Connect with us

Business

Should investors worry about the US election? This is Money podcast

Published

on

should investors worry about the us election this is money podcast
34449214 0 image a 4 1602797505202

While the world worries about coronavirus, there is another decade-defining event going on – the US election.

Will Donald Trump win a second term as US President and have the world dance to his tune for four more years, or will Joe Biden take charge – and what on earth would that mean for people?

There is less than a month to go until the US election and under normal circumstances you would expect all the focus of stock market commentators to be on that.

It’s not normal circumstances though. The second wave of coronavirus and renewed lockdowns have the world’s attention and the election, if not a sideshow, is definitely not as centre stage as we would usually expect.

Does that mean it doesn’t matter for investors, or should be thinking about it and positioning themselves for the outcome? 

Does it even matter if Trump or Biden wins, as long as the Fed keeps printing and stimulus keeps coming, and would any decisive win be better than a disputed result?

On this week’s podcast, Simon Lambert, Georgie Frost and Sarah Davidson, discuss the US election and what it could mean for our money over here in the UK.

And if two septuagenarians arguing about who is going to be the boss of the free world isn’t your thing, what about investing in the future beyond that?

Keeping on the investment tip, the team dive into the world of green money and how to invest to back improving the world, or even get a green mortgage or current account.

How to listen to the This is Money podcast 

We publish our podcast every Friday to the player on This is Money, above, and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) and on the podcast platforms Audioboom and Acast, both of which allow you to listen on desktop, mobile, or download an app. We also now publish to Spotify.

To download the Apple Podcasts app if you do not already have it, go to the App store. Or go to either the Apple App store or the Google Play store on Android to download the Acast, AudioBoom or Spotify app. 

Press play to listen to this week’s full episode on the player above, or listen (and please subscribe and review us if you like the podcast) at Apple Podcasts, Acast, Audioboom and Spotify or visit our This is Money Podcast page.   

THIS IS MONEY PODCAST

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Business

Green Homes Grant: Could the green energy scheme be extended?

Published

on

By

green homes grant could the green energy scheme be

Complaints about the Green Homes Grant are stacking up since the scheme launched at the end of September with experts calling for the existing deadline of 31 March 2021 to be extended.

A number of households claim they have been unable to book traders due to lack of availability while others have been rejected as they do not fit the criteria.

Other concerns include traders doorstepping households claiming to be available for cut price work as part of the grant.

Due to the number of problems households are having surrounding the grant, there are calls to extend the current deadline by as much as a year. 

There have been complaints from households unable to sign up to the Green Homes Grant

There have been complaints from households unable to sign up to the Green Homes Grant

There have been complaints from households unable to sign up to the Green Homes Grant

This is because applicants only have six months between the Grant opening and shutting to have all improvements finished, frustrating both households and tradespeople who are often ‘booked months ahead’. 

Under the Green Homes Grant, the Government has made available 600,000 vouchers for energy efficiency improvements to homes and has set aside a budget of £2billion that households can apply for from today.

The vouchers are worth up to £5,000 for a variety of energy efficiency and heating measures, such as insulation and double glazing, increasing to £10,000 for fuel poor homes.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: ‘The Green Homes Grant will give the economy an immediate boost as we build back better from coronavirus, creating tens of thousands of jobs, cutting people’s energy bills and reducing carbon emissions.’

‘We are working hard to ensure there are enough accredited installers to meet demand. 

‘Over 1,000 companies have signed up so far with more registering every single day, including many businesses that operate nationally with substantial capacity to carry out work across the country.’

It added that the potential funding for future years will be determined in due course and did not say whether it is currently planning for the deadline to be extended.

This is Money asked BEIS whether traders would be allowed to cold call households trying to flog their business after hearing of instances in which property owners have been approached. 

Frustrated: A number of households have said they were told they are not eligible for vouchers

Frustrated: A number of households have said they were told they are not eligible for vouchers

Frustrated: A number of households have said they were told they are not eligible for vouchers

It said that while directly approaching consumers is not banned under the scheme, all installers who wish to take part are required to register with TrustMark, the Government endorsed quality scheme, and to comply with TrustMark’s code of conduct.

This includes guidance on cold calling and high pressure selling and prohibits trading practices that are unfair to consumers. 

How can I apply? 

