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Top CEOs earn 183 times the average UK worker

The chief executives of the UK’s largest 100 listed companies earn on average £4.96m, up from £4.13m in 2010. Their income compares with an average take-home pay of £27,195 for full-time employees in 2014. The rise in executive pay puts average CEO salaries at 183 times that of average full-time workers, up from 160 times in 2010. The figures, published by the High Pay Centre, a UK thinktank, reveal that the top 10 highest-paid CEOs were paid more than £156m between them. Shareholders appear happy with the arrangement, with objections to executive remuneration comprising only 6.4% of total shareholder votes.

The State of Pay: High Pay Centre briefing on executive pay 

EU consumers waste 47m tonnes of food a year

Europeans waste around 47m tonnes of food every year, equivalent to 16% of all food sold to consumers, a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters finds.
The waste equates annually to 123kg of food per head. Of this wasted food, 97kg (almost 80%) is edible. The research is based on an in-depth study of six markets: the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Romania. The figures include the catering sector as well as household waste. The embedded ground and surface water (known as “blue water”) in unused food averages 27 litres per head per day, which is slightly higher than EU municipal water use. The rainwater (or “green water”) in wasted food amounts to 294 litres per head per day, the same as all the rainwater used for crop production in Spain. The figures come from data covering the period 1996–2005.

Environmental Research Letters report via IOPScience

Most of US public unaware of resource scarcity

Only four in 10 US consumers are “very aware” of the growing scarcity of essential natural resources, according to research by the Global Footprint Network. Among actions consumers are willing to take to conserve resources, 75% say they would buy locally grown food as much as possible, 72% say they would buy only as much food as their household would definitely consume, and 69% would seek out products in renewable packaging. In total, 90% of women say that fuller knowledge of resource scarcity would persuade them to alter their shopping habits, compared with 77% of men. The world used up “nature’s budget” (i.e. the total amount of resources that can be replenished after use during the year) by mid-August this year, the Global Footprint Network says. The non-profit group marks “Earth Overshoot Day” on an annual basis. In 2000, it took until early October to reach this point.

Global Footprint Network

Female-owned firms reach nearly 10m in US

The number of women-owned firms in the US jumped 27% between 2007 and 2012, reaching a total of 9.9m, according to government data cited by the US Women’s Chamber of Commerce. The surge comes despite a rise in overall employee-owned firms of only 2% during that period. More than one third of all private firms in the US are now female-owned. Firms with women owners tend to have an average of 8.5 employees, compared with an average of 13.5 employees for firms with male owners. Some 11% of women-owned businesses have employees other than the owner, compared with 23% of firms owned by men. Women-owned firms accounted for just 4.8% of receipts in 2012. The failure of women-owned firms to produce revenues commensurate with their numbers produces annual opportunity shortfall of more than $10tn. The US Women’s Chamber of Commerce figures are based on recently published data from the US Census Bureau.

US Women's Chamber of Commerce

Institutional Insights

Low power prices drive wind power in US

Demand for wind power is running at an all-time high in the US as the cost of wind energy becomes increasingly competitive, a report by the US Department of Energy reveals. Prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers average less than 2.5 cents per kWh, compared to 7¢/kWh in 2009. The drop in price is influenced by lower infrastructure costs. Wind projects built in 2014 had an average installed cost of $1,710/kW, down almost $600/kW from the peak in 2009 and 2010. The cost of wind turbines has fallen by between 20% and 40% over the past six years.

Investors are also optimistic. Last year saw 4.9GW of new capacity added to US wind capacity, representing a total investment of $8.3bn. Wind power represents one third of all new US electric capacity additions since 2007 and meets 5% of total electricity demand (as high as 12% in nine states).

At the same time, new federal government plans to push clean power could lead to the loss of 60GW of coal-fuelled power capacity by 2020, according to research firm GlobalData. The US has 326GW of coal power capacity at present. Natural gas is the other main source of power in the US, supplying 27% of all electricity.

US Department of Energy’s Wind Technologies Market Report


Climate change apathy highest in rich countries

Public denial continues to hamper efforts to prioritise global carbon reduction efforts. Three-quarters of adults in developed countries accept that climate change is happening, but only half think it is a threat to them. South Americans appear most concerned about rising temperatures, with more than 90% of citizens in every country expressing concern. This level is matched by Mexico, India, Tanzania and Morocco. In Europe, public opinion is swayed most heavily by education, according to the research, which analysed the results of Gallup polls taken in 119 countries. The United Nations warns that global warming will fuel war and migration. The frequency of natural disasters tripled between the 1980s and the first decade of this century.

