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Tech companies take more action to curb climate change

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tech

Several of Europe’s top tech companies have teamed up with Leaders for Climate Change, a Berlin-based climate change non-profit bringing together various entrepreneurs from Germany’s startup ecosystem. 

The companies brought together under this initiative are the likes of idealo, Delivery Hero, BlaBla Car, Wefox, Doctolib, Ecosia, GetYourGuide, Flixbus, Glovo, Cabify, Personio and major VC funds such as e.ventures, Heartcore Capital, Northzone, Picus Capital, Project A, Holtzbrinck Ventures, Acton Capital, and Earlybird.

“Our goal is to turn the whole digital industry climate neutral, influence policy makers to set a global carbon price and act as an example for other industries,” Ferry Heilemann LFCA Co-Founder, serial entrepreneur and investor, said in a statement. 

These companies will aim to fight the climate crisis by pledging to turn business models to become carbon-neutral, building an active community that sets more sustainable industry standards, and influence policymakers.

Currently, LFCA boasts a workforce of around 100,000 employees, alongside a billion active users, giving the initiative immense promise and potential to be able to drive measurable climate action on an industry level. 

The non-profit based their growth on the direct communication to industry leaders, which has taken LFCA from being a grassroot organizations of entrepreneurs to the international stage. 

“We bet on personal commitments. The only way for any founder or CEO to join our initiative is to fulfill the Green Pledge. This means that they have to measure, reduce, and offset their personal carbon footprint, and commit to doing the same with their companies.” Boris Wasmuth, LFCA and GameDuell Co-Founder explained in the statement.  

The Green Pledge made by the LFCA community members, is an attempt to reduce a company’s carbon footprint by 20 percent, while initiating a collective investment of over €4m in climate protection projects, saving more than 250,000 tons of CO2.

LFCA provides a clear framework and digital tools for climate action. Membership is free of charge but, to maintain it, companies must repeat the process of measurement, reduction, and compensation from year to year. 

More than 60 percent of member companies have already implemented impactful reduction measures, such as switching to renewable energy and carbon-neutral cloud providers or maintaining stricter travel policies. 

The average member company aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 20 percent in the first year.

In parallel, LFCA welcomed more than 25 leading VC funds into their “Sustainability Clause” program this year. 

They’ve integrated the clause into both default term sheets and shareholder agreements. As a result, many of the newly financed companies will commit themselves to measuring their carbon emissions and working on reduction measures.

“As much as voluntary actions from individual companies are needed to contribute to the global reduction of greenhouse gases, LFCA’s belief is that only strong political actions can ensure that greenhouse gases are reduced and removed in all industries and throughout the entire value chains,” the non-profit said in the statement.  

LFCA have called for the immediate establishment of an effective greenhouse gas pricing applied on a regional, country and global level (ideally). The expansion towards 100 percent renewable energy and the global implementation of natural greenhouse gas sinks, must be politically enforced as quickly and effectively as possible.

“We see climate action as a journey that everyone needs to start today at the latest! Therefore, we focus also on companies that are not sustainable yet but are willing to take measurable steps to change this. If we don’t focus on these segments, the impact of climate action will simply stay too small,” Jeremias Heinrich, Co-Founder LFCA and Arvantis Group, highlighted.

Big companies, specifically big tech companies, have also hopped onboard the climate change bandwagon and have started taking decisions that would drastically lower their carbon footprint.

Microsoft: over the past decade, the company has increasingly focused on lowering their whopping carbon footprint. Earlier this year, the tech titan announced their goal to become carbon negative by 2030.

The goal is to remove its total carbon footprint – emitted either directly or via electrical consumption – since its founding in 1975 by 2050.

BMW: the German vehicle company announced a roadmap for the phase up to 2030 that includes the first-ever CO2 goals for full lifecycle in the next decade, as it plans to lower carbon emissions from its production lines by 80 percent per vehicle produced. 

Amazon: the e-commerce titan has set a goal to become a net zero carbon company across all its ecosystem by 2040. Back in 2019, the company witnessed a 22 percent increase in net sales while its total carbon footprint increased by 15 percent. While Amazon has been making investments in solar energy and electric vehicles, it has further committed $2 billion in June 2020, under its Climate Pledge Fund to invest in companies, which will facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

In parallel, Apple will also work to achieve 75 percent lower emissions in the next decade, as it plans to develop carbon removal solutions that would cover the remaining 25 percent. 

