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Green economy think tank gives thumbs up to tree planting promise – rdnewsnow.com

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Ottawa doesn’t intend to plant the trees itself, but will provide money to help others do it.

Dave Sawyer, an environmental economist with the Smart Prosperity Institute, said “two billion is a good start” when it comes to using nature to help Canada cut greenhouse gas emissions.

A study Sawyer helped write found that planting two billion trees is possible and helpful as trees are one of the best natural ways to absorb some of the greenhouse gases produced from burning fossil fuels.

The study suggests planting that many new trees could reduce emissions between two and four million tonnes a year in 2030. By 2050, as the trees mature and can absorb more carbon dioxide, that amount could more than double to between four and almost nine million tonnes a year.

The cost to plant those trees per tonne of emissions reduced would between $16 and $36, the study says, which is noticeably less than the $50 a tonne carbon tax that will be in place by 2022.

The investment would drive economic activity by paying people — usually young people — to plant the trees as well as work for local nurseries to grow the saplings, Sawyer said.

Even at four million tonnes a year by 2030, the impact on Canada’s emissions would not be huge. Canada is currently aiming to cut emissions from 716 million tonnes in 2017 (the most recent year for which data is available) to no more than 511 million tonnes by 2030. It’s a target that will get tougher next year when Wilkinson increases Canada’s target.

“It’s not the panacea to solve Canada’s problem,” Sawyer said. “But clearly there is something here and we can actually get a lot of carbon and a lot co-benefits, environmental benefits, local economic development benefits.”

A few recent studies have shown benefits to starting a global effort to plant new trees, a plan backed by Swedish teenager and climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg. American clean-tech leader Elon Musk is among those putting up some money to kickstart efforts.

Some critics have suggested there is not space on the planet to put all the new trees suggested, but Sawyer said Canada does have room for two billion new trees.

While the study took into account the expectation that not every new tree planted would survive, he said where they get planted and ensuring a variety of tree types are included will be key to making the most of the efforts.

Canada has had tremendous losses of trees from pest infestations partly because urban and rural forestation efforts have in the past focused on one tree types. That meant the pine beetle had a devastating impact in British Columbia, for example, as the emerald ash borer has had in some cities in central and eastern Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 17, 2019.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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Canadian dollar gives back much of weekly gain as oil slides

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Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian dollar weakened against its U.S. counterpart on Friday, giving back much of this week’s gains, as new pandemic curbs in China weighed on oil prices and data added to evidence of Canada‘s economy slowing in December.

The loonie was trading 0.7% lower at 1.2718 to the greenback, or 78.63 U.S. cents, pulling back from a near three-year high on Thursday at 1.2590.

“The stalled move lower in the USD around the 1.26 level again leaves the CAD in a weak position on the face of it for the week ahead,” FX strategists at Scotiabank, including Shaun Osborne, said in a note.

Speculators have cut their bullish bets on the Canadian dollar, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. As of Jan. 19, net long positions had fallen to 10,326 contracts from 12,073 in the prior week.

The currency traded in a range of 1.2633 to 1.2740 on Friday. For the week, it was up 0.1% as investors bet on hefty U.S. stimulus from newly inaugurated President Joe Biden and the Bank of Canada opted against cutting interest rates.

Canadian retail sales jumped by 1.3% in November, much more than expected, but preliminary figures for December suggest a sharp drop as novel coronavirus restrictions were re-imposed, Statistics Canada said.

U.S. crude oil futures settled 1.6% lower at $52.27 a barrel on worries that restrictions in China, the world’s biggest oil importer, to contain a fresh wave of COVID-19 will crimp demand. Oil is one of Canada‘s major exports.

Global shares slipped off record highs as data showed euro zone economic activity shrinking markedly in January, while Canadian government bond yields were lower across much of a flatter curve.

