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Free webinars will focus on AI, circular economy and Bullfrog Power – OrilliaMatters

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It Sustainable Orillia Month in Orillia. With that in mind Sustainable Orillia has been offering free webinars throughout October. The final three webinars are planned for this week. Here’s a rundown of topics and what to expect.

The first webinar will focus on how using artificial intelligence (AI) can help commercial building owners reduce their heating, venting and air-conditioning costs.

This webinar will be of special interest to building operators who have buildings larger than 75 sq. ft., and where a significant portion of the energy used in these buildings is used for HVAC systems. AI can help you manage and reduce these costs.

During this presentation, you will meet Bryce Conacher, Sales Director, National Accounts BrainBox AI. 

Conacher has worked for the Canadian Standards Association and has been a GHG Instructor at the School of Environment at the University of Toronto. Prior to this he was with Brookfield Renewables, one of the world’s largest investors in renewable energy. He has been with BrainBox for about nine months. 

You can expect to learn how BrainBox AI’s technology converts existing HVAC equipment into autonomous HVAC systems using artificial intelligence and cloud computing. In addition, this system can also be used to improve air quality in hotels and/or other buildings being considered for temporary hospitals during these COVID times. 

Plan to attend How Using Artificial Intelligence Can Help Commercial Building Owners Reduce Their HVAC Energy Costs on Tuesday, Oct. 27 2020 at 2 p.m. Please go to  https://sustainableorillia.ca/so-month/ for registration details.

BULLFROG POWER
The second webinar will focus on how you can Bullfrog Power your home and your business 

This webinar will be of special interest to people with homes and businesses who want to help reduce their GHG emissions and promote renewable energy in Canada. 

It will appeal to the growing segment of eco-conscious consumers, as well as companies which want to engage their employees in a sustainability-minded culture. The webinar will address both electricity and natural gas.

During this presentation, you will meet Dave Borins, working for Community Renewable Projects at Bullfrog Power. Borins has been with Bullfrog for seven years. He provides critical financial support to communities bringing new renewable energy projects online across Canada. Bullfrog Power has supported 140 projects to date.

During this webinar, you can expect to learn:

  • How Bullfrog Power works for both homes and businesses (Why go green?)
  • How it can help reduce your environmental impact
  • How it can increase businesses’ employee engagement and differentiate your brand
  • How your business can better engage with the community

Plan to tune in to How you can Bullfrog Power your home and your business on Thursday, Oct. 29 2020 at 11 a.m. Please go to https://sustainableorillia.ca/events for registration details.

CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Do you understand the circular economy? That’s the topic of the third webinar, which will be of special interest to people who would like to explore how countries around the world are accelerating progress toward achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) through the lens of the “Circular Economy (CE).”

During this presentation, you will meet Audrey Bayens, a long-time volunteer for community sustainability projects. As an emerging leader in the Circular Economy movement, her focus is on increasing adoption so Canada can take its proper place in this movement as it hosts the World Circular Economy Forum in Toronto in September, 2021. 

In this webinar, you will learn how this new reality presents opportunities to achieve sustainability in ways that help us thrive. The Circular Economy is a “toolbox” of ways to achieve many SDG targets. 

At the core of CE practices is the aim to restore natural capital through a broad range of models such as reuse, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing, recycling, industrial symbiosis, biomimicry, product-sharing and supporting better design practices.

Plan to tune in for Understanding the Circular Economy on Thursday. Oct. 29 at either 3 p.m. or 6 p.m. Please go to https://sustainableorillia.ca/so-month/ for registration details.

There is no charge to participate in any of these webinars. If you can’t catch it the first time, the recording will be available for future viewing via Sustainable Orillia’s website www.sustainableorillia.ca.

Join other local people who care about the future of our community for a valuable hour of new and useful information, followed by questions and answers.

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Economy

Australia bounces out of recession as economy grows 3.3% – OrilliaMatters

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Australia’s economy grew by 3.3% in the third quarter, rebounding from its first recession in nearly three decades as it recovered from pandemic-related shocks, according to figures released Wednesday.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters the country still has a lot of ground to make up from the coronavirus downturn.

