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MPs publish report urging Arctic oil drilling halt

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An inquiry by a cross-parliamentary group of MPs has called for a moratorium on drilling in the Arctic until a number of safety standards are implemented to deal with and prevent oil spills.

The environmental audit committee’s report, Protecting the Arctic, was published today after an eight-month inquiry. It looks into the current spill response plans in the region and suggests a number of ways these can be tightened – primarily through thorough research and testing.

It also calls for oil and gas companies to be held financially liable for any spills that do occur, to a fine of “preferably unlimited” value.

Until these steps are taken, the report says, firms should be disallowed from drilling there.

Chair of the committee, Joan Walley MP, said, “The oil companies should come clean and admit that dealing with an oil spill in the icy extremes of the Arctic would be exceptionally difficult.

The infrastructure to mount a big clean-up operation is simply not in place and conventional oil spill response techniques have not been proven to work in such severe conditions.

Drilling is only currently feasible in the Arctic during a short summer window when it is relatively ice-free.

We heard compelling evidence that if a blow-out occurred just before the dark Arctic winter returned it may not be possible to cap it until the following summer – potentially leaving oil spewing out under the ice for six months or more with devastating consequences for wildlife.”

The committee, which is made up of 16 MPs, originally launched its inquiry in January this year, despite the government’s noticeable favour towards Arctic drilling.

Its report comes less than a month after measurements by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in the US showed that sea ice cover in the region had reached its lowest amount since satellite observation began in 1979.

And less than two weeks later, the NSIDC revealed the melting had continued even further.

Yet despite this, fossil fuel firms worldwide are seeing the Arctic’s diminishing as an opportunity to drill for otherwise unreachable oil.

British company Cairn Energy announced its intentions to continue searching for oil in the region last month, even though it had already conducted two years of exploration without success.

And according to Friends of the Earth Scotland, this is on top of a half-year pre-tax loss of $50m, and coupled with poor spill response procedures.

Cairn shouldn’t be drilling in the Arctic in the first place, and indeed couldn’t be, were it not for the fact that climate change is opening up this territory by shrinking the ice caps”, said communications officer Per Fischer.

The company shows a complete lack of concern for the fragile Arctic environment.

The committee is right to call for a stop for Arctic drilling until stricter financial liability for oil companies are in place, and until further independent research on the environmental side-effects of such risky endeavours has been conducted.”

Rúni M. Hansen, head of Statoil’s Arctic unit, was a speaker at the recent Financial Times Global Energy Leaders Summit in London, and during his speech, used the phrase “responsible development of the Arctic”, before dodging a question about whether he had any “moral concerns” about what his company was doing.

One of the biggest reasons why oil firms are able to conduct such risky exploration projects is because of the significant backing they receive from investors – both institutional and private. But Caroline Lucas MP, former leader of the Green Party, and the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) have called on parliament’s pension fund to adopt a responsible investment pledge.

They’ve urged the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) to sign the UK Stewardship Code, a set of voluntary guidelines that aim to increase corporate governance and boost investor-company engagement.

Most people would be appalled if they thought their pensions were being invested in corporations with, for example, poor records on human rights or environmental protection”, said Lucas, who also sits on the environmental audit committee.

By signing the MP pension fund up to the UK Stewardship Code, parliament can demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and transparency, and really lead by example in responsible investment.

Since the Code operates on a ‘comply or explain’ basis, we look forward to the PCPF’s response to this letter – either to confirm that it will sign up or explain why it isn’t willing to.”

Further reading:

Arctic sea ice continues its worrying decline

Arctic ice reaches record low with more melting expected

UK inquiry launched to protect vulnerable Arctic region

Environment

4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again

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reuse reduce recycle plastic bottles etc
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Vanatchanan | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/vanatchanan%20buahom

As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.

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Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.

Jars and Containers

Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.

Soda Bottles

An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.

Plastic Bags

Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!

Seeds

If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!

Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!

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Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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