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Volkswagen: The scandal explained - BBC News

Volkswagen: The scandal explained - BBC News | NRG_ENV_newsletter | Scoop.it
"We've totally screwed up," said VW America boss Michael Horn, while the group's chief executive at the time, Martin Winterkorn, said his company had "broken the trust of our customers and the public". Mr Winterkorn resigned as a direct result of the scandal and was replaced by Matthias Mueller, the former boss of Porsche.
"My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group - by leaving no stone unturned," Mr Mueller said on taking up his new post.
VW has also launched an internal inquiry.
With VW recalling millions of cars worldwide from early next year, it has set aside €6.7bn (£4.8bn) to cover costs. That resulted in the company posting its first quarterly loss for 15 years of €2.5bn in late October.
But that's unlikely to be the end of the financial impact. The EPA has the power to fine a company up to $37,500 for each vehicle that breaches standards - a maximum fine of about $18bn.
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World leaders hail Paris climate deal as ‘major leap for mankind’

World leaders hail Paris climate deal as ‘major leap for mankind’ | NRG_ENV_newsletter | Scoop.it
Almost 200 countries sign historic pledge to hold global temperatures to a maximum rise of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels
NRG_ENV's insight:

"all countries agree to reduce emissions, promise to raise $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries adapt their economies, and accept a new goal of zero net emissions by later this century."

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NRG_ENV's curator insight, January 11, 5:14 PM

"all countries agree to reduce emissions, promise to raise $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries adapt their economies, and accept a new goal of zero net emissions by later this century."

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Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg & More Than 20 Other Billionaires Launch Coalition To Invest In Clean Energy

"A day before the start of the United Nations climate talks in Paris, Bill Gates is announcing the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of more than 20 billionaires who have agreed to invest in innovative clean energy. “Our primary goal with the Coalition is as much to accelerate progress on clean energy as it is to make a profit,” Gates says in a post on his website.

 

Gates and world leaders will also be announcing an initiative called Mission Innovation, which Gates describes as “a commitment by more than ten countries to invest more in research on clean energy.” The 20 countries include the U.S., Brazil, China, Japan, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and many others. Each country pledges to double government investment in clean energy innovation and to be transparent about its clean energy research and development efforts."

NRG_ENV's insight:

The billionaires include:  CEOs of successful online enterprises including Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, CEO of Salesforce, CEO of Alibaba in China, and other like a prince of Saudi Arabia, VIrgin CEO Richard Branson

http://www.breakthroughenergycoalition.com/en/index.html

 

Mission Innovation website: http://www.mission-innovation.net/countries/ ;

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NRG_ENV's curator insight, January 12, 9:42 AM

The billionaires include:  CEOs of successful online enterprises including Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, CEO of Salesforce, CEO of Alibaba in China, and other like a prince of Saudi Arabia, VIrgin CEO Richard Branson

http://www.breakthroughenergycoalition.com/en/index.html


Mission Innovation website: http://www.mission-innovation.net/countries/ ;

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'Transparency in Pay' Executive Order -- Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information

'Transparency in Pay' Executive Order -- Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information | NRG_ENV_newsletter | Scoop.it

EXECUTIVE ORDER 13665

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How Wide Is the Gender-Pay Gap? U.K. Companies Will Have to Say

How Wide Is the Gender-Pay Gap? U.K. Companies Will Have to Say | NRG_ENV_newsletter | Scoop.it
Four years ago, almost 300 British companies signed up for a voluntary program that included a pledge to publish data on the difference between average pay for male and female employees.
Only five released the information.
Soon, they’ll likely have no choice. Prime Minister David Cameron is proposing ambitious new rules that will require government agencies and companies with more than 250 employees to publicize statistics on their gender pay gap.
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PWC's 18th Annual Global CEO Survey

PwC's 18th Annual Global CEO Survey aims to inform and stimulate the debate on how businesses are facing today’s challenges.
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NRG_ENV's curator insight, January 12, 1:43 PM

"Talent diversity and inclusiveness are no longer seen as ‘soft’ issues, but rather as crucial competitive capabilities. Of the CEOs whose companies have a formal diversity and inclusiveness strategy, 85% think it’s improved the bottom line. And they also see such strategies as benefiting innovation, collaboration, customer satisfaction, emerging customer needs and the ability to benefit technology.