“Australia’s recession may be over, but Australia’s economic recovery is not,” he said.

Despite the latest quarterly rise, the economy contracted at a 3.8% annual pace. That’s after GDP fell by 0.3% in the first quarter and then by a record 7% in the second quarter.

“But the Australian economy has demonstrated its remarkable resilience and Australia is as well positioned as any other nation on Earth,” Frydenberg said. “Today’s national accounts represent a major step forward in Australia’s economic recovery.”

Before this year, Australia had managed to avoid a recession for 28 years. The economy grew even during the global financial crisis thanks to strong demand for Australia’s mineral exports and a robust domestic sector.

The better-than-expected figures were encouraging, economists said.

“The rebound in Q3 GDP reversed around 40% of the decline during the first half of the year and we expect output to return to pre-virus levels by mid-2021,” Ben Udy of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

Now on top of the pandemic, Australia is enduring a spate of rocky relations with China, its biggest trading partner.

Frydenberg said the situation with China is “very serious” but his government is focusing on striking deals with other countries in Asia and beyond.

“We have great produce, and we have great services, and we have great resource sectors, and I’m very optimistic about the opportunities for our exporters around the world,” he said.

Australia’s relationship with China worsened this week after a Chinese official tweeted a fake image of a grinning Australian soldier holding a bloodied knife to a child’s throat.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the image “repugnant” and demanded an apology from the Chinese government. But China has not backed down.

The post took aim at alleged abuses by elite Australian soldiers during the conflict in Afghanistan.

Tensions have been growing this year since the Australian government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the pandemic. China has imposed tariffs and other restrictions on a number of Australian exports.

Nick Perry, The Associated Press

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Economy

Australia bounces out of recession as economy grows 3.3% – Nanaimo News NOW

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“But the Australian economy has demonstrated its remarkable resilience and Australia is as well positioned as any other nation on Earth,” Frydenberg said. “Today’s national accounts represent a major step forward in Australia’s economic recovery.”

Before this year, Australia had managed to avoid a recession for 28 years. The economy grew even during the global financial crisis thanks to strong demand for Australia’s mineral exports and a robust domestic sector.

The better-than-expected figures were encouraging, economists said.

“The rebound in Q3 GDP reversed around 40% of the decline during the first half of the year and we expect output to return to pre-virus levels by mid-2021,” Ben Udy of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

Now on top of the pandemic, Australia is enduring a spate of rocky relations with China, its biggest trading partner.

Frydenberg said the situation with China is “very serious” but his government is focusing on striking deals with other countries in Asia and beyond.

“We have great produce, and we have great services, and we have great resource sectors, and I’m very optimistic about the opportunities for our exporters around the world,” he said.

Australia’s relationship with China worsened this week after a Chinese official tweeted a fake image of a grinning Australian soldier holding a bloodied knife to a child’s throat.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the image “repugnant” and demanded an apology from the Chinese government. But China has not backed down.

The post took aim at alleged abuses by elite Australian soldiers during the conflict in Afghanistan.

Tensions have been growing this year since the Australian government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the pandemic. China has imposed tariffs and other restrictions on a number of Australian exports.

Nick Perry, The Associated Press

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Economy

Plenty of booby traps on a path to economic recovery littered with unknowns – CBC.ca

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As the folk tales tell us, it is a fool who tries to please everyone.

But as the finance minister in a minority government that will one day soon have to face the electorate, Chrystia Freeland must do her best to satisfy a majority.

Critics, including some in the suffering airline industry, complained that this week’s fiscal plan does not spend enough on them. Fiscal conservatives worried about the deficit and wonder how Freeland will pay for what she has spent already. Pundits are already demanding to know details about how she will fulfil her plan to restart the economy once the coronavirus has been driven off by vaccines.

Despite Freeland’s tone of confidence, the disruptive impact of COVID-19 has generated many long-term uncertainties.

Even as she scrambles to solve current and pressing economic problems, the list of potential future pitfalls is long and the effects of each are highly uncertain. The problem — for her, for us and for business — is that this recession is so different from the economic crises we have suffered in the past. None of us know how things will turn out.

