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COP21: University fossil fuel divestment doubles ahead of Paris climate talks

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With less than a month before international climate talks begin in Paris, fossil fuel divestment campaigners have today announced that eight new higher education institutions have divested from fossil fuels. This doubles overnight the number of institutions that have divested from the fossil fuel industry on moral and financial grounds, adding a further £69 million to the growing number of university endowment funds which exclude the fossil fuel industry.

Wolfson College (University of Oxford) is the largest of the endowment funds in the latest announcement, with £42 million being divested after policy was passed that excludes investments in ‘companies that derive a majority of their revenue from the exploration, ownership or extraction of thermal coal and oil sands’. This follows a two-year campaign at the University of Oxford supported by 2,500 student and staff, which has seen 68 alumni handing back degrees and others occupying university buildings.

Jeremy Leggett, a Wolfson College alumni who handed back his degree and Chair of SolarAid, said: “Divesting from coal and tar sands is a good start, but it isn’t realistic to think that individual colleges and even universities can engage effectively with oil and gas giants to change behaviour. They should just divest. How incongruous is it to teach young people the science behind global warming’s dire threat to their future, and then invest in two of the main routes to fueling it?”

A further six institutions – Birmingham City University, Cranfield University, Heriot-Watt University, University of Hertfordshire, University of Portsmouth and University of Westminster – now hold their investments in funds that exclude coal and tar sands, following the decision by their fund manager CCLA to divest from coal and tar sands. The CCLA manages investments for charities, religious organisations and the public sector, and is majority owned by the CBF Church of England Investment Fund. Oxford Brookes University went one step further than its older neighbour and these six by divesting its £1.6 million endowment from all fossil fuel companies.

Piers Telemacque, National Union of Students’ Vice President for Society and Citizenship, said: “It’s amazing to see more universities divesting as we build momentum towards the climate talks in Paris. We need to show the sort of moral leadership we want to see from our governments. This is just the latest example of students making change on today’s most pressing social justice issue.”

A million students across the globe are expected to walk out of lessons to take action on 30 November 2015, the first day of the COP21 climate talks in Paris. Students will target the fossil fuel industry, which they claim has spread misinformation about climate change in order to extract profit from the 80% of current fossil fuel reserves that need to stay in the ground. Piers Telemacque went on to say, “I can’t wait to see what we achieve at on the day of action. It’s going to be huge.”

Last week, an open letter was sent to every university Vice Chancellor and Principle in the UK inviting them to divest from the fossil fuel industry, which the letter asserts ‘maintains a powerful grip on the negotiation process’ at the COP21 climate talks. The letter went on to say, “You can listen to our call and divest from fossil fuel companies before COP21 or make the political decision to invest in an industry that has done the most to cause climate change and threaten human life.”

The past 12 months have seen growing concern among British universities about the moral and financial implications of investing in fossil fuels and the ‘carbon bubble’ which threatens the £5.2 billion they collectively invest in the fossil fuel industry.

The eight universities announced today join the University of London SOAS, the University of Glasgow, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Warwick, Oxford University, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Surrey and the University of Bedfordshire. The London School of Economics and Sheffield University are expected to make divestment commitments before talks start in Paris.

Juliette Daigre, Campaigns & Activism Manager at People & Planet, which coordinates the UK university divestment movement, said: “Dumping the fossil fuel industry is starting to go mainstream. The PR machines of the oil, gas and coal sectors are scrambling around trying to sell themselves as clean and sustainable, but people can see through their well-spun web of lies. We urge world leaders to listen to people across the world demanding serious action on climate change rather than an industry gone rogue.”

Globally, more than 400 institutions and 2,000 individuals have pledged to divest $2.6 trillion from fossil fuels.

These commitments include governments and investors from 43 countries and multiple sectors, including pension funds, health, education, philanthropy, faith, entertainment, climate justice and municipalities.

 

Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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