“Hi, welcome to Victory Financial Carbon Brokers, your friendly ‘carbon down’ financial advisors. We’re here to help you rid your life of fossil fuels and in the process, to help you become rich.
“Before we get into the details, some background. To play our part in the global challenge to keep global warming below the dangerous 2 degree mark, which might be too dangerous a mark anyway, the average Australian has a carbon budget of 400 tonnes left. After that, carbon - our old industrial revolution friend has to be ditched. The rising seas, the new strains of disease, the extreme weather events, the collapse of the ecosystems that allow life to flourish are just a bit too much at that point. Check the science.
“So to break it down further, the average Australian currently puts 24 tonnes of the stuff into the atmosphere every year. So the average Aussie has 16 years left to ditch their carbon habit before they hit the 400 tonnes mark. And if you’re sitting here listening to this I’d guess you ain’t average. We here at Victory Financial Carbon Brokers think folks like you can do it in ten years to lead the charge. And don’t forget - we’ll make you rich.
“Are you still with us? Are you quite aware of the challenge? We want to make sure you’re in for the ride. We’re not talking about voting, or Facebook posts of disgust, or turning up to the odd rally, or changing the light bulbs. Hell, I bet you did that ten years ago! We’re talking about changing who you are. About creating an economic and social revolution. A revolution with big winners and the biggest losers in human history. Those old fossil fuel giants that own government, the merchants of doubt, the coal, oil and gas mobs, they stand to lose 21 trillion dollars if we can keep the climate under two degrees warmer. 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground. No industry has ever had $21 trillion in Stranded Assets before, but if we’re going to have a future … that’s what we’ve got to do. They are banking on you not changing who you are. On you buying their product. They have chosen to stick with the old and ridicule the new.
“So are you in? Ok? Are you sure? Can you sign here then? We don’t take half-hearted clients. You have to be all the way in. The planet doesn’t negotiate. It just knocks us down and leaves the temples in the jungle. Or the desert. Or the crumbling statues.
“Ok. Step one. We’ll need to pull your super out of fossil fuels. Where is your super invested? Do you know? We can show you some great ethical investors that will look after your super and your future. It’s a bit quaint hearing fossil fuelled super funds talking about your future. In the words of Paul Hawken, ‘they are stealing the future, selling it in the present and calling it profit or GDP’. Here are the forms. We can fill them in right now and we’ll help you make the shift. The funny thing is, you won’t be worse off financially. The ethical funds are doing quite well. The Australia Institute last year found that 1 in 4 Aussies are already thinking about this shift: that’s $247 billion that could be taken away from fossil fuels in Australia alone.
“Step two. Is your home loan with one of the big four banks? They all invest heavily in fossil fuels. Don't listen to their snazzy ‘sustainability’ tak. We can help you shift your loan and your accounts to a bank that invests in the future instead. Here are the forms. I can explain the exit fees, charges and help you get a good rate at your new bank.
“Are you still with me? The first two were pretty big. A shock to the system? You’re ok? Good ...
“Step Three. If you own shares you need to get them out of fossil fuels and the banks that invest in fossil fuels. Let’s work out a great new portfolio with you that invests in the future as well as your future. The 2014 Climate Proofing Your Investments Report found that ditching fossil fuels made no difference to your returns anyway. We’re here to help make this as easy for you as possible. Here are our recommendations. Once again, you won’t be worse off, and when the carbon bubble bursts, you won’t lose all of your money either. Remember 80% of the stuff has to stay in the ground.
“Right. It gets a little easier from here.
“Step Four. Power. Are you with an energy company that supports renewable energy? That’s easy to change. The big old mobs are trying to protect their old business model and their super profits and their size. The future is renewable, decentralised, networked, online and efficient. In short: it’s small and innovative. The big old mobs are about to die like Kodak did. It’s like they’re trying to get the government to legislate for film when the world is racing to digital.
“Step Five. If you have an unshaded north facing roof, put up solar PV panels. The cost is about $5K, the payback is about 6 years and after they’re up you can wipe your power bill basically for ever. A million Aussie homes have already done it. It’s a complete no brainer. It’s a better investment than shares and housing. It adds to the value of your home. When you sell you basically get your money back. We can help you find a good installer, get a quote, manage the power companies and even lease you a system if you don’t have the upfront cash. While we’re at it, if you have electric hot water it’s also a no brainer to switch to solar hot water. We can help.
“Step Six. If your power bill is on the Australian average you’re paying $2000 a year and half of that is paying for wasted electricity. We can help you understand your energy use and to put together a plan of attack to reduce your bill by half. Most of the changes are low to no cost. The CSIRO suggests a saving of $1200 a year is possible. $1200 in your pocket every year is nothing to snort at. We’ll look at insulation, LED lights, sealing drafts, efficient appliances, low flow shower heads, hot water temperature, space heating, switching off and more. This UK study found energy efficiency can add 16% to the value of your house.
“Overwhelmed yet? Don’t worry. Remember you have ten years to accomplish your carbon down journey. We’ll help you plan financially over the ten years so that you are gaining money each year, not losing it. And remember … this journey will make you rich. But from here on in you might have to alter your idea of success and fix up your ‘stuff’ related ego issues. A lot of folks out the have a severe case of Affluenza, as Clive Hamilton called it.
