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Green Investment Bank is vital for sustainable economic growth

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Last week saw the incorporation of the UK’s Green Investment Bank (GIB) as a company, another step towards “the world’s first investment bank solely dedicated to greening the economy”.

By Mike Scott.

The Government is waiting for state aid approval from Brussels and hopes the bank will be fully functional by the end of the year. The Coalition’s priorities are offshore wind power generation; commercial and industrial waste processing and recycling; energy from waste generation; non-domestic energy efficiency and support for the Green Deal.

It’s all part of its increasingly discredited claim to be “the greenest government ever”. The GIB “will be a key component of the progression towards a green economy, complementing other green policies to help accelerate additional capital into green infrastructure”, according to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

Its mission will be to provide financial solutions to accelerate private sector investment in the green economy. Capitalised with £3 billion, the GIB will play a vital role in addressing market failures affecting green infrastructure projects in order to stimulate a step up in private investment.”

Well, up to a point. The Government says that £200 billion of investment is needed in the energy system alone by 2020 but the GIB will not be able to borrow money from the capital markets until the government has met its deficit reduction targets. While £3 billion is a lot of money, it is paltry compared to the investment that is needed and also to the amount that the GIB could put to work if it was able to leverage its assets and its government backing by borrowing.

At the moment, we’re projected to cut the deficit by 2015-2016, but the way things are going in the eurozone and the UK economy, it is anyone’s guess as to when it will actually happen.

There is also concern that the bank will be lending on commercial terms. Not only does this make it less likely that the GIB will fund the early-stage, higher risk technologies that are most in need of support, it will also be competing with private sector banks that would back projects that are at, or close to, commercial viability anyway.

The disputes around the GIB crystallise the arguments in government around the separate issues of austerity and climate change. In March, a group of investors and campaign groups wrote to the Chancellor, George Osborne, urging him to do more to boost investment in clean technology and “engage with the macro-economic case for a greener and more sustainable economy”, wryly noting that “while it may be unfair, there is a widespread impression that you and your department are not signed up to the Prime Minister’s ambition to lead the ‘greenest government ever’”.

Osborne, who at last year’s Tory conference said that “we’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business”, appears to believe that there is a binary choice between growth or the environment. And while his apparent anti-green bias plays well with a particular section of the Tory faithful, it seems increasingly out of touch with many of his own colleagues in the Coalition, as well as many businesses and investors.

It is unsurprising that Liberal Democrats such as deputy PM Nick Clegg and energy minister Ed Davey have spoken up for the benefits of environmental policies, but to see a hero of the right such as William Hague warning that ministers are undermining potential exports by failing to speak up for low-carbon growth, as he did in a recently leaked letter to the prime minister, marks a real change in the debate.

As the disputes intensify over how to get the economy moving again, the role of the GIB is likely to come into sharper focus. The Aldersgate Group, a campaign group of businesses, politicians, NGOs and academics, points out that “the UK is facing a time of considerable economic stress. Restoring growth and re-balancing the economy are urgent priorities. Focusing our recovery effort on low carbon growth can re-power the economy, increase our energy security and help tackle climate change.”

Taking up Hague’s point, it adds that “rapidly accelerating investment in low carbon and environmental technologies will also increase the competitiveness of Britain’s businesses in the global market, protect consumers from fossil fuel price shocks and stimulate growth, especially in the regions”.

However, for this to happen, it says, “The Government must ensure the Green Investment Bank is sufficiently capitalised by at least £4-£6 billion over the next four years according to preliminary independent analysis. Over time this could leverage over a hundred billion more in investment from the private sector. It is the minimum required to ensure the Bank fulfils its potential to help make the UK a world leader in the supply and deployment of low carbon technology and the catalyst for a green jobs boom.”

A report from the Institute for Public Policy Research makes the same point more succinctly with its title: The Green Investment Bank – do it now, make it big.

