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Natural Capital

More Spark Plugs than Sustainability…The Green Industrial Revolution is already here and Boris has Missed the Bus

By Climate Change, COVID-19, Environmental Policy, Natural Capital, News, Sustainable Growth, United Kingdom

Boris Johnson may have many talents (it’s possible). But when it comes to climate change mitigation, facing up to facts isn’t one of them: his much trailed Ten Point Plan, flagged as a “Green Industrial Revolution” and launched earlier this month. This commits the UK Government to phasing out the internal combustion engine within the next decade and increasing investment in a range of new technologies, including the Flash Gordon sounding (and currently non existent) Jet Zero Aircraft and Green Ocean Liner.

But well intentioned as it might be, the Plan has more in common with spark plugs than sustainability, and especially so given (despite its snappy title) the Green Industrial Revolution is already well underway, with or without Boris.

It’s about time…

According to the UN based World Meteorological Organization (“WMO”), and despite the impact of COVID restrictions that resulted in short term reductions of between 4.2% and 7.5%, carbon emissions have now reached record levels: global warming has increased by 45% since 1990, with a “growth spurt” throughout 2019 added in for good measure (www.public.wmo.int). The last time there was such a sustained build up in CO2 levels was 5 Million years ago, and we weren’t around then to take note of the statistics then.

So what exactly is Boris planning to do to meet that challenge of the Green Industrial Revolution? 

Well, he aims to phase out the internal combustion engine by 2030 (see above) and that’s obviously an eye-catching measure, but the Ten Point Plan also commits the Government to investing £385 Million in the “next generation” of nuclear power stations.

Despite the fact that even if nuclear capacity was quadrupled by 2050 it would still only account for 10% of UK energy needs, not on any basis sufficient to replace fossil fuel generation and particularly so given the limited investment in wind and solar power envisaged by the Plan.

And that’s leaving aside the inherent dangers and the well-worn capacity of nuclear sites to generate dangerous levels of hazardous waste. It doesn’t sound especially environment friendly. 

Take another look too at that figure of £385 Million. Its chickenfeed bearing in mind the new Hinkley Point C Nuclear Plant Project is expected to cost £22.5 Billion: £3 Billion over budget and fifteen months behind schedule.

A new offshore wind turbine costs an average of £3 Million, so you could build 1000 of them for the cost of one Hinkley Point. In that context the Plan projects a meagre £160 million of new investment in offshore wind technology, so just 80 new turbines… chickenfeed.

The current shortsighted strategy?

And neither will the Plan commit the UK Government to phase out the current short sighted strategy of purchasing carbon offsets from abroad, meaning carbon emissions are effectively exported to territories with lower (non Paris compliant) protocols.

That’s hardly a full-throated commitment to truly international climate mitigation: as though importing “dirty” electricity is fine because it’s not produced in Hampshire. Tell that to anyone living next to a power station in Poland.

To be fair to Boris, there’s also a plan for more bicycles and footpaths, but bikes and boots on their own won’t amount to any sort of revolution: green or otherwise.

So, what about the Ten Point Plan?

In truth, the Ten Point Plan will leave the United Kingdom significantly behind the EU on climate change mitigation (www.ec.europa.eu.).

After Brexit goes live in January, the UK will silently fall out of the Bloc’s sharing arrangements on carbon reduction which are expected to deliver a 55% cut in emissions by 2030.

And India is well on track to secure carbon emission levels to meet a global warming goal of 2 Degrees Celsius within ten years (despite the peculiar challenges posed by its rapidly burgeoning population and fast expanding economy): 40% of the subcontinent’s electricity will be non fossil fuel generated by 2030 and “emission intensities” will be a third of 2005 levels by the same date.

The subcontinent has also increased solar capacity by 1,200% since 2014 and introduced groundbreaking initiatives to minimise domestic consumption levels. In stark contrast the UK Government has actively promoted measures that reduce solar capacity and done little or nothing to reduce consumption.

In short, while Boris scrambles around to define his Green Industrial Revolution the rest of the world has already moved on… the future already belongs to sustainable innovation.