To find out if you are eligible for funding under the Green Home Grants and how you can apply, click here.

Installers need to act in line with TrustMark’s code of conduct by respecting a consumer’s wishes not to receive unsolicited visits if they have stated so.

It added that the Green Homes Grant scheme will never include official representatives coming to a property uninvited or cold calling on the phone to encourage households to join the scheme.

As such, households should be aware if anyone comes to their property claiming to be a legitimate trader looking for business.

Checkatrade previously told This is Money that households need to be wary when booking work, saying all property owners should ensure they check carefully they are paying a reputable tradesperson. 

Primary measures installed under the Grant before secondary ones, such as double glazing

Primary measures installed under the Grant before secondary ones, such as double glazing

Primary measures installed under the Grant before secondary ones, such as double glazing

Mike Fairman, chief executive of Checkatrade, said: ‘We can understand why homeowners may be tempted to use a tradesperson who has immediate and ample availability, however this can sometimes be a sign of a rogue trade. 

‘We’d recommend homeowners continue to be vigilant when choosing someone to carry out any works.’ 

Instead, households are advised to use the Simple Energy Advice installer finder tool to find reputable traders.

Meanwhile, other households have said it has been next to impossible to find traders available in their areas, as we warned would be the case when the scheme launched. 

Most will be booked far in advance whilst others will have been snapped up quickly once the scheme was revealed. 

As the deadline to have all work completed under the scheme is 31 March 2021, many are now concerned they will not be able to take advantage of the programme. 

Similarly, others have said they have been told they are not eligible for vouchers as they would first have to take out what the Government call ‘primary measures’. 

Such primary measures include solid wall insulation, cavity wall insulation, under-floor insulation, loft insulation, flat or pitched roof insulation, roof insulation or insulating a park home.

However, many have said such primary measures are not appropriate for their home, meaning they are unable to access secondary measures, also covered by the Grant. 

These include double or triple glazing, hot water tank insulation, draught proofing and heating controls.  

Many of these frustrated households have taken to social media to share why the Green Homes Grant is not working for them.

This Twitter user said she has contacted multiple traders who have refused to work

This Twitter user said she has contacted multiple traders who have refused to work

This Twitter user said she has contacted multiple traders who have refused to work

Another user said she cannot find any registered tradespeople to complete work in her home

Another user said she cannot find any registered tradespeople to complete work in her home

Another user said she cannot find any registered tradespeople to complete work in her home

This user said there is nobody nearby that is available to carry out work under the scheme

This user said there is nobody nearby that is available to carry out work under the scheme

This user said there is nobody nearby that is available to carry out work under the scheme

One person said they can only get work done after the deadline has ended in March next year

One person said they can only get work done after the deadline has ended in March next year

One person said they can only get work done after the deadline has ended in March next year

Experts are now calling on the deadline to be extended by as much as a year to allow for households to make the most of it.  

Matt Clemow, chief executive of Igloo, a challenger energy supplier, said: ‘The deadline for the Green Homes Grant vouchers must be extended by a year.

‘When the scheme was first announced the Government hailed an era of greener homes, more jobs and cheaper bills. But all of these are at risk if the scheme is not allowed to run beyond the 31 March deadline.

‘Homeowners need more time to find accredited installers to do the works. 

‘Rushing people in to making financial decisions could result in opportunistic rogue traders taking advantage of both the customer and the scheme with poor installation and bad advice.

‘Installers need more time to meet demand, train up new talent and create the jobs promised by the scheme. Even the government needs more time.

‘Without an extension come March 2021 this future looking scheme will be considered a failure, risking jobs instead of creating them in our industry and tarnishing the image of the energy efficient home improvements the scheme set out to promote – pushing us further from our national target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. We must act.’

How to protect yourself from doorstep scammers 

There are several things you can do to ensure you are not scammed by doorstep salesmen. 

Which? has provided some top tips on protecting yourself: 

1) Be on your guard: Always be suspicious of anyone turning up at the door uninvited – regardless of their story.

2) Put up a sign: Place a sign in the window near your front door saying that uninvited callers are not welcome.

3) Keep your home secure: Don’t let any stranger into your home. Keep your doors locked with the chain on. Ask to see callers’ ID cards and call the company to see if they are genuine. To be safe, look up the company number yourself rather than trust the number on their ID card. 

