THE Co-operative Insurance Society is challenging companies in which it holds shares to make a step change in tackling their impact on climate change and save money at the same time.
CIS, a leading exponent of responsible shareholding, whereby it seeks to influence companies in which it invests on a range of social, ethical and environmental matters, is urging British businesses to support electricity generation from renewable sources such as wind turbines.
CIS, which along with the Co-operative Bank is part of Co-operative Financial Services, is promoting an innovative new contractual agreement it has developed, whereby large energy users commit to long-term wind energy purchase arrangements in return for guarantees on lower prices.
In a first for the UK, CIS is advocating that the companies in which it invests, adopt a similar cost effective, green energy solution to the problems of climate change.
At present, just four per cent of the country's electricity generation is from renewable sources, but the purchasing power of companies could greatly expand this capacity.
CIS is approaching 40 companies, in which it collectively holds some £ 1.5 billion in shares, outlining the advantages of the wind energy deal that CFS has struck.
Simon Williams, CFS' Director of Corporate Affairs said: `With the Kyoto Protocol becoming legally binding everyone is focused on how we reduce global climate change.
`There is a compelling business case for using renewable energy and we therefore wanted to bring this innovative solution to the attention of other companies.`
Last year, CFS signed a unique long-term eight-year energy deal with green electricity supplier ecotricity, which allows it to access renewable electricity at low prices.
The £ 4 million contract is the first of its kind in the world and guarantees, that however electricity prices shift in the future, CFS will pay less than market rate, be it green or standard fossil fuel ? saving CFS an estimated £ 250,000 over the life of the contract.
CFS' commitment has enabled ecotricity to finance the construction of six new wind turbines in Lincolnshire, purpose-built to supply CFS.
Most green energy tariffs provide electricity from existing generation sources, but this new contract guarantees that the UK will benefit from much needed new capacity.