Borrowing is easy

Despite a projected deficit of more than $380 billion and a debt expected to soar past $1 trillion, Freeland, who is also deputy prime minister, has reassured Canadians that payments on that debt remain affordable. But just as in your own household, debt is notoriously easy to run up and hard to run down.

While interest rates are low now and the U.S. Federal Reserve — which strongly influences rates here in Canada — has promised to keep them low until the economy bounces back, market forces are telling us that long-term commercial interest rates are on the rise.

A broker in Mumbai, India. Markets have been a bright spot as the economy has weakened, but some fear share prices have become disconnected from the real world. (Shailesh Andrade/Reuters)

Extraordinarily low interest rates have led to extraordinary borrowing by governments, businesses and ordinary Canadians — and some say we are reaching the limit.

Some financial observers, including Martin Wolf at the Financial Times, have warned that the world may be on the cusp of a sudden shift from 40 years of falling to rising inflation. If that were to happen, governments and their central bankers would be forced to decide whether to quell it with higher interest rates in spite of the effect on their own borrowing costs.

While Freeland said that her spending will be based on long-term borrowing locked in at current low rates, costs could rise. Just as you must periodically renew your mortgage, each year governments and companies must go back to the market to replace their portfolio of existing bonds as they come due, and that must be done at the interest rate when they do it.

So long as interest rates stay low and the economy continues to grow, Canadian personal borrowing — which Equifax just reported has hit a staggering $2 trillion — is nothing to worry about. A lot of that debt is backed by high and rising house prices. But rising rates and falling house prices, or a continuing recession that leads to job losses, could make that debt unbearable, damaging a crucial motor of the Canadian economy.

300-year recession

Canada is a trading nation, and even if the domestic economy continues to tough it out, it will be hard to prosper if our trading partners weaken.

Last week the economy of the United Kingdom, with whom Canada is now negotiating a trade deal, plunged into its deepest recession in 300 years — forcing it to cut overseas aid to places that are even worse off.

Many countries around the world, including our nearest neighbour, continue to suffer from the economic impact of the pandemic — making things much worse than when a disaster hits a single part of the world, allowing other economies to help bail them out. Our trade partners may not be in a buying mood. Trade protectionism will be a temptation.

While economic growth slows and businesses go broke, among the bright spots have been financial markets that keep nudging new highs. Rising stock prices are cheering for those with cash invested, but there are growing fears that market darlings such as Tesla, up 600 per cent this year, may have become detached from the real economy.

A happy Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, arrives at a European awards ceremony in Berlin on Tuesday. The company’s shares have risen 600 per cent this year. (Hannibal Hanschke/Pool/Reuters)

Some analysts worry that the current casino mentality cannot be sustained and will lead to a reckoning. With interest rates already at rock bottom and borrowing already so high, preventing damage to the crucial financial markets from a new panic will be harder than during previous bailouts.

This gloomy list of long-term potential worries for the finance minister is only partial. Some fear disruption to education will lead to a news skills gap and put an even greater wedge between the rich and the poor. Others fear a crash in the value of commercial property will have a lasting effect.

Lower immigration, a loss of entry-level jobs in restaurants and retail and a long-term hollowing out of the economy are only some of the effects that could make things worse.

But rather than just make us sick with worry instead of sick with COVID-19, the point is that in the wake of a major recession of the kind the world is facing now, there is no way that Chrystia Freeland or anyone else — no matter how smart — can tell us with any certainty how the economy will unfold over the next few years.

WATCH | From education to jobs, how to manage the pandemic’s financial challenges:

Personal finance expert Preet Banerjee answers viewer questions about the financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including saving for school with limited job opportunities and whether or not people should prepare for an economic depression. 3:22

What Canada needs is a capable person in charge, a safe pair of hands, to help us make the best of a perilous and unknown future.

And there is no reason that future could not also include a strong recovery as new businesses take advantage of plentiful labour, less expensive office and retail space and a flood of pent-up demand to come back even stronger than before the pandemic struck.

Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis

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