The UK government have been urged by responsible investment organisation, ShareAction, to guarantee that protections afforded to European savers by new EU Directive, IORPs II, are extended to Brits despite the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.
The IORPs (Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision) II Directive passed today by the European Parliament with 512 votes for and 77 against. The Directive covers the European occupational pensions market, which invests over €3.2 trillion on behalf of some 75 million Europeans, currently including UK schemes.
The Directive contains clear requirements for European occupational pensions to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues – the strongest and clearest requirements on such issues yet seen in an EU text. ShareAction engaged extensively with MEPs, Commission officials and European Council Representatives in favour of this provision, together with civil society allies in Europe.
European policymakers are to be applauded for their bold action
“This is a landmark moment for responsible investment in Europe,” said ShareAction Chief Executive Catherine Howarth. “European policymakers are to be applauded for their bold action in not only recognising the clear financial risks posed by ESG factors, but also for mandating European pension funds to act on them.”
Given the result of the UK’s referendum on EU membership, there is now a question mark over whether the UK government will continue to transpose new EU legislation. In legal terms, the UK is still an EU member state with all the same rights and obligations as others. Now that the text has been adopted by the Parliament, member states have two years to transpose it into their own law.
“We urge the UK government to clarify its intentions and to transpose the parts of the text on ESG and transparency, and members’ rights to information. UK savers should have the same protection and rights to information as savers on the continent – not least because increasing numbers of UK savers bear the risks attached to investments themselves,” continues Howarth.
“The progress made in the IORPs directive is a breakthrough,” said Sebastien Godinot, economist in WWF’s European Policy Office. “It sets a precedent that must be replicated and deepened in several other relevant EU legislations like the Shareholder Rights Directive, to ensure that obstacles to mainstreaming sustainable finance are quickly removed.”
The content of the IORPs Directive is also in line with recent policymaking and thinking in the UK on these issues, for example the recently updated DC Code from The Pensions Regulator. Transposing this Directive is a chance to amend the investment regulations to reflect the Law Commission’s findings on fiduciary duty once and for all and move this debate.
Andrew Warwick-Thompson of the Pensions Regulator recently urged UK pension trustees to “wake up and smell the coffee” with regards to ESG risk management, stating: “If the revised IORPS II comes into effect [in the UK] then it will be a legal requirement that trustees take these issues into account.”
Research on industry attitudes to ESG risk management suggest that policy requirements may be the most effective option to spur action. A recent survey of trustees by Professional Pensions found that found more than half (53%) did not see climate change as a financially material risk to their own or their clients’ portfolios. 16% felt that lack of legal clarity as to whether climate risk can be taken into account was a barrier to them doing so, and called for clarification of the law on pension investments.
Green Tech Start-Ups: Are they the Future?
Endless innovations are occurring in green companies, reinventing the industries they belong to. Gradually, they are beginning to amass more success and popularity. Consequently, these factors serve as a good indicator for green technology businesses, and their development must begin somewhere.
Green tech start-ups boast a wide array of opportunities for the economy and environment, while boosting recruitment openings with valuable services. While the technology industry is littered with high revenues and competition, the green tech start-ups are the clear sign of a cleaner future.
Fulfilling a Genuine Need
Many tech companies will market themselves as the ultimate tech giants to shift stock and make profit. As they all vie for attention through warped corporate rhetoric, there is only one ethical winner; the start-up green tech company.
Some argue that mainstream tech businesses have grown far too big, branching out into other industries and standing between the consumer and practically everything they do. However, green tech start-ups go beyond the shallow ambitions of a company, answering a call to sincerely help the customer and climate in any way they can. Of course, this is an attractive business model, putting customers at ease as they contribute to a humanitarian cause that is genuine through and through.
After all, empathy is a striking trait to have in business, and green tech start-ups maintain this composure by their very nature and purpose.
Despite the pursuits for clean energy still needing more awareness, green tech is an area that is ripe for contribution and expansion. There’s no need to copy another company or be a business of cheap knockoffs; green tech start-ups can add a new voice to the economy by being fresh, fearless and entrepreneurial.
