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McIntosh and Yeo’s deselections leave Tories in a worse place environmentally

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In the space of four days, the chairs of both the environment and energy committees, Anne McIntosh and Tim Yeo, have been deselected as members of parliament. The government’s locker of sustainability credentials is becoming increasingly bare.

McIntosh has served her Yorkshire constituency of Thirsk and Malton since 1997. She has been the chair of the environment, food and rural affairs select committee since the 2010 general election. Meanwhile, Yeo has been South Suffolk’s MP since 1983. He is a former environment minister and is the chair of the energy and climate change select committee.

Committee chairs set aside significant amounts of time for committee work, compared to regular MPs. They are among the most respected politicians in their particular areas.

However, neither McIntosh nor Yeo will be allowed to stand for re-election in 2015. McIntosh said she was determined to fight against the ruling, after losing a vote of confidence among local party members; Yeo – who was ousted after a secret ballot – has been gracious in his deselection.

It has been a privilege to serve as MP for South Suffolk since 1983. I will continue to work for all my constituents until the general election next year”, he said.

I am immensely grateful to all those Conservative party members who voted for me to continue as their MP. I now ask them all to campaign for my successor with the same loyalty and dedication they have shown to me.”

Yeo turns 70 next year. He added that his successor will have his “unqualified support”. The South Sussex MP briefly stepped aside from his position as chair of the energy committee amid claims that he had conducted illegal lobbying. However, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards said that reports from the Sunday Times – which had made the initial accusations – were based on “subterfuge, misrepresentation and selective quotation”.

The decision to oust both him and McIntosh represent blows for the sustainability space, which has so far been largely failed by a Conservative-led government. This is the same party that had pledged, pre-2010, to be the “greenest government ever”. It has been nothing of the sort, opting instead to laud shale gas as Britain’s saviour – because another polluting fossil fuel is what we need in the face of a climate crisis.

But there is a small and determined section of the party that does seem to understand the importance of a healthy environment. This includes, most notably, the environmentalist and Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith; energy minister Greg Barker, a champion for renewable energy, and in particular, solar; and long-time sustainability advocate Laura Sandys, the MP for South Thanet who herself is stepping down in 2015.

Most worrying about the green divisions within the party is the fact that key roles are filled by people renowned for anti-green rhetoric.

Chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne – the man in charge of public money – once described environmental campaigners as the “environmental Taliban”. Meanwhile the position of environment secretary is taken by Owen Paterson – who is sceptical about manmade climate change. John Hayes, a prominent critic of wind power, previously held a senior role in the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

At the top, David Cameron’s support for fracking has seen him criticised by campaigners. The prime minister’s husky hugging antics made headlines in the run-up to 2010. He is rarely vociferous in his condemnation for the green agenda, but on an issue like climate change where strong political leadership is crucial, neither does he fill voters with confidence in British action.

We should not forget that this is happening within a party for whom environmental protection and conservation should be central to its political thinking. As another green Conservative, the former shadow environment secretary Peter Ainsworth, told Blue & Green Tomorrow, “Conservatism is about conserving, protecting, looking after, nurturing and being responsible. It’s utterly and deeply embedded in my sense of what conservatism is about. You only have to remind people of that and they get it.”

The departure next year of Anne McIntosh and in particular Tim Yeo is disappointing for the Tories and worrying for the sustainability space.

Regardless of the reasons for which they have each been ousted, it is unfortunate that both held senior committee roles in the environmental and climate space. This will likely damage the Conservative party’s reputation in environmental quarters.

The last thing we need is more speculation over a possible Tory anti-green revolt. One thing is for sure: the party will be in a worse place without them both – environmentally, at least.

Further reading:

Politicians have failed us on sustainability. It’s time for our mayors to step up

Conservatism and conservation: why Tories are born to be green

Coalition’s green fatigue is a ‘betrayal of conservatism itself’

Are capitalism and conservation incompatible?

Economy or environment: why choose?

Economy

New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035

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renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart / https://www.shutterstock.com/g/adrian825

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/green-dream-risks-energy-security-as-kiwis-aim-for-zero-carbon

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-hydrocarbons/france-plans-to-end-oil-and-gas-production-by-2040-idUSKCN1BH1AQ

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Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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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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