If you feel uncomfortable or have any doubts, don’t let them in. It’s your home. Tell them you’re not interested or that now is ‘not convenient’ and ask them to come back at a different time (when you can have a friend or relative with you).

4) Take a photo: If you’re suspicious, ask the caller if you can take their photo on your mobile phone. Then send it to a close friend or relative. If the caller is genuine, they probably won’t mind. 

#fiveDealsWidget .dealItemTitle#mobile {display:none} #fiveDealsWidget {display:block; float:left; clear:both; max-width:636px; margin:0; padding:0; line-height:120%; font-size:12px} #fiveDealsWidget div, #fiveDealsWidget a {margin:0; padding:0; line-height:120%; text-decoration: none; font-family:Arial, Helvetica ,sans-serif} #fiveDealsWidget .widgetTitleBox {display:block; float:left; width:100%; background-color:#B11B16; } #fiveDealsWidget .widgetTitle {color:#fff; text-transform: uppercase; font-size:18px; font-weight:bold; margin:6px 10px 4px 10px; } #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem {float:left; display:block; width:124px; margin-right:4px; margin-top:5px; background-color: #e3e3e3; min-height:200px;} #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem#last {margin-right:0} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemTitle {display:block; margin:10px 5px; color:#000; font-weight:bold} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemImage, #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemImage img {float:left; display:block; margin:0; padding:0} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemImage {border:1px solid #ccc} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemImage img {width:100%; height:auto} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemdesc {float:left; display:block; color:#e22953; font-weight:bold; margin:5px;} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemRate {float:left; display:block; color:#000; margin:5px} #fiveDealsWidget .dealFooter {display:block; float:left; width:100%; margin-top:5px; background-color:#e3e3e3 } #fiveDealsWidget .footerText {font-size:10px; margin:10px 10px 10px 10px;} @media (max-width: 635px) { #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem {width:19%; margin-right:1%} #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem#last {width:20%} } @media (max-width: 560px) { #fiveDealsWidget #desktop {display:none} #fiveDealsWidget .widgetTitleBox {background-color:#e3e3e3; } #fiveDealsWidget .widgetTitle {color:#000} #fiveDealsWidget #mobile {display:block!important} #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem {background-color: #fff; height:auto; min-height:auto} #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem {border-bottom:1px solid #ececec; margin-bottom:5px; padding-bottom:10px} #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem#last {border-bottom:0px solid #ececec; margin-bottom:5px; padding-bottom:0px} #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem, #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem#last {width:100%} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemContent, #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemImage {float:left; display:inline-block} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemImage {width:35%; margin-right:1%} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemContent {width:63%} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemTitle {margin: 0px 5px 5px; font-size:16px} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemContent .dealItemdesc, #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemContent .dealItemRate {clear:both} }

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Continue Reading

Business

Police last year conducted lowest number of roadside breath tests since 2002

Published

on

By

police last year conducted lowest number of roadside breath tests since 2002

Official figures released today show that the number of roadside breath tests are at their lowest point since 2002, despite road casualty figures in Britain showing an increase in deaths caused by intoxicated motorists.

Just 285,380 roadside breath tests were conducted by police in England and Wales in 2019 compared to 322,769 the year previous – a decline of 11.6 per cent, with the rate of positive results highest it’s been since 2007.

The decline in breathalyser assessments is despite the latest government statistics revealing that drink-drive related casualty rates in Britain are on the rise.

While breath checks were at a statistical low, fines issued by the police for speeding were up by 8 per cent, Home Office data confirmed. 

Just 285,380 roadside breath tests were conducted by police in England and Wales in 2019 compared to 322,769 the year previous

Just 285,380 roadside breath tests were conducted by police in England and Wales in 2019 compared to 322,769 the year previous

Just 285,380 roadside breath tests were conducted by police in England and Wales in 2019 compared to 322,769 the year previous 

Final estimates published by the Department for Transport last month show that in 2018 approximately 240 people died in accidents in Great Britain where at least one driver or rider was over the drink drive limit.

An estimated 8,680 people were killed or injured when at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit. 

This represents an increase of one per cent from 8,600 in 2017, but is still four per cent lower than the level in 2016.  

Of the 285,380 tests conducted by officers in England and Wales last year, 16 per cent of drivers were over the limit, the Home Office data said.

