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COP21: First city in Germany bans fossil fuels from investments

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The City of Münster has become the first German city to ban investments in coal, oil and gas companies in response to the mounting threat of climate change.

Münster’s new ethical investment policy requires its two municipal pension funds worth €22 million to invest exclusively in ethically and environmentally sound companies. Fossil fuel corporations such as RWE, Total, Shell and BASF will be excluded.

Councillor Otto Reiners says: “To minimise financial risks for the City of Münster and reach our municipal climate targets, we need to pull out of fossil fuel companies as quickly as possible.”

Reiners refers to the financial risk of investments in fossil fuels that financial actors such as Bloomberg, the Bank of England and Standard & Poor’s warn of. Since the majority of coal, oil and gas reserves cannot be burnt to limit global temperature rise below 2℃, fossil fuel companies are currently exceedingly overvalued.

Campaign group Fossil Free Münster has been pressuring the city council since October 2013 to divest from fossil fuels. Rubinea Korte of Fossil Free Münster says, “Our persistence and good collaboration with decision makers finally paid off.”

Fossil Free Münster worked closely with the city to formulate a new investment policy, which now defines a comprehensive set of ethical investment criteria. Besides fossil fuels, sectors such as nuclear energy, arms and child labour are also blacklisted.

Tine Langkamp who coordinates the divestment campaign for 350.org in Germany says: “Fossil Free Münster was the first group in Germany to put fossil fuel divestment on the political agenda. Now they’ve secured the first big win for the divestment movement in Germany. Münster is a real pioneer and we’ll continue to push to make many more follow.”

Münster joins a growing list of institutions that commit to divest from fossil fuels for ethical and financial reasons. In the lead-up to the UN climate negotiations in Paris, the movement is picking up speed. In the past two weeks alone, the Norwegian capital Oslo, the City of Melbourne in Australia and Uppsala in Sweden were among those that have pledged to ban investments in coal, oil and gas.

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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