In Copenhagen And Closer To Home, Carbon Is The Priority

April 14th, 2014 Posted in Canada & Beyond | No Comments »

Keep Green Issues Simple

Keep Green Issues Simple

For those of us who have an environmentalist outlook on things, there is often a problem with the size of the issue. Yes, the environment is a matter for concern – no-one could possibly deny that and retain a modicum of credibility – but which part of it do we look at first? Taken as a whole, the environment itself covers such a broad range of topics that it is difficult to pin down. This is perhaps where the movement has failed in the past – as much goodwill as there is for green issues, it has been difficult to nail down a list of priorities which will allow the problems to be dealt with on their merits. As a result, from the outside the green movement looks like a disorganised rabble squabbling about which issue should take precedence. As time goes on, it is hoped that this will become a thing of the past.

As we await the December conference on the Environment in Copenhagen, Denmark, the environmental movement does seem to be shaking its priorities into some sort of order. Top among them seems to be the issue of carbon and its related problems. Carbon deposits in our atmosphere have all sorts of effects that we would be well advised to avoid, but we as a global population have been slow to stop them from increasing. Although most of the world’s nations have a Green party which participates in national elections, in no major country has such a party been elected to form the basis of a government. Parties of government tend to offer more vocal support than logistic solutions where the environment is concerned, and thus the will to do something is often frustrated by issues such as the economy or defence.

The hope is that the conference in December, set to be the focus of a previously unseen level of media and public interest (for an environmental issue), will galvanise governments into actually doing something cogent to improve the state of the environment. After the Kyoto protocol were decided in 1997, the plan laid out to reduce carbon emissions by a significant level over the following twenty years slowly unravelled, as the United States refused to ratify the arrangement and other nations which had ratified showed little thirst to stick to their guns. Copenhagen is seen as a chance to move on from the disappointment of the aftermath.

Already, however, we are hearing that Copenhagen may not herald the signing of any new deal on carbon emissions – or at any rate, any deal which will mean much globally. For those of us with an eye on a greener future, it could be a frustrating fortnight. In order to ensure that something is at least done, the best bet may be to do it yourself. We as individuals may not be able to deliver the kind of results the governments could, but this is no reason to back off from your own plans. A lot of small steps can make up a long journey, and it is worth remembering that.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Sep 9, 2009.

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Some Facts About Philippines Economy

April 8th, 2014 Posted in Canadian & Global Economy | No Comments »

Economy of the Philippines

Economy of the Philippines

With its over 100 million population and 95.4 percent literacy rate, the Philippines – a once poor country that suffered from sluggish economic growth – turned out to be one of the fastest growing in the world. GDP growth was 7.6, 3.9, 6.8, and 7.2 percent in from 2010 to 2013 consecutively.

In the first and second quarter of 2013, GDP grew at 7.7 and 7.5 percent, making the Philippines the fastest performing country in Asia followed by China and Indonesia. The Philippines economy in 1998 was less affected by the Asian Financial Crisis than any other Asian countries.

Filipino economy is made of 57 percent services sector, 31 percent industry, and 12 percent agriculture. The Philippines has the world’s largest business processing outsourcing centre and a strong industrial manufacturing sector for electronics for multi-national corporations.

In terms of natural resources, the Philippines is rich in oil, coal, copper, chromite, and nickel. Its major trading partners are Japan, USA, China, Hong Kong, and South Korea.

In terms of its 2012 GDP, the Philippines is the 40th largest country largest economy in the world. Its unemployment rate is at 7.01 percent and 26 percent people live below the poverty line. The Philippines ranks 59th out of 148 countries in the 2012 – 2103 Global Comparativeness Index, 89 out of 178 countries in the 2014 Economic Freedom Index, and 94th out of 175 countries in the 2013 Corruption Perception Index.

The Philippines, while greatly improving its economy, still it has a lot of work to do. The country faces many challenges, such as improving governance and the judicial system, upgrading its infrastructure, improving its extreme poverty, improving ease of doing business, attracting more foreign investments, and reducing corruption.