Red Ribbon (www.redribbon.cohas always been committed to pursuing Mainstream Impact Investment strategies that are not only consistent with sustainable growth but also offer above market rate returns whilst at the same time protecting precious natural resources through innovative programmes like the Eco Hotels Project (www.ecohotelsglobal.com).

Find out more about Eco Hotels

ECO HOTELS

Red Ribbon Asset Management is the founder of Eco Hotels, the world’s first carbon neutral mid-market hotel brand, offering “green hospitality” as part of a progressive roll out across India which intended to take full advantage of current market opportunities on the subcontinent.

Executive Overview

Welcome as they might otherwise have been, I can’t help feeling a little disappointed by the obvious lack of ambition in the UK’s Plans for a “Green Industrial Revolution”: not least because they seem largely ignore the radical steps being taken elsewhere in the world on climate change mitigation, and particularly in India.

But having placed Planet, People and Profit at the heart of Red Ribbon’s corporate vision since it was founded more than a decade ago, I remain on any basis committed to the long-term potential of those international strategies, whatever the short-term future of the Ten Point Plan might be.

Better Connected than Ever? – How Connectivity boosts Indian Real Estate.

By Affordable Housing, Blackstone, Construction Technologies, COVID-19, Economic Growth, Environmental Policy, Housing Need, Housing policy, India, Natural Capital, News, Real Estate Markets, Sustainable Growth

All roads lead to other roads: a dizzying complexity of cables, rail and road networks have literally girdled the earth, making us better connected than ever before. A hundred years ago it took twenty days to travel by steamship from London to Mumbai, now it takes nine hours by plane.

Subject to lockdown restrictions, you can cross the English Channel in two hours by ferry (plus three more waiting for the driver in front to get back to his cab), or else zip through the Tunnel in 30 minutes; and the electrons that carry your Internet messages travel at 2,200 Km a second, which is probably why Zoom is doing so well at the moment.

But none of this happened by accident: it was all planned, built and delivered to meet economic demand…except, of course, the electron, which does what it does by itself. Economic progress is everywhere driven by connectivity.

And that’s where Big Government comes in: periodic swings in the private funding cycles needed to build all those airports, roads and railways are increasingly being offset by government deficit spending programmes (or quantitative easing as it’s now known: the deficit’s more attractive, younger sister). Only big government is big enough to dampen regular (and inevitable) private sector investment fluctuations, which is why most advanced economies over the last forty years have set fiscal spending targets of up to 20% of GDP.

Nothing less will level out the swings and troughs, and without it the roads, railways and airports won’t get built at all…the Channel Tunnel started out as a private venture, ran out of money and finished up nationalised in all but name. Without Big Government you wouldn’t be able to zip under the Channel …you’d be stuck behind a lorry at Dover.

It’s a lesson India has taken to heart.

Connectivity boosts Indian real estate. How?

Over the next ten years the subcontinent is expected to invest a staggering $715 Billion in its new rail networks, with full electrification expected by 2024 and the entire system becoming carbon neutral by 2030 (www.ibef.org/industry/indian-railways).

By 2050 India’s railways will comprise 40% of rail services across the world, meeting a surge in passenger numbers driven by an increasingly wealthy travelling public. All of this is being powered by Big Government (Prime Minister Modi’s Government to be precise): including a programme to expand investment in new rail terminals, new stations and more extensive container operations across the subcontinent (www.outlookindia.com).

And the picture is pretty much the same on India’s highways where the network has doubled in size (from 71,000 Km to 142,000 Km) in the last ten years. As with rail, the expansion is being driven at pace to meet unprecedented levels of demand from a burgeoning and increasingly wealthy population, in stark contrast with the United Kingdom where road traffic levels have increased by 80% over the last twenty years, but capacity has risen by a sluggish 10% annually: and even that unimpressive figure is falling off year by year.

All of which means India is now better connected than ever before; and in combination with those same (unprecedented) demographic trends on the subcontinent, enhanced connectivity is also having a radical impact on India’s domestic housing markets. New Science parks in Chennai and Bangalore and new railways and highways in Mumbai are pushing prices through the roof as an increasingly urbanised population embraces the opportunities offered by better communication systems.

The improvements to connectivity boosts Indian real estate. So with all roads leading to other roads, it means we’re better connected than ever before…but nowhere is that more apparent at the moment than India.

