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ET Index blog series: Divestment versus Engagement – the battle of two ideologies

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The divestment movement has been gathering pace like wildfire over the last few years with over 400 institutions globally now committed to divesting from fossil fuels. Fuelled by the findings of Carbon Tracker and the idea of a carbon bubble, a grassroots, student-led movement has been sweeping across the world putting pressure on institutions, predominantly universities, to drop holdings across oil, gas and coal. Sam Gill, CEO of ET Index writes.

This campaign has been spearheaded by 350.org and for anyone who has not seen the film Do the Math explaining more about it – I thoroughly recommend it. Like all good campaigns, the message was simple and easy to understand. If oil companies follow through with their business plan, the planet tanks. Therefore, their social license needs to revoked.

Divestment, in most cases, has been seen by these grassroots groups as a political tool rather than a concrete investment mechanism designed to tackle climate change.

The main pushback from progressive investors has been the argument that they ‘engage’ with these companies to cajole them into being better companies, and if they no longer have a seat at the table – having sold all their shares – they will no longer be able to do that.

Ignoring the fact that ‘engagement’ strategies clearly haven’t worked at the scale required to address the problem, the rationale behind this argument is solid. And it would certainly be a shame for there to be no investors left at the table who are promoting a more progressive agenda within corporates, that much is clear.

So far this has led to institutions such as the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, being the focus of a fierce campaign by the Guardian calling upon them to divest their holdings of fossil fuels. The stance of both institutions is that they will continue with their ‘engagement’ strategies, tabling shareholder resolutions and voting to make them more sustainable.

In the final post of this series we will explore if there is a way of combining the logic of engagement with the potential of divestment. In essence divestment acknowledges the dynamic nature of capital, and that shifting it can be a very powerful tool in changing company behaviour. Can the two seemingly opposed camps be united and can the logic of divestment be applied to the rest of the companies listed on the stock market since climate change is not exclusively attributable to fossil fuel companies after all?

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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