As we look forward, the Philippines is working hard to move forward into the future with its remarkable growth. Goldman Sachs predicts that the Philippines will be the 14th largest economy in the world by 2050. HSBC predicts that by 2050 Philippines will be 16th largest in the world and the largest in Southeast Asia.

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Green Movement In Australia

Australian Parliament Rejects Emissions Plan

March 31st, 2014 Posted in Canada & Beyond | No Comments »

Green Movement In Australia

Green Movement In Australia

The green movement in Australia has suffered a blow this week, as the parliamentary vote on tackling global warming saw the opposition win out with 42 votes to the government’s 30. This is seen as a major setback for the movement in Australia but not a final blow, as Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said after the vote in the country’s senate that the government would seek to re-introduce the bill after the mandatory three month waiting period. This brings into the situation a possibility of some very interesting developments not just on the environmental issue but some potential constitutional developments.

One of the notable eventualities which could arise from this reverse in the Senate is that, if the government pushed forward the same legislation and was then defeated, it could potentially trigger a general election. This makes the potential legislation quite a powerful issue, and could well lead to some political horse-trading as the ruling Labour party looks to win over some of the current skeptics. As things stand, t he votes against the bill outnumber the votes for it by twelve. In order to gain a majority, seven senators would be required to change their vote.

As things stand, opposition to the legislation makes, as politics often does, for strange bedfellows. The government was essentially leveraged by opposition on both sides – from Green members who did not feel that the measures proposed went far enough towards tackling climate change, to members of the Conservative opposition who viewed it as being excessive. The measures proposed certainly go further than any yet proposed by a government, in offering a system of carbon trading which would require the more polluting companies to pay for their carbon emissions and rewarding companies who went some way to being carbon neutral.

One of the issues raised by conservative opposition legislators was that to adopt the propositions of the bill would be to put Australia in a disadvantageous position ahead of the conference on climate change to be held in Copenhagen in December. The government has argued that their position would only be weakened by going to Copenhagen without having adopted a coherent and radical plan for the reduction of carbon emissions. This gives the government a dilemma. Trying to win over enough senators means either adopting tougher measures to win over the Greens and alienating the conservative bloc, or vice versa.

Prime Minister Rudd may not be overly inconvenienced by an early election. Australia is due to go to the polls in late 2010 anyway, so bringing the election forward by a year while his approval ratings are high (and they far exceed those of the leader of the official Opposition) may not be the worst thing that could happen. It would also give the government a clear mandate. Australian voters are believed to favour strong action to cut down on pollution, and if they backed an incumbent Premier on a platform of environmental reform it would make it significantly harder to oppose the legislation in Parliament.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on August 16, 2009.

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Global Investable Real Estate Will Explode

March 24th, 2014 Posted in Real Estate & Mortgage | No Comments »

Real Estate Investment Will Grow

Real Estate Investment Will Grow

Real Estate 2020: Building the Future is a recent report published by PwC that shows that investment in the global real estate market will grow substantially in the next six years. Rapid urbanization and demographic changes in the emerging markets are some of the major causes for this growth. Here are some highlights from the report.

- Global investable real estate will rise more than 55 percent by 202.

- Sixty percent of global construction activity will take place in the emerging markets.

- Emerging markets will be the home for 12 megacities. There will be 37 total global megacities, up from 23 megacities today.

- As there will be wider range of opportunities presented by the fast-growing cities, so will there be the risks and challenges

- Government relations and collaborations will become more important.

- Technology and innovation will play a key role.

To view the full report, visit the Pwc website.

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Earth Hour Was A Global Success

Earth Hour A Reasonable Success

March 20th, 2014 Posted in Canada & Beyond | No Comments »
Earth Hour Was A Global Success
Earth Hour Was A Global Success

This year’s Earth Hour seems to have gone off pretty well, if the early figures are to be taken at face value. An increase in the energy saved as part of the global initiative has been reported, with some individual cities reporting results which represent a doubling of the decrease in energy use. Along with this, some cities which joined in for the first time have reported large savings of electricity which have exceeded expectations. The big headlines appear to be the Philippines, where 647 cities and towns (and an estimated 15 million people) joined in with the initiative to deliver results way beyond what was expected.

