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Church of England votes in favour of reviewing fossil fuel investments

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The General Synod of the Church of England has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion to review its investment policy towards fossil fuel companies, with one bishop calling climate change “the great demon of our day”.

The motion – put forward by the Diocese of Southwark after a 23-year-old churchgoer at St John’s Waterloo questioned the church’s engagement with the fossil fuel industry – asked the Synod to recognise “the damage being done to the planet through the burning of fossil fuels.”

It also proposed a review of the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group’s (EIAG) policy on companies that extract and sell carbon-intensive fuels. 

The reverend canon Giles Goddard, of Southwark Diocese, said, “Climate change is a moral issue because the rich world has disproportionately contributed to it and the poor world is disproportionately suffering.

He added, “We have the responsibility, expressed for example in the Genesis story and in the covenant with Noah, to care for God’s creation.”

Christian Today reports that many members of the Synod were extremely supporting of the proposals. The bishop of Sheffield even called climate change “the great demon of our day”. 

By approving the motion – with 274 votes in favour, three abstentions, and only one vote against – the Synod has ruled that the EIAG must publish its policy review by the end of 2014. 

Some campaigners have praised the church’s stance. Dr Alison Doig, senior climate change advisor at Christian Aid, said she welcomed the decision at a time when many flooded areas of the UK were seeing first hand what a warming world might look like.

“The Church Commissioners are fortunate to have £8 billion under investment”, she said.

“With great wealth comes great responsibility and I’m encouraged to see the church taking that responsibly seriously by reviewing their ethical investment policies.”

Wednesday’s debate follows months of lobbying from campaigners for the church to entirely ditch its investments in fossil fuel companies, rather than pursue a policy of engagement. 

The Christian organisation Operation Noah launched a campaign in September called Bright Now, urging churches to divest.

The Diocese of Southwark’s motion had originally called for divestment, though this demand was removed after initial discussions.

Speaking after the decision, Rev Prof Richard Burridge, deputy chair of the EIAG, said, “I understand why some are calling for divestment [from fossil fuels]. But it’s not as simple as that.

Making the transition away from fossil fuels will be long and hard and will require sacrifice”, he said, adding that the church and wider society “can do little to mitigate or adapt to [climate change].

Also discussed by the Synod was the church’s controversial investment in the payday loan company Wonga.

The church suffered a high-profile embarrassment last year when it emerged it had indirectly invested in Wonga, in the same week the archbishop of Canterbury said he would try to compete such companies “out of existence”.  

Speaking on Monday, James Featherby, the chair of EIAG, said that selling the church’s stake in Wonga would take time. He explained, “To dispose early might damage other investments because Wonga is held in a pooled fund along with a sizeable number of other, much more positive, investments, and one simply can’t sell one without the other.”

Despite such difficulties, Featherby urged the church to take see the potential in taking part in business and investment.

He said, “Being involved in the field of play, where our investments can support long-term, sustainable wealth creation for all stakeholders in society and where returns on investments increase the church’s ability to fund its mission and witness.”

Further reading:

Shareholder engagement: the church should be ‘involved in the field of play’ when investing

Church of England to debate climate change amid calls for fossil fuel divestment

Church of England unlikely to ditch fossil fuel investments

Operation Noah holds church to account over fossil fuels divestment

Christian charity: we must divest from, not engage with, fossil fuels firms

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Green Tech Start-Ups: Are they the Future?

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Endless innovations are occurring in green companies, reinventing the industries they belong to. Gradually, they are beginning to amass more success and popularity. Consequently, these factors serve as a good indicator for green technology businesses, and their development must begin somewhere.

Green tech start-ups boast a wide array of opportunities for the economy and environment, while boosting recruitment openings with valuable services. While the technology industry is littered with high revenues and competition, the green tech start-ups are the clear sign of a cleaner future.

Fulfilling a Genuine Need

Many tech companies will market themselves as the ultimate tech giants to shift stock and make profit. As they all vie for attention through warped corporate rhetoric, there is only one ethical winner; the start-up green tech company.

Some argue that mainstream tech businesses have grown far too big, branching out into other industries and standing between the consumer and practically everything they do. However, green tech start-ups go beyond the shallow ambitions of a company, answering a call to sincerely help the customer and climate in any way they can. Of course, this is an attractive business model, putting customers at ease as they contribute to a humanitarian cause that is genuine through and through.