That’s the highest proportion of positive tests on record since 2007. 

The numbers also show a huge spike in roadside breath checks carried out in December as part of tougher enforcement levels during the festive season, though the percentage of positive tests is lower than any other month in the year.  

Breath tests conducted by police in England and Wales have dropped to their lowest level since 2002, the Home Office confirmed today

Breath tests conducted by police in England and Wales have dropped to their lowest level since 2002, the Home Office confirmed today

Breath tests conducted by police in England and Wales have dropped to their lowest level since 2002, the Home Office confirmed today

The most worrying chart shows that while tests are on a massive decline, the percentage of positive results have been surging year-on-year since 2012

The most worrying chart shows that while tests are on a massive decline, the percentage of positive results have been surging year-on-year since 2012

The most worrying chart shows that while tests are on a massive decline, the percentage of positive results have been surging year-on-year since 2012

Latest DfT stats show that drink-drive related deaths have flat-lined since 2010, though there was an increase in the number of total casualties (including serious injuries) in 2018

Latest DfT stats show that drink-drive related deaths have flat-lined since 2010, though there was an increase in the number of total casualties (including serious injuries) in 2018

Latest DfT stats show that drink-drive related deaths have flat-lined since 2010, though there was an increase in the number of total casualties (including serious injuries) in 2018

Safety groups said the ‘worrying’ decline in roadside breathalyser tests is due to reduced road policing.

A report published by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) in June stated there was an 18 per cent reduction in the number of dedicated roads policing officers in England and Wales between 2015 and 2019. 

Edmund King, AA president said the new breath test figures ‘only highlights the massive reduction in the number of specialist traffic officers on our roads’.

Hunter Abbott, managing director of breathalyser firm AlcoSense and a member of PACTS expressed his concerns to This is Money that more tests should be carried out on motorists, especially during the pandemic. 

Home Office figures clearly show the increase in breath tests conducted by police as part of campaigns to crackdown on drink driving during the festive period

Home Office figures clearly show the increase in breath tests conducted by police as part of campaigns to crackdown on drink driving during the festive period

Home Office figures clearly show the increase in breath tests conducted by police as part of campaigns to crackdown on drink driving during the festive period

But while police in England and Wales carried out far more tests in December, there was a significantly lower rate of positive results

But while police in England and Wales carried out far more tests in December, there was a significantly lower rate of positive results

But while police in England and Wales carried out far more tests in December, there was a significantly lower rate of positive results

‘With several studies showing people drinking more alcohol since Covid struck, roadside tests should now be stepped up,’ he explained.

‘But without more traffic police, testing will continue to spiral downwards.

‘The latest government figures show 8,860 people killed or injured on the roads due to drink driving. 

‘There’s a direct correlation between the increase in casualties and the decrease in law enforcement.’ 

Government road safety chiefs are already looking at ways to reduce road casualties in Britain, including tougher restrictions on novice drivers and the introduction of ‘alcolocks’ for previously-convicted drink drivers

The devices are installed in cars and force motorists to pass a breathalyser test before the engine will start.

They will also look at issuing police with more advanced breath tests from next year, which can give more accurate readings.  

'Alcolocks', which force previously-convicted drink drivers to pass a breath test before they drive, could be introduced after government figures revealed a rise in crashes involving motorists over the legal alcohol limit

'Alcolocks', which force previously-convicted drink drivers to pass a breath test before they drive, could be introduced after government figures revealed a rise in crashes involving motorists over the legal alcohol limit

‘Alcolocks’, which force previously-convicted drink drivers to pass a breath test before they drive, could be introduced after government figures revealed a rise in crashes involving motorists over the legal alcohol limit

32471160 8669597 image a 39 1598557314397

32471160 8669597 image a 39 1598557314397

While the newly published Home Office data showed a decline in roadside breath tests, it revealed that other offence types had increased.

The stats show that more than 2.2 million speeding fines were issued to drivers last year – an increase of 7.8 per cent compared to 2018. 

Police also targeted careless driving and car occupants not wearing a seatbelt which have significantly increased between 2018 and 2019, up 33.5 per cent and 84.3 per cent respectively.

By contrast, the number of fines issued for using a handheld mobile phone dropped by more than a quarter (26.5 per cent), which is also as a result of tougher penalties for motorists caught using devices at the wheel. 

