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Pete McMartin: Historic human tsunami likely in Canada's future – Vancouver Sun

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There will be climate refugees in the millions — if not the hundreds of millions — fleeing to countries where life is still tolerable.

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In December 2020, The New York Times ran a piece headlined, “How Russia Wins The Climate Crisis.” Its theme was stark, as apocalyptic visions usually are.

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The Times foresaw a future in which climate change will remake the world’s geopolitics as well as its environments. There will be climate refugees in the millions — if not the hundreds of millions — fleeing to countries where life is still tolerable.

Like, for instance, here.

“Take, for example, Canada,” the Times article suggested. “It is flush with land as well as timber, oil, gas and hydropower, and it has access to 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water. It has a stable, incorrupt democracy. And as the climate warms, Canada will move into the ecological sweet spot for civilization, benefiting from new Arctic transportation routes as well as an expanded capacity for farming. But there are only 38 million people in Canada, and Canadians are dying at a faster rate than they are being born.

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“This is why a group of Canadian business executives and academics have called on their government to turn the country’s immigration system into a magnet for the planet’s most talented people, hoping to nearly triple Canada’s population by 2100.”

That is, in 80 short years, there is a plan to expand Canada’s population to over 100 million people. For most Canadians, who identify with the country’s pristine and sparsely populated vastness, the thought of those millions flowing into Canada would constitute not just another wave of immigration, but a human tsunami that would inundate the idea of Canada itself.

The group of Canadian business executives and academics to which the Times story refers are known as the Century Initiative, whose 34 members are some of the smartest and most accomplished people in Canada.

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On the group’s website, each member’s curriculum vitae groans under the weight of myriad university degrees, visiting professorships and charity work. Its membership also appears to have been designed by demographic woke-ness, divided as it is almost evenly between men and women, the requisite number of Indigenous representatives and people of colour. There are CEOs. There are lawyers. There are quasi-government operatives whose appointments to multiple federal and provincial committees make it difficult to decide exactly what it is they do. There is a senator and a former ambassador, but there is, significantly, not a single elected politician among them. I could not tell if this was by design — so as to maintain the image of nonpartisanship — or by distaste.

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The group’s vision, it argues, is mathematically irrefutable: For Canada to maintain its prosperity and place in the world, it will have to increase its population significantly to “reduce the burden on government revenues to fund health care, old age security, and other services. It would also mean more skilled workers, innovation, and dynamism in the Canadian economy.”

The bulk of those 100-million-plus citizens would live in, as they see it, a circuit of interconnected urban mega-regions. By 2100, Toronto would grow to 33.5 million. The Calgary-Edmonton corridor would grow to 15.5 million. Vancouver would grow to just under 12 million. In Vancouver’s case, confined as it is by geography, one wonders where all these new citizens will live, and the answer, of course, is in little boxes stacked on top of each other — while, presumably, more spacious private reserves will be set aside for the likes of the members of the Century Initiative in West Vancouver, Whistler and possibly a space station orbiting safely above the rabble.

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I jest. Sort of. But I do agree with the alphas of the Century Initiative that significant, historic population increase will be in Canada’s near future.

Unlike the Century Initiative, however, I don’t foresee that this growth will be managed or planned for.

Climate change will drive a huge increase in our population, and this increase will consist not of immigrants, at least in the way we used to identify immigrants, but of refugees.

The estimates of the number of refugees that climate change will produce vary widely, but all of the estimates are alarming. In 2018, the World Bank forecast that desertification in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia will generate 143 million more climate refugees by 2050. The United Nations International Organization for Migration predicted there could be as many as one billion environmental migrants by 2050, although the most cited figure in studies was 200 million.

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And last April, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office released data showing that since 2010, 21.5 million people had been displaced by climate-related disasters. With future sea rise, habitat loss and higher temperatures, that number can only grow.

Think of the humanitarian pressure, not to mention the diplomatic and military stresses, put on Canada to harbour those refugees.

There are, for example, almost 40 million people in California, more than the entire population of Canada. Where do we expect many of those 40 million to go once temperatures threaten crops and water supplies (as they already are), or when sea rise threatens its coastal cities, or when pressure from climate refugees along its own southern border reaches a breaking point? Many will go north, as I expect many Americans along the entire length of the Canada-U.S. border will. Some, the wealthy, will buy their way in — as they already are — and some will be recruited for their skills. The majority will be driven by desperation, and there will be expectations among the global community that it will be the duty of Canada — as one of the world’s larger lifeboats — to accept them.

And therein lies the tension between what I see as Canada’s two possible futures — the tension between allowing the world in or keeping it at arm’s length.

Either way, we may not have a say in the matter.