Cisco: the tech company took matters a bit further by signing a long-term wind energy power purchase agreement (PPA), in its aim to receive 85 percent of its energy from renewable methods by 2022 with a 60 percent GHG reduction, according to the company energy roadmap.

IBM: the tech company has already managed to reduce 39.7 percent in operational CO2 emissions since 2005. IBM is also aiming to depend on clean energy for 55 percent of its energy demands by 2025.

Adobe: the organization set a goal to run its sites and deliver its products with 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, without the use of carbon offsets or unbundled renewable energy credits.

Apple: back in July, the company unveiled its plan of becoming a carbon neutral business across the board, promising that every Apple device developed and sold by 2030 will have a net zero climate impact. 

Facebook: Has already achieved a 59 percent reduction in operational GHG emissions in 2019 compared to 2017 levels and is on its way to achieve its target of 75 percent emissions reduction by the end of 2020.

Google: the tech titan became the first company of its size to match its entire annual electricity consumption with renewable energy. Today, Google is the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world.

Disney: the company aims to reduce its net emissions by 50 percent by 2020 compared to a 2012 baseline. Disney recently bought a new solar facility, which will generate enough power to operate two theme parks in Orlando. It will equate to reducing annual GHG emissions by more than 52,000 metric tons.

Economies and the environment don’t have to be at odds with each other. 

Companies who are actively taking steps to lower their carbon emissions are cutting down on energy costs, boosting employee morale, building a cleaner and more sustainable brand, while scoring points with their clientele, all while protecting the resources and planet we need to operate and thrive.

Yehia is an investigative journalist and editor with extensive experience in the news industry as well as digital content creation across the board. He strives to bring the human element to his writing.

Community

Remote work is becoming the new norm, should tech industries be worried?

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Remote work

Back in 1822, Charles Lamb, British poet and essayist wrote in a letter to poet William Worsworth “You don’t know how wearisome it is to breathe the air of four pent walls without relief, day after day,” describing the agony he faces while working in the East India Company’s office located in the heart of London’s Leadenhall Street. 

It’s safe to say Lamb would’ve enjoyed the COVID-19 pandemic that pushed workers into a work-from-home routine, liberated from what he coined as “official confinement.” Yet, this may not be the case any longer. 

A new survey of 2,000 UK tech workers and employers by Hackajob’s marketplace researchers resulted in shocking findings.  

Half of the employers who participated in the survey noted that it is extremely difficult to grow and enhance a strong team while working remotely, and 54 percent of the participants said having a distributed workforce caused a negative toil on the office culture. 

However, tech professionals have a different perspective on the matter. Hackajob’s researchers found that only 22 percent of tech workers agreed that remote working has a negative impact, while 44 percent noted that there isn’t much of a difference.  

The different findings mean one thing: businesses are increasingly facing challenges when trying to please their workers and ensure a productive workforce with the shift in job expectations. 

Hackajob noted that 72 percent of the tech workers surveyed cited remote working as the main element they look for during a job hunt, while 67 percent said that they’re looking for different opportunities that don’t require remote work. 

Co-founder and CEO of Hackajob, Mark Chaffey, made it clear that the increase in demand for tech workers might force businesses to reformulate their work culture, even though expectations of employers and employees “are not aligned at the moment.” 

“Tech workers are in demand and our data shows it is a buyer’s market now, so employees seem to be in the driver’s seat,” Chaffey added. 

For example, Microsoft recently warned that remote work can possibly have a harmful impact on workplace communication and productivity as it turns out that the tech giant’s own U.S. workforce was struggling with communicating back in March of last year when employees were forced to work remotely for the first time. 

Yet, other tech giants are maneuvering their way around remote work in a different manner. Google has given its U.S. staff the option to work remotely at the expense of salary deductions. 

In Hackajob’s survey, 53 percent of tech workers stated that they wouldn’t consider cutting their salaries to work remotely, in comparison to only 27 percent of participants who were okay with having potential salary adjustments. 

“It will be interesting to see what shifts first and what shifts furthest, workers’ expectations about remote working or employers’ demands about being in the office,” Chaffey said. 

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Ethical Tech

New FTC memo will transform the way big tech operates

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FTC

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan recently publicized her policy priorities and vision in a memo that was sent out to staff members on Wednesday. 

Supervised by five commissioners who vote on enforcement actions and policy statements, Khan set in stone the main priorities of the agency in the recent FTC memo: fixing power imbalances, reducing harm on the consumers, and targeting “rampant consolidation.” 

Khan laid out the main focus of the agency, as well as how it can adjust its strategic approach to overcome issues born by “next-generation technologies, innovations, and nascent industries across sectors.” 

FTC’s new list of priorities indicates that tech giants, even though none of them were named, will be under extreme scrutiny going forward. 

The five principles outlined in the FTC memo are the following: 

  1. Conduct a “holistic approach to identifying harms.” Khan noted that the agency should acknowledge that employees, private corporations, as well as consumers, can be equally harmed by antitrust and consumer protection violations. The famous antitrust lawsuits have previously emphasized strictly on consumer harm, as it was mainly concerned with how to price a product to ensure fairness. However, Khan argued in her memo that a more productive approach could be utilized to better assess harm by tech giants, which often offer free of charge platforms in exchange to high levels of engagement. 
  1. Keep an eye on “targeting root causes rather than looking at one-off effects.” Khan explained that the FTC workers should examine how business models or conflicts of interest go against the law. 
  1. Incorporate more “analytical tools and skillsets” for an overall assessment of business methods. 
  1. Enjoy “forward-looking” and work on stepping up quickly when harm is done, this includes focusing on “next-generation technologies, innovations, and nascent industries across sectors.” 
  1. Democratize the FTC through ensuring it’s “in tune with the real problems that Americans are facing in their daily lives.” 

“Research documents how gatekeepers and dominant middlemen across the economy have been able to use their critical market position to hike fees, dictate terms, and protect and extend their market power,” Khan wrote in the memo, adding that “deeply asymmetric relationships between the controlling firm and dependent entities can be ripe for abuse.” 

The FTC chairwoman also included non-compete agreements in her memo, which she says have the ability to restrict workers from which jobs they can take on, as well as impose restrictions on consumer’s right-to-repair. Apple has been criticized in the past for the limit it imposed regarding the number of times users can repair Apple devices they purchased.  

Earlier this year, the FTC vocalized its intentions to fighting these restrictions. 

“Consumers, workers, franchisees, and other market participants are at a significant disadvantage when they are unable to negotiate freely over terms and conditions,” Khan wrote in the memo.

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Community

Your favorite retail giant is pushing for weed legalization in the U.S.

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Cannabis

Back in June, Amazon announced that it will not screen employees for cannabis use. Fast forward to the present moment, and the retail giant is kicking it up a notch by calling on the U.S. government to fully legalize marijuana.

In a post on the company’s blog, Beth Galetti, Amazon’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources, wrote: “We strongly believe the time has come to reform the nation’s cannabis policy, and we are committed to helping lead the effort.”

“Today’s status quo is unfair and untenable,” added Galetti, who explained that it’s extremely difficult for firms to work around cannabis rules due to the blurriness between federal law and local measures.

Amazon’s move comes after a number of states began expanding weed legalization, with “36 states allowing some level of public access to cannabis and 18 states plus Washington, DC, legalizing recreational adult use,” according to Gizmodo.

The news might work for Amazon’s favor, as the majority of Americans approve of a similar policy in their state, as seen by a CBS News poll conducted earlier this year.

More specifically, the retail giant is lobbying for the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021, a house bill that aims to halt any kind of federal ban on the use of marijuana. The e-commerce firm has also publicized its support for the recently created Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, a homogenous bill put forward by the Senate.
“Pre-employment marijuana testing disproportionately impacts people of color and acts as a barrier to employment,” Galetti wrote. “We’ve found that eliminating pre-employment testing for cannabis allows us to expand our applicant pool.”

Over 250 warehouses, packaging stores, hubs and delivery centers in the U.S have been opened by Amazon so far this year, with more than 100 buildings expected to open by the end of September, according to the company. The e-commerce gorilla has welcomed over 450,000 people in the U.S. to work for them since COVID-19 began taking over. Currently, 750,000 Amazon employees are working on an hourly basis across the U.S.

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