Business briefing

The daily business briefing: July 15, 2021

EU outlines ambitious fossil-fuels pivot, regulators sue Amazon over hazardous product recalls, and more

1

EU outlines ambitious plan to pivot from fossil fuels

The European Union on Wednesday outlined an ambitious proposal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation requires that renewables make up 40 percent of the bloc's energy sources by 2030 — compared to 20 percent now — and calls for phasing out sales of new gas and diesel cars by 2035. The plan also includes a controversial new tariff on imports from high-emitting countries. "Our current fossil-fuel economy has reached its limit," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. "We know that we have to move to a new model." The EU accounts for just 8 percent of the world's carbon emissions but "its cumulative emissions since the start of the industrial age are among the world's highest," The New York Times explains. 

2

Federal regulators sue Amazon over hazardous product recalls

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a federal agency that reports directly to the president and Congress, filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Wednesday alleging the online retail giant refuses to recall hazardous products at regulators' direction. The suit claims Amazon flouted CPSC rules for removing unsafe wares listed on its site, usually by small, third-party sellers. Amazon says it is "unclear as to why the CPSC has rejected" a prior offer to expand its recall procedure or why the agency has "filed a complaint seeking to force us to take actions almost entirely duplicative of those we've already taken."

3

Judge approves sale of Surfside condo collapse site

A Florida judge on Wednesday approved the sale of the site of the Champlain Towers South, the condo building in Surfside, Florida, that collapsed in June leaving at least 97 people dead. Proceeds of the sale, which is expected to bring around $100 million, will go to survivors of the collapse and victims' families. The land's use after its sale will be a point of contention. Some survivors have said they would like to move into a new building reconstructed on the same site; some family members of victims, however, would prefer to redevelop it only as a memorial.

4

Stocks wobble ahead of weekly unemployment figures

Stock futures edged down Thursday ahead of the opening bell while investors awaited fresh signs on the status of the economic recovery. Unemployment-application figures for the week ending July 10 will be released Thursday morning. S&P futures were down 0.3 percent, while those of the Dow were down 0.4 percent, and futures for the Nasdaq were up slightly by 0.1 percent. Fed chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday told lawmakers that inflation, while high, would likely level off. He also signaled that the Fed had no plans to change its ultra-low-interest rate policies. He will speak to the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.  

5

J&J recalls 5 sunscreens over cancer-causing chemical

Johnson & Johnson is recalling five spray-on sunscreens "out of an abundance of caution" after an investigation discovered they contained a potentially cancer-causing agent called benzene. The sunscreens affected are Neutrogena Beach Defense, Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport, Neutrogena Invisible Daily, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer, and Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreens. Consumers are encouraged to stop using these products and the company is working to pull them from store shelves. High levels of exposure to benzene have been linked to cancer. J&J says it doesn't use the chemical in its manufacturing process and is investigating how it got into its products. The recall is the "newest black mark for the company's consumer unit," The Wall Street Journal says: J&J recently faced lawsuits over its talcum baby powder and links to cancer. The company's consumer-health unit brought in $14.1 billion in sales in 2020. 

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