Thai investment applications top $25 billion in 2019 - Canada News Media
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Thai investment applications top $25 billion in 2019

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BANGKOK (Reuters) – Investment applications in Thailand reached a total 756 billion baht ($25.07 billion) worth of projects in 2019, down about 16% from the previous year but slightly beating a target, the state investment agency said on Monday.

The agency targeted 750 billion baht in investment pledges last year, down from 902 billion baht recorded in 2018.

In 2019, Thai and foreign firms submitted 1,624 projects in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, the Board of Investment (BOI) said in a statement.

Of those, about 445 billion baht of planned projects was for the Eastern Economic Corridor, a centerpiece of the government’s policy to spur growth and attract hi-tech industries such as robotics and aviation.

Last year, China beat Japan for the first time as Thailand’s top foreign investor, as firms relocated production due to the U.S.-China trade war, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak told reporters.

“That’s because costs in China are higher,” he said, adding China’s planned projects were worth 260 billion baht, far above Japan’s 73 billion baht.

Last year, the government launched a relocation package, including tax incentives and special investment zones, to draw foreign firms seeking to escape the trade war.

Somkid said he had asked the BOI and the finance ministry to consider further measures to spur investment over the next six months because private investment had remained low.

The BOI is expected to meet again early next month and offer an investment target for 2020 as it is assessing economic conditions, agency head Duangjai Asawachintachit said.

Thailand’s growth has lagged most regional peers for years. The central bank has projected growth of 2.8% this year after a five-year low of 2.5% in 2019.

(Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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Earth Talk: Is climate change affecting mainstream investment strategies? – Red Deer Advocate

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Dear EarthTalk: Are climate change and other environmental issues affecting or informing mainstream (Wall Street) investment strategies, or is sustainability-oriented investing still just a do-gooder niche?

—Mary S., New York

It wasn’t long ago that so-called “triple bottom line” investing —factoring in not just financial returns but also social and environmental impacts —was purely the domain of a small set of outliers willing to forego profits for the sake of proving that investing could be used as a tool to drive change. Just two decades ago, the only real way to have an eco-friendly investment portfolio would be to put your money with one of a handful of mutual funds focused on “Socially Responsible Investing” (SRI) —or research and invest in often speculative individual “green” companies directly.

But in intervening years, many investors’ perspectives have changed. It turns out “green” investments are not only safer than their conventional counterparts given the actuarial risks of rampant climate change, but they also tend to perform better. Generation Investment Management (GIM), founded in 2004 by former VP Al Gore and ex-Goldman Sachs exec David Blood, was one of the first well-heeled firms devoted exclusively to sustainable investing —and shocked analysts 10 years in by how profitable they were. GIM’s 12.1% annual average increase over its first decade ranked it second in profitability of over 200 competitors, including many of the biggest names in conventional investing. The lesson is companies prepared for and even poised to profit from a warmer future are most likely to succeed.

A 2019 report by BlackRock, the world’s largest investment firm with more than $7 trillion under management, confirms what GIM’s founders claimed all along: Going green pays. Not only has funding/investment in the environmental, social and governance (ESG) space almost doubled over the last five years, but these investments outperformed non-ESG bets overall. ESG-focused equity benchmarks in the U.S. yielded an annual return of 14.5 percent, compared with 14.4% for non-ESG investments. Meanwhile, globally ESG-based investments also bested non-ESG antes 8.1% to 7.7%.

Perhaps this new reality is why BlackRock recently announced a sweeping new set of policies aimed at making sustainability the “new standard for investing.” The firm plans to launch new active and passively-managed SRI-based funds in the short term and will look into other ways to align the rest of its investments according to its investors’ increasingly pro-environment values.

Environmental advocates are glad to hear about BlackRock’s plans, especially given the need for the private sector to step in and take an active role in carbon drawdown in lieu of federal action. Ben Cushing of the nonprofit Sierra Club considers BlackRock’s shift “a major step in the right direction and a testament to the power of public pressure calling for climate action.”

But he would like to see BlackRock —still the world’s largest investor in coal, oil and gas —go a giant step further and divest entirely from fossil fuels. “BlackRock should expand on its commitments and other financial institutions should follow suit.”

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UVic adopts investment policy reducing reliance on carbon emitters, but critics call it 'greenwashing' – CBC.ca

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The University of Victoria’s board of governors approved a “responsible investment policy” to reduce investment in greenhouse gas producers Tuesday, but some at the university say the change isn’t meaningful. 

The policy applies to the university’s $225-million short-term investments fund. The university says the policy will lower carbon emissions across the entire portfolio by 45 per cent by the year 2030. 

The university says it plans to divest from high carbon-emitting companies regardless of their industry sector, including the fossil fuel industry. 

Gayle Gorrill, vice-president of finance and operations, says the policy will target fossil fuel producers and the release of greenhouse gases caused by consumer behaviour, deforestation and industrialization. 