...

Regulation fears keep CEOs awake at night, but so do many other concerns. 78% cite over-regulation as the top threat to business growth prospects. That’s an increase of 6% from last year. Rising taxes, as well as government response to national deficits and debt burdens, also remain top threats. But concerns are coming from a variety of other places – many, for example, are anxious about geopolitical uncertainty and social instability. Though CEOs are displaying increased concern about almost all the threats we raised, cyber security, the speed of technological change and the availability of key skills are getting special attention. And business leaders see regulatory change, increased competition and changes in customer behaviours as the top-three disruptive forces in their industry over the next five years."

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Great Lakes Water Quality Remains in Spotlight in 2015

Great Lakes Water Quality Remains in Spotlight in 2015 | NRG_ENV_newsletter | Scoop.it
Safe drinking water tops list of concerns.
NRG_ENV's insight:

“Following one of the region’s most dire public health crises—the 2014 toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie that shut down water supplies for half a million people in Toledo—2015 was a stark illustration of the range and severity of water quality problems in the Great Lakes that threaten people and ecosystems.

The threats are widespread. Lake Erie experienced this summer its largest ever outbreak of toxic algae, while blooms of the same algae species stretched along more than 1,000 kilometers (636 miles) of the Ohio River. In Flint, Michigan, researchers uncovered evidence that a switch in the city’s drinking water source is likely behind a spike in lead levels in the city’s children. The finding prompted a federal investigation of Michigan’s safe drinking water program. And in Wisconsin, a group of citizens asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to intervene after years of what they see as a systematic failure and dismantling of state water protection programs.

The 2014 Toledo crisis focused national attention on water quality issues and was widely acknowledged as a wakeup call for Ohio. By February 2015, state and federal lawmakers had mobilized more than $US 188 million in a bipartisan effort to reduce the risk of Lake Erie algae. The influx of money helped cities in the Lake Erie basin upgrade their water and wastewater infrastructure. It also funded algae research and monitoring, and assisted farmers in implementing management practices that reduce runoff of phosphorus, a nutrient found in fertilizer and manure that drives algae growth.

 

New policies soon followed. In April, Ohio passed its first law regulating how and when farmers can spread fertilizer and manure on their fields, though it applies only to farmers in the state’s western Lake Erie Basin. The governors of Michigan and Ohio, along with the premier of Ontario, signed an agreement in June to cut the amount of phosphorus pollutionflowing into western Lake Erie by 40 percent over the next 10 years.

Nonetheless, recent research gives a worrying prognosis for Lake Erie’s health. The number of harmful algae blooms is likely to double over the next century due to climate change, according to an Ohio State University study published this month. Less snow, heavier spring rainfall, and warmer temperatures are expected to provide ideal growing conditions for algae. The changing climate means the states may need to reduce phosphorus pollution even further than 40 percent to control the toxic blooms, the study’s authors said.”

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A mucky business

A mucky business | NRG_ENV_newsletter | Scoop.it
The scandal broke on September 18th, when America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that several diesel-engined VWs and Audis had software which switched NOx-controlling technology on only when faced with the highly predictable sort of demands seen under test conditions. The NOx-emission limit for a fleet of cars is 0.07 grams per mile (0.04g/km); under normal conditions the cars were 40 times over the limit. The EPA ordered VW to recall around half a million cars in America to fix the software. On September 22nd the company admitted that in 11m vehicles worldwide there was a “noticeable deviation” between the NOx emissions seen in official testing and those found in real-world use.

On the basis of 482,000 cars sold and a maximum fine of $37,500 per vehicle under the Clean Air Act, the Department of Justice could in theory fine VW $18 billion. In practice the punishment may be a lot less severe.
NRG_ENV's insight:

"The German carmaker’s... use of hidden software to deceive American regulators measuring emissions from diesel-engined cars has plunged VW into crisis. And as the scandal provokes further investigations it seems likely to throw into question a wider range of claims about emissions and fuel efficiency. It could thus be a blow to much of the industry—one that might be large enough to reshape it.

