COP24 deal brings Paris pact to life as UK banks face proving their resilience to climate change. Meanwhile Barclays allows customers to block gambling payments, Johnson & Johnson shares plunge after asbestos scandal and Stella McCartney slams “fast fashion.” Lori Campbell rounds up the top sustainable stories of the week.
COP24 climate change deal to bring Paris pact to life
UN climate talks in Poland finally ended with a deal to put the Paris agreement into practice by 2020.
Last-minute rows over carbon credits, which are awarded to countries for their emissions-cutting efforts, threatened to derail the two-week summit and delayed the signing of the deal by a day. But delegates believe the new rules will ensure that countries keep their promises to cut carbon.
Negotiators settled on most of the key elements of the “rulebook”, including how governments will measure, report on and verify their reductions in emissions.
However, largely absent from these talks, which had a technical focus, was the key issue of how countries will step up their targets on cutting emissions.
A new report by Climate Action Tracker (CAT) revealed the world is set for 3C of warming from pre-industrial levels by the end of this century. Scientists say this would be disastrous, resulting in droughts, floods, sea level rises and the decline of agricultural productivity.
In the UK, London mayor Saqiq Khan declared a ‘climate emergency’, proposing that London aim to be carbon neutral by 2030 rather than 2050 as planned, and called on the government to do more to prevent an ecological catastrophe.
Barclays allows customers to block gambling transactions
Barclays has become the first UK high street bank to allow customers to block payments to certain types of retailer, including gambling services and premium rate phone lines.
In a bid to help vulnerable customers, it is now possible to ‘turn off’ certain categories of retailer by simply pushing a button on the bank’s mobile app, via telephone banking or going into a branch.
Barclays developed the feature with input from debt charity the Money Advice Trust. It also builds on evidence from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, the charity set up by MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis. This showed the blocker would benefit people with mental health issues and addictions, and those who rely on a carer or guardian to handle their finances, while helping all customers to take control of spending.
Johnson & Johnson shares plunge after asbestos report
Shares in US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson plummeted more than 10 per cent this week, wiping nearly £32 billion off the firm’s market value after it was revealed it had known about asbestos in its talcum powder for decades.
The scathing report comes as the company faces 11,700 lawsuits claiming that its talc products caused cancer.
A review of court documents by news agency Reuters found the company had been aware of trace amounts of asbestos in its products since at least 1971.
Lawyers for Johnson & Johnson said: “Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder is safe and asbestos-free.
“The Reuters article is one-sided, false and inflammatory. Simply put, the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory.”
Bank of England may test banks for climate change impact
UK banks may be tested for their resilience to the impact of climate change, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said this week.
Carney said he was weighing whether the risks and opportunities from climate change should be the BoE’s “exploratory scenario” test for banks.
The exploratory scenario test was introduced in 2017 and takes place every two years, with the next one due in 2019. It has no pass mark, unlike the main, annual health check which all lenders passed this year.
The BoE said in October that banks must come up with credible plans for protecting themselves against risks from climate change and may need to hold more capital.
Stella McCartney slams fast fashion as threat to the environment
Fashion designer Stella McCartney has called on business leaders and politicians to help the industry reduce its impact on the environment.
McCartney, whose luxury clothing label avoids material like leather due to its impact on land and water resources, said “fast fashion” – items that are worn a few times then thrown away – is wrecking the planet.
Her comments, while sidestepping specific names, referred to companies that move trends from the catwalk to shop hangers as quickly as possible, including Asos Plc, Amazon and Boohoo Group Plc.
Speaking at an event hosted in London by Vanity Fair magazine, McCartney said: “People wear, on average, fast fashion about three times before it’s thrown away. We need to educate.”