Although there has been controversy over the event, with many people and news outlets, among them FOX News, weighing in on the skeptical side of things, a cautious welcome has been given to the results that Earth Hour 2009 has managed to bring about. In The Philippines, while some data is still being ratified, more towns and cities joined in than anywhere else, with Greece coming in second. However, there are other results with importance too – not least in Delhi, India, a first time participant, where the power demand dropped by 1000 MW.

In Canada, Ontario as a province managed a saving of 6% on electricity with Toronto on its own displaying a decrease of 15.1% having posted 8.7% for Earth Hour 2008. Figures like these certainly seem to suggest that Earth Hour is getting a message through to people, and encouraging a more stable use of electricity. The skepticism which continues to ride high centres around the fact that savings on the financial side of the matter have been more or less symbolic, but this misses the point. By showing that it is possible to make large-scale energy savings, Earth Hour may yet be able to drive home the point that our dependency on non-renewable forms of energy is something that can be broken.

A message is getting through to people that if they want to cut their dependency on these forms of energy, such a thing is possible. If people can see that it is not too difficult to live without the constant use of electric lights and non-essential power-driven appliances, then it is something that can be harnessed to allow us to live a cleaner, greener future as a planet. For one thing that has come out of Earth Hour 2009 is the sheer spread of the message.

Canada has always been among the most prominent areas in the vanguard of the green movement, but the continuing advances made by this year’s most compliant countries are telling as well. Countries as distant geographically and as divergent culturally as Canada, Greece and the Philippines, along with the likes of Sweden, Ireland and Vietnam are showing an ability to take the message and run with it, something that gives us all hope for the future. With the positive news still being digested, it is now important that no-one thinks the work is done, as there is a lot still to do to ensure that the non-essential energy usage stays low, and that Earth Hour 2010 is one of the last ones we need.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on April 6, 2009.

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The World’s Top Richest People 2014

March 15th, 2014 Posted in Canada & Beyond | 1 Comment »

The-Worlds-Top-Ten-Billionaires-2014.jpg

 

 

 

 

 World’s Top Ten Billionaires 2014

Forbes magazine recently published its annual ranking of global billionaires. Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates is on the top spot, pushing down Carlos Slim, who was on the top last year. Here are the top ten global billionaires for 2014:

The Top 10 billionaires

Bill Gates ($76B)

Carlos Slim Helú ($72B)

Amancio Ortega ($64)

Warren Buffett ($58.2B)

Larry Ellison ($48B)

Charles/David Koch ($40B each)

Sheldon Adelson ($38B)

Christy Walton ($36.7B)

Jim Walton ($34.7B)

Liliane Bettencourt ($34.5)

Source: Forbes.com

Here are some highlights from the ranking:

- There were a record number of 1,645 total billionaires.

- Bill Gates ranked #1 in 15 of the last 20 years.

- Due to Facebook’s recent $19B accension of WhatsApp, its founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum became 551th and 202th on the list.

- The US continues to dominate the list (492 billionaires), then Europe (468) and Asia (444). Country-wise, China (152) and Russia (111) have the most billionaires after USA.

- Some new countries were added for the first time: Algeria, Lithuania, Tanzania, and Uganda.

- More than 30 Canadians made it to the list.

- About 1000 people dropped off the list and 16 passed away.

- 1080 billionaires were self-made, 207 were inherited, and 352 were partly inherited.

- A record number of 172 women billionaires (up 25 percent from last year) made it to the list. Total new 268 billionaires were added to the list.

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Lights Off for Earth Hour

March 12th, 2014 Posted in Canada & Beyond | 1 Comment »

Earth Hour

Earth Hour 2009

This Saturday (28th March) marks an effort to raise awareness of the need to take action on climate change. For a global problem, the initiative needs to be global, and so it is proving with Earth Hour – a worldwide initiative which recommends that every business and household switch off its lights and non-essential electrical appliances between the hours of 8:30 and 9:30 pm. By doing this, it is hoped that the amount of energy wasted will come down not only on Saturday night but, given the awareness raised by Earth Hour, people will take the decision to keep all non-essential appliances off when they are not in use. Earth Hour 2009 is the second annual worldwide celebration, but the movement has been in place since 2005.

Originally celebrated in Thailand in 2005, Earth Hour arose again in Australia in 2007, with lights going out across Sydney at 7:30pm. Last year was the first time that it officially became an international movement however, with thirty-five countries getting involved on a governmental level, and in all 400 cities taking part. Monuments such as the Empire State Building, Sydney Opera House, Bangkok’s Wat Arun Temple and the CN Tower all switched off non-essential lighting for the day. This year, the number of countries and cities participating has gone up by a huge amount, with 82 countries involved and more than 2100 cities. With the United Nations Climate Change Conference due to take place in December, organizers are hoping that the event has as great a level of success as possible.

Although it has had its critics, Earth Hour is viewed by and large as a major method of raising awareness. The amount of energy saved on the evening will, it is true, be dwarfed by the amount used during the rest of the day, and there are many who view the event of tokenism. The environmentalist response to this must be to point out that if one must consider it to be symbolism, it will at the very least be symbolic of differences we can all make in our own energy consumption, and in the use of energy in general. With so man y countries and cities already taking part in the campaign, the importance of as high a level of compliance as possible to demonstrate to national governments the public desire for action on climate change is essential.

100+ cities in Canada are signed up to the event – a sign of national feeling on the issue – and when you realize that the idea at the outset of this year for the organizers was to get 1000 in total worldwide, the fact that this has been more than doubled is something quite astonishing to behold. For the first time, there will be participation from Africa, with Kenya and South Africa both signed up. India and China – each of which has a population of over one billion people, have also agreed to participate. This is a real measure of what people power can achieve.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on March 28, 2009.

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Top Cities in The World 2014

March 9th, 2014 Posted in Canada & Beyond | No Comments »

Top Highest Living Quality Cities in The World

Mercer’s 2014 Top Highest Living Quality Cities in The World

International consulting company Mercer recently published its 2014 best cities in the world ranking and like any other rankings of this type, Canadian cities dominate the list. Let’s look at the world’s top best five cities for quality for life.

1. Vienna – Austria

2. Zurich – Switzerland

3. Auckland - New Zealand

4. Munich – Germany

5. Vancouver – Canada

Here are some highlights from the report:

- Vienna is the highest ranking and Baghdad is the lowest ranking city on earth.

- Vancouver is the top North American city.

- Singapore is the top Asian city.

- Dubai is the top Middle East and African city.

- Top five North American cities are Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, and San Francisco.

- Bottom five North American cities are Mexico City, Detroit, St. Louis, Houston, and Miami.

- Political instability, crime rates, air pollution are some of the factors determining rankings.

Mercer publishes its Quality of Living Raking to help multinational corporations evaluate and compare the standard of living between their own countries and host foreign countries. View the full report here: Quality of Living City Rankings

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European Green Parties

European Greens Perform Above Expectations

February 28th, 2014 Posted in Canada & Beyond | No Comments »

Positive News For The Green Movement

Positive News For The Green Movement

The elections for the European Parliament at the beginning of June have presented some very positive news for the Green movement, against a backdrop of seeming apathy towards politics in general outside of economic protest votes. From a greatly reduced pie (736 parliamentary seats, down from 2004′s total of 785), the continent’s Green parties demonstrated a real rise in popularity, picking up an additional eleven seats, which took them from 43 in 2004 to a hugely impressive 54 seats. France and Germany were the epicentre of the improvement in the Green vote, each bestowing 14 seats on their respective Green parties, while most other countries voting for the parliament also delivered at least one seat.

