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#COP21 Business Pledges: Should We Believe The Hype?

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Ben Fagan-Watson (pictured), research fellow at the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) at the University of Westminster, comments on the role of businesses to tackle climate change at the COP21 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

“Climate Change has been recognised as one of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century. Its impact – and the way we choose to deal with it – profoundly affect the way that business and society operates. As the climate negotiations in Paris continue, businesses are going to have their biggest role yet. This year, the French government has said there’s even going to be a ‘pillar’ of the global deal made up of initiatives from businesses, regional governments and cities – which has been called a ‘radical reshaping’ of the way international diplomacy is conducted.

“Some of the pledges made in advance of COP21 are genuinely impressive and could help to catalyse real action, and these businesses deserve to be applauded. For example, IKEA has pledged €1 billion to slow climate change. Perhaps most surprisingly, in June 2015, six of the world’s largest oil and gas companies put out a statement supporting a price on carbon. So should we believe the hype about the contribution of businesses to stopping dangerous climate change?

“In some cases, these pledges will not bring about the necessary shift in the way industry works. BP, Shell and other oil and gas majors have been promoting a carbon price as consistent with their current business models; but Greenpeace’s Energy Desk has calculated that the emissions from business as usual would see a four degrees Celsius rise in temperature – far above the 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius that most countries are calling for.

“We should also learn from the past. While some business pledges on environmental issues have catalysed action, other previous well-publicised pledges have either flopped or been ignored, with worries that companies are buying influence with policymakers by tabling these pledges.

“So we should take any announcements from businesses with a pinch of salt. But perhaps the bigger issue is the conspicuous absence of some major multinationals, who are not tabling any meaningful pledges to take action. This includes large energy-intensive manufacturers, and oil and gas companies like Exxon and Chevron. These are massive players who wield a huge amount of power, and together their influence over the way the world does business is enormous.

“Whether businesses’ commitments are successful at reducing emissions will depend in part on how governments and civil society nail down their pledges and turn them into concrete proposals – and on how firms are held accountable.”

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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