Connect with us

Energy

Oxford City Council commits to fossil fuel divestment

Published

on

Oxford City Council has become the first UK local authority to commit to fossil fuel divestment, after pledging to end its investments in the polluting industry on ethical grounds.

Blue & Green Tomorrow is currently running a crowdfunder to ensure its survival. Please pledge.

Though the motion was passed on July 14, campaigners at Fossil Free Oxfordshire have timed the announcement of the historic breakthrough to coincide with the run up to a crucial UN climate summit, to be held in New York next week.

The motion, put forward by Green Party councillor Craig Simmons, committed the council to ending direct investments into fossil fuels firms – the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

Though it stops short of restricting indirect investments, supporters plan to push on and make Oxford City Council truly fossil fuel free.

“We are proud that Oxford is the first local authority in the country to highlight the need to stop investing in fossil fuels,” said councillor Ruthi Brandt, who seconded the motion. 

“This is an industry that should be winding down rather than investing in more and more extreme forms of fossil fuel extraction. We hope we can get the city council to extend its divestment plan to include indirect investments as well, since much of the money invested in fossil fuels is through such investments.” 

The growing global fossil fuel divestment movement has sought to stigmatise the industry, by urging investors to divest their shares in companies that extract, trade or burn fossil fuels.  

Principally, this is because of the massive environmental impact that such companies have. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent report concluded that carbon-intensive energy production was the single biggest contributor to global warming.

Energy companies continue to search for new fossil fuels reserves, despite warnings that 80% of the reserves already identified must never be used if dangerous climate tipping points are to be avoided. 

The movement has found traction around the world, with many institutions and authorities considering the merits of divestment across the UK, but has gathered particularly strong support in Oxford.

In the UK’s biggest public demonstration against fossil fuel investments to date, the growing Fossil Free campaign took more than 150 Oxford students and residents to the streets in June.

Some 67 University of Oxford academics, including the former science adviser to the British government, also urged the city’s prestigious institution to join the cause.

Celebrating the success, Al Chisholm of the Fossil Free Oxfordshire said, “We are delighted that the council has publicly recognised that the fossil fuel industry’s business model and activities are harmful and inconsistent with the council’s mission and values. This move denies the industry the economic and moral support of another public institution.”

“But we are not about to stop here: As we approach the campaign’s first anniversary, this significant win only strengthens our resolve to persuade Oxfordshire County Council to move the £42 million its pension fund has invested directly in fossil fuel companies.”

Aside from the ethical case, there is also a strong financial case for divestment. If policies are introduced to ensure that the majority of fossil fuel reserves that cannot be burnt remain buried, the assets of fossil fuel firms would be severely devalued – becoming ‘stranded assets’ – according to the UK-based Carbon Tracker Initiative, a pioneer in the field.

One recent study estimated that the world’s biggest 20 oil projects are putting $91 billion (£54bn) of investors’ money at risk as a result of this.

Photo: Adam Ramsay via Twitter 

Further reading:

University of California unsure over fossil fuel divestment

Top 20 undeveloped oil projects will risk $91bn of investment

Al Gore: economic case for coal divestment as strong as moral one

University of Oxford academics demand fossil fuel divestment

Oxford residents and students to march for fossil fuel divestment 

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

Published

on

Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

Continue Reading

Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

Published

on

By

Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

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!

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Facebook

Trending