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Economy

Meet the Blue & Green Tomorrow team: Simon Leadbetter

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With Sustainable September drawing closer, we thought we’d open a window into the world of Blue & Green Tomorrow.

First up, founder and publisher Simon Leadbetter tells us about his background, his interest in sustainability and what the future might hold.

Tell us briefly about your background and your current role.

I spent 15 years in media and financial services before launching Blue & Green Tomorrow, and have worked full-time on B&GT since last year. The media is unsurpassed in telling compelling stories and good journalism is vital to create an informed population. Financial services has all the money and power to shape our future.

By merging those two fields – money and media – around my interest in sustainability, Blue & Green Tomorrow was born – and no, the name doesn’t imply we are the green wing of the Conservative party. I see our core role as simplifying sustainability into practical actions everyone can take and amplifying that message to as many as possible.

Where does your interest in sustainability come from?

It actually came quite late in life, when I was working as chief marketing officer for Doug Richard, one of the dragons in the first two series of Dragons’ Den. His company at the time profiled fast-growth, disruptive start-ups that had raised or were raising venture funding. Some of those companies we profiled are household names now. Most of them were tech start-ups and I was blown away by the cleantech sector.

This was 2006/07 and the Stern review had just been published. It was the the cold realisation that we faced existential threats, but there were brilliant individuals, organisations and investors addressing those problems. Having children and seeing the world we were creating for them gave me the final shove towards a career in sustainability.

What’s your favourite sustainability story at the moment?

I think it’s the work of Bill McKibben and 350.org‘s  divestment movement for university endowment funds. It’s perverse and intellectually bankrupt that universities, whose principal role is creating a better future for their students, are investing in and profiting from companies that are making those futures materially worse.

What one idea do you think could change the world for the better?

There isn’t really one idea, as there are so many complex interrelationships, but ultimately it has to be about people and their power to create a better future – after all it’s in their enlightened self interest.

So if there was one idea whose time has come, it is democracy. If sustainability is about balancing profit, people and planet, then the people and planet have been sorely under-represented in our developed world democracies. Profitable vested interests have captured our democracies, but haven’t been able to displace the ‘one person, one vote’ principle that threatens their grip on the levers of power.

Essentially we have a bunch of short-term lunatics who have grabbed the global steering wheel and are determinedly driving the economy, society and environment off a cliff, while cackling all the way to the private bank.

We are not casual observers or even innocent passengers. We need that steering wheel back in the hands of sane, calmer hands. So vote and don’t let those vested interests tell you it won’t make a difference; they’re just terrified that you will find out that it actually can.

What do you see of the future in terms of sustainability, business and the environment?

It’s not going away and momentum is slowly building. A generation of investors, consumers and voters are finally coming of age, who have grown up environmentally-aware and digitally-connected. It’s increasingly hard for irresponsible corporations and unethical politicians to hide their recklessness and greed. To bastardise a William Gibson quote, catastrophic climate change is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.

There’s only so long that politicians, the media, business leaders and individuals can ignore what is happening to our world today, which will ultimately harm all of our children and grandchildren tomorrow.

My fear, my one note of pessimism, is that the momentum behind change is building too slowly and is already too late for mitigation. Sit in the City of London or Westminster for 30 minutes and you’ll realise many of the wealthiest and most powerful simply aren’t listening or acting.

That said, I’m an optimist at heart and we will eventually fix the problems we have created, but it will be far more costly and there will be more tragically unnecessary deaths, suffering and hardship due to our inaction and apathy over the last 40 years.

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow.

Further reading:

Introducing: Sustainable September

What is Sustainable September?

Tickets on sale for Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Sustainable September events

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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