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Can the UK mimic the French EV revolution?

The French capital, Paris, is to host an electric car rental scheme in the same vein as London’s Barclays Cycle Hire scheme. But Alex Blackburne asks would a four-wheeled version be a success in our very own capital?

A new scheme begins in Paris today, which allows individuals to rent electric cars on a pay-as-you-drive basis, in a bid to cut pollution and reduce traffic.



The French capital, Paris, is to host an electric car rental scheme in the same vein as London’s Barclays Cycle Hire scheme. But Alex Blackburne asks would a four-wheeled version be a success in our very own capital?

A new scheme begins in Paris today, which allows individuals to rent electric cars on a pay-as-you-drive basis, in a bid to cut pollution and reduce traffic.

The scheme, which works in a similar way to London’s Barclays Cycle Hire, will allow Parisians to hire the fully electric Autolib cars for a cost of just €10 a day or €15 a week, with over 1,200 parking and recharging spots to choose from across the French capital.

The announcement from our neighbours across the Channel is just another example in a long line of stories detailing how other European countries are stepping their games up in terms of helping the environment.

First, Scotland announced its intention to trial an innovative wind turbine as part of its ambitious bid to become 100% renewable by 2020.

Then, mirroring the Scots’ bold target, Denmark, already the world leaders in wind power, said its energy would similarly be 100% renewably sourced, but this time by 2050.

And, more recently, Blue & Green Tomorrow wrote how Germany, historical foes of the UK, and the undisputed heavyweights in renewable energy, could teach us a thing or two.

With the threat of being left behind in the alternative, clean energy stakes, is it possible for London to adopt a similar scheme to that of the French electric car rental one?

Some in the industry claim it is.

“It would be an excellent scheme for London, rather like the bike scheme has been”, Nick Hewson, founder of electric car specialists, GoinGreen, said.

“The idea of filling the capital with electric vehicles that do not pollute at the point of emission must make long term sense and the Paris Mayor has been very forward looking in supporting the initiative.”

However, as much as the idea might be fantastic in principle, the actual logistics of implementing such a scheme in London are somewhat tricky.

The first barrier is the infrastructure: there isn’t currently that many charging points“, claimed James Finlayson, managing director at City Car Club, an organisation that rents cars out by the hour as an alternative to car ownership.

“Of course, that has a massive cost implication as well, and in this economic climate, I doubt whether there is going to be the appetite to afford hundreds or thousands of charging points across London.

“The slight problem also in London of course is that it’s made up of so many different local authorities, so there would have to be a uniformed agreement across boroughs with different policies, management and politics, too.”

City Car Club, which rents out 600 vehicles across 14 different UK cities, and has 23,000 members, is arguably the closest thing the UK currently has to the Parisian electric car rental scheme.

Finlayson, who currently provides around 100 hybrid vehicles through City Car Club, though none completely electric, added that the idea of implementing an electric fleet of rental vehicles in London is at least five years down the line.

“Commercially, we would need to see the cost of electric vehicles come down a bit, because they are hugely expensive in relation to a comparable combustion engine vehicle”, he said.

“The other barrier also, practically, for our members, is the downtime with charging.

“We are all about getting as much users of our vehicles on the road as possible, with back-to-back bookings, whereas if you’ve got a long charge time, then you’ve got to block out that period of time when somebody can’t use that vehicle and contribute towards the cost of it in terms of the rental charges.”

Finlayson is probably right. Introducing a scheme similar to the Parisian one would take a lot of effort and co-operation from individuals, businesses and local authorities.

The long term advantages for electric cars, as long as their energy is sourced renewably and not from fossil fuels, are unquestionably imperative to the long term future of the planet.

It might be worth making that sacrifice and putting in that much-needed effort, however much time that might take, in order to bring the UK, and ideally every other major city in the world, up to speed with the needs of the Earth’s future.

If you would like to find out more about investing in sustainable transport, ask your financial adviser, if you have one, or complete our online form and we’ll connect you with a specialist ethical adviser.

Photo: Alan Trotter

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How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life



how climate change affect our lives
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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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5 Things You Can Do Yourself to Improve the Value of Your House



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Whether you want to own it or list it, every once in a while, a house needs a facelift. This will not only improve quality of your life but will capitalize your home’s value significantly, too.

The best way to improve home value by yourself is to upgrade only what is necessary and nothing more. For instance, why would you buy a new bathroom door when a little retouch and a coat of fresh paint will suffice? By taking this approach, you are allowing yourself to make several small improvements instead of venturing just one or bigger ones. Select projects thoughtfully and know when you should stop.

Pitch in for the kitchen

If you really want a return on investment one day, start in the kitchen. By many, the kitchen still represents the heart and the soul of the house, the central hub of a property and it will all on its own add colossal value to your home. Moreover, the kitchen can be a breaking point in selling the house, so you should not hold on to your wallet in this area.

There are many little things you can do to spruce up the overall image of your kitchen. You may paint the kitchen cabinets, replace old door handles, add additional storage space with a sliding wall or a kitchen island if there is enough room for it. In addition, you may open the living space up by taking a kitchen wall down. Possibilities for do-it-yourself are many.

Add an attic or a basement bedroom

Properties are usually valued by two things: land size and the number of bedrooms. The price range between a three to four-bedroom home is two to four hundred thousand. Since you can’t change the size of your land, you can at least increase the number of bedrooms.

If you are prepared to go full-scale, converting the attic or the basement into the bedroom is another especially favored project that will by far boost up your home’s value once you decide to put it on the market. Until you decide to list it you will enjoy in your own extra space for entertainment, living, sleeping, playing, exercising, or whatever you fancy.

Transformation with paint

If your walls have scrapes and stained paint, a vintage color or shabby wallpaper, several cans of paint can make a striking distinction. In order to increase the value of your home, it is recommended to go with neutral colors that will unify the whole house and make the space visually bigger.

transformation with paint

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Bottom line, nothing can transform a home like a cast of fresh new paint. It is the number one way to beef up a property value of any budget. Additionally, painting the house is still one of the easiest, fastest and highest value drivers.

Secure with style

All of your effort and money would be wasted if you can’t protect the investments you made. A good security door costs as little as a few hundred dollars but if it saves you just once from being robbed it instantly pays itself off. People avoid putting security screens on windows because they mostly do not look stylish enough, but there are other options, such as installing shutters. There are so many elegant and cool shutter options that we found at Independent Blinds & Awnings that it’s really hard not to find something for you.

Basic maintenance for a worry-free mind

A clean house is a healthier house for you and your family. By making a clean house your number one on the list for improving, you accomplish a couple of things at once.

First, you stay on track with maintenance issues and, consequently you are able to recognize future problems before they become costly ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and garbage to pile up over time. Thirdly, smudged, dirty windows can have a bad impact on the overall perception of the house. Same as eyes are windows to the soul, windows are for the home. Therefore, you need to wash them properly.

Spice up the landscaping

Big backyard is an all Australian dream and still, it is more often than not the most ignored area of the house. However, landscaping is really important as it frames a property from every corner.

Simple, low budget cosmetic changes in the front yard including installing garden beds, adding plants, pebbles or mulch, and paving or painting the front walls will positively lift the curb appeal as well as the property value. As for the backyard, you may span a lawn to create more open space for you and your family to move freely, cut and reduce unruly trees and vegetation, and fix the fence if needed.

Adding value to your home through a cosmetic or structural renovation is an actual way to quickly enhance your money invested in a property. In the end, you need to make sure that if you will continue to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations will contribute to a good lifestyle and that it will give the impression of a “ready to move in” property once you decide to list it.

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