Prince Charles says Climate Change is the World’s greatest threat & calls for a green economic solution

The Prince of Wales has told leaders that the world is in the midst of a climate crisis, as he announced plans for his own environmental initiative.

 

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he called the effects of climate change the “greatest threats humanity has ever faced” and are “largely of our own creation”

 

The prince hopes his Sustainable Markets Council – which will bring together leaders from the public and private sectors, charitable organisations and investors – can help to identify ways to rapidly decarbonise the global economy.

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Citing his decades of campaigning, he said: “Do we want to go down in history as the people who did nothing to bring the world back from the brink, in trying to restore the balance, when we could have done? I don’t want to.”

He also called for a change in taxes to encourage consumers to make environmentally beneficial decisions.

“It is time to think about how we properly deploy taxes, policies and regulation in a way that catalyses sustainable markets.

“For a transition to take place, being socially and environmentally conscious cannot only be for those who can afford it. If all the true costs are taken into account, being socially and environmentally responsible should be the least expensive option because it leaves the smallest footprint behind.”

 

The prince was criticised by some for flying to the summit on a chartered plane, before making the two-hour car journey from the airport to Davos in a fully electric Jaguar car.

The royal also meet teenage activist Greta Thunberg in Davos

The 71-year-old Prince has been advocating environmental causes since before Thunberg, 17, was born.

 

Speaking to CNN after the meeting, he said: “She’s remarkable. She represents one of the main reasons why I’ve been trying to make all this effort all these years because, as I said, I didn’t want my grandchildren to accuse me of not doing something about this in time and of course there they are.

“All her generation, almost my grandchildren if you know what I mean, are all desperate because not nearly enough has happened – we’ve left it so late.”

Source: iNews

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UK Property fraudster set to payback £5.3m

Edwin McLaren, of Bridge of Weir, was jailed alongside his wife Lorraine in 2017 for £1.6m fraud scheme.

Prosecutors are seeking more than £5 million from a fraudster who was convicted after Scotland’s longest ever criminal trial.

Edwin McLaren , 54, now faces the prospect of having to hand over more than £5.3 million to the Crown under proceeds of crime legislation.

Prosecutors previously sought £1 million and then £3 million from McLaren, of Bridge of Weir.

But now the Crown has revised the figure being sought from McLaren.

The dad of two, who was jailed alongside his wife Lorraine, accused prosecutors of incompetence during a hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday.

He said: “The figure has now reached £5 million.

“When I was convicted, it was £1 million.

“Then it was £3 million and it was £3 million a few weeks back.

“It’s now £5 million – the Crown seem to be in disarray.

“The people who are doing this don’t know what they’re doing.”

McLaren was jailed for 11 years in 2017 for his involvement in a £1.6 million property fraud scheme.

He was found guilty of 29 charges after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow that began in September 2015 and heard evidence over 320 days.

His 54-year-old wife Lorraine was found guilty of two charges involving a fraudulent mortgage application on their own home and money laundering involving a sum of £128,000.

During his trial, a court heard how McLaren preyed on vulnerable people by arranging for their title deeds of their homes to be transferred to his associates without the victims’ knowledge.

The estimated cost of the 20-month trial was £7.5 million.

Jurors heard of the couple’s lavish lifestyle which included luxury holidays in Dubai and spending £100,000 on a ring and private schools for their children.

McLaren, who drove a Bentley, was described by trial judge Lord Stewart as showing “breathtaking dishonesty”.

The fraudster left victims out of pocket and in some cases homeless.

At a hearing last month, McLaren told Lord Arthurson that prosecutors were seeking to seize his £800,000 home in Bridge of Weir.

Source: BBC News

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TPO looking for a new Property Ombudsman

The current Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle, is giving up the role in November after five years in the post.

The closing date for applicants is February 18

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Established in 1990, the Property Ombudsman (TPO) is a government approved scheme providing fair, free and independent redress in relation to disputes between consumers and property agents. Responding last year to nearly 30,000 enquiries, and instructing agents to pay over £2 million of awards, TPO is the primary source of industry standards and consumer redress in an industry with widespread consumer impact. 

TPO is proud of its reputation, its strong connections with policy makers and its focus on quality, rigour and reach. However, operating in a competitive landscape, and in a sector which touches the lives of millions of people, means that TPO is not an organisation that can ever afford to stand still.  The head of the current Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle, stepping down in 2020 after 5 years outstanding service, TPO are looking for an outstanding leader to fulfil this key leadership role, and continue to take the organisation forward.   

