So, what is Good Money Week? Good Money Week is an annual campaign coordinated by the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) to raise awareness of sustainable, responsible and ethical investment and finance opportunities among the public and their financial advisors.
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With events across the country from October 19-25, Good Money Week will bring together individuals, financial advisers, charities, faith, community and student groups and financial institutions, to help everyone have a positive impact on the environment and society while spending, saving, or investing their cash.
Though this is UKSIF’s seventh annual campaign it is the first Good Money Week, following the rebranding of National Ethical Investment Week. With the new moniker comes a new emphasis. UKSIF say this year’s event will shout from the rooftops that everyone – from investment professionals to pension holders and current account customers – can and should make their money do good.
“I want Good Money Week to be inclusive,” says UKSIF chief executive Simon Howard.
“I want it to include every consumer and every financial services company. You don’t have to be a fund manager and you don’t have to be a large bank – service providers, financial advisors, pension funds and individuals are all welcome.”
So what is sustainable and ethical investment?
Investing sustainably and ethically generally means investing according to your values, thinking about environmental, ethical and social factors, when choosing where to put your money. It allows you to make a positive difference in the world while earning a good financial return.
Whichever way you look at it, the amount of wealth that is invested sustainably is growing.
“The market has come a phenomenally long way,” says Will Oulton, global head of responsible investment at First State Investments and an UKSIF board member, who has worked in the space for 14 years.
“When I started there was very little awareness of sustainable and responsible investment in the industry. We’ve gone from a values driven niche market to one now where its much more institutionalised, and there’s much better data around.”
The European Sustainable Investment Forum has revealed that sustainable investment in Europe has grown by almost 23% between 2011 and 2013, outpacing mainstream investment that stood at 21.7%.
Global movements have risen to demand financing be redirected to the renewable energy revolution, with institutions signing up around the world. Over 800 leading global investors have pledged to withdraw $50 billion from fossil fuel corporations over the next five years.
Social impact bonds, community share offers, ethical businesses and similar alternatives grow ever more popular. New responsible investment funds and tools are launched with encouraging regularity.
According to analysts EIRIS, over £12 billion is invested ethically in retail funds in the UK. That is up from just £5.5 billion 10 years ago. Of course, this sum remains a small percentage of assets under managements, but the direction of travel is clear.
Why should you invest sustainable and ethically?
Investing sustainably and ethically means investing according to your values. It means you can avoid investing in firms can manufacture weapons, sell tobacco or exploit their workers.
You can steer clear of fossil fuel firms, boycotting the companies contributing most to climate change and pushing nature to the brink. You can take your money out of the hands of banks that use it irresponsibly, and trust it with banks that use it positively.
Every day in the pages of Blue & Green Tomorrow you will find more reasons to make good money choices. Civilization faces many crises, from resource scarcity and pollution to population growth and inequality. However you invest sustainably or ethically, you make the world a better place.
“[Sustainable investment] offers you, the investor, a new mindset,” writes Richard Essex of Grayside Financial Services in his 2014 book, Invest, Feel Good and Make a Difference.
“You can really start to feel good and involved in your investment rather than a rabbit in headlights, which is what many investors have felt like in the past.”
Plus, doing so does not mean sacrificing financial returns. In fact, it can make you more money. A growing body of evidence indicates that sustainable funds, portfolios and businesses outperform their less discerning peers. Savvy investors are also beginning to recognise that the firms taking sustainability seriously are well-run, lead by long-term thinkers.
Meanwhile, questions have arisen about the future of carbon-intensive investments. As governments attempt to curb climate change and address other critical challenges, the old tried and tested investments might not look such a good bet anymore.
How can you invest sustainably and ethically?
The best way to make your money do good is to visit a specialist adviser. Ethical IFAs can provide expert advice on the investments that will suit you, your risk profile and your values.
But whoever you are, there are so many ways you can invest more positively. If you are, say, a banking customer, use online tools such as Move Your Money’s handy scorecard to shop around for a bank that shares your values. To learn more, find a Good Money Week event near you. And stay tuned to Blue & Green Tomorrow’s coverage throughout the week.
Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?
Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?
But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?
The Big Picture
The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.
That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.
One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.
There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.
As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.
Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.
Make and Model of Car
Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.
On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.
The Bottom Line
Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?
Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.
New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035
New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.
New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.
Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.
Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”
The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.
Zero net emissions by 2050
Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.
Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.
She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.
Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”
A worldwide shift to renewable energy
Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.
Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.
Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.
Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.
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