“We think this is a much more holistic approach because we’re looking at all of those companies, not just the fossil fuel companies,” Gorrill said. 

‘Doesn’t feel like a victory to us’

Not everyone is pleased with the decision. Members of Divest UVic protested outside the meeting Tuesday saying the new policy doesn’t go far enough.

Juliette Watts, an organizer with Divest UVic, says the policy doesn’t reflect the values of the university population. In 2019, for example, 77 per cent of the faculty voted in favour of fossil fuel divestment.

“On the ground at UVic and here in our community, we have a really strong progressive stance against polluters and the biggest despoilers of Indigenous lands and waters — which are the extractive industries and specifically the fossil fuel industry,” Watts said. 

She said instead of targeting consumption practices, the university simply needs to remove all investments in the fossil fuel industry. 

“They’ve attempted to greenwash — or make it seem as though they’re addressing the climate crisis — but in reality they are likely not going to change their holdings very much or make an impact with this vague policy they’ve put forward.”

She says her group will continue to research and reconfigure, and possibly target the university’s foundation board which has a larger fund. 

Other B.C. schools divesting

The divestment movement is an international movement to persuade large endowment fund holders like universities, pensions, and charities to stop investing in the fossil fuel industry to reduce climate change. 

Simon Fraser University’s board of governors voted last November to cut its fossil fuel investments by 45 per cent by 2025 for its $400 million endowment fund.

The University of British Columbia voted to transfer $380 million from its nearly $2-billion endowment fund to a “sustainable fund” in November 2019. 

However in early January, a group of UBC students held a hunger strike to force the school to adopt a stronger stance on divestment from fossil fuels.  

In response, UBC president Santa Ono said the continued operation of the fossil fuel industry is “discordant” with a future safe from climate change and said the university is committed to full divestment “as soon as possible.”

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Urgent investment needed to increase affordable housing supply: Ottawa mayor – Ottawa Citizen

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A memo reviews the city’s six year-old plan to address housing and homelessness and calls for a dramatic “refresh” of that strategy.


Homeless and hungry in downtown Ottawa.


Errol McGihon / Postmedia

Urgent investment from all three levels of government is needed to increase Ottawa’s supply of affordable housing, and to help homeless and disabled people find permanent homes that meet their needs, Mayor Jim Watson says.

The memo, signed by Watson and Councillors Jenna Sudds and Catherine McKenney, was issued late Tuesday on the eve of a debate about whether to declare a city-wide emergency on affordable housing and homelessness.

The memo reviews the city’s six year-old plan to address housing and homelessness and calls for a dramatic “refresh” of that strategy.

In the next 10 years, it suggests, the city should create between 5,700 and 8,500 affordable housing units and financial subsidies, while also ensuring that 20 per cent of those are devoted to supportive and accessible housing. It also calls on the city to preserve its existing stock of Ottawa Community Housing units.

The proposal sets out some ambitious goals: to reduce overall homelessness by 25 per cent and to eliminate “unsheltered” homelessness — people living on the streets.

“The refreshed plan is aspirational in nature and requires the commitment of significant new funding from all levels of government in order to be realized,” the memo says. “Without an injection of increased, sustained and long-term funding, the plan will not achieve its ambitious outcomes.”

The city will spend $109 million on housing and homelessness this year, which means the cost of the refreshed plan cannot be absorbed by municipal property taxpayers alone, Watson said. In the past two budgets, the city has committed $30 million in capital for new affordable housing developments.

The province will contribute $43 million and the federal government $27 million to affordable housing and homelessness initiatives in Ottawa in 2020.

Last month, McKenney put colleagues on notice that she will ask for their support to declare an emergency on affordable housing and homelessness. Council is to debate her motion Wednesday.

The city’s housing crisis has been created by a welter of issues, according to a review of the city’s 2014 housing and homelessness plan.

Funding for new affordable housing units has not kept pace with the city’s population growth that has forced Ottawa’s overall vacancy rate down to 1.8 per cent. That supply shortage has driven up prices: the average market rent in 2018 was $1,174 — a 15 per cent increase from 2014.

That means more people in community housing are holding onto their units longer, reducing the annual turnover. The centralized wait list for community housing has more than 10,600 households on it. Families can wait years for a spot, and some are spending longer periods in emergency shelters.

The lack of affordable housing has exacerbated the city’s homelessness problem. During the past six years, there has been a 23 per cent increase in the number of people requesting an emergency shelter placement. In 2018, the emergency shelter system operated, on average, at 108 per cent of its capacity.

Family homelessness, the report said, is the main driver of the increased demand at the city’s emergency shelters, and the reason why Ottawa increasingly is relying on hotels and motels to house the overflow.

More than 55,000 households in Ottawa — about 13 per cent of the population —  live with the kind of low incomes that make housing a serious challenge. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says Canadians should be spending no more than 30 per cent of their before-tax income on housing.

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