HOW BMW AND MERCEDES-BENZ ARE MISLEADING US: NOT AS GREEN AS THEY SAY!

 Just published on Impakter my latest in the series of the top 100 brands:

Battle of the Brands: Two Juggernauts of Luxury, BMW vs. Mercedes – How Sustainable?

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

Headlines trumpet the news when BMW beats Mercedes and vice-versa in the race for the world’s top luxury car – the two German carmakers tend to be first, ahead of their conational Audi. In 2020, the crown went to Mercedes on a global level but BMW won in the United States. But what about another kind of news, which one is better at going green? Which has adopted the more sustainable methods of production and is more socially responsible?  

The answer given by the Impakter Sustainability Index (developed after 2 years of hard work by a team of evaluation experts) surprised me. I bet it will surprise you too, and here is how I wrote it up in the article:

So where do BMW and Mercedes stand in the race to sustainability? 

To get an answer, I turned to the Impakter Sustainability Index, taking advantage of the deep digging the Impakter Index team did to unearth the reality of both carmakers’ claims to have green plans. And to be moving fast towards sustainability in production and social responsibility vis-a-vis all stakeholders. 

The answer may come as a surprise for some, it certainly surprised me. They are not doing as well as expected, not by a long shot. To sum up: I expected BMW, in particular, to do better than that since it’s supposed to produce the high-performance car par excellence. Could it be that it’s not “high-performance” when it comes to sustainability? 

Check out why both are doing so badly, click here.

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They are ALL lying to you: The world’s top brands are NOT going green

 This is one major article, published on Impakter, that I don’t want you, my dear readers, to miss:

For the World’s Top 100 Brands, Sustainability Is Elusive Despite Claims

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

For the 2020 Top 100 Global Brands, a list derived from Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands, the goal of sustainability continues to be out of reach, despite their many claims to the contrary. This is what the findings of a three-month analysis carried out by the Impakter Index team has just revealed (results published on 18 December 2020). 

The conclusion is clear: Most companies have a long way to go before they achieve full sustainability in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and targets pertaining to their area of activity – if ever. 

A high level of “greenwashing” is still prevalent among major household names. Some of them haven’t even started on the road to sustainability, others can never make it because of the very nature of their activities (based on/using fossil fuels or dangerous chemicals). Most are doing an average job though they claim otherwise, and none is one-hundred-percent sustainable. Not one. 

I know that many of my readers who’ve read my article when the Index was launched this summer (31 July), or saw Common Place editor, Quincy Childs’ endorsement, will want to go directly to the Impakter Index and check out their favorite brand (go to the Impakter home page or click here to see). You may well be surprised (or perhaps not) to find that in most cases, there is a stunning gap between what companies claim and what they actually deliver in terms of sustainability and social responsibility. 

Look at the findings, the table provides a summary view of the ratings obtained by the top 100 brands:

To find out how they are rated by the Impakter Index, go to my article, click here.

I promise you, you’ll be surprised (I know I was)!

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The World After COVID: Back to Capitalism as We Know it or Something New?

 Last week I reviewed two amazing books that propose a new world after COVID, doing away with capitalism as we know it but using radically different means to achieve this goal. Both my reviews were published on Impakter. Here’s the opening of my article:

Post-COVID: Blueprints to End Capitalism As We Know It

Capitalism as we know it is morphing into an “awful kind of techno feudalism” that only deserves to die, says Yanis Varoufakis. A radical statement but coming from the former finance minister of Greece who famously battled the European Troika for the Greek cause at the height of the debt crisis in 2015, it is no surprise.

Can activists in their battle against shareholder capitalism use financial engineering to bring Wall Street to its knees? That is the scenario Varoufakis proposes in his latest book Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present (published in September 2020 by Vintage), arguing that finance is the Achilles heel of capitalism.  And here’s the other must-read book I reviewed:

How To Reform Capitalism – Mariana Mazzucato’s Moonshots

The Trojan horse comes from another economist, an Italo-American, a woman, Mariana Mazzucato who has already shaken up the academic world of economics with her bestselling The Entrepreneurial State, published in 2015 with the subtitle: “Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths”. 

Her solution for post-Covid reconstruction? Work from inside the system

Give back to the state the role it played back in the 1960s when America, engaged in a space race with the Soviet Union, unleashed the power of the Federal Government.