 

The damage to VW, the world’s biggest carmaker, is cataclysmic. The company’s shares have collapsed by a third since its chicanery surfaced (see chart 1)."


"Why did VW take the risk of cheating, given the devastation that has followed? There seem to be three parts to the explanation. The first is an overwhelming desire for size. The company has been obsessed with surpassing Toyota and becoming the world’s biggest car company, despite making little money from its most high-volume products (cars carrying the VW badge make up 60% of sales but the profit margin on them is just 2%). This required that the company increase its small share of the American market—the largest after China (see chart 3)."

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After Paris, utilities look to deeper decarbonization

After Paris, utilities look to deeper decarbonization | NRG_ENV_newsletter | Scoop.it

"...The 2 degree goal will require stronger action than is planned under the Clean Power Plan or any other current pollution-cutting policy. ...
For the U.S. electricity sector, these realities mean that while the Clean Power Plan is the first federal action to limit carbon emissions from the power sector, it will likely not be the last."

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NRG_ENV's curator insight, January 11, 6:28 PM

"The idea is that even if an investment, like a gas plant or a pipeline, looks good in today’s regulatory environment, utilities need to think about where policy and regulation will likely move in the future. Because power sector assets generally last for decades, the decisions that utilities make today will shape their abilities to decarbonize years down the line."

...

"

PG&E was the largest U.S. electric utility to sign on to President Obama’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge, committing to reach 60% carbon-free energy and invest $3 billion on grid modernization annually through 2020, but it is not the only one thinking about deeper emission cuts.

Duke Energy, the largest utility in the nation historically known for its coal generation, has also taken steps in recent years to increase renewable energy and pursue decarbonization.

“We’ve reduced our emissions already from our generation fleet by 22% since 2005,” Diane Denton, director of energy and environmental policy at Duke Energy

"

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The U.S.'s 'Strictest' Equal-Pay Law Is About to Go Into Effect

The U.S.'s 'Strictest' Equal-Pay Law Is About to Go Into Effect | NRG_ENV_newsletter | Scoop.it
Starting in 2016, companies in California will be required to justify any pay disparities between men and women doing "substantially similar" work.
NRG_ENV's insight:

"“Under the Fair Pay Act, Californian companies are now required to justify pay differences between male and female employees doing “substantially similar” work regardless of job title. (Prior fair pay legislation only required men and women of the same job title to be paid equally.) This effort to close the gender pay gap—women on average make 84 cents for every dollar men make in California—also includes language that legally guarantees employees the right to ask coworkers about pay without retribution from management.” 

What companies are doing:

“Meanwhile, some companies have already been addressing the gender pay gap with their own initiatives. In November, the cloud-software company Salesforce, which is headquartered in San Francisco, reviewed 17,000 employees’ salaries to see if female employees’ pay was in line with those of male employees doing similar jobs. The company then spent $3 million to adjust its payroll for the sake of parity. Making pay formulas more transparent is another way to make sure men and women are paid equally: Buffer, a San Francisco based social-media management company, is open about exactly how it determines pay for each employee and even includes a calculator so employees can check their salaries against the formula.” 

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NRG_ENV's curator insight, January 12, 11:59 AM

"“Under the Fair Pay Act, Californian companies are now required to justify pay differences between male and female employees doing “substantially similar” work regardless of job title. (Prior fair pay legislation only required men and women of the same job title to be paid equally.) This effort to close the gender pay gap—women on average make 84 cents for every dollar men make in California—also includes language that legally guarantees employees the right to ask coworkers about pay without retribution from management.” 

What companies are doing:

“Meanwhile, some companies have already been addressing the gender pay gap with their own initiatives. In November, the cloud-software company Salesforce, which is headquartered in San Francisco, reviewed 17,000 employees’ salaries to see if female employees’ pay was in line with those of male employees doing similar jobs. The company then spent $3 million to adjust its payroll for the sake of parity. Making pay formulas more transparent is another way to make sure men and women are paid equally: Buffer, a San Francisco based social-media management company, is open about exactly how it determines pay for each employee and even includes a calculator so employees can check their salaries against the formula.” 