Commenting on the data, Edmund King said: ‘While cameras are a useful tool in helping police our roads, we cannot solely rely on them. 

‘A camera cannot stop a drink driver, or pull over someone driving carelessly, so having more cops in cars will help eliminate poor and dangerous driving.

‘The lack of roads police has led to drivers thinking they can get away with certain offences. More than two thirds (69 per cent) say it is unlikely they would be caught driving carelessly where they live, while two fifths (43 per cent) say they could drive without insurance and feel they wouldn’t be caught.’

King added that the AA is calling for the government to set a an optimistic target of zero road deaths by the end of the decade, but warned that this can only be reached with more policing, increased road safety campaigns and road safety being made part of the national curriculum. 

SAVE MONEY ON MOTORING

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Continue Reading

Business

What is greenwashing and how can you know if a company is ethical?

Published

on

By

what is greenwashing and how can you know if a company is ethical

The past six months has seen a surge in people wanting to make the economy greener, with a third of Britons stating the pandemic has sharpened their focus when it comes to the environment. 

Asked what the Covid-19 outbreak had focused their minds on, 31 per cent said their pandemic experience has increased awareness of climate change, according to a Rathbone Greenbank Investment survey of 2,000 people.

A quarter also said they believed that investing in companies helping to combat climate change was now key to achieving a greener future. 

However, the potential for ‘greenwash’ – where companies blind customers with unfounded and untrue claims of being environmentally aware – is huge.

Greenwash: It looks good on the label, but the contents are not as green as they first seem

Greenwash: It looks good on the label, but the contents are not as green as they first seem

Greenwash: It looks good on the label, but the contents are not as green as they first seem

There is no standard definition of ‘environmental’ or ‘green’ when it comes to companies and investing – though it is something that the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority are looking at.  

There’s also no consequence facing companies or funds that claim to be green while pumping oil out of the ground.  

Meanwhile, the green money movement continues to grow. Separate research from Bancroft Wealth showed the number of Google searches for ‘sustainable investing’ has grown 119 per cent since the onset of lockdown in March. 

Keir Ashman, pensions and investments specialist at the wealth management firm, said: ‘The majority of our clients express an interest in making their investments work for the greater good, not just their personal gain. 

‘This has been due, in part, to topical issues such as the positive environmental effect of lockdown, bad corporate behaviour during the pandemic, as well as worldwide social justice movements, but also because there is a greater desire to support purpose-driven organisations.’ 

Investment Association figures show that three months out of the past four with data available, saw investors pour more than £900million a month into responsible investments. 

Companies are fully aware of the investment opportunity that slowing climate change offers – and this week, Good Money Week, is likely to see many of them set out their stalls in a bid to get their hands on your money. 

If you feel strongly that you’d like to make your investments – and pension for that matter – a bit greener, there is now a big range of options available. 

Whether they all fulfill their green promises, however, is less clear.  

What is greenwash? 

Greenwashing is a term that has been knocking around since the 1980s and you’ll almost certainly have been duped by it.

It refers to companies and individuals claiming to be environmentally conscientious to improve their public image while continuing to undermine efforts to reduce carbon emissions. 

Big oil companies which invest into renewables, pointing to this as their green strategy, while diverting 95 per cent of their cash into new oil and gas extraction, is an obvious example. 

Greenwash is a marketing technique, of making a product appear more eco-friendly than it really is. 
Rebecca O’Connor, Good with Money 

So too are a number of big investment houses that have stated on the record they are switching their strategy to backing companies that will help reduce carbon emissions, while investing just 1 per cent of their overall fund into same. 

Bruce Davis, of renewable energy group Abundance Investment, says: ‘The two big areas to watch here are those who use the ESG – environmental, social and governance – badge to imply they are an ‘ethical’ alternative to mainstream funds. 

‘The reality is that fund rules require them to maintain a degree of diversification and liquidity which means they are invested in many companies that an ordinary investor would not consider green and excludes many of the investments in the green sector which are not companies listed on the world’s stock exchanges. 

‘Instead they rely on the clout of their large shareholding to ‘influence’ companies. 

‘The proof of the pudding is in their use of voting rights in AGMs. Do they censure companies that ignore the climate emergency?

