How much do food miles matter; should you buy local produce?

Despite a study claiming that food-mile emissions are higher than previously thought, eating less animal produce remains much more important than how far your food travels

Eat locally to reduce food miles and your carbon footprint. That is the message promoted by some environmentalists and businesses, but it has long been clear that often this isn’t true – foods that travel thousands of kilometres can have a lower carbon footprint than local produce.

At least, that is what many studies have found. But research published today in the journal Nature Food claims that global food miles account for 20 per cent of food-related emissions – a much higher proportion than reported in earlier work. So do food miles matter more than we thought? Spoiler: no, they don’t.

The production of the food we eat is responsible for more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, so reducing food-related emissions is crucial to limiting further global heating. The question is, what should consumers do to help reduce these emissions?

 

Previous studies have found that the emissions from food miles – the distance that food has to be transported from where it is produced to where it is eaten, measured in kilometres travelled multiplied by the tonnage – are tiny compared with those from growing that food.

Emissions can be calculated based on how the food is transported – by air or by sea, for instance. A study of US diets by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania concluded that transporting food from farms to shops produces just 4 per cent of food-related emissions, while a 2018 study of European diets put it at 6 per cent.

What this means is that if you want to reduce the carbon footprint of your diet, you should focus on buying foods with lower overall carbon footprints rather than those that don’t have to travel far. This basically means eating less meat and dairy.

For instance, producing 1 kilogram of beef can emit as much as 99 kg of carbon dioxide or equivalents, and making a kilogram of cheese emits up to 24 kg, compared with 0.9 kg for bananas and 0.4 kg for apples.

In other words, what you eat matters to a far greater extent than where it comes from. What’s more, even with the same food types, local isn’t always better. For instance, if you live in a nation with a cooler climate where tomatoes can be grown only using heated greenhouses, these local tomatoes will typically have a higher carbon footprint than those shipped in from a warmer country where no heating is needed.

The latest study doesn’t overturn any of this. For starters, the main reason why it concludes that food miles account for such a high proportion of food-related emissions is that the 20 per cent figure includes all the transport involved, including that of fertilisers, farm equipment and pesticides, not just the transport of food.

“Our study looks at the entire supply chain for food consumption, and naturally non-food commodities are part of it,” says team member Mengyu Li at the University of Sydney in Australia.

It is worthwhile to estimate this, but the team should use a term other than “food miles” to avoid confusion, rather than redefining the existing term, says Hannah Ritchie at the University of Oxford, who is head of research at Our World in Data.

If the standard definition were applied to the numbers in the study, food miles would account for only 9 per cent of food-related emissions, says Ritchie. That is much closer to previous research, though she thinks it is still an overestimate.

What’s more, the study itself calculates that even if it were possible to produce all food in the countries where it is eaten, food-related emissions would fall by only 1.7 per cent overall. This is because although food wouldn’t travel as far, more of it would be transported by road instead of sea, says Li, and trucks produce higher emissions per tonne of cargo than ships.

“So, overall, the bottom line is still that what you eat has a much bigger impact on emissions than the distance that food has to travel to reach you,” says Ritchie.

Do not work for ‘climate wreckers’, UN head tells graduates

The UN secretary general has told new university graduates not to take up careers with the “climate wreckers” – companies that drive the extraction of fossil fuels.

António Guterres addressed thousands of graduates at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, US, on Tuesday. “You must be the generation that succeeds in addressing the planetary emergency of climate change,” he said. “Despite mountains of evidence of looming climate catastrophe, we still see mountains of funding for coal and fossil fuels that are killing our planet.

“But we know investing in fossil fuels is a dead end – no amount of greenwashing or spin can change that. So we must put them on notice: accountability is coming for those who liquidate our future.”

He added: “You hold the cards. Your talent is in demand from multinational companies and big financial institutions. You will have plenty of opportunities to choose from. My message to you is simple: don’t work for climate wreckers. Use your talents to drive us towards a renewable future.”

Guterres has become increasingly outspoken on the climate crisis in recent months, telling world leaders in April: “Our addiction to fossil fuels is killing us.”

READ MORE

Shell consultant quits, accusing firm of ‘extreme harms’ to environment

Caroline Dennett tells staff in video she made decision because of ‘double-talk on climate’

A senior safety consultant has quit working with Shell after 11 years, accusing the fossil fuel producer in a bombshell public video of causing “extreme harms” to the environment.

Caroline Dennett claimed Shell had a “disregard for climate change risks” and urged others in the oil and gas industry to “walk away while there’s still time”.

The executive, who works for the independent agency Clout, ended her working relationship with Shell in an open letter to its executives and 1,400 employees. In an accompanying video, posted on LinkedIn, she said she had quit because of Shell’s “double-talk on climate”.

READ MORE

Climate group sues Dutch airline KLM over ‘greenwashing’ advert

Environmental campaigners are suing the Dutch airline KLM over “greenwashing” adverts they say misleadingly promote the sustainability of flying.

Lawyers from ClientEarth are supporting Fossielvrij NL, a Netherlands-based campaign group, to bring a claim that KLM’s ad campaigns give a false impression of the sustainability of its flights and its plans to address its impact on the climate.

“KLM’s marketing misleads consumers into believing that its flights won’t worsen the climate emergency. But this is a myth,” said Hiske Arts, a campaigner at Fossielvrij NL.

“Unchecked flying is one of the fastest ways to heat up the planet. Customers need to be informed and protected from claims that suggest otherwise.”

Activists from Fossielvrij NL submitted a pre-action letter to Air France KLM, KLM’s parent company, during its AGM in Paris on Tuesday. Their legal action takes aim at KLM’s “Fly Responsibly” campaign, which presents the airline as “creating a more sustainable future”.

Read here:
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/may/24/climate-group-sues-dutch-airline-klm-over-adverts

Executive pay system is broke

The system of executive pay is “broken”, the Church of England’s pension board has said, as it challenged more companies to ease the pain of soaring inflation by committing to paying workers the living wage.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/may/19/next-shareholders-agree-to-44m-pay-package-for-chief-despite-opposition?utm_term=62872e62da683c87d583e2df4151e534&utm_campaign=FirstEdition&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=firstedition_email

Can a tech billionaire squash Australia’s coal industry by buying it?

Frustrated with the Australian government’s inaction on climate change, software king Mike Cannon-Brookes is trying to buy several big coal plants so he can shut them down in favour of renewables

Mike Cannon-Brookes, the third-richest person in Australia, has launched an audacious bid to buy the country’s biggest electricity company – and shut its coal-fired power plants. It is a bold approach to decarbonisation, but can he pull it off?

Australia currently produces the highest carbon emissions per capita in the world from burning coal for power generation. The country’s government is highly attached to fossil fuels. Not long before becoming the current prime minister, Scott Morrison brought a lump of coal to parliament and announced: “This is coal. Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared, it won’t hurt you.”

Cannon-Brookes, co-founder of software giant Atlassian, has been a vocal critic of the government’s climate inaction. Now, he is using his net worth of A$20 billion to try to take matters into his own hands.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2309157-can-a-tech-billionaire-squash-australias-coal-industry-by-buying-it/

Oil firms’ climate claims are greenwashing, study concludes

Most comprehensive scientific analysis to date finds words are not matched by actions

Accusations of greenwashing against major oil companies that claim to be in transition to clean energy are well-founded, according to the most comprehensive study to date.

The research, published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, examined the records of ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and BP, which together are responsible for more than 10% of global carbon emissions since 1965. The researchers analysed data over the 12 years up to 2020 and concluded the company claims do not align with their actions, which include increasing rather than decreasing exploration

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/16/oil-firms-climate-claims-are-greenwashing-study-concludes?utm_term=620dd653293a7d76d3b14b06409ae6d9&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayUK&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTUK_email

The Good Investment Review October 2020

As Good Money Week 2020 begins, the ninth Good Investment Review finds that sustainable funds have outperformed the sector average over the last five years – and in particular throughout the coronavirus crisis.

