A letter unveiled in Japan’s capital Tokyo today includes eighty organisations urging Japan to change the way they use fossil fuels. The organisations have asked Japan to announce that they will commit to ending all fossil fuel financing by next year at the G7 summit. The latest climate change research shows that to avoid the worst effects of climate change we should not build any more fossil fuel power plants after 2017.
This letter builds on international protests in March and April when activists rallied to demand that Japan stop financing dirty energy projects like the Batang coal-fired power plant, which has been plagued by human rights abuses. These protests will continue this month to call out Japan’s out-of-touch plans to build 49 new coal plants domestically and finance many others abroad.
Japan’s government has continued to isolate itself by supporting both fossil fuel projects at home and across the globe. This is despite Japan’s wealth of renewable resources. Japan’s financing has included liquefied natural gas projects throughout the world, including the United States and Indonesia. In addition, Japan provided over US$20 billion in coal financing abroad between 2007 and 2014, making it the world’s number one financier of overseas coal.
Yuki Tanabe, Program Coordinator at Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES) said: “It is a time to make G7’s public finance flows consistent with the goal of 1.5-2 degree Celsius agreed in Paris. As a chair of the G7 Summit, the Prime Minister Abe should take a strong leadership towards the dramatical change.”
Kate DeAngelis, International Policy Analyst at Friends of the Earth U.S. said: “Japan’s own government research shows that the country is rich in clean, renewable resources. Instead of taking advantage of these resources and encouraging the rest of the world to transition to renewables, Japan has doubled down on dirty coal and gas. Hosting the G7 provides Japan with an opportunity to change course and commit to replacing its dangerous fossil fuel financing with resources for renewables.”
Nur Hidayati, National Executive Director of WALHI – Friends of the Earth Indonesia said: “Indonesian people have severely suffered from climate change. We do not need any more coal fired power plant that will not only exacerbate the climate but will also take livelihoods of the small farmers and fishers that depend on their land and sea to continue their lives. We urge Japan government to stop making profits out of the suffering of Indonesian people, withdraw its financing from Batang coal plant, and shift their investment to renewable energy.”
Maura Cowley, Associate Director of the Sierra Club’s International Climate and Energy campaign said: “It’s undeniable that the momentum toward a 100 percent clean energy economy has continued to accelerate in the months since the Paris Agreement was adopted, and 175 nations, including Japan, joining together on Earth Day 2016 to sign the agreement reaffirms that the world is ready to tackle the climate crisis.
“There’s no excuse for Japan or any other developed country to continue to push for the world’s dirtiest energy source when cheaper, safer, and more modern energy sources — like wind and solar — are literally all around us.”
Shin Furuno, Divestment Campaigner at 350.org Japan said: “Among G7 countries and around the world, divestment from fossil fuels is gaining momentum. To avoid dangerous climate change, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Continuing to invest in coal and fossil fuels is risky business. Japanese financial institutions should divest from fossil fuels and re-invest in a sustainable future.”
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!