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UK’s Top Environmental Groups Lay Down Challenge to Next Mayor to Make London a Greener, Healthier City

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A coalition of the UK’s leading environmental groups,[1] including the National Trust, WWF, RSPB and Greenpeace, are today calling for the next mayor to commit to a greener London during their term.

As part of Greener London week,[2] they are challenging the next mayor to improve conditions for those who live and work in the capital, by tackling the huge problems of air pollution and declining green spaces, and by creating clean energy and transport systems.

The group has worked together to develop big ideas and the practical means to make the capital a greener, fairer and better place to live and work. Their report, Greener London, (click to download the full document)[3] sets out how the next mayor of London can transform the city by the end of their first term to change how people live and travel in the capital, provide high quality and affordable homes in healthy and green neighbourhoods, and make London a world leading low carbon city.

Among the ideas, the groups call on the mayor to:

  • phase out all diesel black cabs and Public Hire Vehicles by 2020 and follow Paris’ example by making the entire London bus fleet run on clean fuel by 2025;
  • create a Clean Lungs Fund to protect children by tackling air pollution around London schools;
  • set a ‘green rooftop’ requirement for new commercial developments;
  • give 100 social housing estates high quality green spaces by 2020;
  • demand new regulatory powers from government to ensure London’s renters benefit from warmer homes;
  • set up an energy efficiency loan scheme for London’s small businesses;
  • make the capital a world leading solar city with a tenfold increase in solar capacity – equivalent to around 200,000 solar rooftops;
  • harmonise the 20 different recycling systems across the city to increase the amount and quality of recycling;
  • ban unsafe lorries during rush hour to protect cyclists.

Londoners will have the chance to debate these ideas and others with Zac Goldsmith, Sadiq Khan, Sian Berry and Caroline Pidgeon at the only environmental hustings for the mayoral election, the Greener London hustings on Friday 4 March.

Quotes from participating organisations:

Stephen Joseph, CEO, Campaign for Better Transport:
“Under current plans, children born today will have started school before they have air fit to breathe. By expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone and bringing forward the end date for dirty diesel in London’s bus and taxi fleets, paid for by abandoning unnecessary new road schemes, the next mayor can make a real difference to the health and life chances of Londoners.”

Nicola Briggs, London director, National Trust:

“In 1895 Octavia Hill created the National Trust because she saw the importance of protecting London’s green spaces so that everyone can benefit from them. Now in 2016 London’s parks and open spaces face new challenges to make the most out of squeezed public funding and making new developments work for our environment. The solutions set out in Greener London offer many opportunities that the mayor can take advantage of to make the quality of life better for all Londoners. This is why we are happy to support Greener London and look forward to working with the next mayor.”

John Sauven, executive director, Greenpeace UK:

“London holds two unenviable records. It has some of the highest air pollution levels and the lowest amount of solar power installed per household in the country. Any serious vision for a cleaner London must include a plan to swap these two records around. From transport to energy, our dependence on dirty fossil fuels is holding London back. The capital has all the resources it needs to break free from it. It’s time for the next mayor to give this cutting edge city the cutting edge power and transport systems it deserves.”

Gordon Scorer, chief executive of London Wildlife Trust:

“A wilder, greener city would be good for Londoners, as well as the wildlife that shares our city. Regular contact with nature is known to be beneficial for our health and mental wellbeing, and yet a third of families in London visit natural spaces less than six times a year, and London’s children are spending less and less time outdoors. By making it easier for all Londoners to experience the beauty and wonder of nature in their neighbourhoods, by improving natural green spaces in social housing estates for example, the next mayor could make London a happier, healthier city for all.”

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE):

“The new mayor will need to act decisively to address London’s housing crisis. With care and imagination we can build the homes London needs; make it a better, greener place to live; and protect the countryside within and around it.”

Glyn Davies, acting chief executive, WWF UK:

“London is a great city, and what we do is seen and heard around the planet. London can lead the way in fighting climate change, which is one of the greatest threats we face. All the mayoral candidates should show clear plans for getting emissions down, and capitalise on the wealth creating potential of greener growth for London.”

Matthew Spencer, director, Green Alliance:
“London is a dynamic city, but if it’s to remain a healthy place to live and work it also has to become a greener city. If the next mayor doesn’t tackle air pollution, restore our green spaces and continue the transport revolution, London will become a victim of its own success. London is unusual in the UK in having most of the powers it needs to make itself greener without waiting for central government. We’ve suggested 20 practical ways the next mayor can use their power on behalf of London citizens seeking a more liveable city.”

Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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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!

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Energy

What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?

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Clean Growth Strategy for green energy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By sdecoret | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/sdecoret

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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