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Public Call for Financial ‘Kitemark’ to Help Identify Sustainable Financial Products



Financing Climate Change by Itzafineday via flickr

The Good Money Week annual research has highlighted an overwhelming public demand for the introduction of ‘kitemark-style’ label to allow customers to identify which financial products are sustainable/ethical.

In total, 63% of the UK public backed the idea and 43% said it would make them more likely to buy a financial product, rising to 53% of 18-24 yr olds.

The Good Money Week poll found a surprising lack of awareness of the £1.5 trillion sustainable investment market in the UK. In total, 54% of the GB public is unaware that sustainable and ethical financial products exist, rising to over 63% among millennials (18-34 year olds).

Simon Howard, Chief Executive of UKSIF, the body coordinating Good Money Week, said,
“The Good Money Week research throws down a very clear challenge to the sustainable investment sector: to step up on awareness and assurance. Not enough people in the UK know ethical and sustainable options exist for their pensions and savings and not enough are ready to buy without a mechanism such as a kitemark-style label to sort the wheat from the chaff. Creating and managing such a label would be no easy task, but is a job worth doing if it helps build trust and more sustainable capital markets“.

Headline findings from today’s Good Money Week research of the British public show:

• 60% believe in the ability of the financial sector to generate high returns in an ethically and responsibly way.
• 69% want a new law requiring financial advisors to ask customers if they’d like to exclude specific sectors or companies.
• Almost one in four people (23%) are likely to invest 10% of their pension in impact investment (i.e. funds that seek positive social or environmental returns alongside financial returns).
• 35% would like their bank, pension or savings provider to offer a fossil free option, up from 32% last year. Demand is highest among millennials – almost half (46%) want a fossil free option.
• London has the strongest support for sustainable and ethical investment in the UK – 53% of Londoners want to make at least some positive difference with their money compared to 45% nationally.
• 49% think sustainable or ethical investment funds should not invest in fracking companies.

The research was conducted by YouGov for Good Money Week, which aims to raise awareness among individuals, financial advisers, pension funds and charities of all types of sustainable investing and finance in the UK. Close to 50 activities will be held across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as part of the Week, which commenced yesterday.

Amanda Young, Head of Responsible Investment at Standard Life Investments, said,

“While it is exciting that we are celebrating the ninth year of Good Money Week, the survey results show there is still a lack of awareness of the variety and depth of values-based investment solutions available. Our own research demonstrates that investors have, over time, moved away from wanting to avoid specific sectors to wanting to invest in companies that deliver a positive impact. There are several solutions to help meet this goal from ethical and sustainable & responsible investing through to the growing interest in impact investing. Increasingly it is less about sectors and more about how companies behave and contribute to society. We do believe that it is possible to address the world’s many social and environmental challenges while still making a positive financial return.”

Huw Davies, Head of Retail Banking at Triodos Bank, said,

“Triodos Bank would very much welcome the introduction of a kitemark-style scheme to help people easily invest their money in ways that are good for people and the planet. Indeed, our own research conducted for Good Money Week showed that 53% of investors think it should be standard for financial institutions to make customers aware where their money is being invested[1]. We hope that all the major players in the UK financial system will rally around an initiative like this to return greater transparency and trust to the sector.”

Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer, Aviva Investors said:

It’s clear that the UK public are interested in sustainability, and as an industry, we need to do more to help people understand where their savings are being invested.

“In September Aviva published a report entitled ‘Money Talks – How Finance can further the Sustainable Development Goals’ at the UN, calling for a kite-mark system to be introduced – a Fairtrade for Finance – so that fund managers can demonstrate their credentials as responsible investors.

“Voluntary standards in other industries are relatively commonplace, like Fairtrade in the retail sector, but there is no equivalent for the finance industry. We would like to be able to certify that our funds take sustainability seriously so that we can assure our clients that our investment approach is both long term and responsible.”

Regional differences

The Good Money Week/YouGov survey showed significant regional differences when it comes to attitudes to ethical and sustainable investment.

• Scotland is the region most likely to respond positively to the introduction of a kitemark-style label – 49% of Scots are more likely to buy financial products, compared to the national average of 43%.
• London is the region with the strongest support for sustainable and ethical investment – 53% of Londoners want to make at least some positive difference with their money compared to 45% nationally.
• London and the South are the regions most aware that sustainable or ethical financial products exist – 52%compared to the national average of 46%.
• Northern Ireland is the region most likely to invest 10% of pensions in impact investment – 28% compared to 23% nationally.
• The Midlands – 75% of people in the Midlands want to see a new law that ensures financial advisors ask clients if they want to exclude specific sectors or companies from their investments based on their investment practices.


Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family



Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace --

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life



how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By --

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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