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Green Investment Bank is vital for sustainable economic growth

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Last week saw the incorporation of the UK’s Green Investment Bank (GIB) as a company, another step towards “the world’s first investment bank solely dedicated to greening the economy”.

By Mike Scott.

The Government is waiting for state aid approval from Brussels and hopes the bank will be fully functional by the end of the year. The Coalition’s priorities are offshore wind power generation; commercial and industrial waste processing and recycling; energy from waste generation; non-domestic energy efficiency and support for the Green Deal.

It’s all part of its increasingly discredited claim to be “the greenest government ever”. The GIB “will be a key component of the progression towards a green economy, complementing other green policies to help accelerate additional capital into green infrastructure”, according to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

Its mission will be to provide financial solutions to accelerate private sector investment in the green economy. Capitalised with £3 billion, the GIB will play a vital role in addressing market failures affecting green infrastructure projects in order to stimulate a step up in private investment.”

Well, up to a point. The Government says that £200 billion of investment is needed in the energy system alone by 2020 but the GIB will not be able to borrow money from the capital markets until the government has met its deficit reduction targets. While £3 billion is a lot of money, it is paltry compared to the investment that is needed and also to the amount that the GIB could put to work if it was able to leverage its assets and its government backing by borrowing.

At the moment, we’re projected to cut the deficit by 2015-2016, but the way things are going in the eurozone and the UK economy, it is anyone’s guess as to when it will actually happen.

There is also concern that the bank will be lending on commercial terms. Not only does this make it less likely that the GIB will fund the early-stage, higher risk technologies that are most in need of support, it will also be competing with private sector banks that would back projects that are at, or close to, commercial viability anyway.

The disputes around the GIB crystallise the arguments in government around the separate issues of austerity and climate change. In March, a group of investors and campaign groups wrote to the Chancellor, George Osborne, urging him to do more to boost investment in clean technology and “engage with the macro-economic case for a greener and more sustainable economy”, wryly noting that “while it may be unfair, there is a widespread impression that you and your department are not signed up to the Prime Minister’s ambition to lead the ‘greenest government ever’”.

Osborne, who at last year’s Tory conference said that “we’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business”, appears to believe that there is a binary choice between growth or the environment. And while his apparent anti-green bias plays well with a particular section of the Tory faithful, it seems increasingly out of touch with many of his own colleagues in the Coalition, as well as many businesses and investors.

It is unsurprising that Liberal Democrats such as deputy PM Nick Clegg and energy minister Ed Davey have spoken up for the benefits of environmental policies, but to see a hero of the right such as William Hague warning that ministers are undermining potential exports by failing to speak up for low-carbon growth, as he did in a recently leaked letter to the prime minister, marks a real change in the debate.

As the disputes intensify over how to get the economy moving again, the role of the GIB is likely to come into sharper focus. The Aldersgate Group, a campaign group of businesses, politicians, NGOs and academics, points out that “the UK is facing a time of considerable economic stress. Restoring growth and re-balancing the economy are urgent priorities. Focusing our recovery effort on low carbon growth can re-power the economy, increase our energy security and help tackle climate change.”

Taking up Hague’s point, it adds that “rapidly accelerating investment in low carbon and environmental technologies will also increase the competitiveness of Britain’s businesses in the global market, protect consumers from fossil fuel price shocks and stimulate growth, especially in the regions”.

However, for this to happen, it says, “The Government must ensure the Green Investment Bank is sufficiently capitalised by at least £4-£6 billion over the next four years according to preliminary independent analysis. Over time this could leverage over a hundred billion more in investment from the private sector. It is the minimum required to ensure the Bank fulfils its potential to help make the UK a world leader in the supply and deployment of low carbon technology and the catalyst for a green jobs boom.”

A report from the Institute for Public Policy Research makes the same point more succinctly with its title: The Green Investment Bank – do it now, make it big.

The role model here is Germany’s KfW – a government-backed development bank that in 2010 invested more than €25 billion in environmental and climate protection. The Coalition is going to be under ever-increasing pressure to come up with a credible growth strategy – and soon. The Green Investment Bank could and should be a big part of such a strategy.

Further reading:

Green Investment Bank makes inaugural deal

German bank KfW confirmed as Green Investment Bank advisor

Green Investment Bank decision “a disgrace”

The battle for the Green Investment Bank: the final

Mike Scott is a freelance writer specialising in environment and business issues for the press and corporate clients. His work has been published in the Financial Times, the Times, the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph as well as in business publications ranging from Bloomberg New Energy Finance to Forbes.

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands

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Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.

Small waste adds up over time

A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:

  • Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
  • Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
  • Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
  • Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.

Going electronic has significant benefits

If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.

Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:

  • Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
  • Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
  • Using financial software to manage your books
  • Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
  • Arranging digital feedback and review forms
  • Making the most of Google Docs

Going green can help you to make money too

Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.

Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.

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