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White House Council of Economic Advisors Report: Gender Pay Gap - Recent Trends and Explanations (April 2015)

NRG_ENV's insight:

"On Equal Pay Day, however, we focus on a stubborn and troubling fact: Despite women’s gains a large gender pay gap still exists. In 2013, the median woman working fulltime all year earned 78 percent of what the median man working full-time all year earned. Phrased differently, she earned 78 cents for every dollar he did. Although this gap generally narrowed between the 1970s and 1990s, it has largely stopped narrowing and has remained between 76 and 78 cents since 2001."

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NRG_ENV's curator insight, January 12, 12:17 PM

"On Equal Pay Day, however, we focus on a stubborn and troubling fact: Despite women’s gains a large gender pay gap still exists. In 2013, the median woman working fulltime all year earned 78 percent of what the median man working full-time all year earned. Phrased differently, she earned 78 cents for every dollar he did. Although this gap generally narrowed between the 1970s and 1990s, it has largely stopped narrowing and has remained between 76 and 78 cents since 2001."

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How concerned are CEOs about climate change? Not at all

How concerned are CEOs about climate change? Not at all | NRG_ENV_newsletter | Scoop.it
PwC’s 18th annual global CEO survey, released Tuesday to coincide with the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos, failed to even ask 1,322 business leaders about their global warming concerns after only 10% registered concern the previous year.

A spokeswoman for PwC said that climate change did not make it into the top 19 risks CEOs were questioned about because of their lack of interest in the subject.

At a time when sustainability experts are calling for tougher regulation to drive climate action, the PwC survey shows that overregulation leads the list of CEOs’ perceived risks, with 78% saying it threatens their organisation’s growth prospects.

This level of concern is the highest ever seen in the survey and up six points from last year. Countries where concern about overregulation is highest include Argentina (98%), Venezuela (96%), the US (90%), Germany (90%), the UK (87%) and China (85%).

Other high-priority risks include the lack of key skills in the talent pool, government responses to fiscal deficit and debt burden, geopolitical uncertainty, cyber security and social instability.
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Number of severe algal blooms in Lake Erie to double, forecast says | News Room - The Ohio State University

Number of severe algal blooms in Lake Erie to double, forecast says | News Room - The Ohio State University | NRG_ENV_newsletter | Scoop.it
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Beijing Air Pollution Worsens Though Red Alert Set to Be Lifted

Beijing Air Pollution Worsens Though Red Alert Set to Be Lifted | NRG_ENV_newsletter | Scoop.it
Air pollution in Beijing worsened even as environmental regulators embarked on a round of inspections to evaluate emergency measures being taken in China’s north to curb the toxic levels of smog.
NRG_ENV's insight:

"Concentrations of PM2.5 -- the smallest particles that pose the greatest health concern -- rose to 435 micrograms per cubic meter at Tiananmen Square … The World Health Organization recommends daily average exposures of no more than 25 micrograms.

…toxic smog [has] prompted Beijing officials to issue …red alert for the city, the highest on a four-tier warning scale. The alert, running through the end of today, has prompted school closures, traffic restrictions and limits on factory production. Air quality in the Chinese capital may improve tomorrow, the monitoring center forecasts.

Toxic smog enveloping a majority of China’s northern and eastern regions continues to apply pressure to local governments to take counter measures. Red alerts have been imposed in at least five cities including Beijing and four in the surrounding Hebei province, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Monday."

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NRG_ENV's curator insight, January 12, 11:16 AM

"Concentrations of PM2.5 -- the smallest particles that pose the greatest health concern -- rose to 435 micrograms per cubic meter at Tiananmen Square … The World Health Organization recommends daily average exposures of no more than 25 micrograms.

…toxic smog [has] prompted Beijing officials to issue …red alert for the city, the highest on a four-tier warning scale. The alert, running through the end of today, has prompted school closures, traffic restrictions and limits on factory production. Air quality in the Chinese capital may improve tomorrow, the monitoring center forecasts.

Toxic smog enveloping a majority of China’s northern and eastern regions continues to apply pressure to local governments to take counter measures. Red alerts have been imposed in at least five cities including Beijing and four in the surrounding Hebei province, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Monday."