Ethical Investment

I met several people in the finance-with-conscience crowd the other week, when I went for a spot of champers and Marmite soldiers at the House of Commons for National Ethical Investment Week.

I learned about various views on social and positive impact investment, and about elements of the Coalition Government’s “Big Society” and the proposed Green Investment Bank.

Ethical Investment appears to have come a long way since I put some money into a Fair Trade company many moons ago, where I knew I would never see a dividend, or even be able to sell the shares at some point.

Grown up people in sharp suits and big name frocks now do moral banking, and often reap a healthy return on their investment – “doing well” as well as “doing good”, as Adam Ognall of UK Sustainable Investment and Finance says.

I was challenged to think about what faith communities do with their money around a month ago, all precipitated by a conversation I had with Martin Palmer of the Alliance of Conservation and Religions, and then I heard something at a recent meeting that caused me to investigate a little… Continue reading Ethical Investment

The New Climate Alliance

Green jobs, green energy, greening communities.

Forget Nigel Lawson and his struggle to keep the British energy system in the privatised 1980s by denying the realities of Climate Change.

The lords (and sadly, some of the ladies) of this land want to stay rich from their shares in fossil fuels and mining. They’ll say anything to protect the value of their holdings.

But where’s your new North Sea Oil and Gas, Nigel ? Do you want to bankrupt this country by forcing us to ramp up our imports of energy as the North Sea production falls away ?

The chief executives of the “traditional” energy companies of these islands are just trying to keep themselves in a job when they decry wind power, biogas, marine energy projects.

No, Vincent de Rivaz of EdF, we don’t want expensive, inflexible and toxic Nuclear Power. No, Dorothy Thompson of Drax, we don’t want dirty coal continuing to heat up the world, poison fish and raise coughing kids. No, Rupert Soames of Aggreko, we must maintain the Renewable Energy obligations we have agreed at the European level, and raise the bar even higher, to protect the economy going into an uncertain future, by having homegrown energy.

We need an energy evolution in this country.

And so, what is needed is a social movement – involving ordinary, working people, unions, communities, academics, trained professionals from the engineering trades, local political activists and faith communities.

This is the emergence of Green Power.

See How Far We’ve Come

Modern civilisation has brought us electricity, electronic games, electronic music and the future looks very bright with solar electricity.

Look how far we’ve come !

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/10/05/first-large-scale-solar-energy-plants-public-lands

“The White House Blog : The First Large-Scale Solar Energy Plants on Public Lands : Posted by Secretary Ken Salazar on October 05, 2010 : Today, we took a big step on our nation’s path to clean energy future with the approval of the first large-scale solar energy plants ever to be built on public lands. The Tessera Solar Imperial Valley Solar Project and the Chevron Energy Solutions Lucerne Valley Solar Project will both be built in the sunny California desert. Together, the projects could produce up to 754 megawatts of renewable energy, power 226,000 – 566,000 American homes, and support almost 1,000 new jobs. These two projects reflect the priority President Obama has placed on growing America’s clean energy economy. From spurring the deployment of energy-saving windows and advanced batteries for cars to installing solar panels on the White House roof, the Administration is incentivizing and promoting clean energy technology on a historic scale. At the Department of the Interior, we have a special responsibility to help lead this effort. As stewards of our nation’s public lands, we oversee deserts, plains, and oceans that can make significant contributions to our nation’s renewable energy portfolio…”

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iMUnrmqM-z3tMC3a3JZRFIqrJKHQD9ILFH9G1?docId=D9ILFH9G1

