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Action Platform Campaign for Climate Change Crackdown



Vote Your Pension has launched a worldwide campaign to tackle climate change in two big oil companies. The shareholder action platform is asking its users to support its movement to make ExxonMobil and Chevron change their business models to suit the global 2°C climate change target.

Vote Your Pension is calling on millions of people worldwide to use its platform to urge their pension funds to support resolutions at both companies’ AGMs on May 25. The resolutions aim to put the two biggest US oil companies on a low-carbon pathway.

The Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP), ShareAction and SumofUs, which run Vote Your Pension, are calling on pension funds and other asset owners to actively use their voting rights to drive Exxon and Chevron, the two biggest US oil companies, towards a low carbon future.

Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive of ShareAction, said: “ExxonMobil and Chevron have business strategies that are simply incompatible with staying well below 2°C, as countries committed to in Paris last year.

“Although these companies’ stock is owned by most pension funds, their business models do nothing to serve the interests of working people, especially younger people, who are the ordinary members of these funds.

“Our future wellbeing depends on preventing catastrophic temperature rises, so why would we not challenge companies owned by our pension funds that are undermining our shot at a safe future?

“ShareAction is pleased to support shareholder resolutions filed this year to push US oil giants to commit to firm action on climate change. It’s right that people with retirement savings should have the chance to raise these profound concerns.”

Vote Your Pension enables ordinary people to leverage their power as retirement fund investors to drive climate action. It is the world’s largest shareholder engagement campaign with direct links to more than a thousand pension funds.

Shareholders can now use its platform to call on funds to vote in favour of shareholder resolutions that would make Exxon and Chevron start to acknowledge climate risk, diversify their companies and disclose their lobbying activities. Two of the resolutions have already gained huge shareholder support from large funds and the campaign has already seen contacted 1010 funds in 46 countries asking them to declare their voting plans.

Julian Poulter, CEO at AODP, said: “The large retirement funds and their fund managers who control these companies have now reached a tipping point of credibility around engagement as way to protect member’s money from climate risk.

“We understand their wholesale rejection of divestment but now they must prove that company engagement can work. These resolutions are the beginning of the critical process to diversify big oil. This is a quadruple win-win as the company executives, shareholders, employees and governments all benefit from a smooth diversification and just transition of these companies.”

This year’s AGMs are the companies’ first since the Paris Climate Summit. In the last year, the industry has suffered from low commodity prices that have weakened profit margins.

In April, Exxon posted its smallest profit for any quarter in 16 years and Chevron reported a first quarter loss in 2016. Adding to this, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England and chairman of the International Financial Stability Board, has warned that climate change action could make huge reserves of coal, oil and gas unburnable stranded assets. The financial case for reform and diversification has never been clearer.

Furthermore, investors are beginning to recognise the need to protect portfolios from climate risk, as revealed by last week’s AODP Global Climate 500 Index, which evaluates the success of the world’s largest asset owners at managing climate risk.

Liz McDowell, Campaign Director of SumofUs, said: “SumOfUs members around the world are fed up with their retirement savings being used to support risky and irresponsible decisions by fossil fuel companies.

“Over 15,000 members have contacted their pension funds, superannuation funds and other investment vehicles to demand that Exxon and Chevron diversify away from fossil fuels. Through the Vote Your Pension platform, ordinary people are exercising their shareholder power to hold corporations to account.”

Even as the campaign got underway, news emerged that global proxy advisers Glass Lewis and ISS who control a large portion of votes are split on their direction with ISS supporting disclosure of Exxon, and Chevron lobbying activities and Glass Lewis voting with the company boards.

Julian Poulter added: “It is encouraging the ISS and Glass Lewis want to see 2°C stress testing but disappointing that they can’t take the simple next step to broaden big oil companies into a low carbon future by voting for item 13 to report output as a broad energy company rather than just as an oil company.

“The cushy relationships between the companies, proxy advisers and funds who don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ are actually owned by ordinary workers who now demand transparency of the Exxon and Chevron voting decisions.

“The secretive world of proxy advice now needs to play out in the open and Glass Lewis and ISS must stop playing politics and start thinking about long term value risk management and value creation for end beneficiaries.”


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

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?

Homegrown 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.

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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:

Financial Advising

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.

Life Insurance

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.

Health Insurance

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

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