Pete McMartin is a former Vancouver Sun columnist.

mcmartincharles@gmail.com

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China Evergrande debt crisis is worrying investors. Why, and what’s happening? – Global News

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China Evergrande Group has missed a dollar bond interest payment deadline, moving closer to a potential default and fuelling worries about a collapse that could send shockwaves through China’s economy and beyond.


WHAT IS EVERGRANDE?

Chairman Hui Ka Yan founded Evergrande in Guangzhou in 1996. It is China’s second-largest property developer with US$110 billion in sales last year, US$355 billion in assets, and over 1,300 developments nationwide. It listed in Hong Kong in 2009.

Read more:
China Evergrande investors left in dark after payment deadline passes

Evergrande grew rapidly through a loan-supported land-buying spree and selling apartments quickly at low margins. It has 200,000 staff and hires 3.8 million annually for developments.

Slowing growth has seen it branch into businesses such as insurance, bottled water, football and electric vehicles (EVs).


HOW DID CONCERNS ARISE OVER DEBT?

In September last year, a leaked letter showed Evergrande pleading for government support to approve a now-dropped backdoor stock market listing. Sources told Reuters the letter was authentic; Evergrande called it fake.

In June, Evergrande said it did not pay some commercial paper on time, and in July a court froze a US$20 million bank deposit held by the firm at the bank’s request.


Click to play video: 'Stocks find some footing after Evergrande relief as Beijing residents say company’s woes won’t hurt wider economy'



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Stocks find some footing after Evergrande relief as Beijing residents say company’s woes won’t hurt wider economy


Stocks find some footing after Evergrande relief as Beijing residents say company’s woes won’t hurt wider economy

The firm in late August said construction at some of its developments had halted due to missed payments to contractors and suppliers. Sources have told Reuters that it also missed payments to bank and trust loans in the past few weeks.

Liabilities, including payables, total 1.97 trillion yuan (US$306.3 billion) – about two per cent of China’s gross domestic product.


HOW HAS EVERGRANDE REDUCED DEBT?

Evergrande accelerated efforts to cut debt last year after regulators introduced caps on three debt ratios, dubbed the “three red lines”. It aims to meet requirements by 2022-end.

Read more:
China Evergrande inches closer to default as interest deadline quietly expires

It offered steep discounts on residential developments to spur sales and sold the bulk of its commercial properties. Since the second half of 2020, it has had a US$555 million secondary share sale, raised US$1.8 billion by listing its property management unit, and saw its EV unit sell a US$3.4 billion stake.

On Sept. 14, it said asset and equity disposal plans had failed to make material progress.


WHAT’S THE RISK?

The central bank in 2018 said companies including Evergrande might pose systemic risk to China’s financial system.

The firm’s liabilities involved as many as 128 banks and over 121 non-banking institutions, the leaked letter showed.


Click to play video: 'Evergrande sell-off putting pressure on Chinese developers: analyst'



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Evergrande sell-off putting pressure on Chinese developers: analyst


Evergrande sell-off putting pressure on Chinese developers: analyst

Late repayments could trigger cross-defaults as many financial institutions are exposed via direct loans and indirect holdings through different financial instruments.

In the U.S. dollar bond market, Evergrande accounts for four per cent of Chinese real estate high-yielding debt, data from Singapore bank DBS showed. A default could further trigger a sell-off across high-yield credit markets.


WHAT ABOUT OPERATIONS OUTSIDE MAINLAND CHINA?

In Hong Kong, Evergrande owns an office tower and residential development as well as two nearly completed residential developments, plus a vast undeveloped land parcel.

It has spent billions of dollars acquiring stakes in automobile technology developers, including Sweden’s NEVS, the Netherlands’ e-Traction and Britain’s Protean. It also has joint ventures with Germany’s Hofer and Sweden’s Koenigsegg.


WHAT HAVE REGULATORS SAID?

The central bank and banking regulator in August ordered Evergrande to reduce debt risk.

Regulators have approved an Evergrande proposal to renegotiate payment deadlines with banks and other creditors, media reported. Guangzhou government is also seeking major lenders’ opinions about establishing a creditor committee.

Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee, Stephen Coates, Christopher Cushing and Jane Merriman

© 2021 Reuters

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Some gasoline stations in U.K. run out of fuel as pandemic supply chain crisis deepens – CBC.ca

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Britain’s retail industry warned the government on Friday that unless it moves to alleviate an acute shortage of truckers in the next 10 days then significant disruption was inevitable in the run-up to Christmas.

As the world’s fifth-largest economy emerges from COVID-19 lockdowns, a spike in European natural gas prices and a post-Brexit shortage of truck drivers have left Britain grappling with soaring energy prices and a potential food supply crunch.

BP had to close some of its gas stations due to the driver shortages while queues formed at some Shell stations as pumps ran dry in some places. 

“We are seeing an increased demand today for fuel at some of our stations, which may in some instances result in larger queues. We are adapting our delivery schedules to ensure sufficient supplies for our customers,” a spokesperson for Shell said.