“Here comes the sun: White House to go solar : By DINA CAPPIELLO : 05 October 2010 : WASHINGTON — Solar power is coming to President Barack Obama’s house. : The most famous residence in America, which has already boosted its green credentials by planting a garden, plans to install solar panels atop the White House’s living quarters. The solar panels are to be installed by spring 2011, and will heat water for the first family and supply some electricity. The plans will be formally announced later Tuesday by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley and Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush both tapped the sun during their days in the White House. Carter in the late 1970s spent $30,000 on a solar water-heating system for West Wing offices. Bush’s solar systems powered a maintenance building and some of the mansion, and heated water for the pool. Obama, who has championed renewable energy, has been under increasing pressure to lead by example by installing solar at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, something White House officials said has been under consideration since he first took office. The decision perhaps has more import now after legislation to reduce global warming pollution died in the Senate, despite the White House’s support. Obama has vowed to try again on a smaller scale…”

http://news.thomasnet.com/companystory/Solar-System-tops-off-efficient-NREL-building-584926

“Solar System tops off efficient NREL building : October 4, 2010 – Solar panels are being installed on roof of Research Support Facility to help building generate as much electricity as it uses. While RSF adds 222,000 square feet of office space to NREL campus, building’s energy use only increases NREL’s overall consumption by 6%. The 1.6 MW photovoltaic system comprises more than 1,800 panels soaking in 240 W of sun each. Additional PV will be installed on RSF expansion and on nearby garage and parking lot to help zero out energy equation.”

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/greenhouse/post/2010/10/white-house-solar-panels/1

“Obama will soon put solar panels atop the White House”

http://www.solarpowerinternational.com/sepa2010/public/Content.aspx?ID=603&sortMenu=104000&MainMenuID=603

“SOLAR POWER INTERNATIONAL, 12 – 14 October 2010, Los Angeles, California, USA”

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/10/germany-adds-nearly-1-of-electricity-supply-with-solar-in-eight-months

“Germany Adds Nearly 1% of Electricity Supply with Solar in Eight Months : by Paul Gipe, Contributor : Published: 04 October 2010…”

http://power-shift.org/solar-panel-mirror-booster-30-increase-in-power-output-with-mirrors
http://www.solarbuzz.com/fastfactsindustry.htm

Continue reading See How Far We’ve Come

Wind Power : Material Fatigues

Image Credit : Cape Cod Living

James Delingpole follows in a long line of commentators with zero engineering experience in pouring scorn on a technology that could quite possibly save our skins :-

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100056158/wind-farms-yet-another-brewing-disaster/

I don’t know what he harbours in his heart against wonderful wind turbines, but he seems to be part of a movement who delight in their failure. Just ask the Internet to show you “exploding wind turbines”.

For example :-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKkTUY2slYQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nSB1SdVHqQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkGXoE3RFZ8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOfHxINzGeo

Clearly, you need to be in full protective fatigues when battling this kind of bad press…in fact “fatigue” is exactly the right word to come back at Mr Delingpole’s cracked warning (of cracks in wind turbine bases).

Continue reading Wind Power : Material Fatigues

Tu Me Manques, David Miliband

I don’t know about you, but I’m missing David Miliband from the political fish-eat-fish top table already.

If he were to ask me, which he won’t, but anyway, if he did, I would recommend that he starts reading up about Energy production and supply, over the next 18 months or so before he gets invited, acceptingly, back into the Shadow Cabinet of the UK Government.

If he were to spend his time on the train between South Shields and Westminster looking into energy security matters, into crustal petrogeology, the Middle East oil fields, Wind Power, solar and marine options, he could make a strong comeback into the limelight – as opposed to the “lemon” light he’s been cast into, thrust into, so far.

If he becomes acquainted with the ways and wiles of engineering and fossil fuels over the next few years, the viability of Renewable Energy solutions, the transport explosion phenomenon and how to control it, then he will be able to offer solid assistance to his younger brother Teddy – who appears to be mistakenly sold on the idea of new nuclear power.

And if Ed Miliband were to ask, (again, which he won’t), I’d say – atomic energy cannot save us; carbon capture technology cannot save us; algae biodiesel can only trickle, even Frankenstein GM algae biodiesel; Peak Oil is almost definitely here; efficiency of use alone cannot save us. We have to go right out for a non-combustion, Renewable Energy future.

Spoilt for Choice

September 2010 is turning out to be a veritable over-stuffed cornucopia of Climate Change- and Energy-related events.

This week, 15th September 2010 breaks the record for the number of useful things I could be doing. I am effectively quintuple-booked, and something’s got to go (well, nearly all of them, actually).

Continue reading Spoilt for Choice

Christiana Figueres : The Elusive Saucepan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWsQscb6lfM

http://unfccc.int/files/press/news_room/application/pdf/100806_speaking_notes.pdf

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has just held its regular half yearly conference to further the working parties of the Kyoto Protocol :-

http://unfccc.int
http://unfccc.int/2860.php

A number of Press commentators have been critical of proceedings, indicating that there has not been much progress at Bonn, and in fact the conference could show some ground having been lost :-

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c9213b40-a180-11df-9656-00144feabdc0.html

Continue reading Christiana Figueres : The Elusive Saucepan

“Kill Kill Kill This”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TINzvWrtjYI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyutuErxPo8

Carol Browner, Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy in the United States of America, has been all over the Media, announcing the policy to “kill kill kill this” BP nightmare story, telling the world that a turning milestone point has been reached :-

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/PDFs/OilBudget_description_%2083final.pdf

Have they decided that BP have been punished enough now for the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher, and the reputation of the company needs to be rehabilitated sharply in order to protect the Economy ?

I made the mistake of taking in a BBC TV news bulletin on the matter. I heard several talking heads say it’s “good news” that roughly three quarters of the accountable oil from the spill has “disappeared” :-


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-10870159

Breaking this story is “good news” for the stability of pension funds, maybe. But what is the real extent of the real damage to the real world, the world of oceans and fish and plankton ? Will the world be watching as the researchers scavenge data and clues to the marine ecotastrophe that is still unfolding ?

Continue reading “Kill Kill Kill This”

Natural Gaza (3)

Video Credit : PressTV : January 2009

Timeline in the last week :-

1. Something happens to provoke some persons as yet unidentified in Gaza.
2. Some persons as yet unidentified may or may not have fired a Grad missile from the Gaza Strip towards the Israeli town of Sderot.
3. The Israeli Defense Force act “in retaliation” and bomb three locations in Gaza, killing at least one person and wounding eight.
4. Some persons as yet unidentified may or may not have fired a Qassam rocket from the Gaza Strip towards Ashkelon.

You may be forgiven for thinking this is all about simple tactical weaponry exchange, embedded cultural or religious hatred, or revenge attacks.

But you’d be wrong.

This escalation in violence is merely part of what looks very strongly like an ongoing strategy to keep Gaza from economic development, by preventing them from exploiting their largest natural resource – offshore sub-marine Natural Gas.

I am going to give you my first attempt at some history on this matter. I make any and every apology if I have got something wrong. Please correct me by comments below the post.

I have not even started to attempt to address the hypocrisy of the United Kingdom and the United States of America effectively giving weapons to Israel via a system of direct and indirect aid. All that is brilliantly covered by Robert Fisk, so I don’t need to :-

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-israel-has-crept-into-the-eu-without-anyone-noticing-2040066.html

Gaza is being locked down under a “resource curse” – the Gazans are being forcefully detained in an open air concentration camp with scant resources, when all the time, just off-shore are enough hydrocarbons to make them all very wealthy. Many Gazans are succumbing to starvation of the body and mind, and many are unwell and have to endure appalling deprivation.

I should expect that the “final solution”, whatever that will be, will be announced by Israel in the next few years, unless the international community wakes up to the obvious risks that Gaza faces, and does something decisive about it.

Continue reading Natural Gaza (3)

Christopher Booker : Sniping Smearduggery

The Liberal Democrat and Conservative Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom spent almost an entire week crafting a political framework for power-sharing after the “hung” General Election.

Those considered the most appropriate people were appointed to positions in the central Cabinet, people from both political parties, with the aim and ambition of working together closely and fraternally.

Back room agreements were painstakingly forged, deals were clearly made, and explained publicly in a transparent fashion. In the day-to-day operation of Government, it is made clear who is speaking on behalf of themselves, their party or the Coalition.

