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Durban deal on climate change unlikely, but the fight continues

With the COP17 talks coming to an end, it seems that no agreement will be made on a climate change deal. But there is no need to be downbeat on the outcome as countries have ambitious and better climate strategies. Charlotte Reid tells us why.

Throughout our coverage of the climate talks in Durban, it has always seemed unlikely that an agreement would be made over reducing carbon emissions. Now, just days before the conference will come to a close, UN chief Ban Ki-moon says an agreement “may be beyond our reach – for now”.



With the COP17 talks coming to an end, it seems that no agreement will be made on a climate change deal. But there is no need to be downbeat on the outcome as countries have ambitious and better climate strategies. Charlotte Reid tells us why.

Throughout our coverage of the climate talks in Durban, it has always seemed unlikely that an agreement would be made over reducing carbon emissions. Now, just days before the conference will come to a close, UN chief Ban Ki-moon says an agreement “may be beyond our reach – for now”.

Speaking to diplomats about how the COP17 negotiations had gone so far, Ki-moon said the climate change agreement had been overshadowed by the economic situation occurring in countries.

At the beginning of the conference, diplomats from developing countries were encouraged to protest to highlight the lack of urgency in the climate talks.

The former president of Costa Rica, José María Figueres, was calling for diplomats from developing countries to occupy the climate change talks, similar to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Speaking to OneWorld TV, Figueres said, “So with respect to climate maybe we need an Occupy Durban, a sit in by the delegations of the countries that are most affected that are going from one COP to the next COP to the next COP without getting positive and concrete responses on the issues that they want dealt with”.

However, what actually happened at the climate talks was Canada started to consider withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol and India refused to make any agreements out of fear that it will undermine their growing economy.

It is important to address the impact of climate change, as a number of reports released throughout the conference highlighted. Some of the reports said that the poorest countries face starvation and there were warnings of what effect a rise in global temperature will have on the planet.

Although the talks at Durban might not be going well, there is still hope. A new EIRIS report says that 95% of South African companies have some response towards climate change.

The top 40 companies in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) have shown better strategies and more disclosure on climate change.

Corli le Roux, legal counsel and head of SRI index at the JSE, says this is encouraging and it gives, “Plenty of scope remains for engagement, as failure to address climate change could damage reputations and profitability as more significance is given to climate change by investors and other key stakeholders.”

Likewise, even developed countries have ambitious projects, with Scotland trialling a new turbine in a bid to become 100% renewable by 2020, and Denmark announcing a similar aim to be 100% renewable by 2050.

Last week, the UK Government announced that it is over achieving on its carbon cutting targets, which have fallen by a quarter since 1990.

Although there may not be a global agreement to help fight climate change, consider the think-tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs, which told Blue & Green Tomorrow that if you are going to act sustainably, to do it yourself, rather than rely upon Government policy that forces you to change your ways.

If you want to know more about how to help the environment then ask your financial adviser about ethical investment, or you can use our online form and we’ll find one for you. If you want to know more about being environmental with your energy then get in touch with Good Energy.

Picture source: World Economic Forum

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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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