The role model here is Germany’s KfW – a government-backed development bank that in 2010 invested more than €25 billion in environmental and climate protection. The Coalition is going to be under ever-increasing pressure to come up with a credible growth strategy – and soon. The Green Investment Bank could and should be a big part of such a strategy.

Further reading:

Green Investment Bank makes inaugural deal

German bank KfW confirmed as Green Investment Bank advisor

Green Investment Bank decision “a disgrace”

The battle for the Green Investment Bank: the final

Mike Scott is a freelance writer specialising in environment and business issues for the press and corporate clients. His work has been published in the Financial Times, the Times, the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph as well as in business publications ranging from Bloomberg New Energy Finance to Forbes.

Environment

How to be More eco-Responsible in 2018

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Shutterstock / By KENG MERRY Paper Art | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/kengmerrymikeymelody

Nowadays, more and more people are talking about being more eco-responsible. There is a constant growth of information regarding the importance of being aware of ecological issues and the methods of using eco-friendly necessities on daily basis.

Have you been considering becoming more eco-responsible after the New Year? If so, here are some useful tips that could help you make the difference in the following year:

1. Energy – produce it, save it

If you’re building a house or planning to expand your living space, think before deciding on the final square footage. Maybe you don’t really need that much space. Unnecessary square footage will force you to spend more building materials, but it will also result in having to use extra heating, air-conditioning, and electricity in it.

It’s even better if you seek professional help to reduce energy consumption. An energy audit can provide you some great piece of advice on how to save on your energy bills.

While buying appliances such as a refrigerator or a dishwasher, make sure they have “Energy Star” label on, as it means they are energy-efficient.

energy efficient

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By My Life Graphic

Regarding the production of energy, you can power your home with renewable energy. The most common way is to install rooftop solar panels. They can be used for producing electricity, as well as heat for the house. If powering the whole home is a big step for you, try with solar oven then – they trap the sunlight in order to heat food! Solar air conditioning is another interesting thing to try out – instead of providing you with heat, it cools your house!

2. Don’t be just another tourist

Think about the environment, as well your own enjoyment – try not to travel too far, as most forms of transport contribute to the climate change. Choose the most environmentally friendly means of transport that you can, as well as environmentally friendly accommodation. If you can go to a destination that is being recommended as an eco-travel destination – even better! Interesting countries such as Zambia, Vietnam or Nicaragua are among these destinations that are famous for its sustainability efforts.

3. Let your beauty be also eco-friendly

eco-friendly

Shutterstock / By Khakimullin Aleksandr

We all want to look beautiful. Unfortunately, sometimes (or very often) it comes with a price. Cruelty-free cosmetics are making its way on the world market but be careful with the labels – just because it says a product hasn’t been tested on animals, it doesn’t  mean that some of the product’s ingredients haven’t been tested on some poor animal.

To be sure which companies definitely stay away from the cruel testing on animals, check PETA Bunny list of cosmetic companies just to make sure which ones are truly and completely cruelty-free.

It’s also important if a brand uses toxic ingredients. Brands such as Tata Harper Skincare or Dr Bronner’s use only organic ingredients and biodegradable packaging, as well as being cruelty-free. Of course, this list is longer, so you’ll have to do some online research.

4. Know thy recycling

People often make mistakes while wanting to do something good for the environment. For example, plastic grocery bags, take-out containers, paper coffee cups and shredded paper cannot be recycled in your curb for many reasons, so don’t throw them into recycling bins. The same applies to pizza boxes, household glass, ceramics, and pottery – whether they are contaminated by grease or difficult to recycle, they just can’t go through the usual recycling process.

People usually forget to do is to rinse plastic and metal containers – they always have some residue, so be thorough. Also, bottle caps are allowed, too, so don’t separate them from the bottles. However, yard waste isn’t recyclable, so any yard waste or junk you are unsure of – just contact rubbish removal services instead of piling it up in public containers or in your own yard.