Since 2015, the ethical UK equity funds monitored in the review have brought average returns of 25.76 per cent compared with 16.52 per cent for all funds in the sector. Meanwhile, the ethical global equity funds monitored have returned an average of 85.23 per cent compared with 76.12 per cent for the sector.

In the eight months to October 2020, 12 of the 15 ethical UK equity funds studied performed better than the market average (80 per cent), as did 41 out of the 56 global ethical funds (73 per cent).

The October 2020 review reveals that despite the financial turmoil of the global pandemic, ‘assets under management’ held within funds with an ethical or sustainable label in the UK have continued to rise, reaching a whopping £158 billion  – up 14 per cent from the previous six months.

The rise represents further evidence of the surge in interest in investing for positive impact or with environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in mind.

John Fleetwood, founder of 3D Investing (now part of Square Mile Consulting and Research), said: “The evidence shows that positive impact need not come at the expense of financial returns, and if anything, investing for positive impact can improve returns.”

The latest review covers developments in methodology for measuring ethical and sustainable funds, and attempts to clear up some of the confusion over the different terminology used to describe them.

There is must-read commentary from some of the UK’s top ethical and sustainable fund managers.

The Review rates funds that have an ethical or sustainable approach according to how well they do what they say on the tin.

Pensions and National Insurance

I offer this reminder, as I am often asked about the need to pay National Insurance and the most appropriate way to achieve full benefits.  It is easy to check your personal account on line. 

  • the State Pension changed in April 2016.
  • if you reached State Pension Age before April 2016, you needed to have National Insurance contributions or credits for 30 years to receive the full pension.
  • if you reached State Pension age prior to April 2016, the State pension is made up of the Basic Old Age Pension and the Additional State Pension; otherwise known as State Second Pension (S2P), State Earnings Related Pension (SERPS) or the Graduated Retirement Benefit.
  • Those who enter the National Insurance system on or after 6 April 2016, will need to have a minimum of 10 years National Insurance contributions or credits to qualify for a State Pension.
    To receive the full pension, they will need to have National Insurance contributions or credits of 35 years. For everyone else, transitional rules apply. 

Clearly most of us do not rely on the State Pension and the question is how much additional funding is needed to achieve a realistic income at the time you plan to stop earning or reduce your working time.

Most people are shocked once they look at the levels of funding necessary, which means that you can either choose to fund to the desired outcome or delay your plans. Most importantly start early and fund realistically but also take the opportunity to get a realistic forecast.

Pension funding is still the most tax efficient way for all but basic rate tax payers, with Stocks and Shares ISAs used for anyone who is currently a basis rate tax payer. 

One important warning, Cash ISAs give a return less than inflation and the only tax benefit is that the small amount of interest is tax free. 

They do not make financial sense for medium and long-term savings. Inflation is expected to run at about 2.5% in the foreseeable future.  Stocks and Shares ISAs are exposed to market fluctuations but rarely give a negative return in the longer term.



Money Marketing interview with Jan

Profile: Jan Oliff on tragedy that led her to ethical investments

By Amanda Newman Smith 5th November 2018

Jan Oliff on changing the sector’s gender profile and how personal factors led her to be an ethical specialist

Sometimes the reasons people do the jobs they do or hold certain views are intensely personal.
That is the case with Jan, director, Jan Oliff Financial Planning.

Since establishing her own business in 1992, Jan has built a reputation as an ethical investment specialist.

Like many advisers in the field, Jan has generated business through a genuine interest in helping others and aiming to create a better world. But ask her why she became interested in socially responsible investment in the first place and it becomes clear it was for personal reasons rather than business ones.

“My mother died in 1986 at a young age.
Nobody had told her smoking was dangerous and she had lung cancer. I wanted to invest some money that she had left me into something that avoided tobacco. Only the Stewardship fund offered that at the time, so I invested in it and that was my way into the SRI* marketplace,” she says.

Jan believes the SRI* market has gained many supporters as a result of the 2008 financial crisis.