TPO’s new Ombudsman will play a critical role in raising the profile of the organisation and its work, improving its performance, impact and influence, and ensuring that it has the culture, partnerships and resources in place to be sustainable over the long term. They will nurture, develop and inspire TPO’s staff team, based predominantly at the Head Office in Salisbury, and represent TPO externally, including to sector leaders, policy makers, the media and a range of other cross-sector audiences.  

TPO would welcome applications for this role from people with strategic and operational leadership credentials, and a strong track record in external engagement roles and influencing policy. We need an Ombudsman with a confident and sensitive leadership style, who can motivate and energise our people and stakeholders. An understanding of redress and ombudsman services and/or of the property sector is highly desirable.  

Saxton Bampfylde Ltd is acting as an employment agency advisor to the Property Ombudsman on this appointment.  For further information about the role, including details about how to apply, please visit www.saxbam.com/appointments using reference QAQDB.  Alternatively telephone +44 (0)20 7227 0880(during office hours).  Applications should be received by noon on Tuesday 18 February 2020.

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Breakdown of Trafford Council property investment of over £200m in 2019

Trafford Council in Greater Manchester, UK spent £103.4 million on purchasing and investing in property in 2019 as part of its finance strategy.

The authority has spent the cash in the hope of bringing in greater returns for council tax payers through interest on loans and from profits on any future sales of property assets, as well as supporting ongoing regeneration across Trafford.

CIS Tower part of Trafford Council property investment

Some of the money used to make these investments has come from a central government borrowing fund which offers low interest rates for local authorities and encourages them to invest in property.

The rest has come from within the council’s budget using council tax.

In total, Trafford has purchased five properties this year for a total of £50.8 million and made loans as part of its property investment strategy totalling £102.6 million.

The council bought the following properties in 2019:

  • Lacey Street Royal Mail depot, Stretford (bought for £800,000)
  • Stretford Mall (bought as part of £50 million deal with developers Bruntwood: £25 million to cover the council’s half of the purchase, a further £25 million was loaned to Bruntwood to cover their half of the costs)
  • Stamford Quarter shopping centre, Altrincham (bought as part of above £50 million Bruntwood deal)
  • Clarendon House (bought as part of above £50 million Bruntwood deal)
  • Sainsbury’s Altrincham (bought for £25million)
The old Kellogg’s site in Stretford – Trafford council property development 

 

The council loaned money to owners or developers for the following properties:

  • CIS Tower, Miller Street, Manchester city centre (loan of £60 million to owners for refinancing and refurbishing the building)
  • Four office buildings off Albert Square, Manchester city centre (loan of £17.6 million as property investment)
  • Stamford Quarter, Altrincham (£50 million loaned to Bruntwood developers as part of £100million purchase deal)
  • Stretford Mall (£50 million loaned to Bruntwood developers as part of above deal)
  • Clarendon House (£50 million loaned to Bruntwood developers as part of above deal)

The grand total of more than £203 million spent this year doesn’t include a further £2.5 million loaned to Trafford Leisure to support two leisure centres in Altrincham and Urmston.

The council made clear that the loan wasn’t part of the council’s investment strategy, but to support the centres and give staff their first pay increase in years.

Other ongoing development projects that the council has on its books include the former Kellogg’s factory site in Stretford that was bought for £12 million back in September 2017.

The site is expected to include 750 homes, an 100-bedroom hotel and a primary school once development work is finished.

Plans to merge two primary schools, knock down their 100-year-old building and replace it with a brand new 21-classroom school in Altrincham are also on the cards.

The council is still in talks with Stamford Park Infants and Junior Schools after an offer of £8 million to build a new school on the site was turned down twice.

Source: Manchester Evening News

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2020 Good News to tenants as UK end no-fault evictions.

Tenants are set to have more security as the Government looks to end no-fault evictions.

The Renters’ Reform Bill, which was included in the December 2019 Queen’s Speech, will mean landlords can no longer evict tenants for no reason.

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But landlords will be given more rights to take back possession of their property through the courts when they have a valid reason to do so, with the process made quicker and easier for them.

A new lifetime deposit scheme will also be introduced, under which rental deposits can be transferred between different properties so that tenants do not have to save for a new deposit each time they move home.

The bill is part of a range of initiatives by the Government to improve the private rental sector for tenants and give them more stability, particularly for families with children.

Under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, landlords can currently give tenants eight weeks’ notice to vacate their property once the fixed term period of their contract has ended.

The bill also includes measures to improve the standard of rented accommodation, with tenants given a right to redress if their homes are deemed not to be safe or are bad for their health.

The bill will only cover England.

