Connect with us


Automakers Accused of Gross Complacency by Investors



Leading carmakers ignore disclosure requests from investors on CO2 emissions. Renault/Nissan, Peugeot Citroen PSA and Ford have dismissed the views of investors with over £625bn of assets under management by failing to respond to their requests for more information on lobbying and on compliance with CO2 and efficiency standards in both the EU and the US.

In the wake of the VW emissions test cheating in October 2015, a group of investors wrote to the largest automotive manufacturers asking for more information about lobbying on tailpipe emissions standards in the US and Europe, and on compliance with those standards.

As well as writing to Renault/Nissan, PSA and Ford, who never responded at all, investors wrote to VW, BMW, Daimler, Honda, Toyota, GM, and Fiat Chrysler, who each provided varying degrees of detail.

Charlotta Dawidowski Sydstrand, ESG Manager at Swedish fund AP7 said: “We notice that several big companies have failed to respond to the request and conclude that there is a transparency problem in the industry. From a long term investor’s perspective this is bad news. Lack of transparency impairs the ability of the market to price risks properly. AP7 wants to be reassured that carmakers’ political lobbying activities are contributing to a safe climate, in turn protecting the long term value of our portfolios.

Volkswagen lost over 15 billion euros of investor’s money when the scandal broke last year. The company chose not to disclose its opposition to more ambitious EU vehicle emissions standards post-2021. Rumours that Renault was raided as part of the investigation into emissions testing resulted in a 20% drop in its share price in early 2016. Renault ignored the investors’ requests for disclosure and VW made no mention of the scandal and its implications in its response.

Daimler offered a one-line assurance that “there is no reason to be concerned” about the company’s involvement in the legislative process. This is despite the fact Daimler has routinely paid fines to the US government for not complying with CAFE efficiency standards. Daimler also ranked very poorly for CO2 fleet emissions in 2015 the EU.

By contrast, Japanese carmakers Toyota and Honda, both leaders in fleet emissions and efficiency offered a good degree of information, as did General Motors and BMW.

The results have been published in a report drawn up by ShareAction and InfluenceMap, together with recommendations for investors.

Catherine Howarth, CEO, ShareAction said: “The investors who came together to question global automakers on their lobbying activities have done the wider market a service in helping identify those car makers that remain unwilling to come clean about this murky and increasingly risky aspect of their business. Shareholders should continue to press for answers in the interests of having greater visibility on car markers’ lobbying activities.”

Dylan Tanner, Executive Director, Influence Map said: “The one line ‘trust us’ style response from Daimler to investor requests for detailed disclosures in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal will not sit well with shareholders; let alone the ones who ignored the requests altogether.  Fiat-Chrysler’s comprehensive and fairly positive response does not tally with recent statements on US regulations from its CEO on the difficulties in complying with future US standards.  Compliance with ever stringent CO2 and efficiency standards are key business risks for these companies and investors have a right to understand what they are doing.”

Seb Beloe, Head of Research at WHEB Group said: “The Volkswagen debacle has firmly established the relevance of vehicle emissions performance for automotive companies. Leading businesses are able to demonstrate coherent product strategies that underpin premium valuations in the sector. The lack of response from other companies including Nissan/Renault, Peugeot, Citroen and Ford raises real questions about the approach these companies are taking to this issue and potentially undermining their ability to maintain share in markets that are characterised by rapidly strengthening emission standards.”


7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption



Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions |

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

Continue Reading


Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

Continue Reading