‘For example BlackRock, the world’s biggest investor, made a big play of a letter to the companies it invests in, but has yet to show it will consistently back up words with action in shareholder votes connected to climate change.’ 

This is Money asked BlackRock to comment, and was pointed to the firm’s Investment Stewardship Annual Report published on 17 September. 

This showed that their investment team have identified 244 companies they deem to be making ‘insufficient progress integrating climate risk into their business models or disclosures’.

They have also taken voting action at 53 companies for insufficient progress on climate, including voting against 55 directors at 49 companies. 

Directors at 191 other companies have been put ‘on watch’ or at risk of voting action during the 2021 AGM season absent further progress. 

The potential for 'greenwash' - where companies blind customers with unfounded and untrue claims of being environmentally aware - is huge

The potential for 'greenwash' - where companies blind customers with unfounded and untrue claims of being environmentally aware - is huge

The potential for ‘greenwash’ – where companies blind customers with unfounded and untrue claims of being environmentally aware – is huge

It’s not always transparent. Corporate public relations, investor relations and corporate social responsibility is big business and those running the show can see the value in claiming to care, without needing to deliver if they consider it not financially beneficial.

Rebecca O’Connor, of ethical money blog Good with Money, says: ‘Greenwash is a marketing technique, of making a product appear more eco-friendly than it really is.’

She adds: ‘Through the clever use of certain words, phrases or images, an audience believes the product is green.

‘In the case of finance and investment, this happens a lot. It’s usually asset management marketing departments that are to blame, though in fairness to them, they may also believe the funds are greener than they really are. 

‘Banks are also often guilty of this. They use green colours and pictures of wind farms, when in reality, a tiny fraction of their overall lending portfolio goes to renewable energy.’

There is a difference between Shell installing LED lights in its offices and Shell making good on all the fuel that is burned in the cars which use its petrol and diesel.
Bruce Davis, Abundance Investment 

Many companies also use offers of offsetting, where they buy things which are ‘carbon negative’ to net off the carbon they generate by producing their product or service. 

Davis says: ‘For example, Shell claims this for its fuels and many airlines offer (at an extra charge) customers the chance to offset. 

‘However, the world of offsetting is neither transparent or regulated and in reality you may be making very little difference to the world’s carbon budget or net zero targets. 

‘The best thing is to choose companies which are making real progress on removing carbon from their systems of production.’

Another technique is misdirection. In the jargon of greenwashing, there is something called ‘scope’ emissions. 

‘This is the difference between Shell installing LED lights in its offices (reducing scope 1) to Shell making good on all the fuel that is burned in the cars who use its petrol and diesel (scope 3),’ explains Davis. 

‘When people say they are reducing their emissions, you need to check where they draw the line on their corporate responsibility.’ 

A spokesman for Shell said: ‘We agree that action is needed now on climate change, so we fully support the Paris Agreement and the need for society to transition to a lower-carbon future. 

‘We have already invested billions of dollars in a range of low-carbon technologies, from biofuels, hydrogen and wind power, to electric vehicle charging and smart energy storage solutions.’

Tips on how to spot greenwash 

  • Look for vague words, pretty pictures but no hard facts or concrete examples. 
  • Look for impressive numbers but without context. This is important. A big bank might have lent £200million to renewable energy and brag about this, but if that’s £100million of a total loan portfolio of £390billion and the rest of their energy loans are to fossil fuels, that’s not really a high enough percentage to claim credit.
  • Always look under the bonnet. If you can’t even get under the bonnet, that’s your first warning sign that there is something to hide. 
  • If you manage to access the holdings of the fund, or the bank’s lending portfolio, and you don’t know what any of the companies do, you’ll still be none the wiser. Use a sustainability checker like CSR Hub to work out how sustainable these companies really are. 

 By Rebecca O’Connor, Good with Money

Why are firms allowed to greenwash? 

It’s a tricky area to navigate – advertising standards in the UK are pretty strict and companies are frequently reprimanded for making claims they cannot substantiate. 

Financial promotions are even more heavily regulated, with firms authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority bound to be rigorous in the way they advertise their services. 

But the rules around claiming to be green are largely undefined, says O’Connor.  

‘One of the reasons greenwash happens in asset management is that the requirements for quasi-regulatory schemes, things like the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, are actually pretty loose.