After all, empathy is a striking trait to have in business, and green tech start-ups maintain this composure by their very nature and purpose.

Creating Opportunities

Despite the pursuits for clean energy still needing more awareness, green tech is an area that is ripe for contribution and expansion. There’s no need to copy another company or be a business of cheap knockoffs; green tech start-ups can add a new voice to the economy by being fresh, fearless and entrepreneurial.

Technology is at its most useful when it breaks new ground, an awe that eco-friendly innovations have by default in their operations. Of course, green tech start-ups have the chance to build on this foundation and create harmony instead of climate crisis. Ultimately, the tech advancements are what revolutionise clean energy as more than an activist niche, putting theory into practice.

Despite the US gradually becoming more disengaged with green technology, others such as China and Canada recognise the potential in green technology for creating jobs and growth in their respective economies. The slack of others spurs them on, which creates a constant influx of prospects for the green tech sector. Put simply, their services are always required, able to thrive from country to country.

A Fundamental Foresight

Mainstream technology can seem repetitive and dull, tinkering with what has come before rather than turning tech on its head. Since 2011, technology has been accused of stagnation, something which the internet and petty app services seem to disguise in short reaching ideas of creativity.

However, green tech start-ups aren’t just winging it, and operate with a roadmap of climate change in the years ahead to strategize accordingly. In other words, they aren’t simply looking to make a quick profit by sticking to a trend, but have the long-term future in mind. Consequently, the green tech start-up will be there from the very start, building up from the foundational level to only grow as more and more people inevitably go green.

They can additionally forecast their finances too, with the ability to access online platforms despite the differing levels of experience, keeping them in the loop. Consequently, with an eye for the future, green tech startups are the ones who will eventually usher in the new era.

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Green Companies Find Innovative Ways to Generate Capital to Expand

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Green business is a booming opportunity for shrewd, environmentally conscious entrepreneurs. According to a white paper by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, green businesses in the food service industry and other verticals are growing up to seven times faster than their conventional competitors.

“Green market segments in the United States are growing fast. Growth rates of “green” segments are outpacing conventional segments in every industry where we collected data – for example, over the decade ending in 2011, the U.S. organic food category grew at a rate of 238% compared to 33% growth for the overall food market, and most forecasts indicate that the shift to green will only accelerate across industries. Green business opportunities will be even more prolific over the next few years, because millennials are placing greater emphasis on environmentally friendly solutions.”

Unfortunately, many promising green companies are struggling to generate revenue. They need to be more creative to find funding opportunities in 2017.

Funding challenges green businesses face

After the financial crisis struck in 2008, banks and other traditional lending institutions became much more conservative about lending money. Many green businesses turned to grants provided by the Obama administration for funding. However, most of those grants have since been suspended under the Trump administration. Congress had difficulty resuming them, because most of the green businesses that were funded had a lower survival rate than the national average.

Without funding from either traditional banks or government grants, green businesses were forced to look for other financing options. Here are some options they have available.

Other lending institutions

While corporate banks are less likely to finance new businesses these days, many smaller financial institutions are more likely to assume the risk. Specialty lending institutions and credit unions with a strong social mission are often willing to invest in promising green businesses.

However, these lenders still require perspective borrowers to submit formal business plans and proposals on how they will use their funding. Too many of them have been burned by poorly managed green companies, so they must be cautious with lending to them.

Foreign lenders

Many other countries are more invested in green development than the United States. Companies with a presence in Norway or other European countries should consider seeking loans from lenders in those jurisdictions, such as Lånemegleren.

Green bonds

Green bonds are new financial instruments that have been developed specifically for financing green businesses. The Climate Bond Standard introduced a number of policies to ensure green bonds would be safe for investors and a reliable funding opportunity for green businesses around the world. By balancing the needs of both stakeholders, they have helped facilitate green financing.

The market for green bonds nearly quadrupled between 2013 and 2014. It rose to over $100 billion in 2015.

Green entrepreneur should find out if their business model is compliant with the climate Bond standard. They may be able to tap a growing source of funding.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is another very popular way for all types of businesses to generate capital. Green businesses tend to benefit more than most other organizations, because crowdfunding investors tend to be more socially conscious. They are more eager to invest in companies that align with their outlooks on social causes. Since consumers are becoming more concerned about climate change and environmental preservation, they are more willing to invest in green businesses.

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