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Economy

Goldman Sachs’ “toxic and destructive” environment forces director to quit

Greg Smith, executive director at Goldman Sachs, resigned from his post in an exclusive and sensational New York Times article, claiming that the Wall Street bank’s insensitive practice made him lose his pride and belief in the organisation.

The environment in which Goldman now operates, Smith writes, is “as toxic and destructive” as he has witnessed during almost 12 years at the firm. He also laments the company’s ruthless drive for profits – an approach that he says will force clients to lose trust.

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Greg Smith, executive director at Goldman Sachs, resigned from his post in an exclusive and sensational New York Times article, claiming that the Wall Street bank’s insensitive practice made him lose his pride and belief in the organisation.

The environment in which Goldman now operates, Smith writes, is “as toxic and destructive” as he has witnessed during almost 12 years at the firm. He also laments the company’s ruthless drive for profits – an approach that he says will force clients to lose trust.

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be side-lined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money”, said Smith, who fronted Goldman’s equity derivatives.

Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way.

The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.”

Smith goes onto recall the secret to Goldman’s historical success: “teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients”.

But the foundation that built this 143-year-old company has been lost, he says.

I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years.

I no longer have the pride, or the belief.”

Smith’s words echo those of Rolling Stone journalist, Matt Tiabbi, who in 2010, indelibly and eloquently described Goldman as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”.

Because of Tiabbi’s description, the squid briefly became somewhat of a totem to protestors in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Giant inflatable versions of the eight-armed cephalopod, along with accompanying chants of Let’s go squidding!, greeted Goldman employees into work on the morning of December 12 last year.

In his piece for the New York Times, Smith said that he knew his time at Goldman was coming to an end when he “could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work”.

He added that the history books might attribute the company’s deterioration to current chief executive officer, Lloyd C. Blankfein, or president, Gary D. Cohn, who have “lost hold of the firm’s culture” whilst in charge of the firm.

Smith said, “I truly believe that this decline in the firm’s moral fibre represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival”.

The now ex-Goldman executive director’s bold letter in the New York Times highlights the serious lack of consideration and loyalty shown by many of the high street (or Wall Street) banks.

This amoral epidemic sadly infiltrates the majority of the world’s major financial institutions, many of which are more concerned with profit than they are for people or indeed, the planet.

It astounds me how little senior management gets a basic truth”, Smith adds. “If clients don’t trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you.

It doesn’t matter how smart you are.”

It is because of this continued abuse of trust that Blue & Green Tomorrow encourages you to switch to a more ethical bank. Supporting banks that consider all three Ps listed above – profit, people and the planet – in a way that is sustainable and balanced, sends a very clear message to the banks that only consider a single P – profit.

And given that March is Move Your Money month, now is the perfect time to make the switch.

Related links:

Three UK banks named in top twenty ‘climate killers’ rating

Banking on ethics

We’re not all in this together: the rise of bloated capitalism

Picture source: Joe Lustri

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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