She lays it out in her new book, just out, January 28, 2021: Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism (published by Penguin).

Mazzucato is Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL) where she is also Founder and Director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. And her ideas have already been adopted both by the European Commission and the Scottish government. 

Both are highly recommended reads! Curious? Take a look at my article, click here.

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Amazing Electric Cars Make Our Sustainable Future Look Like FUN!

You know, not everything is bad about climate change: It’s forcing the car industry to THINK DIFFERENTLY for the first time in decades and come up with exciting new electric models! I spent last Sunday researching it, and here’s the amazing stuff I found, the stuff of dreams! Check it out, here’s the opening salvo of my article published on Impakter:

Our Sustainable Future: Electric Dream Cars

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

Are electric cars just the cherished dream of eco-conscious consumers or a soon-to-become reality? With the coming of Biden’s strong climate policies and the Trump administration’s odious support of the fossil fuel industry finally out of the way, the United States as a whole – and not just Tesla – is back in the electric car race. Three days ago, on 28 January, GM announced that it would go much further than simply selling hybrid cars or a few electric models: By 2035, it would sell only zero-emission vehicles

This means that GM will phase out their most successful products: Gaz-guzzling S.U.V.s and pickup trucks. Thus putting another nail in the coffin of the internal combustion engine and heralding the coming of electric cars.  

The March of Electric Cars Around the World

Since GM is America’s car behemoth, employing 1 million people, more than any other carmaker in the U.S., the news made headlines and shook up the American car industry. The expectation is that much of the American car industry has no choice but to follow GM’s example. And catch up with Tesla that in the meantime has unveiled last year its famous electric trucks, the Tesla Semi and Cybertruck. Not to mention Tesla’s future roadster that should become available in three years, an astonishing machine capable of hitting 0-100km (60 miles) in 1,9 seconds flat, with a 400 km/hour top speed and a 1000 km autonomy: a supercar by any metrics (including the price: over $200,000).

And the American industry is definitely coming up with exciting new products in an “old” established category, pickup trucks, that has long been popular in the United States: 

WATCH THE VIDEO, IT’S REALLY COOL! Go to Impakter, click here. I hope you enjoy reading it (and watching the videos) as much as I did writing it!

In the featured image: Tesla Lineup Photo by Steve Jurvetson

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Bezos and Amazon: Going Really Green or Pretending?

 My latest article, just published on Impakter Magazine:

Bezos and Amazon: Going Really Green or Pretending?

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

Stuck at home because of Covid-induced lockdowns, we all love to shop on Amazon. We love to order online and get our favorite products without having to brave Covid-infested shops. We might also hear negative stories about Amazon mistreating its employees, but we tend to dismiss them. Instead, we listen to Bezos announcing a slew of green policies. And the latest news that Amazon is the biggest corporate buyer of clean energy tends to confirm that good impression. So we ignore the complaints from Amazon workers and feel good about buying from Amazon.  But are we right? Is Amazon really as green as it claims to be? 

The Impakter Index has just given Amazon a C rating. That means Amazon is “mediocre” on the front of sustainability. Why? How did that happen?

It’s a complicated story and it’s worth telling. Because the “green” claims are strong and yet the gap with reality is a chasm.

First the facts. As a result of the pandemic, Amazon, like all online marketplaces and cloud businesses, has grown exponentially in 2020. For now, Amazon enjoys an extraordinary moment of unalloyed success with the public. As Wired recently noted in an article exploring Amazon, both consumers and employees think of Amazon highly: Forbes rated Amazon the second-best employer in the world and YouGov placed Amazon fifth among the top ten brands according to consumers:

Read the rest on Impakter, click here.

And do let me know what you think!

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Exit Trump, Enter Biden: This is a Watershed Change

 Just published on Impakter Magazine:

EXIT TRUMP, ENTER BIDEN: CAN AMERICA MAKE A COMEBACK?

Can Biden mop up Trump’s disastrous legacy and enable America to make a comeback? Many see him as a savior, as coming to the rescue of a broken America. Make everything right again. A big task. As we all know, Trump skipped Biden’s inauguration, the first outgoing leader to do so since the 19th century, and in fact, the inauguration was radically different from any recent ones. The New York Times had to dig back into history to wartime stories in order to find similar crowdless, clouded inaugurations. It found three cases: in 1945, at the end of World War II,  Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fourth inauguration was “a spartan affair”; in 1861, on the verge of the Civil War when Abraham Lincoln was the target of an assassination plot; in 1865, coming out of the war when smallpox was raging.