How to get started with ethical investing

“Clients felt let down by financial services around the time of the crisis and people are becoming increasingly aware of issues such as damage to the environment.

“Everyone has their own story and their own values based on personal experience. Some are more interested in governance issues than the environment and vice-versa,” she says. “I have one client who is in her 80s and she wouldn’t invest in gambling because, as a young teacher in Glasgow, she was seeing children coming to school with no shoes on because daddy had spent all the money in the betting shop.”

Five questions

What is the best bit of advice you’ve received in your career?

Don’t retire. It came from my 92-year-old neighbour, a district nurse who retired at 72 and thought it was far too soon.

What keeps you awake at night?

Nothing to do with work. If it was, I’d give it up.

What has had the most significant impact on financial advice in the last year?

Increasing awareness of values and governance.

If I was in charge of the Financial Conduct Authority for a day I would …

Listen to a representative sample of workers as the go-to people for ideas to improve the system and culture.

Any advice for new advisers?

Use your brain and your emotional intellect. Together they are powerful.

Jan was drawn to the financial services world following some tragic personal events that really brought home to her the need for people to plan their finances.

Her sister was widowed at the age of 29 and she sadly lost a friend in a car crash. At the time, her friend had everything to live for; he and his wife had just had a baby and were in the middle of renovating their home. “His wife had to return home to her parents because they had no life insurance,” says Jan .

Wanting to get the message across to people that it was important to be financially resilient, just in case the worst happened, Jan joined Barclays Life in 1981 and stayed there for 11 years. However, by 1992 she had become disillusioned and it was then she decided to set up her own financial advice firm.

“It had become clear that banks were giving priority to selling contracts that made money for them. I left Barclays early in 1992, at a time when the country was in deep recession and jobs were scarce. I’d relocated to Bristol, I had just got married and everything combined to say it would be better to create something,” she says.

So what has it been like for her to do that as a woman in financial services?

“It’s been largely amusing and sometimes frustrating. At times, my physical appearance is the only thing that seems to matter,” she says.

“My frustration comes in at the lack of understanding about the insight and intellect that women can bring to the industry. As head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde recently said if it had been Lehman Sisters rather than Lehman Brothers, we would have avoided the crash. I’m not going to argue with that.”

Jan thinks getting more women into the industry will happen naturally, once men with old-style, sexist attitudes have left.

“The industry will get rid of the wrong type of bloke and more women will come in once they’re gone. Things are a lot better now, but the bad attitudes are still there. Even women have that bad attitude at times. The whole culture in financial services has been one of bullying and disrespect. You have to stand up to it,” she says.

For some women, perhaps the misconception that financial advice is all about facts and figures rather than building relationships and finding solutions to problems puts them off it as a career choice. Jan points out the fact many advisers rely on their para-planners for the more technical side of the job.

“The para-planners are the ones doing the numbers; they do most of the technical stuff. Take a lot of IFAs away from their para-planners and they’d be lost.”

Trust and transparency are things Jan works hard at in relation to her clients. She is a member of Soroptimist International, a global volunteer organisation that has more than 75,000 members in 120 countries. With human rights and gender equality at its heart, the aim is to make women’s voices heard and help fund local causes.

However, Jan believes any sort of volunteering – whether it is charitable work or providing pro bono advice – should be for the right reasons and not to promote a professional service. Her thoughts on creating more widespread consumer trust in advisers are as simple as starting with the way you treat your colleagues and clients.

Should financial advisers be volunteers?

“I truly believe if every practice has a culture of respect for clients and colleagues, so it becomes unacceptable to say abusive or unkind things, if you do that, you gain trust,” she says.

“We are moving forward, as there are many good advisers who are great for the profession. But we need to get rid of the ugly ones as they cost the rest of us a lot in terms of our reputation and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme levies. I’m still confronted by people at conferences that make me think ‘what on earth are you still doing in this profession?’.

“Every profession has this, but I wonder why we tolerate it. We need to encourage those individuals to get out and earn their income elsewhere.”

.

* SRI – Sustainable Responsible Investing

Ever Present Danger, and more

Ever Present Danger

I once asked a friend if the widow of his next door neighbour would receive a life assurance payment.