This is probably the best example of cooperative, progressive politics since…I don’t know when. But all Christopher Booker seems to want to do is snipe, moan and smear, and appears to throw in as many factually incorrect allegations and fake statistics about wind power as he possibly can.

I certainly wouldn’t pay him to write such divisive, unreferenced, unverified stuff. What’s he trying to do ? Split public opinion ? :-

Continue reading Christopher Booker : Sniping Smearduggery

James Delingpole Has Kittens

Poor, dear James Delingpole has been passing kitten-sized anxieties and angry thoughts again; fear and accusations all completely unfounded :-

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100046150/how-come-we-now-have-to-go-to-the-chinese-for-the-truth-about-global-warming/

A number of indignant inaccuracies and strident claims I will pass over, but here are a few I think I shall contest. Just to show that I do bother to read his work (even if I smirk about it most of the time).

Continue reading James Delingpole Has Kittens

Unpicking Kyoto (4)

Video Credit : Lighting Africa

Unpicking Kyoto
Jo Abbess
20 June 2010

PART 4

CONTINUED FROM PART 1, PART 2 AND PART 3

Linking Climate Change to Poverty

There will be no global treaty on Climate Change without a solution for the poor.

The poor in every country are generally low emitters, and models of Low Carbon lives; yet because they are poor, it’s easy for their economic concerns to be swept aside in the global efforts to revive the big Energy systems.

One thing is clear, imposing a “dollar economy”, and thrusting international markets traded in American Dollars on the world’s poor is not the same as creating an environment for true social and sustainable development.

Continue reading Unpicking Kyoto (4)

Climate Union : Sharing Principles

Image Credit : Gilbert & George, “Nettle Dance”, White Cube

I’m in the Climate Union. Are You ?

Soon we could all be, if the expansionist plans of a group of social campaigners come to fruition.

Taking in the unions, faith communities and the usual rag-tag bunch of issues activists, the Climate Union aims to establish itself as a political force for Low Carbon.

First of all, however, it has to tackle the uneasy and prickly problem of the exact name of the movement, and the principles under which it will operate.

The flag has been flown : a set of principles has been circulated for discussion amongst the “Climate Forum”. I cannot show you the finalised document yet, but I can offer you my comments (see below).

If you want to comment on the development of this emerging entity, please contact : Peter Robinson, Campaign against Climate Change, mobile/cell telephone in the UK : 07876595993.


Comments on the Climate Forum Principles
Jo Abbess
28 June 2010

I am aware that my comments are going to be a little challenging. I made similar comments during the review of the ClimateSafety briefing, which were highly criticised.

I expect you to be negative in response to what I say, but I think it is necessary to make sure the Climate Forum does not become watered-down, sectorally imprisoned and politically neutered, like so many other campaigns.

Continue reading Climate Union : Sharing Principles

Burning Things Is Wasteful

Centre for Alternative Technology

Burning things wastes a lot of energy – even burning waste.

1. Plain Old Inefficiency

The systems and infrastructure for the generation and distribution of electricity in the United Kingdom is extremely poor, nigh on immorally wasteful. See the diagram above from the Zero Carbon Britain 2030 report :-

http://www.zcb2030.org/

There are so many things that could be done to improve on that enormous loss of energy, and save on Carbon Dioxide Emissions at the same time.

Continue reading Burning Things Is Wasteful

Natural Gaza (1)

What’s wrong with this picture ? Although it has been amended in the online version (click the picture for the link), the latest United States Geological Survey of the Levant Basin in the East Mediterranean completely omitted to label Gaza :-

http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2010/3014/pdf/FS10-3014.pdf

The file is downloadable from here :-

http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2010/3014/

Why is this important ? The most significant Natural Gas finds in the Eastern Mediterranean are technically in Gazan maritime territory.

Continue reading Natural Gaza (1)

Windlings

Methods of electricity storage are considered essential in grids that have large proportions of wind capacity. This is because, surprisingly, winds have been known to quieten down a bit from time to time.

