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

Post Carbon : Bleak House

A missive from Jeremy Leggett received via e-mail :-

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Subject: New oil-crisis warning from British companies
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2010
From: Jeremy Leggett

Folks

This week the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security published a short update of its second report of February this year.

In the February report, we offered evidence for our concern that global oil production will begin to fall, against rising demand – and general expectation – by 2015 at the latest.

In the update, we argue that inevitable restrictions in deepwater oil production round the world, in the shakeout from the BP spill, has made our warning all the more pressing.

If you haven’t seen it, you can link to a pdf of the (4 page only) report and selected bits of the media coverage, off the home page of my website below.

The triple crunch log on the website is updated completely through 3rd November, and only partially beyond that. I am behind for day-job reasons, but will catch up in the month ahead. The financial-, climate- and energy crises all involve denialist group-think, or so I and my particular tribe of group-thinkers believe.

Yet the log of unfolding events shows the respective dramas ticking along like the three unexploded bombs they all are, for those with a mind to see.

For example, in finance we wait to see if fraud in the packaging of mortgage-backed securities will bring another wave of horror down on the banks, and hence on the rest of us.

In climate, America has elected a Congress where a blocking majority cannot or will not understand the dire warnings of climate scientists.

In energy, the IEA’s chief economist has added his name to the list professing that the age of cheap oil is over, and – as I have said – a cross section of UK industry believes a global oil crisis is coming, within five years.

We have to find a way, somehow, to defuse all three bombs.

Any one of them going off can ruin what remains of the vocational watches of the good folk on this e-mail list, and make our children and grandchildren really very irritated with us.

…I had a huge e-mail in-box after the last missive, concerning investment in coal. It seems that there are a lot of capitalists out there who have grave misgivings about the direction unreconstructed modern capitalism is taking.

I shall endeavour to write an article on that theme, without of course betraying any confidences, in the run up to the Cancun climate summit in a few weeks.

Best to all

J

Jeremy Leggett, Executive Chairman, Solarcentury
http://www.jeremyleggett.net for a log of the energy crunch as it unfolds

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Interestingly, the BBC did not ignore the update of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security :-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11781533

George Marshall : The Dying of the Light

In the orange light-filled advertising corner : the oil and gas companies proclaiming new, untold riches beneath the melting Arctic. Technology will make us stronger, less polluting and improve the lives of the countless poor.

In the blue chain-smoking activist corner : Climate Change and Peak Oil are really, really serious, destabilising and horrible and we should all get depressed and go and lie down in a darkened room for a while.

On the other hand, most people don’t fall in one camp or the other. We worry about Climate Change some days, but we’re too pre-occupied with trivia on other days.

We have a natural in-built “happy button”, according to recent research mentioned in New Scientist magazine, so we can’t sustain feelings of doom and gloom for too long unless we’re clinically unwell :-

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727791.000-how-to-be-happy-but-not-too-much.html

We’re born to be sunny, optimistic (Teddy Miliband’s favourite word) and relaxed, only reserving adrenalin and noradrenalin for times of stress.

So why does George Marshall try to convince us that everyone is dangerously susceptible to “apocalyptic” language ?

http://climatedenial.org/2010/09/29/collapse-porn/

People can cope with being given bad news as long as they have some strategy with which to combat the problem.

It’s not wrong to tell people the truth about Climate Change just in case they get scared and worried.

Alarm is a good thing – I’d rather a fellow pedestrian shouted at me to “look out !” if I’m about to be mown down by a car as I cross the street, rather than just watching on and wincing at the crunch moment.

Continue reading George Marshall : The Dying of the Light

Peak Everything

From a conversation with the Claverton Energy Research Group over the leak of a German military study into Peak Oil :-

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,715138,00.html

“09/01/2010 : ‘Peak Oil’ and the German Government : Military Study Warns of a Potentially Drastic Oil Crisis : By Stefan Schultz…”


Hi Clavertonians,

My view on Peak Oil is that it is the tip of the iceberg – and I know that’s a totally inappropriate metaphor.

The art of petrogeology dictates that right on the heels of Peak Oil is Peak Natural Gas, and there is strong evidence for Peak Coal. In the US for example, I understand there is very little good hard anthracite left.

