The Green Dollar
Green Dollar

Environmental act for the (wo)man on the street

I have been happily bombarded by pages in the national daily reporting on how exciting things are looking for environmental sustainability at home. With coverage on how policy-thinker Kishore needs to be reminded not once but three times that the United States is spending mere millions and not billions on sustainability research, to environment journalist Jessica Cheam’s take on how the complexity of setting right energy policies can be made less mind-boggling if we rationalise economically, to how scientists are coming together to work on the next report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) next due in 2013, to how timely Mercedes C-class vehicles, Proton Satria News, Hyundai Sonatas, Nissan Titans and now Suzukis are being recalled, followed by a frantic move to restore reputations with a good number of display advertisements, also on the radio, by the car-makers in the past weeks, to the countless number of NGOs set up for the cause: from the Waterways Watch Society (WWS), Environmental Challenge Organisation (ECO) and the Singapore Halogen Foundation (SYiNC), and  follow up reports on how the smart grid and the EV vehicle with its charging infrastructure are coming along.

That’s a whole lot of news and I have not gone through all my press cuttings yet. As hyped up as I am, and me being the usual me, wants to be part of the action. But unfortunately, whenever I bring my used paper and plastic to the recycling bins, they are empty. What did it for me was the last time I brought them to the bins most accessible to me. They were filled with trash. Who actually cares. I won’t sort out my trash anymore, seeing the state of affairs. And I found space in my heart for the waste disposal companies are now gracefully forgiven knowing how difficult we, the people, or rather, the people who hold the responsibility to put the waste material recycling bins in place, are happy to have trash in the bins, day after day. “We are waste collectors.” They might say. What can be trashier than that. They might think. So let’s just put the whole world in our shoes. That they did succeed.

So I have not been sorting out my trash for the past week or so, not because I am disheartened by the seemingly hopelessness of it all, but rather, that when I think about it logically, I am, whether you like it or not, only a (wo)man on the street. Until the lords say something, little men on the street do as they are told to do. We only say what we learn to say within this environment we are given. So then I thought: how nice if we are treated just like children. We get little treats for religiously sorting out our trash and bringing them to the bins. People may do it for the novelty of using the paper shredders installed on top of the paper bins. Having this will also limit the weight of paper effectively. And say to encourage people to only throw away clean plastics, have a little newater cooler installed on the bin, so recycling becomes a nice afternoon slip-away from the office. I remember some green friends, who I imagine grinning from ear to ear, and have their energy levels boosted if they are given the thrill of actually making an impact to the end result.

I understand that the sorted trash will have to go the recycling centre, and operating one isn’t exactly economically fun. But I’m sure recycling centres can be tourist stops where they can buy environmentally friendly souvenirs and further strengthen our brand as a clean and green city. I can’t wait to go to the recycling centre actually. I just got my contact details settled.

On the grounds of the green business, I have been keeping track on oil and gas prices as well as deals going on. Palm oil prices are going up, maybe a sign that those into commodities should buy as research on biofuels initiates locally. Also, there was an oil pipeline agreement between China and Russia earlier with an agreement of both sides on work on future energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Russia will start supplying in 2015, a short 4 years away. With the major cities of China battling with pollution and the close impossibility of severing diesel and gas-powered vehicles on its street, the mega monster’s (most call it a dragon) demand for oil will only increase for a long time. China unwillingness to lift the ban on “rare earths” export to Japan, a raw material integral to the production of hybrid cars, wind turbines and laptops, may be a sign that a clean energy economy may be very valuable. Other good news include promising visuals of the new Cleantech park building, further progress on the EV integrated system and the building of a new research centre to boost.

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Blackrock: Profile

Blackrock is focused on companies that

1. have individual stock specific catalysts to release additional value

2. benefit the most from an improvement in the macro environment, through either higher oil prices or increased industry capital expenditure.

3. oil services

(Backdrop of oil price driven earnings revisions is a positive one, there are many company-specific factors to highlight even in flat price environemnt. Companies that are low-cost producrs and have strong resource positions, and high impact exploration programmes that are attracting value.)

For more information, contact:
Robin Batchelor, MD, portfolio manager and joint chief investment officer of blackrock's natural resources equity team, or Poppy Allanby: fund manager of Blackrock's natural resources equity team.

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