‘Responsible just means exactly that, although it is often taken to mean the same as green.

‘It isn’t, it just means your money is looked after sensibly and mindfully of all risks, including environmental risks. But the word is bandied around, inviting people to assume that it means whiter-than-white.

‘It’s a bit like claiming to be vegan, but still eating good quality meat. You’re not vegan then, are you?’

Trying to screen what’s really green and what’s paying lip service is not easy.   

There are many labels – responsible, socially responsible, ethical, sustainable, ESG – environmental, social and good corporate governance – and positive impact investing. 

‘Pretty much all of these would still allow fossil fuels in except positive impact,’ says O’Connor.

Although, she adds, it is increasingly rare to find fossil fuels in sustainable funds, it’s not impossible. 

ESG and responsible funds can have fossil fuels companies in them and often do, on the basis that they are ‘best in sector’ or because they score highly for social and governance factors, even though they are destroying the planet.

A clampdown on greenwash is overdue 

A number of government and regulatory consultations are underway in a bid to curtail greenwash and improve transparency on climate exposure in listed companies. 

ESG and responsible funds can have fossil fuels companies in them and often do. 

The Financial Stability Board Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures was set up by former Bank of England governor – now UN special envoy for climate change, Mark Carney several years ago. 

Its mission is to develop ‘voluntary, consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures for use by companies in providing information to investors, lenders, insurers, and other stakeholders’. 

These were loosely outlined by Carney during a speech at the launch of the UN climate change conference’s Private Finance Agenda event at the Guildhall in London, on 27 February 2020. 

Conservationist David Attenborough and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson launching the United Nations' Climate Change conference, COP26, earlier this year. The conference is now due to take place in Glasgow in November 2021

Conservationist David Attenborough and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson launching the United Nations' Climate Change conference, COP26, earlier this year. The conference is now due to take place in Glasgow in November 2021

Conservationist David Attenborough and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson launching the United Nations’ Climate Change conference, COP26, earlier this year. The conference is now due to take place in Glasgow in November 2021

Following that, the Financial Conduct Authority announced a consultation on how to apply these financial disclosure on climate change exposure rules to public companies, but there are no plans so far to subject funds or private companies to the same rules.

A similar consultation is going on at the Department of Work and Pensions, but won’t conclude until next year at the earliest and initially, is likely only to apply to the UK’s very largest pension schemes.

Even if these disclosures do eventually apply across the board – and it’s likely they will – there is still a real lack of standard definition around what is meant by green, ethical and sustainable.

Disclosure recommendations are also voluntary at the moment. 

 An honest dialogue with consumers is clear and specific so look upon vague statements as a red flag.
Kim Daye, climate change expert 

Kim Daye, a climate change and sustainable communications expert, said: ‘While a huge majority of financial services providers are making changes to the way they operate in order to tackle the climate crisis, we’re living in a transitional period, none can claim to be perfect yet and not all are moving at the same pace. 

‘The challenge for consumers is spot the difference between real, positive commitments to change in the form of an honest dialogue and those businesses overstating progress to tap into the trend of appearing eco-conscious because it sells.

‘An honest dialogue with consumers is clear and specific so look upon vague statements as a red flag. 

‘If a financial institution, product or service is marketed as ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ without an explanation of how, ideally backed up by science and data, don’t take it at face value and dig a little deeper.’

At the moment, investors face very muddy waters when it comes to telling what is really green

At the moment, investors face very muddy waters when it comes to telling what is really green

At the moment, investors face very muddy waters when it comes to telling what is really green

As it stands there are no formal plans to introduce any consequences for false claims, such as censure or fines, which would be akin to financial promotions and rules imposed by the Advertising Standards Authority. 

‘Responsibility needs its own regulation and a separate body,’ says O’Connor.

‘You need sustainability professionals regulating claims by asset managers, rather than the Financial Conduct Authority, whose skill set is around financial risk. 

 Responsibility needs its own regulation and a separate body.
Rebecca O’Connor, Good with Money 

‘Although responsibility level has a bearing on risk, that’s not the bit that’s being policed here. 

‘Making sure that asset managers and banks are using the right label for the right investment option, that their marketing communications is ‘clear, fair and not misleading’ on their green claims, will be a thankless task but it’s a necessary one for consumers.’ 