My position is that – since the “conventional” Fossil Fuels are depleting, there are strong moves towards the “unconventionals”, the shale gas, the deepwater oil, the smoky “half peat”, the Lake Baikal hydrates, the frozen subsea wastes of the Arctic [don’t forget the Tar Sands !] and so on. People argue for “stop-gap” energy resources, but they carry with them huge risks not only to the Climate, but also the the Economy with the step-change in EROI/EROEI [Energy Return on Energy Invested – that is – how much energy do you need as input to get energy as output] and the “clean-up” costs.

My take on this is that pretending that Peak Conventionals doesn’t exist leaves a veil in front of most peoples’ minds – they believe in the Power of Technology to supply all their Fossil Fuel needs, now and into the future – it’s just that the actual location and form and dirtiness of these new resources will be different than in the past.

And here’s the rub – we need to encourage people to think about the “alternatives”, or rather, the “solutions”.

The only way forward is Renewable, Sustainable Energy resources, because of Peak Oil, Peak Natural Gas and so on, and if people do not learn about that, they will not understand the privation for most people that will surely come with Peak Conventionals.

Continue reading Peak Everything

Death by Hot Tub

It’s been a bad month or so for ignominious ends in unusually hot and sticky conditions : drunk Russians drowning as they try to cool off from a once-in-a-thousand-year heatwave centred on Moscow; hundreds of Chinese swept away; a Darwin award surely going to the man who died whilst participating in the World Sauna Championships, thousands of Pakistanis snatched by flood waters, and then there’s poor Matthew Simmons, leader of the Peak Oilers, bursting his aorta in a private spa :-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/7891040/Drunk-Russians-drowning-due-to-heat-wave.html

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2010/08/10/sauna-championships-tragedy-the-weird-and-frankly-lethal-lengths-people-go-just-to-win-a-contest-115875-22476900/

http://blogs.ft.com/energy-source/2010/08/09/controversial-peak-oilist-matthew-simmons-dies/

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-09/matthew-simmons-investment-banker-peak-oil-theory-advocate-dies-at-67.html

http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2010/08/09/without-matt-simmons-has-peak-oil-well-peaked/

“AUGUST 9, 2010 : Without Matt Simmons: Has Peak Oil, Well, Peaked? : By Michael Corkery : Matt Simmons, the maverick investment banker who championed the concept of peak oil, died of a heart attack in a hot tub in Maine. He was 67. Simmons is best known for raising the alarm, in books, in lectures, television interviews and to anyone who would listen, that the world’s oil reserves had peaked. The concept of “peak oil” wasn’t new when Simmons wrote Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, in 2005. In fact, peak oil was first posited by a geophysicist named M. King Hubbert in the 1950s who predicted that world oil supply would peak in 1995. But Simmons helped to being the theory to the mass media, after traveling to Saudi Arabia in 2003 to research that nation’s secretive data on oil reserves, or the amount of oil able to be pumped out of the ground. His book became an instant classic among conspiracy theorists…”

Hey ! Don’t disrespect the dead ! He made a very valid contribution to the world’s understanding that the Fossil Fuel free ride won’t last forever, and is, in fact, stopping short as I write…

Continue reading Death by Hot Tub

Australia’s Non-Green Stimulus

Back in the heady, long-gone days of 2009, The Oil Drum web log hosted a discussion about Australia being highly vulnerable to oil shortages :-

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5477

“Aleklett: Australia highly vulnerable to oil shortages : June 11, 2009 : ASPO International president, Professor Kjell Aleklett of the Global Energy Systems group at Uppsala University has been in Australia over the past week, presenting lectures in Adelaide and Sydney on peak oil…warned that Australia will be one of the first countries hit hard by oil shortages as oil production peaks within the next three years. Kjell Aleklett, a physicist from Uppsala University in Sweden, says Australia’s relatively underdeveloped public transport system leaves the country more vulnerable to a downturn in energy production. “Australia is very sensitive to such developments,” Professor Aleklett told the Herald. “Much of your industry and transit is dependent on oil, and supplies will decline.” Professor Aleklett addressed the NSW [New South Wales] electric car task force and the Federal Government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics yesterday…”

