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Friday news roundup September 11, 2020

Friday news roundup September 11, 2020

Reaching air quality targets set by the WHO could boost the UK economy by £1.6bn annually, says new CBI study. If the UK were to meet the WHO guidelines for air pollution, which are stricter than the current UK legal limits, the resulting reduction in premature deaths, sickness absence, and lower productivity, could benefit the UK economy by £1.6 billion a year, according to “Breathing Life into the UK Economy.” The report also says that, under the current UK targets, three million working days are lost every year to air pollution. If WHO targets were reached workers would also benefit from increased earnings of £900m annually due to increased time in work. The Clean Air Fund, who the report was produced on behalf of, is urging the UK government to include a legally binding commitment to meet WHO air pollution standards by 2030 in the Environment Bill, which is due to be debated in parliament this autumn.

EU official says failure to reach a common asylum policy is partly responsible for the terrible conditions in a Greek refugee camp. Twelve thousand migrants and refugees were left without shelter earlier this week as fires destroyed the Mora refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. It is not known how the fires started but the camp faces tension between the camp’s residents, who are concerned about unsanitary living conditions, and local residents, who are increasingly resentful of the lack of national, regional, and international support for managing the influx of migrants and refugees on the island. Ylva Johansson, the European commissioner for home affairs, has described the situation facing the refugees and migrants as “unsustainable and unacceptable.” She says that the migrant camps “are primarily the responsibility of the Greek government,” but that “[t]he failure [of] the previous commission to actually reach a common European migration and asylum policy is also part of the problem.”

Citigroup announced Jane Fraser will be its new chief. The company’s current president and head of its global consumer division is to take over from current chief Michael Corbat when he retires in February. Fraser will be the first woman to lead a Wall Street bank. In 2019, Alison Rose became the first woman to run any of the big four banks in the UK when she was named chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland. The heads of seven of America’s biggest banks were questioned by Congress in 2019 about the lack of diversity in the industry and asked if they believed they would be succeeded by a woman or person of colour. None said yes. Talking about work–life balance in 2014, Fraser told CNN: “You cannot have it all at the same time. You can have it all, spread over decades. I think of my life in different chunks. When the kids were little, I needed to be around more, but it’s different now.” John Dugan, chair of Citi’s board of directors, believes Fraser will take the bank “to the next level.”

Amazon UK paid just 3% more in tax despite a 35% rise in profits. Amazon’s warehouse and logistics operation has said its corporation tax contribution for 2019 was £14.46m, up from £14.03m in 2018. According to accounts to be published by Companies House, pre-tax profits at the division increased by 35% to nearly £102m as revenues rose by 29% to nearly £3bn. The online retailer has benefitted significantly from the coronavirus lockdown and the rise in remote working. Amazon says its tax bill has been offset by government incentives related to its investment in infrastructure. The company said in a statement: “We pay all taxes required in the UK and every country where we operate, and focusing on one small piece does not provide a full picture of Amazon’s overall contribution to the UK. Corporation tax is based on profits, not revenues, and our profits have remained low given retail is a highly competitive, low-margin business and we continue to invest heavily.”