Invest in Red Ribbon Asset Management

Red Ribbon is committed to identifying and building on investment opportunities that are fully in compliance with its core Planet, People, Profit policy: not only offering above market rate returns for investors but also protecting our Natural Capital through innovative programmes like the Eco Hotels Project.

Executive Overview

I suppose it’s a truism that property values are all about location (and location, location): but what’s interesting in India at the moment is just how radically the location itself is changing.

Taken together with an increasingly wealthy, tech savvy and burgeoning population, the Modi Government’s radical infrastructure programmes are re-shaping the commercial environment and pushing property prices higher than ever before.

Back Again, Front and Centre…Joe Biden has Climate Change Top of his Agenda and he’ll find a Key Partner in India

By Climate Change, COVID-19, Eco Hotels, Economic Growth, Environmental Policy, India, Natural Capital, News, Sustainable Growth

Joe Biden intends to reverse Trump’s “dangerous and destructive climate policies” (Joe’s words), and whatever delusions Trump might still entertain on Twitter, Biden is the President Elect of the United States.

Under his stewardship the United States will re-join the Paris Climate Accordson day one” of the new Administration, work to “seek higher ambition from nations across the world” (Joe again), and “follow the science” to reduce emissions while protecting precious resources. So climate change mitigation is back, front and centre …and it’s about time too.

Over three turbulent years Donald Trump systematically cut a swathe through a raft of environmental protection measures: enabling mining companies to dump waste in local rivers, removing prohibitions on methane gas emissions and even abolishing prohibitions on (endangered) species of birds being shot out of the sky and their lifeless bodies made into ashtrays for sale in tourist shops (I’m not making that up). So whatever you might think of Donald Trump’s chutzpah and mutton headed resolution, he was demonstrably bad for the environment.

The stage is finally set for the United States to resume its role in climate change mitigation across the globe, and the totemic significance of Biden’s intention to reaffirm the Paris Climate Accordson day one” simply can’t be ignored.

The US will now be freed up to move to zero carbon emissions from power plants by 2035 (instead of actively promoting fossil fuel dependence under Trump); freed up to dramatically expand solar and wind energy production and to stop endangered birds being made into ashtrays.

So, how are Joe Biden and climate change the perfect partners for each other? Well, the new Biden Administration will also look to build 60,000 new wind turbines, new community solar infrastructure and 500 Million more solar panels across the country within the next five years: and the obligations imposed by (and freely accepted) under the Paris Climate Accords are the backbone of those commitments.

Joe Biden and Climate Change

The Biden Administration’s Green Deal (www.joebiden.com/climate-plan/) is budgeted to cost an eye watering $3 Trillion.

But take a look again at the elements of that package, and in particular the central part played by solar and wind power generation: those are positive and eye catching strategies in contrast to (negative if necessary) emission controls.

On that front India is already a world leader in the production of renewable resource energy: by September this year 36.7% of its capacity was sourced renewably and the subcontinent was also the first in the world to create a Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. It is a net exporter of wind turbine and solar technology to the United States and, especially in its Northern States, India has the perfect climate to power those technologies as well. By 2022 Prime Minister Modi’s Government is planning to install 40 GW capacity of new solar panels on rooftops throughout the country and intends to generate 57% of its total energy needs from renewable sources by 2027 (www.sustainabledevelopment.un.org): 17% in excess of its Paris Climate Accord commitment.

So this much we can certainly be sure of: as the world turns slowly back onto its axis, Joe Biden won’t find a better environmental partner than India.

Red Ribbon Asset Management (www.redribbon.co) has placed the subcontinent at the heart of its investment strategies since the company was founded more than a decade ago. Drawing on an unrivalled knowledge of local markets with an expert team of more than a hundred advisers working in India’s economic hotspots, the Red Ribbon Private Equity Fund (www. redribbon.gi) offers unique opportunities to share in this potential.

Find out more about Eco Hotels

ECO HOTELS

Red Ribbon Asset Management is the founder of Eco Hotels, the world’s first carbon neutral mid-market hotel brand, offering “green hospitality” as part of a progressive roll out across India which intended to take full advantage of current market opportunities on the subcontinent.