The 10-year fell 2.8 basis points to 0.845%. On Thursday, it posted a 10-month high intraday at 0.892%.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Marguerita Choy)

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India's Economy Shows Signs of Recovery as Virus Cases Decline – Bloomberg

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India’s Economy Shows Signs of Recovery as Virus Cases Decline  Bloomberg



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Joe Biden and the ‘great rebalancing’ of the US economy – Financial Times

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“It’s time to reward hard work in America — not wealth.” That statement from US president Joe Biden is perhaps the most concise expression of the new administration’s economic policy plans. Mr Biden wants to increase the national minimum wage, raise taxes on corporations, and start to tip the balance of power between labour and capital.

The labour share of national income — the amount of gross domestic product paid out to workers, in wages and benefits — has been declining in the US and many other developed countries since the 1980s. The fall since 2000 has been particularly precipitous, leading to stagnant pay, growing inequality and a loss of consumer purchasing power.

But, in many ways, this is a difficult moment for the Biden administration to turn the tide. With unemployment still high due to the pandemic, there is no natural upward pressure on wages. And some economists argue that intervening to raise minimum wages now would discourage hiring.

In addition, many companies that survive the pandemic will be looking to cut costs by replacing workers with technology. Indeed, automation is one of the key factors behind the multi-decade decline in labour’s share of GDP, according to a 2019 study by the McKinsey Global Institute. 

However, there are three big reasons why we may still be at a key inflection point in the US labour-capital divide.

First, the Biden administration has just invoked the Defense Production Act to force the private sector to speed up vaccine production and distribution. This will immediately create more demand for jobs — a trend that could continue beyond the pandemic, as there are bipartisan calls to strengthen domestic supply chains for other pharmaceutical products, and for food. 

Second, there is a trend towards increased unionisation, particularly in high-growth industries such as technology. While the impact of a few hundred Google workers in California forming a union should not be overblown — they are still a fraction of the 100,000 workforce there — it was an important cultural marker. Labour activists are now having similar discussions with other Silicon Valley companies. Amazon workers in Alabama will vote on unionisation in February. At the same time, global labour organisations, such as the International Trade Union Confederation, are pushing the US and EU to include provisions for workers’ rights in any new regulation of Big Tech.

Mr Biden is already using his powers as president to insist that private companies awarded federal contracts use better-paid labour — something unions are lauding.

And the power of organised labour is likely to expand. Some policymakers believe it could play a role in helping individuals — not just workers, but also consumers — recapture the value of their personal data, by forming “data unions”. These unions would act as independent overseers of data pools, realising their commercial value for members. While snippets of data from individuals are not worth much, data pools are — and a more equitable sharing of the intangible wealth held in such data could change the balance of power between corporations and individuals. 

Third, global demographic trends that have disadvantaged workers are finally reversing — and, for labour in the US, this may prove the biggest tailwind of all. As Charles Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan explore in their book The Great Demographic Reversal, the balance of power between labour and capital is all about supply and demand. Over the past four decades, the full entry of baby boomers into the workforce, including a growing proportion of women, plus the rise of China and other emerging markets, has created the largest positive labour supply shock ever seen. Given this, a weakening of labour relative to capital was inevitable.

Now, all of those trends that so depressed wages for 40 years are largely tapped out. Birth rates in most countries are falling. Geopolitical and economic shifts have led some nations, such as China, to create more independent supply chains. Baby boomers are ageing. All of this means that the deflationary headwinds to labour are at last decreasing.

What’s more, an ageing population will make the healthcare industry a huge net job creator. While roles in remote diagnosis — so-called “telemedicine” — can be outsourced to lower-wage countries such as India, most healthcare positions are close-contact jobs that cannot be sent abroad. No wonder six of the 10 jobs that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to grow fastest in the next decade are in nursing, therapy and care services.

These jobs are part of what the new Biden administration has dubbed “the caring economy” — a key economic campaign plank. The president has proposed bolstering not only healthcare for the elderly, but also childcare for families — another task that cannot be offshored. He suggested that the spending might be paid for by closing loopholes in real estate transactions.

Of course, rising labour costs would hit corporate profits. But, in rich countries — where consumer spending is the majority of the economy — business also stands to benefit. There is much to be gained, then, from a rebalancing of power between labour and capital.

rana.foroohar@ft.com

Follow Rana Foroohar with myFT and on Twitter

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