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The battle for the Green Investment Bank: round four

Just four candidates remain in Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Green Investment Bank location recommendation. But which two cities will progress to the final? Find out in round four of the series.

You join us in the latter stages of a thorough and impartial analysis into which of the 32 bidding cities should host the Government’s £3 billion Green Investment Bank (GIB).



Just four candidates remain in Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Green Investment Bank location recommendation. But which two cities will progress to the final? Find out in round four of the series.

You join us in the latter stages of a thorough and impartial analysis into which of the 32 bidding cities should host the Government’s £3 billion Green Investment Bank (GIB).

Bids from London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Bristol, as well as 23 other locations in the UK, have been rejected by Blue & Green Tomorrow’s selection process, with only four candidates remaining going into the penultimate round:

Brighton, Leicester, Nottingham and Sunderland.

Before we transform this quartet into a duo, let’s just remind ourselves how we got to stage four in our series.

To begin with, the initial 32 bidders were whittled down to 16 by looking at each city’s carbon emission levels.

Then, 16 turned into eight after examination of the financial service industries.

And yesterday, we reached a final four by looking at the performance and sustainability of each candidate’s higher education institutions.

All in all, going into round four, Blue & Green Tomorrow’s ideal template for the GIB location so far is a city that is green (and/or getting greener), needs a boost in its financial services industry, and is home to a respectable, sustainable university.

The lucky four that have made it to this stage, tick all three boxes.

The fourth round of examination covers economic development – specifically, the average weekly wage and the annual percentage change in weekly pay, of each candidate city and its county.

So as well as Brighton, Leicester, Nottingham and Sunderland figures, we also took readings from Sussex, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Tyne and Wear.

The data was again sourced from the Office for National Statistics.

Working on the basis that the ideal location for the GIB would be a place with a lower weekly wage, as well as a low or negative percentage change in pay, we attributed points of one to four to each city and county.

The two with the lowest overall total once the four boxes had been added up would then progress to the final. This would be because Blue & Green Tomorrow deemed them most in need of the economic development brought by the GIB.

What’s the point in choosing a place that already has a high, or increasingly high, weekly wage? As with the previous three rounds, the underlying ethic in Blue & Green’s choice is to ensure that there is significant benefit for the chosen city.

So, once again, cross your fingers and toes for the revealing of our results. Here we go.

Click to enlarge.Round four sees Leicester and Sunderland eliminated, with Brighton and Nottingham going head-to-head in the final of our GIB location recommendation series.

Although Nottingham had the highest weekly wage out of all four cities (£453), it made the final two after being let down significantly by its county, Nottinghamshire, which had the lowest wage of the four counties, and a negative percentage change.

Leicester was consistently high across all four areas, meaning it wouldn’t adhere to Blue & Green’s mantra of the GIB turning around a city’s fortunes or spurring on economic development.

Brighton progresses after finishing bottom of both criteria, with Sussex not faring much better, having finished third both times.

The final city, Sunderland, was prevented from making the final two by Tyne and Wear’s impressive weekly pay and annual percentage change scores.  

We’ll be revealing the overall winner, and in theory, the best-equipped city to host the GIB, next week. This chosen candidate will also be the place that we think will benefit the most.

Representatives from both Brighton and Nottingham will be pledging their cases forward as to why it should be them, but in the meantime, we’d love to hear from you about which place should be picked.

Maybe you disagree with our process and overall choice? Perhaps you’re a maddened Mancunian, or a brassed off Bristolian, or displeased Derbeian. We want to hear from you.

Comment on this article, or get in touch via Facebook or Twitter to voice your opinions.

If Blue & Green Tomorrow hasn’t totally quenched your thirst for information about the GIB then you can always read up about the Bank 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.

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

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


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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