Top 3 benefit of the bill

  • Tenants are set to have more security as the Government looks to end no-fault evictions

  • Landlords will be given more rights to take back possession of their property through the courts when they have a valid reason to do so

  • A new lifetime deposit scheme will be introduced, under which rental deposits can be moved between different properties

Source: Zoopla Property News

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2019 Major Events: The year the world woke up to climate change

2019, millions of people around the world mobilised in protest to highlight the dire emergency facing our planet. Could 2019 prove to be the year when talk turned to action on the climate crisis?

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Inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg

In 2019, the reaction to the ongoing climate crisis switched up another gear.

Greta chose to make a statement when she sailed – rather than flew – to a UN climate meeting in New York. Summing up the trajectory for many who have joined popular climate movements, she told chief environment correspondent Justin Rowlatt: “I felt like I was the only one who cared about the climate and ecological crisis… it makes me feel good that I’m not alone in this fight.” Inspiring millions who took part in mass protests during the course of the year in countries as diverse as Australia, Uganda, Colombia, Japan, Germany and the UK.

See the source imageThe UK’s Extinction Rebellion (XR)

XR made its point through non-violent direct action in 2019. The group, which aims to compel government action on climate change, occupied five prominent sites across central London in April 2019. Notably, they parked a pink boat in the middle of busy Oxford Circus bearing the phrase “Tell the Truth”.

This year also saw the UK’s Parliament – along with individual councils around the country – declare a climate emergency, granting what had been one of XR’s key demands.

See the source image‘Ring of fire’

In April, astronomers released the much anticipated first image of a black hole. This is a region of space from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The picture was taken by a network of eight telescopes across the world and shows what was described as “the heavyweight champion of black holes”.

The 40 billion km-wide, spacetime-warping monster features an intense halo, or “ring of fire”, around the black hole caused by superheated gas falling in.

See the source imageLand and oceans under threat

Two major reports from the UN’s climate science body revealed in sharp relief the extent to which humanity is ravaging Earth’s land surface and her oceans. The first of these documents from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) warned that we must stop abusing the land if catastrophic climate change is to be avoided.

The report outlined how our actions were degrading soils, expanding deserts, flattening forests and driving other species to the brink of extinction. Scientists involved in the UN process also explained that switching to a plant-based diet could help combat climate change.

The second report, dealing with the world’s oceans and frozen regions, detailed how waters are rising, ice is melting and species are being forced to move. As co-ordinating lead author Dr Jean-Pierre Gattuso said, “The blue planet is in serious danger right now, suffering many insults from many different directions and it’s our fault.” The authors believe that the changes we’ve set in motion are coming back to haunt us. Sea level rise will have profound consequences for low-lying coastal areas where almost 700 million people live.

See the source imageFar-out fly-by

On 1 January, Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft made the most distant ever exploration of a Solar System object. Launched all the way back in 2006, it performed its primary task – a flyby study of the Pluto system – in 2015. But with plenty of gas still in the tank, mission scientists directed the spacecraft towards a new target, an object called 2014 MU 69.

MU 69, later dubbed Ultima Thule, and more recently Arrokoth, may be fairly typical of the primitive, icy objects occupying a distant zone of our Solar System known as the Kuiper Belt.

There are hundreds of thousands of objects out there like it, and their frigid state holds clues to how all planetary bodies came into being some 4.6 billion years ago.

Earlier this year, scientists presented details of what they had found at a major conference in Houston. They had determined that Arrokoth’s two lobes formed when distinct objects collided at just 2-3m/s, about the speed you would run into a wall, according to team member Kirby Runyon.

See the source imageGreenland’s record melt

In September, former UK chief scientist Sir David King said he was scared by the faster-than-expected pace of climate-related changes. One of the most shocking examples this year of the extreme events Sir David spoke of was surely the record ice melt in Greenland.

In June, temperatures soared well above normal levels in the Danish territory, causing about half its ice sheet surface to experience some melting. As David Shukman reported on his trip to the region, during 2019 alone, it lost enough ice to raise the average global sea level by more than a millimetre.

Underlining the rapid nature of the change, he returned to a glacier he had filmed in 2004 to find that it had thinned by as much as 100m over the period.

Greenland’s ice sheet stores so much frozen water that if the whole of it melted, it would raise sea levels worldwide by up to 7m. Although that would take hundreds or thousands of years, polar scientists told the American Geophysical Union meeting in December that Greenland was losing its ice seven times faster than in the 1990s.

Prof Andy Shepherd, of Leeds University, said: “The simple formula is that around the planet, six million people are brought into a flooding situation for every centimetre of sea-level rise.”

