Could 2019 be the year that climate change finally receives the political and public backing necessary for real action? So far, we have seen school children on strike, listened to Greta Thunberg’s compelling words1, watched a BBC documentary, and experienced the protests of a dedicated group of activists, Extinction Rebellion2.

 

In response, Parliament has declared a climate emergency– a far cry from policy changes that have taken us backwards, for example cutting subsidies on home solar panels4. Independent advisors to government, at the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), have advised the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Based on current trends, the UK is set to miss existing carbon targets for both 2025 and 20306. We still rely heavily on fossil fuels; in 2016, renewables accounted for just 8.9% of total final UK energy consumption7. However, if this paints a rather gloomy picture, it is worth noting that there has already been significant change.

The renewables sector has grown rapidly in recent decades. There are estimated to be about half a million jobs in the low-carbon economy in the UK, although it is worth noting that the definition of ‘green’ does vary8.

British carbon emissions have fallen, as the economy has shifted away from production and manufacture, towards a more service based approach. At the same time, we depend less on coal, and more on natural gas (which whilst still a fossil fuel, has lower emissions than coal9). In fact, Britain has just experienced its first week of burning no coal since 188210. In 2017, UK emissions were 43% below 1990 levels11.

Nevertheless, these shifts still do not go far enough, and are not happening fast enough. As Sir David Attenborough explained in the BBC programme Climate Change – The Facts, “”It may sound frightening, but the scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies.”12

Scientists warn of the concept of ‘tipping points’13 – the ecological catastrophes that once started will be unstoppable. For example if rainforests begin to die due to temperature increases, then their role as ‘lungs’ will be lost, meaning more carbon in the atmosphere and greater acceleration of climate change. Scientists are uniting in agreement that more radical action is needed.

Alongside improved fuel efficiency, and technologies to capture and store carbon, the CCC states that if we are to achieve the goal of zero net emissions by 2050, a key factor will be tackling our reliance on fossil fuels. With many nuclear power stations facing old age and expensive decommissioning, renewables will need to step up. The CCC explains that we will require a quadrupling of renewable electricity from sources such as wind, tidal and solar power14.

Large scale, offshore wind farms are the most likely source of expansion for the UK. In fact, a new government deal with industry could result in nearly a third of British electricity generated by offshore wind farms by 2030. This will involve investments in robotics, larger turbines and floating wind farms and aims to reduce the cost of wind farms, to enable a subsidy free industry15.

Other low carbon technologies can be used to generate heat, such as ground or air-source heat pumps, which capture heat from the ground or air. These will need to become standard in new build properties – regulation is the best way to achieve this.

Bioenergy is a useful form of renewable energy that looks set to play a larger role in our UK energy mix. When the feedstock, such as maize or wood, is sustainably sourced, or waste from food or agriculture is used, then it has great potential, particularly for heating and electricity generation. Energy efficiency measures, such as insulation, are also critical for helping us lower emissions.

Transport will be an important sector to address. The increased use of biofuels blended with petrol and diesel is one option, and electric is another choice that is becoming widely available and commercially viable – although of course to be sustainable the electricity used needs to be green.

The longer term answer to sustainable vehicles could require a much more drastic overhaul of the whole transport system, to allow hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to gain market traction. This would require financial support from Government.

Yet with the pressure to keep costs down for consumers, fracking for shale gas represents a cost-effective approach in the UK. It is however one that is fraught with difficulty, including opposition from local residents and environmental groups question.

Many people question how much lower carbon it really is (because the greenhouse gas methane can leak in the process) and fear the ecological damage caused by extraction16. In fact, support for fracking has fallen from 28% to 12% since 201317.

Many Holden & Partners’ client portfolios contain a significant amount of exposure to both renewable energy and sustainable transport – particularly within our EST (Ethical, Sustainable and Thematic) investment proposition. For example, renewable infrastructure investments such as The Renewables Infrastructure Group and John Laing Environmental Assets are present within various EST portfolios. These investment companies own and operate renewable energy facilities such as wind, solar and anaerobic digestion, thus contributing to the shift away from the UK’s dependency on fossil fuel. Sustainable transport investments such as those involved in the development of electric vehicles are also widely held across our range of EST funds. Holden & Partners has believed since its inception fifteen years ago that renewable energy and sustainable transport are themes of critical importance when it comes to environmental sustainability. It is worth noting that investments in these areas also offer the potential for markedly positive returns given the magnitude of the issue.

As investors, we can be part of the growth of renewable energy in a phase of exciting opportunity. The timing seems ripe for some bold support of renewables, enabling the UK to make the shift to a zero carbon economy. It requires brave and forward looking leaders to take the plunge and implement the required incentives and regulations.

For the first time in a decade, climate change has risen to near the top of the agenda. The future is looking greener.


