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Lower Carbon Choices Drives £38bn Ethical Market Growth

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Ethical spending has continued to grow despite difficult market conditions, according to the Ethical Consumer Markets Report released today by Ethical Consumer and Triodos Bank.

The value of ethical sales grew by 8%, during a period when inflation barely rose above 0.5%. And the overall value of the ethical market grew from £35bn to £38bn showing a continued commitment from consumers across all sectors to support more ethical products and services. Sales of electric, hybrid and other tax-band A-rated cars grew by 40% to nearly £7bn, and spending on solar panels rose by nearly 25% to £716m.

The value of money held ethically fell by 2%, largely caused by accounts being closed or moved from the Co-operative Bank. All other elements in the sector – including savings and investments with Triodos Bank – showed year on year growth. Ethical investment grew by 9% to £13bn. Combined ethical money and ethical spending totals rose from £78bn to £80bn.

In the food and drink sector, 2014 saw the first ever fall in a value of Fairtrade sales (4%) since the scheme began. This may have been caused by a combination of factors including falling market share at Sainsbury’s and the Co-op, Fairtrade’s biggest supporters in the retail sector, and growing sales at Aldi and Lidl, which have smaller Fairtrade ranges. The ethical food sector grew overall with a revival in organic sales, strong growth in sustainable fish sales, and a good performance in other ethical food sectors.

Charles Middleton, Triodos Bank Managing Director said: “Every one of has a role to play in tackling the pressing social and environmental challenges facing us, and making conscious choices about how we use our money is one of the most powerful ways each of us can make a difference. This includes the products we buy, the companies we buy from and the banks we entrust our money with. The report’s findings are a very positive sign for ethical consumption, demonstrating that despite continuing economic hardship, people are making conscious choices, and at a growing rate.”

Rob Harrison, Editor of Ethical Consumer magazine said: “Disappointing changes to government incentives for home renewable energy installations and lower impact motoring in 2015 will threaten the strong growth in sales of lower carbon choices identified in this report. Successive reports have shown that government incentives to encourage ethical behaviours can bring the most dramatic changes in consumer impacts and should be used more rather than less.”

The Ethical Consumer Markets Report has been acting as an important barometer of green spending since 1999 by tracking sales data across a wide range of consumer sectors from food to fashion.

You can download the report for free here.

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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