ExxonMobil’s Esso said a small number of its 200 Tesco Alliance retail sites had also been impacted in some way.

In a rush to fill up, drivers also queued at some gas stations in London and the southern English county of Kent. Diesel ran out at one station visited by Reuters.

For months supermarkets, processors and farmers have warned that a shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers was straining supply chains to breaking point — making it harder to get goods on to shelves.

“Unless new drivers are found in the next 10 days, it is inevitable that we will see significant disruption in the run-up to Christmas,” said Andrew Opie, director of food & sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, the retail industry’s lobby group.

“HGV drivers are the glue which hold our supply chains together,” Opie said. “Without them, we are unable to move goods from farms to warehouses to shops.”

A lorry pulls a Hanjin Shipping Co. shipping container along the dockside at the Port of Felixstowe, England. Experts have warned for months that a shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers was straining supply chains to breaking point – making it harder to get goods on to shelves. (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

The next 10 days are crucial because retailers ramp up supplies in October to ensure there are enough goods for the peak Christmas season.

Hauliers and logistics companies cautioned that there were no quick fixes and that any change to testing or visas would likely be too late to alleviate the pre-Christmas shortages as retailers stockpile months ahead.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has insisted that there will be no return to the 1970s when Britain was cast by allies as the “sick man of Europe” with three-day weeks, energy shortages and rampant inflation.

‘Don’t panic’

As ministers urged the public not to panic buy, some of Britain’s biggest supermarkets have warned that the shortage of truck drivers could lead to just that ahead of Christmas.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that Johnson, whom he met in New York, had asked him for an “emergency” agreement to supply a food product that is lacking in Britain, though the British embassy disputed Bolsonaro’s account.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said there was a global shortage of truckers after COVID halted lorry driver testing so Britain was doubling the number of tests. Asked if the government would ease visa rules, he said the government would look at all options.

“We’ll do whatever it takes,” Shapps told Sky News. “We’ll move heaven and earth to do whatever we can to make sure that shortages are alleviated with HGV drivers.

“We should see it smooth out fairly quickly,” he said.

British ministers are due to meet later on Friday in an attempt to hash out a fix.

The trucking industry body, the Road Haulage Association (RHA), has called on the government to allow short-term visas for international drivers to enter Britain and fill the gap, while British drivers are being trained for the future.

“It’s an enormous challenge,” Rod McKenzie, head of policy at the RHA, told Reuters. In the short-term, he said, international drivers could help, even if it may be too late to help Christmas, and in the longer term the industry needed better pay and conditions to attract workers.

“It’s a tough job. We the British do not help truckers in the way that Europeans and Americans do by giving them decent facilities,” he said.

The British haulage industry says it needs around 100,000 more drivers after 25,000 returned to Europe before Brexit and the pandemic halted the qualification process for new workers.

Shapps, who said the driver shortage was not due to Brexit, said COVID-19 exacerbated the problem given that Britain was unable to test 40,000 drivers during lockdowns.

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How to unwind after a long day at the office

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Whether you are returning to the office after working from home or starting a new job. Being among other hardworking people and maybe even having a boss breathing down your neck can be nerve-wracking. You might even experience that you’re more tired than usual when you climb into bed at the end of the day.

 

That’s why it is important to find the right way for you to unwind and clear your mind after a long day of hard work.

 

Stay active

A quick run is great for clearing the mind. A trip to the gym can help you relieve some aggressions you might have developed throughout the day. Kicking a ball around with your friends can help you calm down. The possibilities are endless, but the results can be great.

 

Exercise is wonderful for your mind as well as your body. If you even bring along a couple of friends, you are sure to have a great time and forget what was bothering you to begin with.

 

Forget the world with online gaming

Sometimes, what you need is a distraction. A great book can help you forget the world but maybe you are too wound up to focus. In that case, a great alternative is trying an online casino in Canada. You do not even need to stay focused to have fun and forget your troubles.

 

The best part is that you can enjoy online casinos anywhere. On the couch in front of the TV, on the train ride home, or in bed before you go to sleep. Playing on your phone is convenient and easy. Before you realize it, you completely forgot about your stressful day.

 

Cook a nutritious meal

You might not feel like cooking if you are agitated after a long day. But something about creating beautiful, delicious food can be almost therapeutic. Eating meals that you love can help shift your mood without you even realizing it. At the same time, you might be able to get rid of some irritations by taking your frustrations out on the vegetables that need to be chopped. Just remember to protect your fingers.

 

Spend time with a loved one

Being able to vent about your day or simply get a hug can be all you need. If you live with your significant other, try to let them be there for you when you need some extra love and understanding. If you live alone, try to make time to get a cup of coffee with a friend or family member. Do not underestimate the effects of human contact. Soon, you will feel recharged and ready to take on a new day.

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