The sustainable investment industry has called on George Osborne’s autumn statement to show an awareness of long-term megatrends such as climate change and resource scarcity while delivering greater certainty to renewable energy investors.
The chancellor’s speech at 11.15am on Thursday serves as an update on the government’s economic plans. His 2012 address included an outline of the coalition’s gas strategy, and was criticised by many for being too focused on the “short-term”.
However, after a year which has seen a 2030 decarbonistion target voted down by MPs and the introduction of government measures that could make it easier for communities to reject local wind power projects, members of the sustainable investment industry have asked Osborne to look at the bigger picture as to why clean energy is crucial to the long-term sustainability of the UK’s economy.
“Investors need a clear, consistent and stable policy framework to encourage them to deliver, for instance, the £110 billion in electricity generation necessary by 2020 to ensure the lights don’t go out in the UK”, said Caroline Escott, head of government relations at the trade body the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF).
“A necessary pre-requisite for this greater investor certainty is a signal that the Treasury understands the impact that long-term megatrends like climate change and resource security can have on economic growth. So what we would really like to see in the autumn statement is a commitment from the chancellor to reinstating the proposed resource depletion review, which the Treasury previously failed to back despite support from other major government departments.”
UKSIF, along with major investors such as Aviva, WHEB, Impax and the Co-operative Asset Management, signed a letter in July – sent to Andrew Tyrie MP, chairman of the Treasury select committee – calling for a review of resource depletion, climate change and growth, which was blocked by the Treasury in 2012.
“We are concerned that the Treasury is insufficiently taking into account important long-term trends which are already having material impacts on businesses and investment, and are of great potential significance to the UK’s financial stability and the future of its economy”, they wrote at the time.
Escott added that Osborne “should not miss this opportunity to reassure investors that he fully recognises the important and necessary contribution the low-carbon sector can make to a fully-fledged economic recovery.”
Financial services professionals within the sustainability space have also urged the chancellor to rethink his views on renewable energy and environmental issues. He has previously described businesses and individuals in the green world as the “environmental Taliban” and also once famously claimed, “We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business.”
“Given the chancellor’s traditional hostility to environmental technologies and industries, I think some recognition of the importance of this sector to the UK’s economy today and its growing importance in future would be very welcome”, said Seb Beloe, head of sustainability research at WHEB Asset Management, which invests in companies that provide solutions to some of the most urgent sustainability challenges.
“Specific measures to expand the role of the Green Investment Bank, and to buttress efforts to increase energy efficiency (particularly in light of changes to ECO) would also help to shore up an industry which has been battered by recent political discussions.”
This sentiment was echoed by Richard Essex, a specialist ethical and sustainable financial adviser at Grayside Ltd.
Essex said, “There was news yesterday that subsidies for onshore wind and solar were going to be cut whilst offshore wind support will increase. There could be some logic in this, in that offshore wind needs more capital support. The message is however a little mixed.
“What I would like to see from the chancellor are steps towards a consistent, effective approach to renewables, creating the right incentive for industry to take up the mantle, while sending a strong message that renewables can make up an important part of the overall low-carbon mix.”
Meanwhile Mark Hoskin, a partner at London-based financial advisory firm Holden & Partners, said, “My main hope is that the government does not further damage our long-term energy future by attacking renewables for short-term political reasons.”
On Wednesday, a number of environmental and conservation charities called on Obsorne to deliver strong environmental protection policy in his autumn statement.
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.
How Going Green Can Save A Company Money
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
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.
- Economy2 weeks ago
Report: Green, Ethical and Socially Responsible Finance
- Energy3 days ago
5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable
- Sustainability3 weeks ago
Worldwide Cities Leading the Way in Sustainability
- Environment3 weeks ago
Consumers Investing in Eco-Friendly Cars with the UK Green Revolution