This Sunday 13th September, hundreds of performers and campaigners will take over the BP-sponsored British Museum in a daylong “anti-oil festival”, demonstrating their opposition to oil sponsorship of arts and cultural institutions. Sixteen different campaign groups will join forces and launch a series of performances and actions throughout the day, featuring music, theatre and meditation, and culminating in a mass flashmob inside the museum’s Great Court.
Chris Garrard, a campaigner with Art Not Oil, who are hosting the festival said: “This is our most ambitious intervention to date and shows just how large the movement against oil sponsorship has become. Throughout the day, we’re going to creatively expose how BP tries to hide its corporate crimes and its record on the environment by cynically sponsoring our cultural institutions. The British Museum exists in order to preserve cultures but it knowingly gives legitimacy to a company that is eroding cultures and communities around the world with spills and rising sea levels. With many institutions now divesting and cutting their ties to fossil fuels, the British Museum, the Tate and others need to end their deals with BP or they’ll soon end up on the wrong side of history.”
Art Not Oil is a coalition of arts-based campaign groups, united around the aim of ending oil sponsorship of the arts but for this event will be joined by climate action groups, faith groups, fossil fuel divestment campaigners, artists, musicians, youth campaigners and people working in solidarity with frontline communities impacted by the oil industry. Freedom of Information requests have revealed that BP provides just 0.8% of the British Museum’s annual income, and less than half a percent of the Tate’s. Campaigners argue that these donations are “embarrassingly small” and that BP needs these institutions to cleanse its tarnished brand, following the Gulf of Mexico spill, far more than the institutions need BP’s meagre contributions to their funding.
BP currently has a five-year funding deal with four iconic cultural institutions: The British Museum, the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Opera House. These four sponsorship deals were formally announced in the British Museum at the end of 2011 and that is why the UK’s most visited cultural institution was chosen for Sunday’s “anti-oil festival”. The deal is up for renewal in 2017 and discussions are almost certainly underway with trustees at all four institutions.
This will be the latest in a recent series of high-profile actions and performances from the Art Not Oil coalition. These have included exposing Shell’s influence over the Science Museum’s climate exhibition; a double protest by BP or not BP? at the BP-sponsored Royal Opera House backed up by a critical letter in the Guardian signed by seventy-five composers, musicians and musicologists; ‘Time Piece’, Liberate Tate’s spectacular artistic 25-hour occupation of Tate Modern; and most recently, BP or not BP?’s performance protest against BP funding of the Edinburgh International Festival. Public figures including the acclaimed actors, Simon McBurney and Mark Rylance, and the playwrights Mark Ravenhill and Caryl Churchill, have regularly spoken out against BP sponsorship of the arts.
Evidence has shown that far from being neutral providers of energy, oil companies are using their wealth and political influence to slow down the development of renewables, block clean energy legislation and push up demand for oil and gas. Last month, the Guardian revealed that BP had successfully lobbied to water down renewable energy legislation in the EU. BP is also facing fierce criticism for pushing ahead with locally destructive projects in the Canadian tar sands, the Arctic and the Great Australian Bight. BP was also found to be “grossly negligent” in causing the Deepwater Horizon disaster and was recently fined $18.7 billion over the Gulf of Mexico spill, the largest environmental fine in history.
There have also been more than a dozen anti-oil actions inside the British Museum itself in recent years, including a Culture Beyond Oil performance in 2010; a series of performances by BP or not BP? including the BP-sponsored Shakespeare exhibition in 2012, the BP Vikings exhibition in 2014 and the BP Indigenous Australia exhibition in 2015; and separate interventions by Quaker groups and others.
Stunts, performances and interventions will be taking place all day within the British Museum, concluding with a mass action ‘flashmob’ performance at 3pm. Groups or individuals who wish to take part in the performance are being invited to sign up at the Art Not Oil website (www.artnotoil.org.uk) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis
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!
What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?
It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?
The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.
A Strategy, Instead of a Plan
But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.
The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.
A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth
But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.
Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push
While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.
The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.
But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.
This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.
Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.
In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.
It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.
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