The content of this article is for your general information and use only and is not intended to address your particular requirements. It should not be relied upon in its entirety and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, advice.


Footnotes:

  1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/47467038
  2. https://rebellion.earth/
  3. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/britain-just-declared-climate-emergency-what-happens-next/
  4. https://www.campaigncc.org/backwards
  5. https://www.theccc.org.uk/2019/05/02/phase-out-greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-2050-to-end-uk-contribution-to-global-warming/
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/02/do-it-now-uk-must-set-zero-carbon-target-for-2050-say-official-advisers
  7. https://www.theccc.org.uk/tackling-climate-change/reducing-carbon-emissions/what-can-be-done/low-carbon-fuels/
  8. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/02/four-charts-that-show-how-the-uk-stacks-up-on-climate-change
  9. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.php?page=natural_gas_environment
  10. https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/a27425079/britain-week-without-coal/
  11. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/provisional-uk-greenhouse-gas-emissions-national-statistics-2017
  12. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47976184
  13. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/09/tipping-points-could-exacerbate-climate-crisis-scientists-fear
  14. https://www.theccc.org.uk/tackling-climate-change/reducing-carbon-emissions/
  15. https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/wind-power-offshore-renewable-energy-electricity-a8811616.html
  16. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/08/we-are-hammering-the-last-nail-in-the-coffin-of-the-fracking-industry
  17. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/global-warming-anxiety-at-record-high-after-heatwave-20c62hn5l?shareToken=27a09906f8caaf3b0ff75dce5f375a2e

My wife and I really value the advice and support we’ve received over many years. Our key contact is Tim Cosway, whose friendly and calm manner is a real plus. He also involves team members who are equally committed. We particularly value that their approach is that no question is stupid – we always receive a clear and helpful explanation. We have full confidence in the team’s management of our finances and definitely recommend them.

Howard

We have consulted Holden and Partners for 10 years.  Having been in financial disarray because of poor advice from our previous financial advisor, we have Tim Cosway to thank for digging us out of a deep financial hole.  As a result of his painstaking tenacity pursuing a claim against our former financial advisor through the Financial Ombudsman Service, which resulted in substantial compensation, we can anticipate a comfortable retirement.  We continue to take Tim’s advice on all financial matters.  He is a pleasure to deal with, and we whole heartedly recommend Holden and Partners, and Tim in particular.

Mike & Jacque

I have been a customer of Holden & Partners since its inception. During this time, no matter what the state of the financial climate, I have always found that their advice has been balanced and fair. They have a good understanding of everyone’s individual circumstances and produced tailored strategies to match these needs and expectations.

Duncan B, NHS consultant

I’ve always received high quality, personable advice at a time of my convenience. My adviser has often travelled to my home in order to provide very personal service. The advice given is clear and unambiguous. The risks of different types of investment have been clearly discussed to allow me to make an appropriate decision on the nature of my investment portfolio. This has been of great importance when considering the available investment options for my forthcoming retirement. I have always considered that Holden & Partners is very client centred and they have my best interests at heart. I have been with Holden & Partners since 1996 and have recommended them to friends and colleagues on many occasions.

Michael, Surgeon

Holden & Partners manage our company pension scheme with a totally professional and dedicated approach. They have worked with us over a number of years, and are able to explain the potential ‘minefield’ that is pensions, to make it perfectly accessible for the staff.

Jeremy, Print Management Partner

On retirement after 40 years of salaried employment, I interviewed several financial advisers, amongst whom Mark Dodd of Holden & Partners was the nicest and seemingly the most understanding of my investment needs and priorities. Since then my wife and I have had regular (c.6-monthly) meetings with him in order to check and, when necessary, adjust the holdings in our portfolio. This has been very helpful and provided a comforting sense of confidence and security. I have recommended Holden & Partners to others and will certainly continue to do so.

Patrick, retired university professor

It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of global trends such as climate change and environmental destruction. But I feel I regain power as a consumer and a citizen by thinking about where I spend my money and to whom I entrust my savings. I chose Holden and Partners because they were recommended to me and because of their strong track record in ethical investments. It has proven to be a wise choice. Their advisors listened carefully to my needs and created an investment strategy and portfolio that has met and indeed continues to exceed my expectations. The culture of a company also matters to me, I have found their advisors to be well informed and financially shrewd but also easy to speak to and engage with. Many of us find it difficult to trust institutions and organisations these days, but I do trust Holden and Partners to make the right decisions on my behalf.
I would have no hesitation in recommending them to others.

Patrick, Advertising and Marketing Consultant

Read all our testimonials

Contact us

Whether it’s a question about your personal finances or how you can invest your wealth more ethically, we are here to help. Call us on 020 7812 1460, email info@holden-partners.co.uk or complete the form: