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Climate Factors Fuel Both Gloom and Bloom for Car Makers



car fumes by Riley Kaminer via flickr (1)

A new report, analyzing 15 of the world’s largest automakers with combined market capitalization of US$846 billion, has found that tightening regulations on emissions are having a significant business impact in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal six months ago.

The report uses data from CDP – voted no. 1 climate change research provider in 2015 by institutional investors – and shows Volkswagen is not the only car maker potentially facing significant penalties as regulations on fleet emissions tighten around the world. Seven* other car makers potentially also face up to US$4.8 billion in penalties (from the EU and US combined) for non-compliance on their fleet emissions. The two US car giants General Motors and Ford are the companies at most notable risk – their penalties could potentially equate to a combined US$1.8 billion (114% of EBIT) and US$1.2 billion (27% of EBIT) respectively.**

The report also identifies several automakers who have taken a lead on ‘advanced vehicles***’ which puts them at a competitive advantage, especially in light of the Paris Agreement to limit emissions reached last December and increasing measures to disadvantage diesel vehicles. Nissan, Renault and Volkswagen are the only car makers to receive an ‘A’ grade from CDP in this area. Volkswagen launched five new models of advanced vehicles last year, contributing to a three-fold increase in advanced vehicles sales volume globally. There is explosive opportunity in China from advanced vehicles where some of the most stringent passenger vehicle fleet emissions targets combines with a booming market (CDP estimates China could have nearly two million advanced vehicle sales in 2020).

CDP’s automotive ‘Super League Table (SLT)’ highlights those best prepared for climate regulation:

Paul Simpson, Chief Executive Officer of CDP, said: “It’s time for car makers to take climate change seriously. Six months on from the VW emissions scandal, today’s new investor research shows that too many companies still fall short in the light of stringent regulation and possible penalties on fleet emissions and that’s a significant risk for the sector as a whole. By performing well in areas such as advanced vehicles and supporting low carbon regulation manufacturers such as Nissan, Renault, BMW and Toyota are putting themselves in the fast lane for future growth.”
Collectively, the 15 companies in the report represent around 90% of the global auto market by sales volume. Other findings of today’s report include:

Emission impossible? Passenger vehicle fleet emission targets are currently not aligned with International Energy Agency (IEA)’s 2-degree pathway required for light-duty passenger vehicles meaning we can expect tougher limits in the future.

Manufacturing emissions: About 20% of the industry’s emissions come from the manufacturing stage. BMW, Volkswagen, Daimler and FCA were the only companies to receive an ‘A’ grade on management of emissions at this stage of the process.

Leaders and laggards on carbon regulation: Around half of the automakers were found to be at least mildly supportive of low carbon regulation. Daimler, Hyundai and FCA were clear laggards with ‘E’ grades in this area.

China gears up: China has some of the most stringent targets on fleet emissions, which could be a game changer that puts 5m electric vehicles on the road by 2020.

Volkswagen downgraded: Volkswagen is ranked in eleventh place, compared to sixth place when CDP produced a similar report in Feb 2015. It receives an ‘E’ grade for fleet emissions following its emissions scandal; but on the positive side achieves ‘A’ grades in the advanced vehicles and manufacturing emissions criteria.

Kia is the only non-discloser: Kia is the only one of the top 16 automakers globally that did not respond to CDP’s climate change questionnaire therefore is not included in the analysis. Investors should ask Kia why it is not providing sufficient transparency on its carbon emissions.

The car in front is a Nissan: Nissan is the top performing company in CDP’s rankings, consistent with CDP’s analysis in Feb 2015. It maintains its leadership in battery electric vehicles (BEV) as its LEAF is the best-selling BEV globally. Renault, BMW and Toyota are the other clear leaders in the overall ranking.

James Magness, CDP Head of Investor Research, said:

“Around the world, regulation on fleet emissions is tightening and this research shows investors which auto companies are responding well to this challenge, and which are driving into trouble. The research also shows that regulations need to tighten even more if global warming is to be limited to a two-degree rise as agreed by world leaders in Paris last year.”

“We also need more to be invested in advanced vehicle technologies, and it is clear from this research that some companies are capturing growth opportunities in this area much more effectively than others”


7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption



Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions |

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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