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Economy

Osborne’s omission heralds escalating emissions

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With George Osborne, what he doesn’t say is often more interesting than what he does. It’s been clear for some time that the chancellor of the exchequer does not understand economics. Every set piece speech he makes provides further evidence of his failure to grasp the limits to unsustainable economic growth. Borrow more, frack harder and cut forever are not sustainable economic strategies.

The coalition, and Osborne specifically, have gained a lot of ground in public opinion by laying the responsibility for the economic crash of 2008 at the feet of the Labour party. Public spending and borrowing certainly had got significantly out of balance in the run up to the crash. But the crash itself was a private sector market failure, with antecedents in the sudden deregulation mania of Big Bang in 1986.

We should not forget that in opposition, Osborne argued for even less regulation in the run up to the crash and promised to stick to Labour’s spending plans. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it is not foresight or wisdom.

Therefore, it is always fascinating to listen to the chancellor waxing lyrical about economics, when he has been so catastrophically wrong about almost everything to date.

We are not hostile to a Conservative government, or for that matter a Labour one, in coalition or not with the Lib Dems or Greens. We simply want political parties to reflect the opinion of the overwhelming majority of their voters, rather than the fringe minority of their more extreme members. We want them to get sustainability.

The missing word is ‘renewable’

That majority of every party’s supporters want to see a massive expansion in renewable energy and more heavily regulated corporations when they act as cartels to stifle innovation, constrain competition and limit consumer choice. The majority who would vote for all parties would like to see the return of utilities to public hands, from water and energy to rail.

We believe a sensibly regulated, free and fair market is a sensible approach to sector failures, and renationalisation would be fraught with difficulties. However, we also believe in a functioning democracy, where it is the will of the people, not the will of a powerful minority, that should guide our government’s agenda. It’s called a democracy, after all.

The rise of ‘none-of-the-above’ in elections demonstrates how far the patronising political class and the feral media circus that surrounds them has become disconnected from the will of the people.

Ed Miliband’s proposed 20-month freeze on energy price rises after the next election may be imperfect, but it is not Labour “declaring war on enterprise” or akin to Marxism or even socialism, as Osborne said. What errant nonsense and childish hyperbole. Such silliness disengages the public and makes our politics all the poorer and national debate weaker.

Big business is not entrepreneurial. Large corporations are industrialists and rent-seekers, stifling innovation and competition to protect dominant market positions. A GCSE student studying economics could tell Osborne that. All business is not entrepreneurial, and to conflate the two is naive.

What is far more dangerous is attacking the scientific consensus on climate change, declaring war on the so-called “environmental Taliban”, and jeopardising our nascent and valuable cleantech and renewable sectors. It is reckless for the holder of one of the Great Offices of State to do so.

Osborne may use Marx to attack Miliband and talk about The Wealth of Nations, but free market thinkers such Friedrich Hayek and Adam Smith wrote respectively about environmental protection (the need to consider the market’s inability to deal effectively with negative externalities such as pollution) and moral sentiments (such as the limiting the selfish impulse of entrepreneurs, for the common good).

Economy, society and ecology

Hayek wrote this: “To prohibit the use of certain poisonous substances, or to require special precautions in their use, to limit working hours or to require certain sanitary arrangements, is fully compatible with the preservation of competition. The only question here is whether in the particular instance the advantages gained are greater than the social costs which they impose.”

Fossil fuel pollution is a poisonous substance.

And this: “Nor can certain harmful effects of deforestation, of some methods of farming, or of the smoke and noise of factories, be confined to the owner of the property in question, or to those who are willing to submit to the damage for an agreed compensation.”

What pollutes the planet cannot be considered a private matter, but is a public crime.

Smith wrote this: “How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it.”

Self-interest is not the whole story.

And this: “This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and powerful, and to despise or, at least, neglect persons of poor and mean conditions, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.”

We are corrupted by our admiration for wealth for its own sake.

And this: “It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”

This sounds incredibly similar to “from each according to their abilities…”; that age old Marxist trope.

And this: “Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.”

Civil government is still about protecting individual wealth rather than the overall prosperity of the nation.

Even the founding father of capitalism and the greatest defender of liberal economics recognised that there were limits to free markets, and that society, the environment and redistribution matter. If all you’ve read is an A-Level economics primer before becoming chancellor, you’re unlikely to have understood the subtleties of the greatest economic philosophers and thinkers that you claim as your own inspiration.

Sustainable innovation and investment could be this country’s greatest exports, providing energy security at home and new jobs in a new vibrant and clean economy. Not even mentioning renewables while heaping praise on fracking and nuclear power shows the chancellor for what he is: a pollutocrat, locked in out-of-date, out-of-touch economic thinking.

He may think sustainable and green policies are uneconomic, but his economic policies are unecologic and profoundly harmful to society.

This economically and environmentally illiterate chancellor is jeopardising the future prosperity of the UK and our potential lead in sustainability. He needs to educate himself quickly or be politely shown the door by the electorate at the earliest opportunity.

Further reading:

The depressing vision of George Osborne’s Tory conference speech

A sustainable versus unsustainable recovery

Spending review: ‘reform, growth and fairness’ (but still unsustainable)

Are capitalism and conservation incompatible?

Myopic budget threatens UK’s long-term prosperity

Coalition’s green fatigue is a ‘betrayal of conservatism itself’

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

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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Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

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

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

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.

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