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Barclays Branches in Five Cities Occupied Over Investments in Fracking and Other Extreme Energies



Barclays branches in five cities occupied by protesters over investments in fracking and other extreme energies. Today, 1pm – 4:30pm, various cities – High street Barclays branches across 5 cities have been closed by protests highlighting the social and environmental impacts of the bank’s investments in coal, tar sands and fracking.

Sit-ins and occupations of Barclays branches have taken place in London, Leeds, Sheffield, Lancaster and Oxford. The protests caused major disruption, forcing Barclays to turn away customers and close several branches.

Campaigners are calling on Barclays to divest over £1.2 billion holdings from ‘extreme energy’ producers, including Shell, BHP Billiton and Anglo American, as well as IGas and Third Energy, two companies planning to start fracking in Yorkshire.

Activists stayed for 2 hours at each of the branches. Protesters in Sheffield erected a fracking rig inside the branch, while in London and Oxford campaigners told stories of Indigenous people resisting the expansion of coal mining and tar sands extraction.

A representative of the Wretched of the Earth collective, a coalition of people and organisations that are connected to the Global South, said: “When our communities stand in defence of their territory, they are fighting not only against the degradation of the natural environment but also against violent dispossession and cultural extermination. Banks like Barclays facilitate the neo-colonial and imperialist practices of the extractive industry, they perpetuate the suffering of those who have been historically most oppressed. The first to die, the first to fight: standing with impacted communities on the frontline is about decolonisation.”

These protests brought together campaigners from the People & Planet student network, The Wretched of the Earth, Move Your Money, Frack Off, and the London Mining Network.

Barclays financed the Cerrejón coal mine with $3.534 billion from 2009-2013. The last families are currently being removed from the village of Roche, and the community of Las Casitas faces imminent removal to allow for further expansion of the mine. Five communities have been completely displaced without resettlement, due to the continued expansion of the mine.

Samuel Arregoces, from the village of Tabaco, which has yet to be resettled since its eviction to make way for Cerrejón mine expansion in 2001, said:  “Banks, like Barclays, that finance multinationals like BHP Billiton are responsible for environmental disasters. They finance the destruction of the environment, the dispossession of communities and their cultural extermination. This is blood coal money, this is Guajira displacement money. We ask that those who finance BHP Billiton are held accountable because their money comes at the cost of the suffering and tears of ethnic communities in La Guajira.”

Over 8000 people have sent letters to Barclays Chairman John McFarlane calling on Barclays-owned company Third Energy to withdraw its plans to frack in North Yorkshire. On Tuesday, hundreds of people gathered in Blackpool in protest of Cuadrilla’s appeal of Lancashire County Council’s refusal to grant permission to frack.

Molly Hopkinshaw, an anti-fracking activist, said:  “We have a historic responsibility to call out British companies profiting from the destruction of Indigenous and frontline communities. In solidarity with those fighting on the front line against fossil fuels across the world, we are standing up and saying no to Barclays’ dash for gas, which is both dangerous and undemocratic. We are here to tell Barclay’s that they can’t hide behind their flashy high street branches. We know what they are doing and we will not let them continue.”

These actions are building on the momentum of the recent fossil fuel divestment victories in the UK. In the past six months, 14 universities divested from fossil fuels, including the University of Sheffield, the University of Warwick and the London School of Economics.

Naia Lopez, Fossil Free campaign coordinator at People & Planet said: “Despite more and more universities divesting from fossil fuels, UK banks continue to finance the wreckage of our climate and the destruction of communities. Barclays was forced to end its historic investments in apartheid South Africa following student campaigning. Grassroots action can force them to stop bankrolling extreme energy in the UK and worldwide.”


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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