Saudi Arabia is over oil

The world’s most prolific oil producer is “addicted to oil”. That’s not a withering slight by the likes of Greenpeace. It’s the opinion of Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he unveiled radical plans to create a state economy that can “live without oil by 2020,” the BBC reports. Faced with a global oil glut and rising national debts the Kingdom has decided to create a sovereign wealth fund to cover post-oil expenditures, allows more women into the workforce and to diversify into other industries (though its choice of mineral extraction and military production might cause the world other headaches).

China wants to put coal on hold

Just as the Saudis see oil as a potential economic albatross so China is hoping to ditch coal from its electricity power generation portfolio. Yesterday, China issued guidelines that will halt plans for new coal-fired power stations in many parts of the country while construction of some approved plants will be postponed until at least 2018, The New York Times reports. China’s move comes as it looks to meet its COP21 climate change pledge and also reduce the tremendous pollution its citizens experience on a daily basis. That said, “even as coal becomes unpopular in China, the country’s biggest state-owned electricity generators are adding new coal-fired power plants at a pace not seen in a decade,” the NYT observes.

BHS owners took millions out of the business before it crashed

As 11,000 workers in the UK look set to lose their jobs following the collapse of iconic retailer BHS the Guardian reports that the current and past owners took millions out of the business in dividends and fees in recent years. More than £25 million was paid to BHS’s owner Retail Acquisitions in the 13 months that it owned the business following its purchase from billionaire tycoon Sir Philip Green. He and his family, meanwhile, are said to have collected £586 million in dividends, rental payment and interests on loan during their 15-year ownership of BHS. While no-one is saying Green did anything wrong (he has a long history of running successful retail businesses and insists he lost millions during his ownership), there are questions over why he sold BHS to new owners who had no experience in retail. One British member of parliament has called Green’s actions the “unacceptable face of capitalism”. 

Walmart rethinks organic

Another retail story now and news that Walmart is phasing out its Wild Oats organic food range in what Fortune terms a pivot by “focusing on the store [organic] brand Great Value and fresh produce. Two years ago Walmart made a big push into organic food - a move that has been copied by supermarkets across the US. They will now be watching Walmart’s next moves very closely because, as Fortune notes, the “move away from Wild Oats after just a few years of backing this initiative indicates [Walmart] hasn’t yet figured out how best to sell organic products to consumers that are spending lot more on the category.”

Sustainly's take on Food and Drink

Finally today, we’re staying with the world of consumer produce to tell you about our new Sustainly Trend Briefing on Food and Drink. It offers a snapshot of how General Mills, Heineken, Budweiser, McDonalds and other food companies communicate their sustainability and healthy eating initiatives to the public. You can download the Trend Briefing at Sustainly.

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