Archive for category CO2 and the Oil companies

Economic crisis - the perfect opportunity for green measures - if only they could see it

No cutsIt’s 2012 and the world is undergoing major economic upheaval. In pretty much every major country the buzzword is ‘cuts’. Cuts to staff, cuts to expenditure and cuts to investment. Although governments are talking about long-term plans, most actions seem very short-termist, and it’s therefore not a very good time for green initiatives, most of which will take time and need investment. This is all meant to save money, but it’s definitely putting a stop to saving the planet!

And, from a CO2 reduction point of view, I think they’ve got it wrong in so many ways. I realise you probably need financial training to work it out, but it seems to me that governments are putting their own welfare over that of the people. Throughout the 4 years that I’ve been writing this blog (ok, not so often recently…), I have focused on one message above all others: the measures you take to reduce emissions can also save you money.

Instead of reducing investment in green initiatives, governments - and especially the UK government should be pushing them forwards and helping individuals, companies, even their own institutions reduce their costs. Here are some examples:

  1. A greater push and tighter regulations on company emissions. Greater awareness on electricity consumption alone could reduce electricity bills hugely across the country.
  2. Backing off from cutting the feed-in tariff. I know the government has just suffered a defeat on this, but they really need to rethink and maintain the higher rate for now. A huge opportunity exists here to help whole communities save money by installing solar panels.
  3. Tightening vehicle emissions rules still further and even considering subsidising the development of EVs. It’s a no-brainer. Let’s make our cars more efficient and stop this bank-breaking dependency on petrol.
  4. Encouraging other forms of green transport. How’s about giving tax breaks to people who cycle? Or allowing them to claim expenses to maintain their bikes? How’s about making the ‘Cycle to work’ scheme obligatory in every company over a certain size? Millions have already flocked to two wheels (me included) but more would follow if given a little push in the right direction.
  5. I know that there are some initiatives coming up that use this kind of thinking, including an loan scheme to help home owners invest in green energy, but more could and should be done.

    There, rant over for today. But I think I’m going to keep on at this one.

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Shell gives up on wind, solar and hydro power. Why bother?

Amongst the myriad of different opinions voiced every day regarding the best solutions for reducing world CO2 emissions, there is at least one consensus: we can’t achieve anything without a major push from and the support of governments AND big business. When talking of big business, there’s nothing much bigger than the oil producers, with their huge annual profits, credit crunch or no credit crunch, and amongst the oil producers, few come bigger than Shell.

Until recently, the energy companies seemed to be doing all they could to demonstrate their green credentials. BP has changed their logo and become an ‘Energy Company’. Total talks about ’sustainable development’. Esso talks about ‘provide energy, protect the environment’. All of them have been actively investing in other energy sources and making a lot of noise about it, showing a ‘green side’, and also in a sort of admission about the peak oil situation. Of course they are still producing and selling as much oil as possible, but at least they are helping to take the world forwards in the crucial search for the energy solutions of the future.

But now, all of a sudden, Shell has announced that they are stopping all investment in wind, solar and hydro power as they are not ‘economic. Instead they are re-focusing on biofuels. Linda Cook, Shell’s executive director of gas and power, said: “If there aren’t investment opportunities which compete with other projects we won’t put money into it. We are businessmen and women. If there were renewables [which made money] we would put money into it.”

Wow…. hold the front page! Renewables aren’t money-making today, and Shell has been kind enough to tell us! Thank you so much. Amazingly enough, we all know this, or at least that renewables don’t offer the profit-making potential of oil, but we also know that this is early days. The first nuclear power stations took years to become profitable, but we persevered, and technology improved. Similarly, solar power has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years, as have wind and hydro, but the only way for them to reach the nirvana of genuine profit is via serious investment in research and development, the kind of investment only available to the oil companies with their billions in annual profits.

But apparently Shell does not want to lead the way in this area. They don’t want to set an example, and their excuse is because it’s a waste of money.

I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of the oil companies (I can’t think why), but what seems a better investment to you: (allegedly) spending millions on paying people not to prove that oil is a major contributor to CO2 emissions and global warming, or spending millions on future, cleaner energy sources - basically to ensure that these very companies have a future?

They have the infrastructure, they have the scientists, they have the money, but unfortunately, Shell don’t seem to have the will to help us improve the way we all live. Sadly, we will have to look elsewhere for the example-setters at this crucial time.

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