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20 questions with… Leo Johnson



Leo Johnson answers 20 questions on life, sustainability and everything.

Johnson is a sustainability expert and a partner at global consulting firm PwC, following the acquisition of the company he set up, Sustainable Finance.

He recently co-authored a book for Oxford University Press called Turnaround Challenge: Business & the City of the Future. To get your hands on a copy signed by Johnson himself, see Blue & Green Tomorrow’s latest competition.

We want the world to be as blue and green tomorrow as it was yesterday. What’s your mission?

Maybe it’s to have a bit less of a sense of mission, and live a good life.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I was very clear. I wanted to be a bureaucrat. I wanted to work for the UN or some other world-changing, global organisation. l was a sort of UKIP nightmare. I still love government.

How would your friends describe you?

I hope they think I’m not completely evil.

What was your ‘road to Damascus moment’ in terms of sustainability?

Reading EF Schumacher’s Good Work. Especially his story of the missing cow. Won’t spoil it for you. Summarised at the end of our book. Best lesson on how to live that I know.

Who or what inspires you?

I had the great luck to be making a film in the goldmines of Ecuador’s Andes last year and I came across the term ‘duende’. There’s no good translation. Mojo, voice, authenticity. The thing that gives you goosebumps at a performance of flamenco. The ‘dark sounds’, for the poet Lorca, that are the triumph of the artists truths over their lies. I am inspired by people who have got their duende going.

What really grinds your gears?

People lying, especially to themselves.

Describe your perfect day.

It’s blazing with sunshine. I drop my kids at school. Then have a long, good tasting coffee. Then have a session with our local group in Kilburn that is setting up a community energy project. Then get involved in some debate or speech with a set of brilliant people where I get to see something different. In the afternoon, a run and a bit of something creative. Then a movie out with my wife or a meal at home with my family and a couple of close friends.

What do you see when you look out your window at home?

I see the trees of Queen’s Park on one side. On the other, I see about 17 railway lines and hear the beautiful rumbles of the trains. Pendolinos, Overground. Underground. Nuclear train. They have all got their own rhythms.

What do you like spending your money on?

My wife is from Afghanistan, and she explained to me her view of money as someone whose family lost everything in the Russian invasion. At any point, you could lose everything, so live in the present. If you have some money spare to go on holiday, do it. It’s the opposite to how I was brought up.

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

We just went to the Italian Dolomites. It was absolutely beautiful. The air was amazing. Failing that, we have a family farm down in Somerset where my grandad was a farmer and we all grew up. I don’t get there enough.

What’s your favourite book?

I just read Junot Diaz’s This Is How You Lose Her. The guy can write.

What’s your favourite film?

We just saw an Italian film called La Grande Bellezza, or The Great Beauty. It was a staggeringly beautiful, lush description of decaying modern Rome. No idea what it meant. But want to see it again.

You’re made prime minister. What’s the first thing you do?

Shift subsidies from exercises in fossil fuel barrel-scraping like fracking into innovations that bring innovative, low-carbon manufacturing jobs back to Britain. No?

If you were stuck on a desert island, which famous person would you like to be stuck with and why?

Marilyn Monroe. Why? Her optimism. Plus, we could use her white dress as a sort of shared hammock.

What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given? And the worst?

A Greek architect once quoted me a Spanish proverb. He said, “If you’re meant to be a carpenter, the sky will rain down nails on your head.” The worst? This is tough. All of the real blunders have been my own doing. It took me a long time to realise that some of my worst regrets would be failures of kindness.

What would you like to be doing five years from now?

A whole lot of creative stuff.

What’s your biggest regret?

Fear, cowardice, wimping out, inertia.

What one thing would you encourage readers to do to make their life more sustainable?

You can get caught up in the dramatic illusion of the big. Or you can do the small and do it right.

What’s the one idea that you think could change the world for the better?

This is the era of the massive small; the small that resonates. We need to do the local with passion and force.

What’s your favourite quote?

Marilyn Monroe again: “Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can take their place.”

Leo Johnson is a sustainability expert and a partner at global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). His latest book, Turnaround Challenge, is now available from Oxford University Press.

Further reading:

Leo Johnson and the power of people

Book review: Turnaround Challenge by Michael Blowfield & Leo Johnson

Competition: win a copy of Turnaround Challenge signed by Leo Johnson


Report: Green, Ethical and Socially Responsible Finance



“The level of influence that ethical considerations have over consumer selection of financial services products and services is minimal, however, this is beginning to change. Younger consumers are more willing to pay extra for products provided by socially responsible companies.” Jessica Morley, Mintel’s Financial Services Analyst.

Consumer awareness of the impact consumerism has on society and the planet is increasing. In addition, the link between doing good and feeling good has never been clearer. Just 19% of people claim to not participate in any socially responsible activities.

As a result, the level of attention that people pay to the green and ethical claims made by products and providers is also increasing, meaning that such considerations play a greater role in the purchasing decision making process.

However, this is less true in the context of financial services, where people are much more concerned about the performance of a product rather than green and ethical factors. This is not to say, however, that they are not interested in the behaviour of financial service providers or in gaining more information about how firms behave responsibly.

This report focuses on why these consumer attitudes towards financial services providers exist and how they are changing. This includes examination of the wider economy and the current structure of the financial services sector.

Mintel’s exclusive consumer research looks at consumer participation in socially responsible activities, trust in the behaviour of financial services companies and attitudes towards green, ethical and socially responsible financial services products and providers. The report also considers consumer attitudes towards the social responsibilities of financial services firms and the green, ethical and socially responsible nature of new entrants.

There are some elements missing from this report, such as conducting socially responsible finance with OTC trading. We will cover these other topics in more detail in the future. You can research about Ameritrade if you want to know more ..

By this report today: call: 0203 416 4502 | email: iainooson[at]

Report contents:

What you need to know
Report definition
The market
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
The consumer
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Competition from technology companies
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
What we think
Creating a more inclusive economy
The facts
The implications
Payments innovation helps fundraising go digital
The facts
The implications
The social debt of the financial crisis
The facts
The implications
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
An ethical economy
An ethical financial sector
Ethical financial services providers
The role of investing
The change potential of pensions
The role of trust
Greater transparency informs decisions
Learning from past mistakes
The role of innovation
Payments innovation: Improving financial inclusion
Competition from new entrants
The power of new money
The role of the consumer
Consumers empowered to make a change
Aligning products with self
For financial products, performance is more important than ethics
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Competition from technology companies
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
Overall trust levels are high
Payments innovation can boost charitable donations
Consumer engagement in socially responsible activities is high
Healthier finances make it easier to go green
37% unable to identify socially responsible companies
Building societies seen to be more responsible than banks….
….whilst short-term loan companies are at the bottom of the pile
Overall trust levels are high
Tax avoidance remains a major concern
The divestment movement
Nationwide significantly more trusted
Trust levels remain high
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Socially conscious consumers are more concerned
Strategy reports provide little insight for consumers
Lack of clarity regarding corporate culture causes concern
Consumers want more information
The social debt of the financial crisis
For consumers, financial services firms play larger economic role
Promoting financial responsibility
Consumer trust is built on evidence
The alternative opportunity
The target customer

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




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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