Full transparency on holdings is the first hurdle. 

‘We need to dispense with this excuse that we don’t need to be transparent because people don’t care that much,’ says O’Connor. ‘They won’t know they have anything to care about until transparency enables them to see.

‘People could ultimately lose money if it turns out that claims made are not correct, so this is a non-trivial question and I’d hope to see more coming from the FCA in the next few months.’

Is Donald Trump greenwashing?

Trump on a rally in Boston this weekend

Trump on a rally in Boston this weekend

Trump on a rally in Boston this weekend

US President Donald Trump declared himself the ‘number one environmental President since Teddy Roosevelt‘ in a recent speech in Florida.

According to a post on Instagram, Trump claimed that presidential rival Joe Biden’s environmental plan would ‘give a free pass to the world’s worst foreign polluters, like China, Russia, India, and many others’ and said that he, in comparison, would ensure the US has ‘the cleanest air and cleanest water on Earth’.

Critics claimed Trump is attempting to greenwash his environmental record to date in an effort to win over voters.

Speaking to the New York Times, Ariel Hayes, the political director of the Sierra Club, said: ‘Failing to adequately fund Everglades restoration, attempting to sell off our waters to corporate polluters and rolling back more than 100 environmental protections doesn’t make you anything other than the worst president ever for the environment and climate.

‘Voters in Florida and across the country have watched Trump achieve this status for nearly four years, and no amount of greenhouse gaslighting will change that.’

Trump has pulled the US from the Paris climate agreement, removed climate change from a list of national security threats and relaxed restrictions on air pollution.

Last month he also opened up Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling.

Experts from Harvard Law and Columbia University Law Schools predict that by the end of his first term, the Trump administration will have reversed around 100 environmental rules and regulations, according to @euronewsliving.

#fiveDealsWidget .dealItemTitle#mobile {display:none} #fiveDealsWidget {display:block; float:left; clear:both; max-width:636px; margin:0; padding:0; line-height:120%; font-size:12px} #fiveDealsWidget div, #fiveDealsWidget a {margin:0; padding:0; line-height:120%; text-decoration: none; font-family:Arial, Helvetica ,sans-serif} #fiveDealsWidget .widgetTitleBox {display:block; float:left; width:100%; background-color:#B11B16; } #fiveDealsWidget .widgetTitle {color:#fff; text-transform: uppercase; font-size:18px; font-weight:bold; margin:6px 10px 4px 10px; } #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem {float:left; display:block; width:124px; margin-right:4px; margin-top:5px; background-color: #e3e3e3; min-height:200px;} #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem#last {margin-right:0} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemTitle {display:block; margin:10px 5px; color:#000; font-weight:bold} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemImage, #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemImage img {float:left; display:block; margin:0; padding:0} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemImage {border:1px solid #ccc} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemImage img {width:100%; height:auto} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemdesc {float:left; display:block; color:#e22953; font-weight:bold; margin:5px;} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemRate {float:left; display:block; color:#000; margin:5px} #fiveDealsWidget .dealFooter {display:block; float:left; width:100%; margin-top:5px; background-color:#e3e3e3 } #fiveDealsWidget .footerText {font-size:10px; margin:10px 10px 10px 10px;} @media (max-width: 635px) { #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem {width:19%; margin-right:1%} #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem#last {width:20%} } @media (max-width: 560px) { #fiveDealsWidget #desktop {display:none} #fiveDealsWidget .widgetTitleBox {background-color:#e3e3e3; } #fiveDealsWidget .widgetTitle {color:#000} #fiveDealsWidget #mobile {display:block!important} #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem {background-color: #fff; height:auto; min-height:auto} #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem {border-bottom:1px solid #ececec; margin-bottom:5px; padding-bottom:10px} #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem#last {border-bottom:0px solid #ececec; margin-bottom:5px; padding-bottom:0px} #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem, #fiveDealsWidget a.dealItem#last {width:100%} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemContent, #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemImage {float:left; display:inline-block} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemImage {width:35%; margin-right:1%} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemContent {width:63%} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemTitle {margin: 0px 5px 5px; font-size:16px} #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemContent .dealItemdesc, #fiveDealsWidget .dealItemContent .dealItemRate {clear:both} }

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 DiazHub.