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What Sustainability should learn from Steve Jobs

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I liked this blog post from Andrew Winston entitled 'What Sustainability should learn from Steve Jobs.'

Winston, who writes regularly for the Harvard Business Review argues that before the iPad was introduced,  many were asking why you'd need a tablet computer. Steve Jobs, he says, made us want one.

Winston suggests that most large companies today are "fast followers" -  but second place is nowhere in the tablet computer space.

"Fiscal and strategic conservatism breeds a culture where execs prefer to wait and talk to customers before doing anything drastic. Of course customer (and other stakeholder) perspectives are critical. But as with tablet computers, when it comes to sustainability, often the customers don't really know what they need.

"Companies often gather data on what their business customers think a sustainable product should be, and the survey might show that including recycled material is important, even if that's a tiny part of the real footprint story. Nobody knows the value chain of your product and service as well as you do (or if someone else does, get them in the room pronto). So figure out where the impacts really lie and what you can do to reduce your customer's footprint in ways they hadn't considered. This might require asking heretical questions about whether the product should even exist in its current form or should be converted into more of a service." 

Winston believes the next generation's Steve Jobs is likely to focus on sustainability since that's where the largest challenges and business opportunities lie. Worth a read.

UK roadshow to showcase green technology for overseas markets

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Peterborough will play host on July 5th to a roadshow showcasing solutions in the green IT or 'greentech' technology sectors.

The UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) GreenTech Road Show will bring buyers and decision makers from markets including Australia, Bulgaria, China, Hungary, India, Kuwait, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Turkey and UAE into the UK to look at the UK's capabilities across the spectrum of 'green' technologies.  The delegates have specific interests in green energy production, energy efficiency, green building technology, cleaner production technologies, waste management and water and wastewater treatment.


The event will be a regionally focused day dedicated to developing interactions between UK suppliers and the visiting 'buyers' and UK Trade & Investment Officers.


The morning will offer briefing sessions aimed at UK companies that are relatively new to exports and will offer advice on export services available from UKTI. Advice will be on hand from UKTI regional contacts and Trade & Investment Officers based in overseas embassies, as well as details of how UKTI is promoting the UK's Low Carbon know-how around the world.


The event, to be held at the Bull Hotel, will also feature 'Meet the Buyer' sessions in the afternoon, giving greentech vendors the opportunity to book 1-1 meetings with either the overseas buyers or Trade & Investment Officers. 


Places on the GreenTech Road Show are free of charge. For more information, email



Summing up what the Budget means for 'Greentech'

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I was talking to a company the other day that has an interest in the Climate Reduction Commitment (CRC) legislation and while we didn't expect any major changes relating to CRC in the Budget, there was a feeling of 'you never know'.

The devil is still in the detail, and more may emerge over the coming days. But it seems there are no changes to CRC announced by George Osborne.

Those 'green' issues that were covered have been well summed up by the Guardian here


Siemens and Carbon Trust team up to launch green finance deal

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The Carbon Trust and Siemens have announced a partnership to provide UK businesses with green equipment finance worth up to £550 million over the next three years.

This new deal is being targeted to boost green growth and unlock business investment in the low carbon economy. The new dedicated low carbon finance scheme will enable UK businesses to invest in cost effective energy efficiency equipment or other low carbon technologies, such as new efficient lighting and biomass heating.

All businesses will be able to apply for new green growth finance from the scheme from 4 April 2011. Under a Heads of Agreement signed between the two parties Siemens Financial Services Ltd. in the UK (SFS UK) will provide the financial backing and manage the provision of funding and the Carbon Trust will assess the carbon, energy and cost savings of any application. This will enable the financing to pay for itself through energy savings.

The Carbon Trust and Siemens Financial Services have also agreed to finance a new commercial venture that will increase the take up of energy efficiency projects. This venture will offer procurement support to businesses wishing to purchase energy efficiency equipment at scale from a network of accredited suppliers and will be launched later this year.



Tiptoeing towards a Green Investment Bank

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There's an interesting discussion on the FT blog about progress towards a green investment bank, the suggested investment route for funding clean energy projects.

According to this post, not only are there are question marks over the amount of funding for the bank, there is also some debate over who will fund the Green Deal plan: the government (which says it won't) or third party financiers (if they have the money!) 

London gets a warning on Green financing

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Nowhere's too far from having to think about financing, and investment in low-carbon energy and cleantech is no exception. That's why a piece the Financial Times ran yesterday by Fiona Harvey, all about green funding, makes for interesting reading. I've reproduced it below.


London risks losing its pivotal position as a centre of green finance and missing out on a growing market worth many billions of pounds a year, according to Greg Barker, energy and climate change minister.

"The vital role of capital markets in tackling climate change has been overlooked for far too long," said Mr Barker, who is holding a meeting of City financiers, government officials and policymakers from overseas on Tuesday to discuss ways of using private-sector capital to tackle climate change.

Last year, global investment in low-carbon energy topped $160bn (£104bn), and by 2020 the amount invested in helping developing economies alone to cut their emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change is projected to reach $100bn a year, according to the international accord signed in Copenhagen last December.

Mr Barker said these fledgling markets presented an obvious opportunity for City institutions.

London already has a strong position in green finance - being a leading centre of carbon trading, with a large number of investors focused on "clean technology".

However, Mr Barker pointed out that many of the UK's experts in green finance were in "boutique" or small-scale institutions, and that if Britain wanted to expand in this area, mainstream financial institutions, including banks, pension funds and other big investors, would have to be encouraged to take part.

"The market is in such infancy that London could easily be overtaken by New York or one of the Asian capitals," he said. "We want to make sure that we plant the Union Jack firmly in the middle of this agenda."

He pledged government help in the form of forging links with the developing economies likely to provide much of the green-finance growth in the next decade, and in ensuring that the market was well-regulated and not dogged by fraud.

Mr Barker said many developing economies were "sceptical" of the involvement of the private sector in green finance, and would require persuasion before they were willing to provide the framework needed for big institutions to invest.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010.



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