This singular attempt of the NYT gives one a sense of how profoundly America feels wounded: Trump’s legacy is similar to a war. It tore apart the country and destroyed America’s image abroad. 

Unsurprisingly, Biden in his inaugural speech, noted grimly that the pandemic, notoriously mismanaged by Trump, had already killed 400,000 Americans, as many as World War II.

Read the rest of the article on Impakter, click here.

Let me know what you think!

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There is no Time to Lose: Climate Change is More than an Emergency

 My latest article on Impakter:

The World Needs to Wake Up: At Risk the Survival of Humanity

At a time when the world, battered by COVID-19, is watching with dismay the rocky transition from Trump to President-Elect Biden, a group of 17 world scientists reminds us that maybe all our worries are futile. What is at risk is something far more important: The very survival of humanity. The prognosis is dire and it comes in a just-released major perspective paper: “Underestimating the challenges of avoiding a ghastly future” published in Frontiers in Conservation Science. 

On the basis of a comprehensive yet concise assessment of the state of our civilization, these scientists – experts from major institutions including Stanford University, UCLA, and Flinders University – are telling us in no uncertain terms that the very survival of all species, ours included, is threatened. 

And that the outlook is far more dire and dangerous than is generally understood.

The causes are well known: A loss of biodiversity and accelerating climate change in the coming decades coupled with ignorance regarding the state of our environment and political inaction across the planet. 

In the researchers’ view, world leaders need a ‘cold shower’ to come to their senses and plan and act in time to avoid a “ghastly future”. Professor Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University noted that no political or economic system, or leadership, is prepared to handle the predicted disasters, or even capable of such action:

“Stopping biodiversity loss is nowhere close to the top of any country’s priorities, trailing far behind other concerns such as employment, healthcare, economic growth, or currency stability.

While it is positive news that President-elect Biden intends to reengage the US in the Paris Climate accord within his first 100 days of office, it is a minuscule gesture given the scale of the challenge.

Humanity is running an ecological Ponzi scheme in which society robs nature and future generations to pay for short-term economic enhancement today”.

A year ago, Paul Ehrlich was adamant that our civilization is about to collapse

Read the rest on Impakter, click here. Share the news, let me know what you think.

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Christmas in Palestine at the time of COVID-19

 My latest article, just published on Impakter:

Christmas in Bethlehem: The COVID-19 Experience of the Holy Family Hospital

What is Christmas like in Palestine at the time of COVID-19? There is no better place to find out about the challenges brought on by the COVID emergency than in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ. And in a hospital like the Holy Family Hospital run by the Order of Malta where most of the children in Bethlehem are born: It is both a center and a mirror of life in the region.

Until March 2020, life was normal in this sunny city of 25,000 people, six miles south of Jerusalem. Administered by the Palestinian Authority (PNA), people lived off tourism. And at Christmas, there was a peak of presence as pilgrims visited the Church of the Nativity, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2012. In 2019, the Church was even removed from the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in Danger because it had been so well-restored. And people flocked there for Christmas, as always. 

Not this year. 

When COVID-19 hit, Bethlehem was the first city to go under curfew, closing hotels, tourist shops, and all economic activities. Later on, COVID-19 spread to the surrounding district and also to the other districts in Palestine. As most families in Bethlehem depend on tourism for their income, the pain was immediate and long-lasting. 

The movement of people was drastically curtailed, except for medical personnel allowed to reach the medical centers. And I wondered how hospitals in the region addressed the COVID-19 emergency.

Read the rest on Impakter: click here.

Have a Happy Holiday!

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A Shameful Compromise to Unblock EU Budget

Just published a piece about the shameful compromise the EU Council has reached with Hungary and Poland in order to approve the €1.1 billion EU Budget and the Covid Recovery Fund. Here is the story.

To Unblock EU Budget: Hungary and Poland Off the Hook

Updated 11 December 2020: EU Budget effectively unblocked, Veto from Hungary and Poland is lifted, rule of law in the EU is compromised. The first to announce the news was the President of the EU Council, Charles Michel on Twitter.

