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The battle for the Green Investment Bank location: round two

Following yesterday’s initial reduction of the 32 Green Investment Bank bidding cities, Blue & Green Tomorrow reduces the candidates further, from 16 to eight, in round two of our recommendation series.

The race to host the Government’s £3 billion Green Investment Bank (GIB) is hotting up, and Blue & Green Tomorrow is here to provide a clear and impartial recommendation as to which UK city should be chosen.

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Following yesterday’s initial reduction of the 32 Green Investment Bank bidding cities, Blue & Green Tomorrow reduces the candidates further, from 16 to eight, in round two of our recommendation series.

The race to host the Government’s £3 billion Green Investment Bank (GIB) is hotting up, and Blue & Green Tomorrow is here to provide a clear and impartial recommendation as to which UK city should be chosen.

Those who visited our site yesterday will be well aware that we have already whittled the original 32 bidders down to 16 based on the carbon emissions of each. So we now have a select group of cities that have either low or significantly improving greenhouse gas levels.

As we said in round one, this is because we believe that the GIB should be located somewhere that doesn’t spew an excessive amount of carbon. That’d be silly and, more importantly, not very green.

Besides, the ‘Mucky Grey Investment Bank’ doesn’t really have as much of a ring to it.

So here are the cities that are still in the running at this stage:

Brighton, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Gloucester, Hull, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Norwich, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton, Sunderland and Torbay.

Interestingly, out of the initial 32 candidates, only three have a dedicated GIB website, and all three are still in the hat: Leeds, Bristol and Manchester.  

Given the effort those three have each put into the cause in terms of creating a specific website for their bid, they especially will be hoping to make it to round three.

Onto the selection process, then. This time, we’re judging cities on their finance and insurance sectors.

Blue & Green Tomorrow firmly believes that the GIB is being set up not only to realise the Government’s green economy pledge, but also to benefit the city and wider community in which it’s located.

Choosing to site an investment bank where you have an existing pool of talented financial service employees would seem to make sense. On the face of it.

However, to maximise the benefit of a new major financial service employer (it is expected to employ around 100 people directly, and many more as a result of its investment), we deemed it more appropriate to site the GIB where there is only a small pool of financial service employees, so that talent and auxiliary services are drawn into a new financial hub.

The new bank acts as a magnet for a new sector, new jobs and new spending in the local economy.

Using Office for National Statistics data, we looked at how many individuals were employed in the finance and insurance sector for each city and, put simply, the eight candidates with the lowest number progressed to the third round.

At this point, you might be wondering why we didn’t decide to take a percentage of the total workforce.

In short, the GIB’s aim is to create new jobs and a new sector for a local economy, rather than cannibalise an existing financial service sector, thus creating stress for existing businesses. Choosing total employment statistics was therefore the best option.

So without further ado, here are our results.

Click to enlarge.The lucky eight, or for the alliteration fans amongst us, the overjoyed octet that passed stage two are:

Brighton, Hull, Ipswich, Leicester, Nottingham, Southampton, Sunderland and Torbay.

Those failing to make the cut include the three that had devoted websites to their GIB bids: Leeds, Bristol and Manchester.

Although a clear frontrunner in terms of its carbon levels – and it should be commended for that – Leeds’ already thriving financial sector means it doesn’t progress. Nearly 25,000 people are employed in the sector and several of the most high-profile banks have regional and national offices in the city.

Similarly, Birmingham’s status as England’s vice-capital means it too doesn’t make it and Norwich, Gloucester, Cardiff and finally, Sheffield, are the others to fall at the second hurdle.

Of the eight that do make round three, though, Hull and Torbay employ the least number of people in the finance and insurance sectors, with just over 1,000 each.

Historically, Hull’s economy was centred on its ports, making it a major player in the east coast sea trade. Whilst this does still account for 12% of the region’s workforce, the retail sector, tourism, the arts, and the education sectors have played an increasingly significant role in Hull’s continuing economic development.

Meanwhile, the South West borough of Torbay relies on tourism as its main source of income.

So that’s round two over and done with. Join us tomorrow for round three when we’ll be placing the final eight under scrutiny for their education systems.

There’s no point choosing a location for the GIB if there aren’t any young, bright minds to mould, is there?

Until then, why not have a read up about the GIB on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ (BIS) website?

And if you’re interested in contributing to the prospect of a green economy, you can. Ask your financial adviser about the best ways to invest your money sustainably, or alternatively, fill in our online form and we’ll show you how.

We’d also love to hear from you about why your city should be home to the GIB. Comment on this article, or get in touch via Facebook or Twitter to voice your opinions.  

Here’s a round-up of Blue & Green’s GIB location battle after round two.

Click to enlarge.Infographics: Ben Willers. Picture source: Ryan Hyde.

Economy

Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?

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self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/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

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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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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