HRH the Prince of Wales will celebrate the powerful role of social enterprises to create jobs, stimulate local economies and change lives in London at the charity Business in the Community’s annual AGM and Leadership Network at the Troxy, East London today.
The event coincides with the announcement that a programme launched by the charity in the run up to the London 2012 Olympic Games to match London-based social entrepreneurs with senior business experts has helped 2,500 people in the city into work – with over 1,000 of these within the Olympic host boroughs. A further 500 jobs have been created throughout the South East region.
Social enterprises are businesses which exist to tackle social problems. There are 70,000 social enterprises in the UK, employing 1 million people and contributing £24bn to the economy. Business in the Community set up its social enterprise programme arc to create a lasting legacy in the Olympic host boroughs. The programme, gives social entrepreneurs free access to bespoke, practical support from business, such as improving business strategy, marketing and branding support or practical advice on winning contracts and new business.
In addition arc social enterprises also have access to subsidised training and impact consultancy, discounted premises and supply chain introductions. It has been backed by some of the biggest names in business – BP, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Exterion Media, Deloitte, Visa Europe, InterContinental Hotels Group – who between them have contributed over 758 days of advice to London social enterprises, through over 232 of their business volunteers.
Today’s report highlights that targeted business support can have a significant impact on social enterprise growth and job creation. 83% of the social enterprises involved in the programme reported turnover growth in the last year, compared to UK average social enterprise growth of 52%. The social enterprises have between them created 2,917 jobs across London and the South East, the equivalent of £89.8m Gross Value Added to the economy. In addition, by removing people from unemployment it is estimated that they have saved the state £11.2m through reduced unemployment claims. As a result of this impact Business in the Community will be launching arc Yorkshire alongside new Corporate Partners Asda and Interserve, with the aim of creating a further 1,000 jobs in the region.
Today, HRH The Prince of Wales will meet some of the 117 London entrepreneurs whose businesses have been supported, including:
– K10 an apprenticeship training agency for the construction industry. BP’s support on its business development and sales strategy has helped K10 place over 500 apprentices into work.
– From Babies with Love supports the care of orphaned and abandoned babies through its online shop which sells organic baby clothes, with 100% of its profit donated to partner charity SOS Children. The enterprise was supported by Visa Europe to understand how their strong social brand could provide a competitive advantage to prospective partners whilst achieving faster growth. The work led to a tie-in, with a From Babies with Love Teddy Bear launched in Boots stores.
– Bounce Back trains, mentors and employs ex-offenders as painters and decorators. Volunteers from Visa Europe have helped Bounce Back to define its mission, develop a new business structure, put expansion plans in place and develop improved data management. It has employed 21 people.
– Papi’s Pickles a family run South Indian and Sri Lankan food business, employing women from these communities. Through support from BP, Papi’s Pickles has implemented a new business plan and robust financial forecasts. It is now trading online and is about to launch a pop-up outlet.
The Prince will be presented with a special plaque created by Southbank Mosaics to commemorate the jobs created in East London. The Waterloo based social enterprise improves London’s public spaces through beautiful mosaic artwork while also providing training in artisan skills for the long term unemployed. In the three years it’s been on the BITC programme, with support from Exterion Media, it has been transformed from a grant receiving organisation, to a self sustaining business model, while also creating new jobs.
Peter Mather, Group Regional Vice President, Europe and Head of Country, UK, BP, is one of the senior leaders whose business has driven the Business in the Community programme. He will join the stage presentation of the plaque to the Prince.
Commenting he said: “BP is proud to be a founding partner for this programme which is enriching and strengthening the local communities where we operate. Since the programme began, over 160 BP employees have volunteered with 92 social enterprises – sharing their business expertise and helping these social enterprises overcome barriers to their growth. In return our business volunteers have developed their management skills and increased their business acumen. In 2011 the goal of creating 1,000 jobs in East London through the arc programme seemed an ambitious task, but today I am pleased to celebrate this incredible success.”
Jane Pritchard, Enterprise & Culture Director, Business in the Community said: “The impact of our social enterprise programme in London provides a glimpse of the power of collaboration between big business and social enterprises, to create lasting change and vital employment in areas of need. These relationships are a win-win as social enterprises, business and society all benefit from working together. We now look forward to taking what we have learnt in London to Yorkshire as we expand the programme.”
Business in the Community’s annual AGM and Leadership Network convenes 500 senior business leaders from across the UK to explore the practical ways that business leaders can respond to the world’s most pressing challenges, while achieving sustainable growth and commercial benefit. The event will showcase the powerful impact of business and social enterprise, and is delivered in partnership with Fujitsu, Business in the Community’s Responsible Business of the Year 2015.
Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?
Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?
But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?
The Big Picture
The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.
That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.
One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.
There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.
As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.
Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.
Make and Model of Car
Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.
On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.
The Bottom Line
Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?
Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.
New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035
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.
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