“Step Seven. Your going to have to ditch your car related ego too. If you drive on-road, get rid of the 4WD. It uses heaps more petrol and kills more people. The Joneses are buying smaller cars now. Just ask Ford and Holden. They kept building the big ones and fighting government fuel standards and they ain’t here any more…
“Then, you have ten years to stop buying petrol. I know! It sounds crazy. But you signed on at the start. And you’re spending $3000 a year on petrol anyway. So stop it and you can save. For now, buy the most efficient car you can. And use it the least that you can. The average Aussie home spends around $1,000 a year running the car on less than 2.5km trips (47% of trips are under 2.5kms).
Your car is costing up around $10,000 to run in total, so think about the number of hours you are working each day to pay for your car. And $10,000 is a lot of taxis.
And then plan to join a car sharing group. Why own a car when you use it one hour a day? You will have a choice of new cars when you want and you’ll probably save $5000 a year. And you’ll drive a third less. As of December 2012, there were an estimated 1.7 million car-sharing members in 27 countrie. If you want income from your car as it sits there in the drive way, add it to a person to person car sharing scheme and earn some cash.
Then buy a bike. A Copenhagen study found that people who commute to work for twenty years by bike save $100,000, cut 94 tonnes of carbon and live seven years longer. A $1000 bike is not a bad financial investment. And get some good shoes; walking is even better. The average Australian spends $1000 on health every year, and another $4000 via taxes. The heart foundation suggests that 30 mins a day of active transport would save our economy $13 billion and stop 16,000 premature deaths every year.
“For other trips, set up a car pooling group and if you still need a car buy the smallest one you can. In the end you’re going to have to either move to a walkable area, or own a renewable energy powered electric car, or have some great public transport or car pooling options. We can help you manage the transition.
“Once petrol is out of the equation, property values on the edge of cities are going to plummet and the value of walkable areas will skyrocket. We would advise that you move into town sooner rather than later to make sure you win from this change. One USA study found that every mile you commute in your car already costs you $795 a year. Put that on your home loan and you’ll save thousands in interest. This study said $15000 a year.
“Step eight. As Clive Hamilton said, stop buying stuff you don’t need, with money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t like. The CSIRO thinks a third of your carbon footprint comes from the stuff we buy and the Australia Institute reckons we all spend $1000 a year on things that we rarely use. And we spend a lot more than that every year on stuff that we don’t need. We spend $2288 per year on clothes and shoes for example. How about halving that and buying quality and second hand? A clothes swap with friends? So save your pennies and buy quality, sustainable, fair-trade and for your needs, not your ego. The Jones are starting to think you’re a stuck-up ponce-face with all your useless stuff and your long working hours. Get a life instead! Work less, go hang out with your neighbours and replace ‘stuff’ with good times.
“Ok. Is your ego surviving at this stage? Some folks are going to take a hit. But don’t worry. All the research points to a more wholesome, fulfilling life if we ditch our spending-money-ego-frenzy.
“Step nine. Change your diet. Michael Pollen has three dieting rules: Eat Food (food being defined as anything your grandmother would recognise as food), Mostly Plants and Not Too Much. Follow these and you’ll drop your food carbon footprint a mile. Meat has a massive carbon footprint so eat it much less. Your body will thank you too. And the average Aussie home throws away $2000 worth of food a year. So save that money. And plant fruit trees, herbs and a veggie garden. Plant a fruit tree in the nature strip! Support your farmers market, support your local wholefoods store, support your local butcher and support environmentally produced food. This is going to require some deep thought and probably some overturning of common misconceptions. Sometimes food miles are less important than farming methods for carbon output for example. There’s one more financial food sweetener to throw in for you: carrying a water bottle rather than buying bottled water saves $2800 a year.
“So far all of these steps have been personal. Individual. That’s great. You’re helping to change the economy, our society and your life. We think the above nine steps will save you at least $10,000 and more probably $20,000 from the average annual Aussie household budget. And your super, shares and house loan will perform well and be saved from the big carbon bubble burst, which is either coming, or our civilisation slowly will slowly fall apart. Neither of which is a good outcome. Individual actions are brilliant and necessary. But they are not enough. We need to share and connect if we want to win this battle.
“Step ten. Reconnect. Work less. Live more. Be with your kids. Visit your sister. Play in your street. Join a local environmental action group, join a choir, have four conversations as you walk to work, set up a workplace green team, kick a ball with a mate, have a dinner party with the neighbours. Share your journey with others.
“Join the new economy. Set up or join a car sharing business, a community owned renewable energy storage facility, a bike share, a tool swap, a food swap, build a local park, plant a shared community garden for food and join a local group to revegetate your local creek. In short, build community.
“Final Thoughts: If you follow through on this ten year challenge, you will be happier, healthier, stronger, will live longer, you’ll feel better about your life, be supported by the strength of your community and you’ll be building your local economy for the future. Remember when we said that we could make you rich? Well … lets define rich. Yes, you’ll be at least $15K better off every year. That’s nice. But how much richer will your life be? Hugh McKay’s book The Good Life asks the ultimate question: What makes a life worth living? His conclusion, drawn from his research, is provocative and passionately argued. A good life is not measured by security, wealth, status, achievement or levels of happiness. A good life is determined by our capacity for selflessness and our willingness to connect with those around us in a meaningful and useful way.
“So steps one to nine will save you money and bring your carbon down near zero. But add in step ten and we may just help you create the wonderful, meaningful life you’ve always ached for.
“Are you up for it? Great!. Sign here, roll the sleeves up and let’s get going!”