Some people take this fact too far. For example, there is the “Northern European Winter High Pressure” lobby, who continue to insist, in a number of forums, that low aerial flow entirely compromises wind energy expansion, just because there are several days in December or January that might be a little flat.

Continue reading Windlings

Bringing Perspective

Bringing Perspective

Is BP plc a Sustainable Business ?

An assessment of BP plc’s performance in relation to their climate change impact, and their approach towards ensuring both environmental sustainability and corporate survival.

by Jo Abbess
29 April 2010

INTRODUCTION

The Research Question

This piece of research seeks to assess how BP plc is making adaptations in its corporate strategy, in view of the risks to its operations posed by Climate Change policy, and in the context of Peak Oil production and the subsequent inevitable Peak in Natural Gas.

Theories and Propositions

The author of this research has the view that over the course of the next 50 years, due to limits on supplies of good quality fossil fuels, and to avoid the risks of dangerous climate change from global warming, the world economy must de-carbonise, and entirely replace its sources of energy and fuel with low carbon alternatives.

According to this projection, any company that wishes to remain in business should begin their process of total decarbonisation immediately, and will be expected to show evidence for their intentions and procedures for change. This is likely to be particularly difficult for Oil and Gas companies, as their core business is based on energy and fuel resources that must be entirely replaced.

The 50 year timeframe may be beyond the thinking of most political analysts, but is relevant to pension funds, annuity providers and insurance companies. Investors are likely to become more interested in determining the carbon “liabilities” of fossil fuel stocks and shares, and take a risk-averse approach to future stakes in Oil, Gas, Coal and other high carbon fuels.

Continue reading Bringing Perspective

The Price of Carbon

The Price of Carbon

by Jo Abbess
20 April 2010

1.   Introduction

Policy strategy for controlling risky excess atmospheric greenhouse gas (Gowdy, 2008, Sect. 4; McKibben, 2007, Ch. 1, pp. 19-20; Solomon et al., 2009; Tickell, 2008, Ch. 6, pp. 205-208) mostly derives from the notion that carbon dioxide emissions should be charged for, in order to prevent future emissions; similar to treatment for environmental pollutants (Giddens, 2009, Ch. 6, pp. 149-155; Gore, 2009, Ch. 15 “The True Cost of Carbon”; Pigou, 1932; Tickell, 2008, Ch.4, Box 4.1, pp. 112-116). Underscoring this idea is the evidence that fines, taxes and fees modify behaviour, reigning in the marginal social cost of “externalities” through financial disincentive (Baumol, 1972; Sandmo, 2009; Tol, 2008). However this approach may not enable the high-value, long-term investment required for decarbonisation, which needs adjustments to the economy at scale (CAT, 2010; Hepburn and Stern, 2008, pp. 39-40, Sect. (ii) “The Consequences of Non-marginality”; MacKay, 2008, Ch. 19; Tickell, 2008, Ch. 2, pp. 40-41). Continue reading The Price of Carbon

Renewable Synergy

The news is that there is continuing progress towards a fully Renewable Europe. It is, after all, the only means to ensure a sustainable Economy into the future, given the twin blended threats of Climate Change Carbon Mitigation and Peak Fossil Fuels.

Dr Gregor Czisch’s meisterwerk is being translated into English for publication this Summer :-

Scenarios for a Future Electricity Supply: Cost-Optimised Variations on Supplying Europe and Its Neighbours with Electricity from Renewable Energies

You would never know from the plainspeaking title just how exciting this is : seriously cheap Energy and peacemaking collaboration all in one shot !

The management consultants PriceWaterhouseCooper (couldn’t they think of a more speakable name ?), have just published their own view on Europe and North Africa combining to provide a one hundred percent renewable Energy solution :-

http://www.pwc.co.uk/sustainability/

http://www.pwc.co.uk/eng/publications/100_percent_renewable_electricity.html

Continue reading Renewable Synergy

Climate Union

I’m in the Climate Union. Are you ?

Finally, I have to admit that I have an personal stake in the outcomes of Climate Change and Energy policy.

I have to confess to a utilitarian, yet enlightened, self-interest.

And so say all of us.

