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PM calls for ‘popular capitalism’ despite difficult economic times

David Cameron has signalled the need for “a better economy” in the UK, led by “genuinely popular capitalism”. Alex Blackburne picks out the key themes from the Prime Minister’s speech.

Responsibility was the theme as David Cameron delivered a speech in London yesterday about the need for ‘moral capitalism’ in the UK economy.



David Cameron has signalled the need for “a better economy” in the UK, led by “genuinely popular capitalism”. Alex Blackburne picks out the key themes from the Prime Minister’s speech.

Responsibility was the theme as David Cameron delivered a speech in London yesterday about the need for ‘moral capitalism’ in the UK economy.

The Prime Minister said, “Out of this current adversity we can build a better economy, one that is truly fair and worthwhile.

“We won’t build a better economy by turning our back on the free market. We’ll do it by making sure that the market is fair as well as free.”

Cameron’s speech on moral capitalism comes just over a week after Labour leader Ed Miliband delivered a talk on the subject.

Gareth Thomas MP, Labour’s minister for civil society, responded to the Prime Minister’s speech, saying that, “Nobody is seriously going to believe that David Cameron stands for co-operatives or a more responsible capitalism when he’s leading a Government which is failing to stand up to powerful vested interests”.

Cameron had taken a similar dig at Labour in his speech, claiming that the party had “made a Faustian pact with the City” when it was in power.

“It seemed frightened of challenging vested interests”, he continued, “believing the interests of big business were always the same as those of the economy”.

The Prime Minister added that moral or responsible capitalism was something that had been ingrained in the Conservative party’s ethics “for centuries”.

He said, “Corporate social responsibility and environmental responsibility have been constant themes in the arguments I’ve made and the policies we’ve developed.

“Soon after I was elected leader I said that we should not just stand up for business, but also stand up to big business when it was in the national interest.

“Three years ago I argued that the previous government’s turbo-capitalism turned a blind eye to corporate excess, while we believed in responsible capitalism and would make it happen.”

Where would moral capitalism leave ethical investors, though?

A keen purveyor of capitalism, Richard Hunter, director at Equity Invest, spoke to Blue & Green Tomorrow earlier this month. He said he considers it an integral part of the system, despite what many individuals in the ethical investment sector might think.

“A lot of ethical and environmental investors block out capitalism because they don’t get it”, he explained.

“They say, ‘No, actually it’s not for me’; because most of them are socialists, and I think they’re missing a huge, huge point, that actually, good capitalism is absolutely essential for the system.

“We need people to be working, because that’s where you get dignity. We need people to be making things and creating things.

“The best way of doing that, if you’ve got a load of money stuck in a bank, is to invest it.”

Hunter said he was in agreement with the underlying theme of the Prime Minister’s speech.
“At last the philosophy of ‘moral capitalism’ seems to be gaining ground”, he said.

“Providing people with the freedom and opportunity to work and create wealth is essential in creating sustainable communities where we can live with dignity.”

David Cameron emphasised the need for more innovation at a start-up level, stating that he respected those that had bitten their bullets to go it alone.

“I admire more than almost anything the bravery of those who turn their back on the security of a regular wage to follow their dreams and start a company.

“If you take a risk, quit your job, create the next Google or Facebook and wind up a billionaire, then more power to your elbow.

“And if you took a punt, invested your money in that hugely risky start-up, and made a fortune, then fair play to you.

“And let’s also recognise those people who take risks, who don’t succeed first time but persevere.”

A lot of these growth-stage companies are based around making the world more sustainable, and there are funds that offer you the chance to invest in them.

Ask your financial adviser or fill in our online form and we’ll show you how your money can make a difference, and hopefully, realise the Prime Minister’s pledge for the UK economy to be more responsible.

Photo: Bisgivuk


Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?



self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo |

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.

Driver Reduction?

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.

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New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035



renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart /

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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