The Divest Parliament campaign has been launched today by a cross-party group of MPs and 350.org, appealing for more transparency on the Parliamentary pension fund’s £589m investments and demanding a commitment to divest from fossil fuels in light of the risks posed by climate change.
Over 35 MPs and former MPs have been calling for the Parliamentary Pension Fund to disclose the fund’s exposure to high-carbon investments since 2014, and address climate-related financial risk. The Trustees have however failed to address MPs’ concerns, and in November decided to close any further dialogue on responsible investment.
Caroline Lucas MP, Co-Leader of the Green Party, said:
“Climate change is the defining issue of our time and we are already seeing its devastating impacts across the world. MPs should be showing leadership on this issue, so it’s deeply concerning that our pension fund is supporting an industry that is fuelling the climate crisis.”
“I don’t want my pension savings invested in dirty energy – instead, we should be supporting the transition to a fossil fuel free future. This is a great opportunity for MPs to lead the way – and I hope that colleagues from across the House will support this push for transparency and more socially responsible investment.”
Barry Gardiner MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade and Shadow Minister for International Climate Change said:
“This is about taking the right financial decision and not taking stupid risks with public money. The global transition to a future powered by clean energy is inevitable and irreversible. It is clearer than ever that investments in fossil fuels and high-carbon assets carry high financial risk – yet the very trustees who are supposed to be guardians of probity and good practise refuse to examine whether MP’s own pensions are exposed.
“MPs should be setting the gold standard for responsible investment and climate risk-management. We need transparency and clarity – the very things that as MPs we constantly demand of others. If we have that we can perhaps stop public money being wasted.”
Liz Saville-Roberts MP, Plaid Cymru Parliamentary spokesperson on Energy & Environment, said:
“If we are to stop climate change then we must rapidly transition away from an economy run on fossil fuels. To do this, we must invest in the renewable energy that we have in abundance. It’s right that the MPs should lead the way on this transition – and, as part of that, our pension fund should be a shining example of socially responsible investment. In addition, we know there are significant financial risks associated with fossil fuel assets, and it’s time that the PCPF Trustees took these much more seriously.”
It’s great to see MPs and former MPs from across the political divide come together and speak with one voice on this issue
Laura Sandys, former Conservative MP, and member of the Carbon Tracker advisory board, said:
“It’s great to see MPs and former MPs from across the political divide come together and speak with one voice on this issue. Climate change represents a serious financial risk to pension savers and investors across the UK, and it’s incredibly frustrating to see the PCPF Trustees refusing to act on this ticking time-bomb. As well as the financial imperative, phasing out fossil fuel investments from the MPs Pension Fund would send clear signals about the need for more urgent action on climate change here in the UK, so I wholeheartedly support this campaign.”
More than 600 organisations, and tens of thousands of individuals, with assets worth over $3.4 trillion have made commitments to divest from fossil fuels, for both moral and financial reasons.
As the world steps up action to tackle climate change there are significant financial risks of fossil fuel assets becoming stranded.
Danni Paffard, 350.org’s UK divestment campaigner said:
“As flooding, heat waves and extreme weather events touch more and more of our lives, it becomes ever clearer that we need to act urgently on climate change
As the world commits to ramp up the transition to clean, secure energy sources, it makes no sense to remain invested in the one industry actively blocking progress. If our politicians are serious about tackling climate change, they shouldn’t be investing in fossil fuels.
All over the world prominent organisations and individuals worth trillions of dollars are committing to take their money out of fossil fuels and reinvest in a sustainable, 21st century economy.
Climate change affects all of us. Whether it’s disruption to farming, tourism, or emergency services in our local area, or the value of our pensions and insurance on our homes – no constituency will go untouched.
Divest Parliament is an opportunity for MPs to show leadership on climate action and put their money where their mouths are. ”
Natalie Smith, lawyer at ClientEarth said:
“If pension fund members raise the issue of climate risk sensibly with trustees, the law is clear that the trustees cannot simply refuse to think about it.
“They must look at the issue and at the very least consider whether it could be financially material. Pension funds are legally required to take climate risk into account where it could present financial risks to the fund’s investments. There is a huge amount of evidence which shows that climate change does present these risks to pension funds.”
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!