“Predictors of public climate change awareness and risk perception around the world”

Company snapshots

Coca-Cola replenishes 154bn litres of water

Coca-Cola has improved its water efficiency by 10% since 2010, the drinks giant reveals in its latest sustainability report. The US-based multinational uses an average of 2.03 litres of water for each litre of product produced. It aims to reduce this to 1.7 litres by 2020. In total, the company used 304bn litres of water in 2014, the majority of which was either ground/surface water (154.2bn litres) or municipal water (148.5bn litres). Through its implementation of 209 conservation and offsetting projects, Coca-Cola replenished 153.6bn litres of water in 2014.

There are more than 3,600 products in Coca-Cola’s global portfolio, including 20 brands valued at more than $1bn. The company says that more than a quarter of its products have reduced-, low- or no-calorie contents. Its per-unit carbon footprint has dropped from 40.53 grams of carbon dioxide per litre of product in 2008 to 36.89 today. Coca-Cola’s overall greenhouse gas emissions for its manufacturing units have jumped from 5.14m to 5.55m tonnes over the same six-year period.

Coca Cola 2014-15 Sustainability Report

Diageo saves 2.87bn litres of water in 2014

Diageo has improved its water efficiency by 10.4% over the past 12 months, saving 2.87bn litres of water, the UK drinks giant reveals in its latest sustainability report. The London-based company, which introduced a Water Blueprint strategy in April this year, has cut wastewater by one third in water-stressed locations. Diageo has a goal of improving water use efficiency by 50% across its global operations by 2020. It has also committed to replenish the amount of water used in its final product in water stressed areas by the same date. The UK drinks giant produces more than 6.5bn litres of product across its brands – which include some of the world’s biggest-selling spirits – every year. It has manufacturing units in 30 countries.

Diageo Sustainability and Responsibility Performance Addendum 2015 to the Annual Report

IBM shaves $37.4m off energy bill

IBM reduced its energy use by 6.7% last year, exceeding its annual goal of 3.5%, the US technology firm reports. Conservation efforts reduced electricity consumption by 325,500 megawatt-hours (MWh), and fuel oil and natural gas use by 267,200m British thermal units. Collectively, these measures saved 142,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and resulted in savings of $37.4m in energy costs. Between 1990 and 2014, IBM saved 6.8 million MWh of electricity consumption, thus avoiding 4.2m tonnes of carbon emissions (equivalent to 61% of the company’s 1990 carbon footprint).

IBM 2014 Corporate Responsibility Report

UPS beefs up alternative fuel fleet

UPS’s fleet of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles logged 154m miles in 2014, nearly three times the distance covered in 2013, according to the company’s 13th annual Sustainability Report. The US logistics firm aims to achieve a cumulative overall distance of 1bn miles by 2017. It took UPS 13 years to reach a total of 350m miles. The company estimates that its fleet with register the same amount in 2017 alone. UPS’s alternative fuel fleet has increased in size by 61% over the last two years. It now numbers more than 5,000 vehicles. The firm’s investment in natural gas, propane, ethanol and other renewable and low-carbon fuels has helped it displace 25m gallons of petrol and diesel over the past 12 months, equivalent to 5.4% of its total fuel requirements.

2014 UPS Corporate Sustainability Report

Mars reports on sustainable sourcing efforts

The overwhelming majority – 87% – of the palm oil that confectionary and pet food manufacturer Mars buys is now from certified sources, according to its fifth annual Principles in Action Summary report. Working with the Forest Trust, a non-profit membership initiative, the US multinational recently conducted a desk-based analysis of 250 Malaysian palm oil mills. The findings will help it determine areas at risk of deforestation and other unsustainable activities. Mars’s updated sustainable sourcing strategy prioritises 23 raw materials (including cocoa, coffee, fish and peanuts), which represent 60% of its sourcing volume. The proportion of all Mars’s fish, black tea and cocoa purchases that are sustainability certified is 26%, 32% and 36%, respectively.

Mars’s Principles in Action 2014 

CEOs  fair wage  food waste  natural resources  gender equality  wind power  wind energy  climate change  coca-cola  water  Diageo  IBM  Mars  UPS 

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