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Climate change: we’ve still got time to save the world… haven’t we?



Clare Brook of WHEB Asset Management ponders whether our efforts to prevent the worst impacts of climate change are too late.

This piece originally featured in Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Climate Change 2013.

It’s a strange aspect of human nature that even though we are reasonably adept at predicting the future, time and again in history, we will drift into a crisis, semi-conscious that this is what we are doing, and yet apparently unprepared to take any action. A classic example was the financial crisis of 2008, which in fact was looming for years as governments and individuals took on more and more debt without properly calculating the consequences.

As early as 2005, warning voices were sounding loudly in the US, with people like Robert Shiller talking about a housing bubble and publishing Irrational Exuberance where he predicted a worldwide recession when that bubble collapsed. Others were raising concerns about sub-prime lending practices. By 2006/07 the warnings became much clearer for anyone watching financial markets closely.

Click here to read The Guide to Climate Change 2013

When the financial crisis began to unfold, people likened it to other times in history when the human race had walked blithely into self-induced catastrophe. Larry Elliott, the Guardian’s economics editor, said, “As far as the financial markets are concerned, August 9, 2007, has all the resonance of August 4, 1914. It marks the cut-off point between ‘an Edwardian summer’ of prosperity and tranquility and the trench warfare of the credit crunch – the failed banks, the petrified markets, the property markets blown to pieces by a shortage of credit.”

August 9, 2007, was the date in which BNP Paribas, France’s largest bank, admitted that it had no way of valuing its sub-prime loans.

In retrospect, it took a surprisingly long time for events to unravel from that moment.  On September 14, 2007, there were panic-struck queues round Northern Rock, but it was a whole year later before Lehman’s filed for bankruptcy and HBOS was bought by Lloyds TSB. It wasn’t until mid-October 2008 that the Dow fell 30%, and a further month before the G7 gathered and Gordon Brown announced that he had saved the world.

If we were to look back on the events that led to climate change becoming irreversible (from under tens of metres of water that had engulfed central London), it would be similarly obvious and frustrating that all the warning signs were there: the scientists had been predicting it for decades, multitudes of journalists had written about it; the Maldives had convened their parliament under water as a wake-up call to the world. Even the naysayers and more reactionary governments had come round to the view that climate change was a problem.

Yet no-one had really done anything.  Rio, Copenhagen and Rio again; Earth summits had come and gone, involving a lot of handwringing, but no resolutions. Presumably the relatively relaxed attitude of the human race is due to the fact that people think we still have time to save the world. Or because we have this habit of walking open-eyed into crises.

But as Winnie the Pooh so wisely says in The House at Pooh Corner, “They’re funny things, accidents.  You never have them until you’re having them.”

Clare Brook is a founding partner at WHEB Asset Management.

Further reading:

Environmental tracking: a practical financial solution to climate change?

Report says investing in fossil fuels is a ‘very risky decision’

The UK canary in the carbon mine

What fossil fuel divestment can learn from apartheid

The Guide to Climate Change 2013

Articles, features and comment from WHEB Group, an independent investment management firm specialising in opportunities created by the global transition to more sustainable, resource efficient economies. Posts are either original or previously featured on WHEB’s blog or in its magazine, WHEB Quarterly.


How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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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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