Technology is at its most useful when it breaks new ground, an awe that eco-friendly innovations have by default in their operations. Of course, green tech start-ups have the chance to build on this foundation and create harmony instead of climate crisis. Ultimately, the tech advancements are what revolutionise clean energy as more than an activist niche, putting theory into practice.
Despite the US gradually becoming more disengaged with green technology, others such as China and Canada recognise the potential in green technology for creating jobs and growth in their respective economies. The slack of others spurs them on, which creates a constant influx of prospects for the green tech sector. Put simply, their services are always required, able to thrive from country to country.
A Fundamental Foresight
Mainstream technology can seem repetitive and dull, tinkering with what has come before rather than turning tech on its head. Since 2011, technology has been accused of stagnation, something which the internet and petty app services seem to disguise in short reaching ideas of creativity.
However, green tech start-ups aren’t just winging it, and operate with a roadmap of climate change in the years ahead to strategize accordingly. In other words, they aren’t simply looking to make a quick profit by sticking to a trend, but have the long-term future in mind. Consequently, the green tech start-up will be there from the very start, building up from the foundational level to only grow as more and more people inevitably go green.
They can additionally forecast their finances too, with the ability to access online platforms despite the differing levels of experience, keeping them in the loop. Consequently, with an eye for the future, green tech startups are the ones who will eventually usher in the new era.
Green Companies Find Innovative Ways to Generate Capital to Expand
Green business is a booming opportunity for shrewd, environmentally conscious entrepreneurs. According to a white paper by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, green businesses in the food service industry and other verticals are growing up to seven times faster than their conventional competitors.
“Green market segments in the United States are growing fast. Growth rates of “green” segments are outpacing conventional segments in every industry where we collected data – for example, over the decade ending in 2011, the U.S. organic food category grew at a rate of 238% compared to 33% growth for the overall food market, and most forecasts indicate that the shift to green will only accelerate across industries. Green business opportunities will be even more prolific over the next few years, because millennials are placing greater emphasis on environmentally friendly solutions.”
Unfortunately, many promising green companies are struggling to generate revenue. They need to be more creative to find funding opportunities in 2017.
Funding challenges green businesses face
After the financial crisis struck in 2008, banks and other traditional lending institutions became much more conservative about lending money. Many green businesses turned to grants provided by the Obama administration for funding. However, most of those grants have since been suspended under the Trump administration. Congress had difficulty resuming them, because most of the green businesses that were funded had a lower survival rate than the national average.
Without funding from either traditional banks or government grants, green businesses were forced to look for other financing options. Here are some options they have available.
Other lending institutions
While corporate banks are less likely to finance new businesses these days, many smaller financial institutions are more likely to assume the risk. Specialty lending institutions and credit unions with a strong social mission are often willing to invest in promising green businesses.
However, these lenders still require perspective borrowers to submit formal business plans and proposals on how they will use their funding. Too many of them have been burned by poorly managed green companies, so they must be cautious with lending to them.
Many other countries are more invested in green development than the United States. Companies with a presence in Norway or other European countries should consider seeking loans from lenders in those jurisdictions, such as Lånemegleren.
Green bonds are new financial instruments that have been developed specifically for financing green businesses. The Climate Bond Standard introduced a number of policies to ensure green bonds would be safe for investors and a reliable funding opportunity for green businesses around the world. By balancing the needs of both stakeholders, they have helped facilitate green financing.
The market for green bonds nearly quadrupled between 2013 and 2014. It rose to over $100 billion in 2015.
Green entrepreneur should find out if their business model is compliant with the climate Bond standard. They may be able to tap a growing source of funding.
Crowdfunding is another very popular way for all types of businesses to generate capital. Green businesses tend to benefit more than most other organizations, because crowdfunding investors tend to be more socially conscious. They are more eager to invest in companies that align with their outlooks on social causes. Since consumers are becoming more concerned about climate change and environmental preservation, they are more willing to invest in green businesses.
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