WHAT WE’RE READING: News that UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was defying pressure from his own conservative party to go anti-green was good news, almost enough to forgive the Brits for Wednesday night’s game with the Tillies and the possibility flagged by several people that they were playing dirty.

According to the same people who demanded the UK leave the EU (and didn’t that go well!), Nigel Farage and pals want to wind back the clock on green progress and advance the timer on the Dooomsday clock instead. Clearly.

Sunak calls for a “pragmatic and proportionate” approach to cutting emissions and “expressing his support for motorists” means we still have the greenwash meter on full alert.

A new Ipsos poll showed a 13-point rise in Brits who are worried about what they see about our new global boiling phenomenon… in no surprise to anyone with eyes even partly open.

In the US though the conservative backlash has hit Target, Bud Light Beer, Disneyland and other retailers when they promoted gay and transgender pride, and it includes harassment of staff.

Alongside was that is that moves we reported a few months back, of jurisdictions wanting to prevent pension funds from divesting from fossil fuels, turns out to be not a one off but a canary in the coal mine, (so to speak).

According to a recent report in The AFR, Wall Street’s largest asset managers, private equity firms and brokers have warned that a “backlash against green and sustainable investing is now a material risk”.

“Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon has also reportedly told students at his former Hamilton College that he thought fossil fuel divestment was a stupid movement.

“Earlier this month, ratings agency S&P Global dropped its alphanumeric ESG scale used since 2021 to score publicly rated entities in some sectors and asset classes on ESG factors when assessing their credit quality.”

McDonald’s is also believed to have removed the term ‘ESG’ from some parts of its website.

NSW Anti-Slavery Commission

In Australia we don’t care about this kind negativity: we’re moving with the times.

NSW Anti-Slavery Commissioner Dr James Cockayne has just announced a new partnership with Clean Energy Council to tackle modern slavery risks in the renewable energy sector by developing a code of practice.

It’s believed to be the first initiative to address the growing evidence of modern slavery from the production of components such as polysilicon in solar panels, which we import from Xinjiang in China, where there is evidence of state-sponsored forced labour practices in manufacturing.

There is also evidence of illegal child and forced labour in cobalt mining in the Congo, which is a key component in lithium-ion batteries.

Clean Energy Council is also pledging to stand against modern slavery.

SBTi under fire

And we support questions on ethics and transparency always, right?

In this month’s release of Nature Climate Change (scientific journal), the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) faced questions from the science community over the lack of transparency in companies meeting targets.

Six researchers have accused SBTi of “rarely disclosing the approach and company inputs used to calculate individual targets,” meaning that it was “almost impossible to reproduce SBTs and verify or refute the SBTi’s claim of a scientific basis.”

One of SBTi’s technical advisory group members, Bill Baue, took to LinkedIn to say that many members had been complaining about this for a long time and that “the lack of transparency makes it impossible to apply the scientific method of independent replication & verification of results.

“I fret that this compromise of scientific integrity was driven by a perceived power asymmetry between business and science, with the former perceived as more powerful. Therefore, SBTi caved on its negotiating power,” he wrote. “We know this due to the fact that it signs NDAs with target-setting companies.”

Two key recommendations were made to the company to help increase transparency, which Baue said “seems pretty doable”.

The science community is now waiting with bated breath to see SBTi’s response to the report.

To repair or not repair?

The right to repair laws defines who has the right to repair an ebike when the bike or devices break and exists in many other countries to prevent manufacturers’ monopoly on device repairs and allow consumers to have options to repair it themselves.

However, ebike companies are now pushing back to be exempt from these laws after alarming stories of ebike battery fires, saying batteries are too complex to risk the consequences of laymen attempting repairs.

See our recent article, EVs may well be part of a low-carbon future but are we ignoring some inconvenient truths?

In Australia, a public enquiry that finished on 1 December 2021 with 243 submissions found that there are significant and unnecessary barriers to repair some products.

They said further government intervention was needed to increase manufacturer warrantees and give independents greater access to repair supplies, which would increase competition and affordability of repair services and there needed to be greater consumer information on a bike’s repairability and durability before they choose to buy a product.

Here comes the tiny house future

LG Electronics will unveil its LG Smart Cottage at the IFA Berlin Trade Fair early next month. The prefabricated cottages will be compact, with cutting-edge heating, ventilation, airconditioning (HVAC), energy solutions as well as the newest smart home appliances and services, the company says.

It will have a tiny footprint but has all the tech facilities you would need, but we’re not so sure about the looks. It’s as if all the creativity went into the tech and not the look and feel of the home. It was architect Tone Wheeler who first told us that to be sustainable a building (or thing) also had to be beautiful. So we love it and care for it. Like we do with humans, huh?


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