Continue reading Australia’s Non-Green Stimulus

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

Hot Start

Hot Start
by Jo Abbess
04 February 2010
An assessment of the technology and policy for de-Carbonising the Energy systems of developed societies

1. The Aligned and Related Risks from Climate Change and Peak Fossil Fuels

1a. Key Conclusions
The Low Carbon Transition in Energy in developed countries is inevitable (Climate Change Act, 2008; EU Package, 2008; UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol, 1997); yet policy thinking and decision-making seems to still focus on the debateable “how to do it” rather than the more essential “how long do we have ?” If the window of opportunity for industrialised society to de-Carbonise proves to foreshorten rapidly, then the next few decades could be a story of economic collapse, unless there is concentrated, concerted endeavour (Sustainable Business, 2010).

Continue reading Hot Start

James Delingpole : Recycling Silliness

I think somebody should take James Delingpole quietly to one side and have a little word in his ear about the ineptitude of recycling silly stories :-

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100028631/what-dave-and-his-chum-barack-dont-want-you-to-know-about-green-jobs-and-green-energy/

“What Dave and his chum Barack don’t want you to know about green jobs and green energy : By James Delingpole Politics : March 6th, 2010 : Green jobs are a waste of space, a waste of money, a lie, a chimera. You know that. I know that. We’re familiar with the report by Dr Gabriel Calzada Alvarez of the Rey Juan Carlos University in Spain which shows that for every “green job” that is created another 2.2 jobs are LOST in the real economy…”

Here Mr Delingpole, you are on the shakiest of grounds from my point of view. Your writing suggests that in the field of Energy Engineering you have even less knowledge about the technological and economic data than you do about Climate Change Science, and what you have acquired is apparently deeply misinformed. With only the briefest of Google searches, you could have discovered what the Huffington Post uncovered on 2nd May 2009 :-

Continue reading James Delingpole : Recycling Silliness

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

Little Chicken

Now’s the right time to talk about gardening. Not just any old gardening, no. I mean food gardening, urban farming, home cropping, edible landscape-type gardening.

Now is the time to be thinking about enriching your soil for your next bumper harvest.

Get your resilience genes working !

http://www.londonwaste.co.uk/media/Compost%20Bag%20Leaflet_May09.pdf

OR

http://www.islington.gov.uk/Environment/RubbishAndRecycling/recycling_new/hrrc/compost_offer_HRRC.asp

Get into Transition mode !

In Transition 1.0 from Transition Towns on Vimeo.

In The Belly Of The BP

I was warned. And it’s true. BP are so protective of their company image that they live in denial. I should know. I’ve been inside the belly of the beast and spoken to one of their head sustainability honchos. Who had a total disconnect about the risks of Fossil Fuel depletion.

“Oil and gas will remain the mainstay of the “Energy mix”. We’ve said that publicly…”

So they’re telling the world what to believe, are they ?

Continue reading In The Belly Of The BP

A Very Crude Analysis

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Or-TyPACK-g
“A Crude Awakening – Trailer”

I watched the film “A Crude Awakening” for the third time this week with the good people of Transition Waltham Forest.

Several people in the room were strongly affected by the footage of the deserted oil fields of Texas, Baku and Venezuela.

In the discussion after the film I challenged the Green Party activist in the room (hopefully without hurting anyone’s feelings), asking where Energy is in the list of electoral campaign policy priorities. I said I don’t hear strong concern from any political party. It’s a subject that’s just not there.

Continue reading A Very Crude Analysis

No Country for Old Men

Heaven knows what Aubrey Meyer must feel like some days.

For every ounce of frustration I feel about the sloth-like pace of the international Climate negotiations, he must feel a pound of nerve-wrecking agitational sweating stress.

The United States of America has been trumpeting its progressive politics again this week, asserting itself as the world’s Climate Change leader at the G8 talks in L’Aquila in Italy.
Continue reading No Country for Old Men

Sharing Energy

At our best, we humans, when faced with crisis, we club together and act collectively. We invent new shared ways of doing, being and providing for ourselves. We pay attention to the needs of others. We give. We receive. We share. We eat together.
Continue reading Sharing Energy