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Libor scandal; Wiltshire wind farms; Renewables Obligation: July in headlines

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We’re into August now, so as usual, we look back at the month of July to examine the biggest headlines that emerged.

Before July 2012, the term ‘Libor’ was arguably only known to those within the financial services sector. But now, as we enter August, it has become a media buzzword and synonymous with scandal, disruption and unethical banking.

This came to a culmination last month when, after significant public and political pressure, Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond resigned from his post after the bank was accused of fixing the Libor rate (Bob Diamonds are not forever).

The furore led more people than ever to review ethical banking options (Interest in ethical options surges amid UK banking melee), with Triodos Bank just one of a number institutions experiencing a significant increase in enquiries from potential customers in the days after the Libor scandal became public.

Diamond faced some tough questions from the Treasury committee in parliament just a day after resigning (Diamond faces grilling from parliament as public fights back) and the Serious Fraud Office announced it would be investigating the issue (Serious Fraud Office to investigate Libor scandal). The saga, though, continues.

The Guardian covered the issue in some depth, covering it in the form of a live blog on the day that Diamond handed his towel in (Barclays blames ‘senior Whitehall figures’ for Libor scandal as Bob Diamond resigns – live).

In the days after the revelation, it also published a piece that claimed Diamond would have known about the Libor rate-fixing that was going on, despite his best efforts to deny this (Bob Diamond would have known about Libor rigging, claims whistleblower).

The Telegraph ran with the angle that Labour ministers would have also known about the fixing (Bob Diamond: Labour ministers were warned about Libor fixing).

Another piece of news that hit national headlines concerned wind farms in Wiltshire. Conservative councillors in the county essentially canned the its hopes for wind power development in the near future, after voting in favour of restrictions to limit the available locations for turbines (Wind farms cause row in Wiltshire).

The Guardian also covered this news (Wiltshire council votes for tough new planning restrictions for windfarms), as did BusinessGreen (Wiltshire latest council to declare war on wind farms).

The council stated that its rejection of wind power was to do with health and safety fears, but as we wrote in our piece, these concerns are completely unfounded.

Finally, the third piece to make it into July’s review is to do with the government’s Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme. At the end of the month, the Department of Energy and Climate Change published its much-anticipated plans for renewable energy subsidies.

It claims the new banding for the RO will “support jobs and deliver more clean power with a reduction in costs to consumers between 2013 and 2015” (UK economy to get £25bn boost through renewables as Lib Dems stand firm).

Some of the leading figures in the UK’s green industry offered their thoughts in B&GT’s reaction round-up (Renewables Obligation banding review: industry reaction).

The banding review upshot came after significant pressure from the chancellor George Osborne on energy secretary Ed Davey to place a greater emphasis on gas. Osborne wrote down his thoughts in a letter to Davey, republished in the Guardian (George Osborne letter to Ed Davey on gas and wind power).

At the same time, Tim Yeo MP, chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, was quoted in the press seriously questioning Osborne’s leadership of the Treasury (Senior Tory: Treasury fails to support green energy).

Well, that’s all we’ve got time for in our July review. Let’s hope the next one includes less banking scandals and unfounded rejection of clean energy!

Previous monthly round-ups:

Rio+20; renewable energy; #EndFossilFuelSubsidies: June in headlines

Executive pay; feed-in tariff cuts; and the energy bill: May in headlines

Renewable energy investment; fracking; and the not-so-green government: April in headlines

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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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