When it comes to the environment, there is an awful lot of rhetoric about how ordinary consumers should take action to change the way businesses operate. By choosing green products or services, the hope is that the capitalist system will eventually reward green products. The companies that work with, rather than against, our fragile environment, will eventually make money.
This kind of incrementalism is noble, but it often seems ineffectual and weak. People have so many decisions to make every day about what to purchase, and the ‘green’ option is often the more expensive choice. In these austere times, it is naive to expect environmentally friendly products to prevail in the marketplace, by virtue of their sheer moral strength.
With this in mind, the Ecobond from Ecotricity is – if you will excuse the apt but unimaginative metaphor – a breath of fresh air. The company has green credentials (and a reassuring green logo, too) but the Ecobond is a straightforward financial proposition. Ecotricity is raising money to build a new tranche of wind farms, and is asking investors to contribute to the enterprise. They say they will pay 6% per year for four years on your investment, then return the capital to you at the end of the term.
I am not an energy analyst or a financial advisor, but in the short term, a business that makes money selling power to the UK national grid must surely be a reliable investment.
I now recall that a couple of years ago I blogged about 1BOG (‘One Block Off The Grid’) in San Fransisco, a form of ‘For Profit Activism':
Its almost as if those people who are actually spending the money to make this work are participating in a leisure activity, rather than an everyday participation in a market that could sustain the local economy.
Does this apply to Ecobonds, I wonder?