See the source imageRocks from space

While civilisation-threatening asteroids are a staple of the movies, the probability of a sizeable space rock hitting our planet is very low. But as the dinosaurs found out, the risk does increase with time. Some 19,000 near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) are being monitored, but many lurk undetected by telescopes, so there is always potential for a bolt-from-the-blue.

In March, Nasa scientists told the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) that a big fireball had exploded in Earth’s atmosphere at the end of 2018. The space rock barrelled in without warning and detonated with 10 times the energy released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

Luckily, the rock blew up over the sea off Russia’s remote Kamchatka Peninsula. But an outburst that size could have had serious consequences had it occurred nearer the ground, over a densely populated area.

Then in July, an asteroid the size of a football field buzzed Earth, coming within 65,000km of our planet’s surface – about a fifth the distance to the Moon. The 100m-wide rock was detected just days before it passed Earth.

Meanwhile, two robotic spacecraft have been examining different NEAs close-up. Scientists working on Japan’s Hayabusa mission reported that their asteroid, Ryugu, was made of rubble blasted off a bigger object. And the US Osiris-Rex spacecraft detected plumes of particles erupting from the surface of its target, Bennu.

See the source imageElectricity ‘Dirty secret’ boosts warming

The gas sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) isn’t a household name. But as the most powerful greenhouse gas known to science, it could play an increasingly important role in discussions about climate change.

As environment correspondent Matt McGrath reported in September, levels are on the rise as an unintended consequence of the boom in green energy. The cheap, non-flammable gas is used to prevent short circuits and fires in electrical switches and circuit breakers known collectively as “switchgear”.

As more wind turbines are built around the world, more of these electrical safety devices are being installed. The vast majority use SF6.

Although overall atmospheric concentrations are small for now, the global installed base of SF6 is expected to grow by 75% by 2030. Worryingly, there’s no natural mechanism that destroys or absorbs the gas once it’s been released.

See the source imageReigning supreme

Quantum computers hold huge promise. The “classical” machines we use today compute in much the same way as we do by hand. Quantum computers promise faster speeds and the ability to solve problems that are beyond even the most powerful conventional types. But scientists have struggled to build devices with enough units of information (quantum bits) to make them competitive with classical computers.

A quantum machine had not surpassed a conventional one until this year. In October, Google announced that its advanced quantum processor, Sycamore, had achieved “quantum supremacy” for the first time. Researchers said it had performed a specific task in 200 seconds that would take the world’s best supercomputer 10,000 years to complete.

IBM, which has been working on quantum computers of its own, questioned some of Google’s figures. But the achievement represents an important step towards fulfilling some of the predictions made for these machines.

Source: BBC News

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Meet the new Bank of England governor – Andrew Bailey

Andrew Bailey has been appointed as the next governor of the Bank of England.

Mr Bailey, aged 60, is currently chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the City watchdog.

He will become the 121st governor of the Bank of England on 16 March, taking over from Mark Carney, and will serve a full eight-year term.

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The search for the new governor began in April and Mr Bailey, who spent more than 30 years at the Bank, was seen as an early favourite for the job.

Who is Andrew Bailey?

Andrew John Bailey (born 30 March 1959) is a British central banker, who was Deputy Governor of the Bank of England from April 2013 to July 2016.
He had previously served as the bank’s chief cashier from January 2004 until April 2011. He is currently the chief executive officer of the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bailey attended Wyggeston Boys’ Grammar School, Leicester from where he went to Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he gained a BA in History and a PhD.

After university, Bailey became a research officer at the London School of Economics, before joining the Bank of England in 1985.

He has worked at the bank in a number of areas, most recently as executive director for banking services and as chief cashier, as well as head of the bank’s Special Resolution Unit (SRU). Previous roles include Governor’s private secretary, and head of the International Economic Analysis Division in Monetary Analysis.

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Since the onset of the financial crisis in August 2007 and until April 2011, Bailey was responsible for the bank’s special operations to resolve problems in the banking sector, and in 2009 was chairman and chief executive of Dunfermline Building Society Bridge Bank Ltd.

On 1 April 2013 Bailey became the chief executive of the new Prudential Regulation Authority and the first deputy governor of the Bank of England for Prudential Regulation.

On 26 January 2016, it was announced that Andrew Bailey will take over as CEO of the UK Financial Conduct Authority. He replaced Tracey McDermott, who became acting CEO after Martin Wheatley resigned following a vote of no confidence by George Osborne in July 2015.

On 3 June 2019, it was reported in The Times that Bailey was the favourite to replace Mark Carney as the new Governor of the Bank of England.

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