gain an advantage when bidding for oil contracts in Brazil, Mexico and Ecuador. The deal includes a deferred-prosecution agreement with the Justice Department, allowing Vitol to escape charges if it stays out of trouble for three years. The company will pay a $90 million fine to the DOJ and an additional $45 million in a coordinated settlement with Brazilian authorities, according to U.S. prosecutors. The group also settled a probe by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a civil regulatory agency. It will pay at least $28 million to the CFTC. 
#Business ethics - corruption

CMA launches probe over takeover of Asda

The UK's competition regulatory announced it has launched a stage one probe into the takeover of supermarket Asda by two brothers, along with private equity group TDR Capital. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was investigating whether the deal would lead to a "substantial lessening on competition within any market or markets in the UK for goods or services". A verdict is expected on 18 February.  
#Business ethics - corruption

EDP CEOs resign amid corruption probe

Thechief executives of Portuguese utility EDP and its subsidiary EDP Renewables (EDPR) have officially resigned, five months after being suspended in the wake of a corruption scandal involving former economy minister Manuel Pinho. Both executives denied any wrongdoing. 
#Business ethics - corruption #Governance

Facebook faces US legal action over competition

US federal regulators and more than 45 state prosecutors have sued Facebook, accusing the social media of taking illegal actions to buy up rivals and stifle competition. They say that Facebook's purchases, in particular of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, eliminated competition that could have one day challenged the company's monopoly. If the prosecutors succeed, the cases could reshape Facebook. 
#Business ethics - corruption

General Electric fined for misleading investors

Following an investigation by the US Securities Exchange Commitee, the conglomerate paid a 200 M$ fine to settle without admitting nor denying guilt for publishing misleading profits and risk estimations between 2015 and 2017. 
#Business ethics #Investigation - Sanction

Orange first company to receive certification for inclusive artificial intelligence

The french telco Orange announced it has become the first company to be awarded the GEEIS-AI certification (Gender Equality European & International Standard for Artificial Intelligence). Orange backed the initiative last April and signed up to a charter aimed at supporting non-discriminatory artificial intelligence within companies, in applications such as human resource management processes. It then passed an external audit assessing compliance with the GEEIS-AI requirements.
#Digital responsibility #Diversity - gender equality

UK sets new 2030 carbon emissions target

Last week, Boris Johnson set a new carbon emissions target for the UK. He announced the objective of a 68% reduction in annual carbon emissions by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, a significant increase on the current target of about 57% reductions. The announcement has been broadly welcomed, although scientists say it does not guarantee dangerous climate change will be avoided.
#Climate

Carbon emission cuts in Europe were achieved by the poorest (Oxfam)

According to a new report by Oxfam and the Stockholm Environment Institute, the poorest half of Europeans have cut emissions by almost a quarter, while emissions from the wealthier 10% continue to rise. Disparities are also apparent between member states with the richest 10% of citizens leaving in Germany, Italy, France and Spain, collectively responsible for the same emissions as the entire population of 16 member states. "The EU Green Deal can target the emissions of the richest while directly benefiting lower income Europeans. It’s time to ban SUVs, tax aviation fuel, and invest in housing renovation and public transport to end fuel poverty, create millions of decent jobs, and cleaner air for all," said Tim Gore, Oxfam's head of climate policy and report co-author.  
#Climate

World governments must cut fossil fuel production

According to a report by the UN and partners, the world's governments are "doubling down" on fossil fuels despite the urgent need for cuts in carbon emissions to tackle the climate crisis. The researchers consider that the production of coal, oil and gas have to fall by 6% a year until 2030 to keep global heating under the 1.5-degrees Celsius temperature limit. The report urges reduction of existing government support for fossil fuels, introduction of restrictions on production, and stimulus funds for green investments.
#Energy #Climate

Amazon signs solar PPA with Engie

Amazon has signed several corporate power purchase agreements (PPA) with Engie for a global renewable energy portfolio of wind and solar projects accross the United States, Italy and France, representing 650 MW. 
#Renewable Energy

Volkswagen to miss CO2 compliance in 2020

Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen, said the automaker will miss its CO2 compliance target in 2020 and might not respect it in 2021. Some weeks ago, the group announced it was increasing its planned investment in digital and electric vehicle technologies to 73 bn € over the next five years. 
#Transports - mobility #Climate

UK's first electric vehicle charging forecourt opens in Essex

While the UK government recently brought forward its ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 to 2030, a first dedicated car charging forecourt in the country has opened in Essex. The site is the first of over a hundred 'electric fourecourts' being built by Gridserve over the next five years. The site will enable 36 EVs to be charged simultaneously. Its chargers can deliver up to 350kW of power, enabling drivers to add 200 miles (320km) of range in just 20 minutes.
#Transports - mobility

Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestlé named worst plastic polluters

For the third consecutive year, the environmental initiative Break Free From Plastic found that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé are the companies creating the most plastic pollution. For the survey, 15,000 volunteers in 55 countries collected 346,494 pieces of plastic from their surrounding environment. "We need to stop plastic production, phase out single-use and implement robust, standardized reuse systems. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé should be leading the way in finding real solutions," said Emma Priestland, Break Free From Plastic's global corporate campaigns coordinator.  
#Pollution

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