In the future, I want there to be jobs. New jobs, for young and old, for me. Productive, worthwhile employment, green jobs that don’t permanently wreck the atmosphere for future generations.

When I get sick, unabled or old, I want there to be social services. Not run on a shoestring budget owing to Carbon Taxes or Carbon Trading, but Low Carbon hospitals with well-motivated, sufficient staff; and decent, affordable sheltered housing and residential homes for the vulnerable.

I want cheap, Zero Carbon Energy; as access to Energy is an essential public good, even a human right, for those who live towards the Poles. I don’t want to be made poor by a badly managed transition out of Fossil Fuels, or expensive Carbon Capture projects that the State pays for, because Electricity generation companies want to burn dirty Coal. I don’t want to have to pay double for my power, just because new Nuclear Power stations cost so much to build.

Continue reading Climate Union

BP : After the Gas and Oil are Gone

Together with a couple of my peers, I’ve been taking a look at BP’s “sustainability”, both from a business point of view and from a Climate Change point of view.

We’ve just given a presentation, of which I offer you a couple of the slides and the script to accompany them.

The central point of issue is : what will BP do after the Gas and Oil are gone ? There may be decades of reasonable hydrocarbons left to exploit, but how will Pension Funds get their return on investment after that ? Where is the future thinking ?

And what about Climate Change ? Retreating from Alternative Energy back into its core business of Oil and Gas means that BP plc will not be able to make substantial cuts in the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of the products that they sell – which means that sooner or later, when Carbon Energy is rationed, their business will start to implode.

Continue reading BP : After the Gas and Oil are Gone

Earth Hour 2010

Earth Hour 2010 will be on Saturday 27 March 2010 20:30 8.30pm everywhere

Being involved in a collective effort may yet help the human race overcome its problem with excessive emissions.

It will look like the United Nations’ Climate Change Conferences, yet it will be an standing session, not just one fortnight a year. And it will be distributed over the entire world, not just in one location. And it will involve a whole lot more people than just official national delegates.

Help start the process by taking part in a token gesture of support for a cleaner, greener, cooler Earth : switch everything off for an hour on Saturday 27 March 2010, starting at 8.30pm 20:30 where you are, in your time zone :-

http://www.earthhour.org

http://earthhour.wwf.org.uk/

Remember, small gestures can be significant, momentous, even spiritual, if everybody gets involved.

Continue reading Earth Hour 2010

Fossil Fuels Ruel, OK ?

http://www.polluterharmony.com/

It’s easy to stay on top of the heap – just throw rocks at everybody trying to climb The Hill.

Fossil Fuels are free when they come out of the ground, but exact a heavy price on the Environment – a cost that cannot be measured in Money – since wealth is made from Fossil Fuel Energy.

Unless we cut the thread – the causal relationship between Energy use and Carbon Dioxide emissions – then we will all lose wealth – from the destruction of the natural environment.

The only practical answer is to reduce the amount of Fossil Fuel that is burned. But that would impoverish us. So we need to have Zero Carbon Energy to replace Fossil Fuel Energy.

Renewable Energy is the only source of future wealth.

Continue reading Fossil Fuels Ruel, OK ?

The Future of Flight

For decades we have been spoonfed Science Fiction about the future of flight and space exploration as if it were fact.

Richard Branson (“Sir”, if you insist) has drawn us to his vision for commercial passenger space flight :-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8400353.stm

Yet his participation in the Industry Taskforce for Peak Oil and Energy Security leads him back down to Earth :-

Continue reading The Future of Flight

Do Hold Your Breath

If I had a eurocent for every time a Climate Change denier-sceptic told me that if I really, truly believe that Carbon Dioxide causes Global Warming I should just stop breathing…well, I’d be rich enough now to afford to buy the whole of Belgium, or at least most of economically-depressed Wallonia. Mmm…Waffles.

But seriously, holding your breath in the form of Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) is one of the big flashing signs for the future of ReSmoothing, smoothing Renewable Energy supply, that is.

Continue reading Do Hold Your Breath