It is time to consider whether countries like Hungary and Poland that flout the rule of law have any place in the European Union. And the European Council, all the European leaders starting with Merkel and Macron are sending out the wrong signal. Where did “European values” go? Disappeared in the Brexit fog? Indeed, why not have a Hungarexit and Polexit? And renegotiate their status in the Union with a new treaty similar to the one with Norway?

What follows here and was published yesterday explains what happened.

To find out what happened, read the rest on Impakter, click here.

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COVID-19 and Religion – And a word about my writing life

I’ve just had the pleasure (and honor) to co-author a piece on COVID-19 and…religion (!) – yes, a serious matter – with Richard Seifman, former World Bank advisor and health expert. Here’s the opening of the article published on Impakter Magazine:

CULTUREHEALTHPOLITICS & FOREIGN AFFAIRSSOCIETYNovember 20, 2020

The Role of Religion in Covid Prevention Response: Where Angels Fear to Tread

by Richard Seifman & Claude Forthomme

While bench scientists around the world continue to work on designing a safe and effective vaccine and therapeutics, drug manufacturing companies deal with the production aspects, and public health systems grapple with future distribution constraints, a different factor may await in the wings, one which can either help or hinder the achievement of prevention goals, namely religious tenets. World religions can make a difference in the race to distribute vaccines, for better or for worse, and we are already seeing their impact around the world.

To read the article, click here: https://impakter.com/role-religion-covid-prevention-response/

Then, as I looked back on my blog, I realized I’ve abandoned you, my friends, since…August! Way too long!

To remedy (just a bit), here’s the list of my articles published on Impakter since then – and for those of you who are writers (like me – I’m writing a children’s book series of fantasy travel), I draw your attention to the article about the launch of the Publishers SDG Compact. That’s pretty important for us writers!

Take a look below:

FUTURE OF EUROPE SERIESPOLITICS & FOREIGN AFFAIRSSOCIETYNovember 16, 2020

Hungary and Poland Block Europe’s Covid Recovery Fund

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

It happened today, 16 November. Hungary and Poland have managed to block Europe’s €750 billion Recovery Fund. Europeans rarely agree on anything and now the Visegrad group of East European countries led by Hungary and Poland is threatening Europe’s path to 

FUTURE OF EUROPE SERIESPOLITICS & FOREIGN AFFAIRSSOCIETYNovember 8, 2020

A Biden Victory: What it Means for the Rest of the World

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

Biden’s victory, as welcome as it is, means very different things for America and for the world. Here I will try to look beyond the coming eleven weeks of recriminations, accusations and lawsuits that Trump appears set to unleash. I 

POLITICS & FOREIGN AFFAIRSSOCIETYOctober 29, 2020

Why With Trump, There Is No Common Future

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

More Americans are beginning to realize what has been evident all along to impartial observers in Europe: If Trump gets another four years at the White House, it will mark the definitive decline of American power. Much to China’s and 

2030: DREAM OR REALITYCULTUREENTERTAINMENTLITERATUREPOLITICS & FOREIGN AFFAIRSSDG SERIESSOCIETYOctober 14, 2020

The Publishing Industry in Support of the SDGs: Launch of the SDG Publishers Compact

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

Today, 14 October, something special happened at the 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair: The SDG Publishers Compact was launched (SDG stands for Sustainable Development Goals). This is important first of all because of the venue: The Frankfurt Book Fair is the 

FUTURE OF EUROPE SERIESPOLITICS & FOREIGN AFFAIRSSOCIETYOctober 11, 2020

Why the Seven-Year EU Budget Needed for Europe’s Recovery Is in Trouble

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

Once again the European Parliament and the Council are at loggerheads over the EU’s seven-year budget. The “only” difference compared to previous negotiations is that, in this case, the 2021-2027 budget is anchored to a crucial instrument for economic recovery: 

FUTURE OF EUROPE SERIESPOLITICS & FOREIGN AFFAIRSSOCIETYSeptember 19, 2020

Europe’s New Direction: Green, Equitable, Digital

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

The new European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, the first woman ever to hold the job in its 63-year history, has set out to change Europe, pushing it into a new direction.  In the few months, she has been in 

Ok, that’s it for now. If you want to read any of those articles, it’s easy, just click on the article’s title. I hope you enjoy them, Let me know what you think!

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