He, my friend Ernie, was a bit shocked at the question.  It is not something you generally ask the recently bereaved.

It is however something the family care about.

Will we be able to pay the bills this month, this year, in the future?

I know it sounds a tad un-British to ask about money at such a time but here is what I know.  Death or major illnesses intervene when not expected. Having a safety net can make a difference in how you recover from the loss of a loved one or the shock of sickness or injury.

If your busy life has contributed to a heart attack then money at the right time can pay the bills, stopping much of the stress. It can give time for recovery.

In my 35-years career, I have experienced late night calls from worried clients asking “will I be able to pay the mortgage this month. Will I need to sell my home?”

Sickness and death are not just for the elderly but they are an ever-present danger. Most of us, mercifully, will never be harmed at the hands of a terrorist but never the less life rarely treats us kindly.

ISA

I return to the subject of ISAs.

Why? Because I am still hearing people complain about the low interest they are getting on cash ISAs. Apart from it being frustrating to overhear this, it occurred to me that people have stopped listening to advice.

Cash ISAs lose money, as inflation is higher than the annual interest rate, FACT

As an independent adviser, each client is different and gets treated differently.

But if you want a simple, do it yourself solution, check out some of the on-line offerings, watching out for charges and historic volatility: Both Prudential and Royal London have funds that are designed to minimise risk.

If you want an opportunity to do good as well as making a better return then find an Ethical or Socially Responsible Solution:  www.uksif.co.uk

And if you would prefer to accept and pay for valuable good professional advice . . .

Paid for Advice?

Why pay for advice when you can find insurance cover and/or ISAs on line?  Whether you pay for the advice or pay for the product, you still pay.

The advice is there, as an option.

To discover the full range of available solutions, you will need independent advice.

Is price the only thing that matters?     When it comes to your family probably not.

Climate Change

As the world fails to act water will become a weapon and a cause of war.

Regimes that control water will hold a powerful weapon.  You can ensure that the world harvests, recovers and maintains its quality, by investing in commercial businesses whose products do just that.

The Women’s Institute is having a week of action on Climate Change in July.

Please support them.

Digital disruption: connected world

 Internet of Things to reconfigure business, consumer and investment landscape

Reproduced by courtesy Pictet Asset Management
This is interesting but does not constitute advice.
If you are interested in sustainable or less ‘traditional’ investment please talk to Jan.

Eleven inches tall with shiny blonde hair, the iconic American doll Barbie made its debut at the New York Toy Fair in March 1959.

Just over half a century later in 2015, the same toy fair unveiled a new prototype of Barbie. And this version could not be more different from the original.

Called ‘Hello Barbie’, the wi-fi-enabled doll uses artificial intelligence to connect to a cloud server, which allows children to interact with her through a microphone and speaker built into her necklace.

Hello Barbie is just one manifestation of the burgeoning world of the Internet of Things (IoT), a platform of interconnected devices and machines built on cloud computing and network sensors.

The IoT is becoming a bigger part of our daily lives – we now have smart fridge that ping us when we’re low on milk, wearable devices that offer personal health and fitness advice and connected cars which shares traffic information with other vehicles.

In the not too distant future, smart energy or water meters powered by IoT sensors will send real-time information to providers which can better manage their production or distribution network; retailers can adjust their warehouse inventories based on round-the-clock demand data coming from IoT devices.

But this is only the beginning of the IoT revolution: the number of connected “things” could reach 50 billion by 2020 while the IoT market is expected to double to USD3.7 trillion by the end of this decade.1

This is an incredible opportunity for all of us and something we should take very seriously. And frankly the question you’ve got to ask is: ‘is there anything in the world that won’t be touched by the Internet of Things?’” says Sanjay Sarma, professor at the MIT and one of the world’s leading experts on the IoT.2

“Is there anything in the world that won’t be touched by the Internet of Things?”Sanjay Sarma

The IoT will change the rules of the game; enterprises are already under pressure to abandon old business models and adopt a new approach.