This comes against the backdrop of what has been considered to be the “recession election”, which had threatened to become a procession of punishment for the governing parties in favour of some of the more cynical, populist parties. In the United Kingdom, where the unpopular Labour government has been the subject of scandal after scandal and is due to lose its place as the governing party at next year’s general election, the Greens increased their share of the vote by 2.5% – better than any of the established parties and considerably better than the highly publicized far-right British National Party. Due to the vagaries of the voting system, however, the Greens and the BNP ended up with two seats each, with much of the publicity going to the more headline-friendly far-right organization.

In France, however, the story was better yet, with the Greens taking third place behind the ruling centre-right coalition and the opposition Socialists. The interesting aspect to this story is that there has been a Europe-wide trend in the media pointing up issues such as immigration, national and cultural identity and issues that are euphemistically referred to as “family values”. The success and increase of the vote for the Green parties – even on a reduced turnout against the backdrop of voter apathy – does seem to point to a recognition among voters that the environment is important, and that Green politicians are well-placed to understand the challenges that we face as a world, and the issues that Europe as a continent is currently facing.

Among all the other matters that Green politics cover, there seems to be an increasing recognition that concern for the environment and for the economy are not mutually exclusive. Clean energy can be cheap energy, renewable energy can be affordable energy, and this can be a way of solving problems using joined-up thinking. Among the many initiatives supported by the pan-European Green parties are moves towards the improvement of public transport initiatives – reducing emissions and at the same time providing the public with a better choice – as well as issues of personal and individual freedoms. This Europe-wide endorsement of the Green message is one that can be taken as a positive sign that people are taking notice of the planet we share and will give to our children. Long may it continue.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on June 26, 2009.

European Green Parties

February 24th, 2014 Posted in Canada & Beyond | No Comments »

Europe Decides

Europe Decides

An election which spans a whole continent will take place over the course of the next few days. Beginning on Thursday, 04 June 2009, Europe will vote to elect the members of the European Parliament. The last time Europe voted as a continent was in 2004. Among the many issues being discussed in the run-up to this election has been the possible improvement in performance for the pan-European Green movement. In the midst of what some would consider a record low point for the public’s faith in mainstream parties, the chances are that parties from outside the usual selection will perform better than they might otherwise have expected. Green parties are among those expected to profit from the situation.

In 2004, European Green parties took 42 seats from a possible 732. This year, there are a further four seats available. While the green share of the vote was low last time around, that happened during a period of relative economic strength during which, in general, the governments of Europe were largely popular in their own countries. With the credit crunch and ensuing recession knocking much of Europe into turmoil, the level of dissatisfaction with national governments will be high – and the opportunity to depose them will in some cases not arrive for a year or two. The next best thing is to give them a reminder at the European Election of the fate that awaits them if they don’t smarten up their act.

One particularly interesting place to look at is the United Kingdom. The sitting Labour government is at its absolute low point from a point of view of popularity. Their natural opposition is the Conservative party. However, the last two months have seen one of the most dominating and enduring political scandals to befall the United Kingdom Parliament in recent years, which has seen MPs fiddling their expenses and – this is the part that’s new – getting caught. Both Labour and Conservative MPs have come under pressure for this behaviour, and the third party, the Liberal Democrats, have also come in for criticism. The British public is looking for a way to punish the mainstream parties – even more so than the other European populations – and this may well work out for the United Kingdom’s Green parties. They face some challenge from the United Kingdom Independence Party (who wish Britain to leave the European Union completely) and the extreme right-wing British National Party. Recent polls suggest that the Greens will finish behind UKIP and ahead of the BNP.

Any increase in the number of European seats for Green parties would represent a massive piece of progress at a key time for environmental policy Europe-wide. The battle between mindsets which feel that renewable energy sources need to take a back seat, and those who believe that this recession means renewables are needed more than ever, will be an exceptionally fraught one. By Sunday evening (June 7th) we will know a little more about who is winning the battle. Fingers crossed that the Greens will have made some gains.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on June 6, 2009.

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