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Diamond faces grilling from parliament as public fights back

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Former Barclays chief Bob Diamond faced some tough questions about the interest rate-fixing scandal from the Treasury committee today in parliament.

Diamond resigned from his post as chief executive yesterday, after enduring public and political pressure over the bank’s supposed manipulation of the Libor rate – the estimated average interest rate that leading banks in London would be charged if borrowing from other banks.

Speaking in front of the committee, Diamond labelled the roles of some Barclays employees in the scandal as “reprehensible”, but was tripped up a couple of times when asked about his knowledge of the Libor manipulation.

Dissatisfaction with the high street banks is driving people to take action – George Blunden, Charity Bank

He claimed that he only found out about it “this month” – something that Barclays’ 2011 Annual Report, which was released in March this year, suggests otherwise. It mentions “investigations” into rate-fixing allegations, and is signed off by Diamond himself.

On a number of occasions throughout the questioning, including in his opening gambit, Diamond relayed his “love” for Barclays.

I love Barclays, that’s where it starts”, he began. “I love Barclays because of the people.”

But given the fact that last year, he cashed in the biggest cheque out of all FTSE 100 chiefs – a cushy £21m to be precise – this is somewhat unsurprising. He went on to describe how he felt “physically ill” when he learnt about the rate-manipulation.

Ben Dyson, founder of Positive Money, told Blue & Green Tomorrow that the debate surrounding the banking system was much wider than just Bob Diamond.

I’d say that we’re in danger of getting distracted by personalities and missing the point that the entire banking system is fundamentally broken”, he said.

Manipulating interest rates is one thing, but the thing we should really be worried about is the fact that the bulk of the money supply is on loan from banks, because 97% of money is created by banks when they make loans.

This is the root of the huge personal debts that people have and it’s also why banking has been such a hugely profitable industry for so many years.”

But the public are fighting back. According to figures released by two of the UK’s leading ethical banks, the recent sustained uncertainty and scandal in the banking sector has spawned a natural surge in interest in the ethical options.

We reported this morning how Triodos Bank had witnessed a 51% surge in account applications last week, and on Monday, opened three times as many accounts compared to an average day.

This past week has destroyed consumers’ trust, not only in the banks but also in the establishment tasked with protecting the public interest – Louis Brooke, Move Your Money

On top of this, Charity Bank welcomed 440 new customers between January 1 and June 30 this year – a figure 300 more than the same period in 2011. More recently, visitors to Charity Bank’s website, and the number of savings account enquiries doubled in the past week.

Dissatisfaction with the high street banks is driving people to take action”, explained George Blunden, chairman of Charity Bank.

Ordinary members of the public are beginning to realise that there is an alternative to depositing their savings in commercial banks, where they will have no idea what use their money is put to.”

Triodos and Charity Bank are just two of a number of ethical or sustainable options for individuals in the UK.

It was recently revealed that financial institutions that focused their business around values were outperforming those that had a primary aim of increasing capital.

The study, called Strong, Straightforward and Sustainable Banking was conducted by the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, and compared the performance of 17 “values-driven” banks with 29 of the largest, most influential mainstream ones. It concluded that the more ethical institutions delivered better returns than the high street behemoths.

This banking scandal is swiftly turning into a political crisis”, commented Louis Brooke, spokesperson for Move Your Money, a national campaign aimed at encouraging people to switch to ethical banks.

This past week has destroyed consumers’ trust, not only in the banks but also in the establishment tasked with protecting the public interest.

The concentration of wealth and power in four big banks has been bad for customers, bad for business and bad for Britain.

It has also had a corrosive effect on the entire political establishment who have been compelled to go to any lengths to prop up the too big to fail banks irrespective of how depraved their behaviour has become.

Politicians seem intent on point scoring rather than finding a meaningful solution to our broken banking system. That’s why the public are taking matters into their own hands and moving their money”.

Stay tuned for Blue & Green Tomorrow’s latest in-depth report, called The Guide to Sustainable Banking, which is set for release later this month.

Further reading:

Bob Diamonds are not forever

Pay-packets of top FTSE executives increase by 12%

Sustainable banks outperforming mainstream counterparts

Economy

New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035

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renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart / https://www.shutterstock.com/g/adrian825

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/green-dream-risks-energy-security-as-kiwis-aim-for-zero-carbon

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-hydrocarbons/france-plans-to-end-oil-and-gas-production-by-2040-idUSKCN1BH1AQ

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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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