5. Fashion can be both eco-friendly and cool

Believe it or not, there are actually places where you can buy clothes that are eco-friendly, sustainable, as well as ethical. And they look cool, too! Companies like Everlane are very transparent about where their clothes are manufactured and how the price is set. PACT is another great company that uses non-GMO, organic cotton and non-toxic dyes for their clothing, while simultaneously using renewable energy factories. Soko is a company that uses natural and recycled materials in making their clothes and jewelry.

All in all

The truth is – being eco-responsible can be done in many ways. There are tons of small things we could change when it comes to our habits that would make a positive influence on the environment. The point is to start doing research on things that can be done by every person and it can start with the only thing that person has the control of – their own household.

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Energy

Top 5 Changes You can Make in Your Life to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

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Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love? - Image from Shutterstock - https://www.shutterstock.com/g/thodonal88

In a world, where war rages and global warming threatens our very existence, the inhabitants of earth need to be extra vigilant in their efforts to go green. This includes reducing your carbon footprint on the earth and leading a more sustainable life.

Many homeowners feel perplexed by all of the options available to reduce their carbon footprint. They may even feel (falsely) that making their household more green will fail to make that much of a difference in the fight to save our planet.

Even a single home going green has a massive impact on the environment. We can win this battle on home at a time. If you’re interested in accepting the challenge of making your household a green home, read on below for a few of the top changes you can make in your life to reduce your carbon footprint. We all stand to benefit from making the earth safer for future generations – and your wallet won’t complain when you start to see the savings in annual energy costs.

Switch From Dirty Energy to Clean Solar

The ION Solar reviews tell it all–solar is the best way to go. Whether your goal is to slash your energy bills, or to reduce your carbon footprint, the sun is a fantastic source of renewable energy.

It’s important to get past the hype from solar installers. Instead, listen to the plethora of impartial customer reviews that mention everything from a $20 energy bill, to the incredible feeling of knowing that you are doing your part by going green and minimizing harmful emissions in to our atmosphere.

The average investment is $15,000 to $30,000 for installation and purchase of solar panels. Optional battery power packs can help provide consistent power during both night and day. And many government agencies provide federal, state or local grants to help offset upfront investments in clean energy.

Depending on which installed you choose, your household may qualify for low-interest or zero interest loans to cover the up-front cost of your installation. And the loan payments are usually less than your current monthly power bill.

It really is a win-win, as home buyers are looking for homes that feature this technology – meaning solar power installation improves the resale value of your property.

Home Modifications

And there are a number of additional home modifications that can help improve the energy efficiency of your home. A programmable thermostat can better manage energy consumption from home cooling and heating systems while you’re away from home. And weather stripping your doors can help keep cool air in during the summer, and warm air in during the winter.

Of course, energy conservation starts at home. And this includes setting a powerful example for your kids. Teach your children how to close windows, strategically keep doors open or closed based on airflow, and encourage them to leave the thermostat alone – opting for adding or removing layers of clothing instead.

Unplug Appliances and Shut Off Electronics

Unplugging your appliances when they aren’t in use, such as the toaster and the coffee maker, has more of an impact than you might think. Set your TVs and stereos on sleep timers, instead of letting them run around the clock. The cumulative impact of wasteful electronic device usage is horrible for our environment – putting unnecessary strain on our electrical grid.

Recycle

One of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by recycling. You are already throwing this stuff away anyway, right? It doesn’t take much more effort to just put recyclables in a separate container to be recycled, now does it?

Oh, and did I mention that you can earn money for recycling? Yes! Many cities and towns have recycling centers that will purchase your clean plastic and glass bottles for reuse.

Minimize Your Water Usage

Water is one of the easiest things to forget about when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint. Preserve water by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Shorten your shower by a few minutes and turn down the heat on that water heater. You’ll be surprised at how much lower your water bill and your energy bill will be.

Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love?

These are just a few of the top ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint and start living a greener lifestyle. And we aren’t factoring in all of the advantages that we’ll reap from public investments in a smarter energy grid.

From decreasing your water usage, to switching to solar for your home’s energy needs, you will feel good at the end of the day knowing you are doing your part to save the future of this planet for generations to come!

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