Executive Overview

I don’t know how history will finally judge the last three and three quarter years of US foreign and domestic policy, but I do welcome the change signalled last week by the President Elect for a new approach to climate change mitigation.

And, of course, that approach isn’t really that new after all. Most nations across the world have maintained their commitment to the Paris Climate Accords since 2016 and will, I’m sure, welcome the US back into the fold.

Nowhere more than India…

Plant small plants on coins stacked on the concept of saving money and growing money.

Its Time to Take the Blindfold Off: New Visions for Sustainable Growth

By COVID Slowdown, Economic Growth, Housing policy, Mainstream Impact Investment, Natural Capital

Any blind, unthinking pursuit of money can still return a profit (and sometimes does), but its very exclusivity of focus (money) also obscures those unintended outcomes that can be (and frequently are) so disastrous for our planet. And this dynamic between fiscal growth and sustainability isn’t just another variable in some global game of blind man’s bluff, with economies across the world stumbling helplessly between one unexpected outcome and the next, trading growth for hope and indifferent to the chaos left behind: it can also be matter of life and death. All of our futures, yours and mine, are dependant on the sustainability of natural resources: from the food we eat, to the buildings we live and work in, our capacity to meet disease (particularly at the moment), right down to the very air we breathe: Natural Capital is our bedrock, and it’s vital for economic growth too…

That’s why we have to start treating our stock of Natural Capital (including plant life, clean air, minerals and soil resources) in precisely the same way we do any other item on the macro economic balance sheet: in precisely the same way we account for Built Assets, including roads, railways and hospitals, because there is no acceptable trade off between the two: Natural Capital and Built Assets together make up the sum total of our wealth and they both belong on the same side of the ledger.

All of which makes it alarming that according to the UN Environment Programme, per capita Natural Capital has decreased since 1992 by 40%, while over the same period Built Capital has increased by 13%. Currently leading an economic diversity review for the UK Government, Partha Dasgupta points to these statistics and warns that “the very language of economics is failing us, making us miss the message”: by which he means we’re not seeing the connection between Natural and Built Capital properly: with Natural Capital in the debit column, the balance sheet’s out of balance … its time to take the Blindfold off. 

Perhaps now more than ever, we need economic planning that is both robust and clear sighted in its objectives but also sustainable by reference to its impact on the environment: in other words, we need to have a holistic regard for Planet and People as well as a clear recognition that in the long run (and the short run come to that) there is no Profit without Planet and People: joined up planning that is capable of making a difference to all our lives.

So why is that matter of life and death?

Well, the wholesale destruction of our natural resources (remember that 40% debit entry) has also increased the risk of life threatening diseases crossing the wildlife to human barrier, which brings us (inevitably) back to COVID 19. The clumsily but appropriately named Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warned earlier this year that “Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, intensive farming, mining and infrastructure development, have all created a ‘perfect storm’ for the animal to human spillover of diseases.” And that was before the full, horrific impact of COVID became a daily feature of all our lives: so rolling back on those key drivers identified by the IPBES has literally become a matter of life and death…

COVID has changed our world in so many ways, most of them all too visible: but the way in which we respond to those changes also has real potential to create a better world for the future. We don’t have to go back to the way things were done, we don’t have to keep playing blind man’s bluff…it’s time to take the blindfolds off.

 Invest in Red Ribbon Asset Management 

Red Ribbon is committed to identifying and building on investment opportunities that are fully in compliance with its core Planet, People, Profit policy: an investment policy that not only offers above market rate returns but also protects Natural Capital through caring meaningfully for the environment.

Executive Overview

Like most of us, I suppose, I’m concerned about the potential consequences of a headlong rush for short-term economic growth: essential though it is to secure growth in these difficult times, we can’t afford to lose sight of the importance of environmental responsibility.

They aren’t alternatives: this isn’t a zero-sum game and there is no acceptable trade-off. We need to build growth in a responsible way by putting the Planet, People and (yes) Profits at the heart of our strategic thinking.

Red Ribbon

At Red Ribbon we understand that the transition towards a resilient global economy will be led by well-governed businesses in mainstream markets, striving to reduce the environmental impact of their production processes on society at large and on the environment as well.

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