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20 questions with… Matt Dredger, CEO of Borroclub.

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Borroclub recently won a share of a £72,484 initial investment from Innovation Birmingham’s Low Carbon Accelerator programme, which is part of the European-funded Climate-KIC initiative. We put Borroclub CEO, Matt Dedger, in the “20 questions with…” hot seat.

We want the world to be as blue and green tomorrow as it was yesterday. What’s your mission?

My mission is to unlock £92bn worth of items that are lying idle across homes in the UK.  Borroclub offers our members the opportunity to post their items to an online sharing platform for others to borrow.  It could be anything from a drill, roof box to a handbag.

We form part of the growing sharing economy & are at the heart of the circular economy.  We want to connect people in local communities, which in turn will reduce Co2 by mobilising items that would otherwise be lying idle.  We have partnered with charities to offer them a new fundraising stream via supporters who choose to donate their lend fee to the charity rather than keep it themselves.

With over 26m homes in the UK combined with stats showing that a UK garage contains on average £3,500 worth of items (and this doesn’t include the car), we have the potential to unlock £92bn of idling assets.  We help families to access items they need to use but do not necessarily have the funds to purchase that item outright.  At the same time helping families to generate some supplementary income for their household.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an architect.

How would your friends describe you?

Fun, out going, dependable.

What was your ‘road to Damascus moment’ in terms of sustainability?

When I was clearing out my garage getting ready for a car boot sale and I realised how much stuff I had accumulated that I hardly used and I knew people were going out to the shops to purchase the same items and I realised that they could use my items.

Who or what inspires you?

My kids inspire me as they are so committed to their own endeavours but are really keen to support my wife and myself.

What really grinds your gears?

People who do not listen and are too wrapped up in their own self-importance.

Describe your perfect day.

A day’s body boarding with my kids in Devon.

What do you see when you look out your window at home? 

Lots of cars driving… too many.

What do you like spending your money on?

Days out or holidays with my family.

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

Woolacombe in Devon.

What’s your favourite book?

I don’t really read books, I prefer to listen to podcasts

What’s your favourite film?

This is a real tough one, its difficult to choose between Jaws/Star Wars

You’re elected prime minister with a thumping majority. What’s the first thing you do?

Create a fairer tax system and go after the biggest tax evaders.

If you were stuck on a desert island, which famous person would you like to be stuck with and why?

Paul Weller, I love his music and he can teach me how to play for the guitar.

What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given? And the worst?

Best: Always be open and listen to others

Worst: I cant remember as I choose to forget bad advice.

What’s your biggest regret?

Not starting Borroclub sooner.

What one thing would you encourage readers to do to make their life more sustainable?

Consume less, do you really need that thing you want to purchase whether its goods or food etc.

What’s the one idea that you think could change the world for the better?

Share more

What’s your favourite quote?

You’re gonna need a bigger boat (Brody from Jaws)

What would you like to be doing five years from now?

Taking Borroclub into Europe

And the bonus questions:- How would you like to be remembered? – What will they carve on your gravestone?

I would like to be remembered as a good dad/husband. No gravestone I don’t want to take up the space.

What is the one question you wanted us to ask you and didn’t?

Who let the dogs out?

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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