And as companies are disrupted, new investment opportunities should emerge.

“Every time there has been a new class of computing, the total revenue for that class was larger than the previous ones. If that trend holds, it means the Internet of Things will be bigger yet again,” observes University of Michigan professor David Blaauw.3

Significant evolution in technology since the 1960s
Each new computing cycle equals around 10 times the installed base than the previous cycle (1960s-2030e)

evolution of technologies

Source: Morgan Stanley, April 2014

From living rooms to assembly lines

The IoT began life as smart home technology in the shape of AI-powered, voice-activated personal assistants such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home.4

Today, however, it is expanding into factories, where a new generation of smart industrial robots now perform repetitive, strenuous and increasingly complex tasks without the need for human intervention. What is more, these connected robots communicate with each other in what is known as machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.

For example, Japanese robot maker Fanuc has developed technology that connects the brains of more than 400,000 of its industrial robots so that they can learn from each other and improve performance on manufacturing lines.

In working with Cisco, US factory automation systems maker Rockwell Automation and Preferred Networks, a Tokyo-based machine learning start-up, Fanuc says its M2M network will improve equipment efficiency and increase manufacturing profitability.

Fanuc is not alone – its German rival Kuka is working with Chinese telecoms company Huawei to link up its industrial robots in much the same way.5

An industrial-scale version of the IoT is certain to reconfigure manufacturing, ushering in what experts are calling the next Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0.

The first industrial revolution, which began in Britain in the mid-18th century, took about 100 years to spread as the use of machines gradually replaced human labour in Europe. Industry 4.0 should evolve at a pace faster than any of the previous breakthroughs.

Accenture estimates that Industry 4.0 could add at least USD14 trillion to the world economy by 2030, while PWC expects more than USD900 billion will be invested in technologies and businesses related to Industry 4.0 every year until 2020. More than half of the world’s major firms surveyed by the consultant expected a return on investment within two years.

How Industry 4.0 creates value

internet of things

Source: McKinsey, August 2016 

Industry 4.0 and M2M networks are beginning to transform manufacturers’ strategic priorities. Germany’s Audi plans to develop a “smart factory” which makes cars with robots working together with human colleagues, 3D printers that print complex metal parts and drones carrying steering wheels. Audi has even piloted cars driving themselves off the production line.

“Automobile production as we know it today will no longer exist in the future,” Hubert Waltl, member of Audi’s Board of Management for Production, told the automaker’s magazine. “It will become more connected, more intelligent and more efficient… New specialists such as network architects will increasingly move into our industry.”

IoT powers platform economy

Like Audi, manufacturers will no doubt reap the benefits of Industry 4.0; costs for inventory holding are likely to fall by up to 50 per cent thanks to the real-time warehouse management enabled by IoT devices while total machine downtime will also halve as factories use machines more efficiently thanks to information coming from IoT sensors, McKinsey expects. Several other studies have shown the IoT will boost manufacturing productivity by as much as 50 per cent.

But it won’t be just manufacturers; consumers and investors are set to enjoy the perks; Industry 4.0 will not only drive production costs down but also allow factories to produce goods which better reflect the trend and preferences of consumers.

This means we will be able to buy highly-customised IoT objects at cheap prices. The more people that use a given IoT object, the greater its network effect, a mechanism that rapidly magnifies the value of the object to each of its users.

Platforms have completely changed the nature of competition across many industries. – Austan Goolsbee, professor of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Companies like Apple, Uber and Amazon are already exploiting the network effect by building a complex web of interactions between consumers, suppliers, entrepreneurs and developers on “platforms”, digital marketplaces through which businesses offer a range of goods and services to consumers.

The platform economy built on IoT devices is beginning to disrupt the functioning of marketplaces and transform the investment landscape.

“Platforms have completely changed the nature of competition across many industries,” Austan Goolsbee, professor of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, told a recent conference organised by Pictet Asset Management.

“(Successful investing) is not really about figuring out what is the most exciting technology… it’s also about asking ‘could that thing be a platform that prevents the next guy from coming into the market?’”