Grounds for optimism in 2017
It’s been a fantastic 2016 here at bio-bean. In the last twelve months we’ve launched our second product – Coffee Logs – grown our amazing team to over 40 people, raised millions more in funding and taken the bio-bean story global, with millions of views of videos and articles online. We have continued to build and establish valuable relationships with waste coffee grounds suppliers all over London – including chains such as Costa and LEON and begun trials with new waste management companies Biffa and Olleco.
2016 has also been a year of turbulence in our climate and politics.
This year saw the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere pass the symbolic threshold of 400 parts per million, and 2016 looks all but certain to be the hottest year on record – at 1.2ºC warmer than pre-industrial levels. These temperature changes have been linked to the severe weather we have been witnessing lately, such as the freak conditions in the Arctic that saw temperatures 33ºC above average and the latest storm, Barbara, hitting the UK over Christmas.
While climate change is beginning to have a discernible impact on our weather and economy, the UK has so far struggled to come up with a coherent policy framework to deal with this issue. The UK dropped to 14th place in EY’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index, down from 8th place in June 2015. The report cites the uncertainty over Brexit and the closure of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) as reasons for this fall in confidence. The Committee on Energy and Climate Change blamed the “sudden and numerous policy announcements that [have] marred the UK’s reputation for stable and predictable policy development” such as changes to the Feed-in-Tariff and Renewable Heat Incentive.
On the other hand, it’s remarkable how far the Green Economy has come despite these setbacks and there are many reasons to look ahead with optimism to what’s to come in the New Year.
The fossil fuel divestment movement has become the fastest growing divestment movement in history, doubling in the last fifteen months and now totalling over $5tn – even against a backdrop of sluggish economic growth and political turmoil.
Some argue that Brexit and the closure of DECC will distract from climate change and relegate these issues down the list of national priorities. However, it also suggests that energy and climate policies are now an inherent part of our new industrial strategy, managed by BEIS in response to Brexit. There are now significant opportunities for green growth under the recently announced National Productivity Investment Fund as part of this new industrial strategy.
Brexit also presents an opportunity for the Circular Economy. As the pound falls and commodity and import prices rise, it becomes more attractive to make the most of the ‘waste’ resources already available here in the UK. The election of climate change skeptic Donald Trump was met with outrage by many in the environmental movement, but there are many reasons to believe that he won’t be as damaging as many of these commentators fear. The technological progress that has made natural gas and wind energy cost-competitive with coal is unlikely to be reversed.
Instead, in 2017 we hope we’ll see more companies like bio-bean striving to make the sustainable choice the logical choice – by creating great products that outperform the competition, save families and businesses money and help the environment at the same time.
Happy New Year.