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Economy

Osborne’s omission heralds escalating emissions

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With George Osborne, what he doesn’t say is often more interesting than what he does. It’s been clear for some time that the chancellor of the exchequer does not understand economics. Every set piece speech he makes provides further evidence of his failure to grasp the limits to unsustainable economic growth. Borrow more, frack harder and cut forever are not sustainable economic strategies.

The coalition, and Osborne specifically, have gained a lot of ground in public opinion by laying the responsibility for the economic crash of 2008 at the feet of the Labour party. Public spending and borrowing certainly had got significantly out of balance in the run up to the crash. But the crash itself was a private sector market failure, with antecedents in the sudden deregulation mania of Big Bang in 1986.

We should not forget that in opposition, Osborne argued for even less regulation in the run up to the crash and promised to stick to Labour’s spending plans. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it is not foresight or wisdom.

Therefore, it is always fascinating to listen to the chancellor waxing lyrical about economics, when he has been so catastrophically wrong about almost everything to date.

We are not hostile to a Conservative government, or for that matter a Labour one, in coalition or not with the Lib Dems or Greens. We simply want political parties to reflect the opinion of the overwhelming majority of their voters, rather than the fringe minority of their more extreme members. We want them to get sustainability.

The missing word is ‘renewable’

That majority of every party’s supporters want to see a massive expansion in renewable energy and more heavily regulated corporations when they act as cartels to stifle innovation, constrain competition and limit consumer choice. The majority who would vote for all parties would like to see the return of utilities to public hands, from water and energy to rail.

We believe a sensibly regulated, free and fair market is a sensible approach to sector failures, and renationalisation would be fraught with difficulties. However, we also believe in a functioning democracy, where it is the will of the people, not the will of a powerful minority, that should guide our government’s agenda. It’s called a democracy, after all.

The rise of ‘none-of-the-above’ in elections demonstrates how far the patronising political class and the feral media circus that surrounds them has become disconnected from the will of the people.

Ed Miliband’s proposed 20-month freeze on energy price rises after the next election may be imperfect, but it is not Labour “declaring war on enterprise” or akin to Marxism or even socialism, as Osborne said. What errant nonsense and childish hyperbole. Such silliness disengages the public and makes our politics all the poorer and national debate weaker.

Big business is not entrepreneurial. Large corporations are industrialists and rent-seekers, stifling innovation and competition to protect dominant market positions. A GCSE student studying economics could tell Osborne that. All business is not entrepreneurial, and to conflate the two is naive.

What is far more dangerous is attacking the scientific consensus on climate change, declaring war on the so-called “environmental Taliban”, and jeopardising our nascent and valuable cleantech and renewable sectors. It is reckless for the holder of one of the Great Offices of State to do so.

Osborne may use Marx to attack Miliband and talk about The Wealth of Nations, but free market thinkers such Friedrich Hayek and Adam Smith wrote respectively about environmental protection (the need to consider the market’s inability to deal effectively with negative externalities such as pollution) and moral sentiments (such as the limiting the selfish impulse of entrepreneurs, for the common good).

Economy, society and ecology

Hayek wrote this: “To prohibit the use of certain poisonous substances, or to require special precautions in their use, to limit working hours or to require certain sanitary arrangements, is fully compatible with the preservation of competition. The only question here is whether in the particular instance the advantages gained are greater than the social costs which they impose.”

Fossil fuel pollution is a poisonous substance.

And this: “Nor can certain harmful effects of deforestation, of some methods of farming, or of the smoke and noise of factories, be confined to the owner of the property in question, or to those who are willing to submit to the damage for an agreed compensation.”

What pollutes the planet cannot be considered a private matter, but is a public crime.

Smith wrote this: “How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it.”

Self-interest is not the whole story.

And this: “This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and powerful, and to despise or, at least, neglect persons of poor and mean conditions, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.”

We are corrupted by our admiration for wealth for its own sake.

And this: “It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”

This sounds incredibly similar to “from each according to their abilities…”; that age old Marxist trope.

And this: “Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.”

Civil government is still about protecting individual wealth rather than the overall prosperity of the nation.

Even the founding father of capitalism and the greatest defender of liberal economics recognised that there were limits to free markets, and that society, the environment and redistribution matter. If all you’ve read is an A-Level economics primer before becoming chancellor, you’re unlikely to have understood the subtleties of the greatest economic philosophers and thinkers that you claim as your own inspiration.

Sustainable innovation and investment could be this country’s greatest exports, providing energy security at home and new jobs in a new vibrant and clean economy. Not even mentioning renewables while heaping praise on fracking and nuclear power shows the chancellor for what he is: a pollutocrat, locked in out-of-date, out-of-touch economic thinking.

He may think sustainable and green policies are uneconomic, but his economic policies are unecologic and profoundly harmful to society.

This economically and environmentally illiterate chancellor is jeopardising the future prosperity of the UK and our potential lead in sustainability. He needs to educate himself quickly or be politely shown the door by the electorate at the earliest opportunity.

Further reading:

The depressing vision of George Osborne’s Tory conference speech

A sustainable versus unsustainable recovery

Spending review: ‘reform, growth and fairness’ (but still unsustainable)

Are capitalism and conservation incompatible?

Myopic budget threatens UK’s long-term prosperity

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

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

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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Economy

Report: Green, Ethical and Socially Responsible Finance

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“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]mintel.com

Report contents:

OVERVIEW
What you need to know
Report definition
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
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
ISSUES AND INSIGHTS
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
THE MARKET – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
PUTTING FINANCIAL SERVICES IN AN ETHICAL CONTEXT
An ethical economy
An ethical financial sector
Ethical financial services providers
GREEN, ETHICAL AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ISSUES IN FINANCIAL SERVICES
The role of investing
Divestment
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
THE CONSUMER – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
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
THE ETHICAL CONSUMER – SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ACTIVITIES
Payments innovation can boost charitable donations
Consumer engagement in socially responsible activities is high
Healthier finances make it easier to go green
SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE COMPANIES
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
CONSUMER TRUST IN THE BEHAVIOUR OF FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES
Overall trust levels are high
Tax avoidance remains a major concern
The divestment movement
Nationwide significantly more trusted
Trust levels remain high
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS GREEN AND ETHICAL FINANCIAL PRODUCTS
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Socially conscious consumers are more concerned
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS TRANSPARENCY
Strategy reports provide little insight for consumers
Lack of clarity regarding corporate culture causes concern
Consumers want more information
THE ROLE OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS IN SOCIETY
The social debt of the financial crisis
THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS
For consumers, financial services firms play larger economic role
Promoting financial responsibility
CHALLENGER COMPANIES AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Consumer trust is built on evidence
The alternative opportunity
The target customer

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