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.”
Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?
The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?
The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.
Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.
The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.
Introducing New Technology
The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.
- To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
- Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
- Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.
How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy
Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.
The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.
The Internet of Things
Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.
Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.
It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)
The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.
4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy
Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.
However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?
A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.
1. Boulder Nissan
When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:
- Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
- They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
- Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.
This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.
2. Valley Electric Association
In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.
“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”
The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.
This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.
3. Las Vegas Casinos
A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.
“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”
There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.
4. Boston College
Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.
Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.
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