Top international headlines: Climate crisis continues to top business agendas around the world

BlackRock uses its proxy for climate good, BHP may be exiting oil and gas, and more.

Elon Musk does an about-turn on Bitcoin, signalling that Tesla once again has an appetite for the cryptocurrency following an environmental investigation, while the EU wants to be able to track crypto-assets. BHP is rumoured to be considering an exit from oil and gas as asset manager BlackRock provides a handy dashboard of its efforts to block shareholder and management decisions based on climate-related reasons.

BlackRock stays climate-focused
Asset manager BlackRock did not support the management of 319 companies for climate-related reasons, according to a stewardship report for the period ended 30 June.

Overall, BlackRock said it supported 35 percent of 843 shareholder proposals that it voted on in the recent proxy season, up from 17 percent in the previous year. Of those, it backed about two thirds of the environmental resolutions, and about a third of the social and governance proposals, according to the report. Last year, BlackRock said it supported 11 percent of the environmental proposals, seven percent of the social resolutions and 20 percent on governance.

The world’s largest fund manager said it held more than 2,300 conversations with company executives on climate and natural capital in the year ended 30 June, up from 1,200 in the prior year, reports Bloomberg.

Is BHP exiting oil and gas?
BHP Group is considering a multi-billion dollar exit from oil and gas, according to people familiar with the matter, reports Bloomberg.

BHP’s energy assets make it an outlier among the world’s biggest miners – rival Anglo American has already exited thermal coal under investor pressure and BHP is trying to follow suit.

Unilever cuts operating margin forecast
Unilever has warned that surging commodity costs would squeeze its full-year operating margin, overshadowing strong second-quarter sales growth fuelled by the easing of pandemic-related curbs in many of its markets, reports Reuters.

Rising prices of everything from crude to palm and soybean oil made the company cut its operating margin outlook to “about flat” from “slightly up” earlier. The company also flagged greater uncertainty surrounding its forecast.

The warning dragged shares of the FTSE 100-listed company down 4.4 percent on the day, making it the top loser on the index in morning trading.

Musk bullish about Bitcoin again
Bitcoin has jumped past $30,000 (R435,814) as Elon Musk said Tesla is “most likely” to start accepting it as payment again, reports BBC News.

This after the electric carmaker said, two months ago, that it would no longer accept the cryptocurrency for purchases, citing concerns over the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining, which uses huge amounts of electricity.

However, during the B Word cryptocurrency conference, Musk said, "I wanted a little bit more due diligence to confirm that the percentage of renewable energy usage is most likely at or above 50 percent, and that there is a trend towards increasing that number, and if so, Tesla would resume accepting Bitcoin."

EU law focuses on Bitcoin transfers
Proposed changes to EU law would force companies that transfer Bitcoin or other crypto-assets to collect details on the recipient and sender, according to BBC News.

The proposals would make crypto-assets more traceable, the EU Commission said, and would help stop money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The new rules, which would also prohibit providing anonymous crypto-asset wallets, could take two years to become law.