Davos and Climate Change
Jan 22, 2020


Although climate change leads the Davos agenda, a new CNBC survey of CEOs released Monday revealed that climate change issues weren’t even ranked among the top 10 threats to business growth.  In the survey, their number one worry was overregulation.  The four-day World Economic Forum conference brings together heads of state, CEOs, and other government and business leaders from around the world.  However, the WEF’s Global Risk Report has climate change in the number one spot for long-term risks.



BlackRock CEO, Larry Fink, published his annual letter to CEOs last week warning that “climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long term prospects.”  He also warns that the financial risks of climate change are bigger than any crisis he’s experienced in his career on Wall Street.  A new book, “The Green Swan: Central Banking and Financial Stability in the age of climate change,” cautions that a climate change triggered financial crisis would render central banks and financial supervisors powerless.



In Davos, the Bank of America CEO, Brian Moynihan, said clients want to invest in companies “doing right by society” and are sending the message that they want to own companies with a mission that aligns profits with broader social goals.  A vanguard of insurers and pension funds say part of the answer is a “temperature score” that gives a snapshot of how their investments are contributing to climate change. 



China, one of the biggest users of plastics, has unveiled a major plan to reduce single-use plastics across the country.  Non-degradable bags will be banned in major cities by the end of 2020 in all cities and towns by 2022.  The restaurant industry will also be banned from using single-use straws by the end of 2020, while hotels must not offer free single-use plastic items by 2025.  China has 1.4 billion citizens.  Although China is not the first country to ban single-use plastics, it’s just the latest step in the global war on plastics and promoting sustainability.


School Reminders


The Trump administration announced a proposed rule last week that would roll-back school lunch regulations, allowing more flexibility in the amount and types of fruits and vegetables served during lunch.  Currently, the law requires students in grades K-12 to have fruit with every breakfast and mandated schools serve a set amount of a variety of vegetables that include both leafy greens and starchy plants.  Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue argued that there’s too much food waste and a change needed to happen.  Nearly 100,000 schools and institutions feed 30 million children each day through the USDA’s school meal programs.



The U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the Department of Education is updating federal guidance for prayer in public schools and other initiatives aimed at protecting religious freedom.  The updated guidance will require state departments of education to provide a clear process for people to report complaints that individuals were denied constitutionally protected prayer.  It also requires those departments to report public charges of religious discrimination to the Dept. of Education, and adds a section describing religious expression and the Equal Access Act.


Making Our Way Around the Country


Uttered by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, he questions if the now popular meme and phrase “OK, boomer” in the workplace is considered age discrimination.  The Supreme Court was hearing a case concerning the standard a federal employee must meet to show his employer had engaged in unlawful age discrimination.  Currently, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prevents employment discrimination only against anyone over age 40, so younger generations have no federal protection from age discrimination.  According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, over 16,000 age discrimination charges were filed in the 2018 fiscal year.



In case you missed it, penalties for safety violations levied by the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) against employers who are not in compliance went up on Jan. 15.  This is a result of Senate Bill 40, passed last year, the penalties are now in alignment with those imposed by the federal Dept. of Labor’s OSHA enforcement program.  As a result, Nevada OHSA’s administrative penalties increased by 1.8%, effective immediately for any penalty assessed on or after Jan. 15, 2020, regardless of when the inspection was opened.



This week, the U.S. remembered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his fight for civil rights.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, and created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  If you haven’t been to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN, I highly recommend it.


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