Posts filed under ‘Economy’

Life in a ‘degrowth’ economy, and why you might actually enjoy it

What does genuine economic progress look like? The orthodox answer is that a bigger economy is always better, but this idea is increasingly strained by the knowledge that, on a finite planet, the economy can’t grow for ever.

When one first hears calls for degrowth, it is easy to think that this new economic vision must be about hardship and deprivation; that it means going back to the stone age, resigning ourselves to a stagnant culture, or being anti-progress. Not so.

Renewable energy cannot sustain an energy-intensive global society of high-end consumers. A degrowth society embraces the necessity of “energy descent”, turning our energy crises into an opportunity for civilisational renewal.

In a degrowth society we would aspire to localise our economies as far and as appropriately as possible. This would assist with reducing carbon-intensive global trade, while also building resilience in the face of an uncertain and turbulent future.

Read Life in a ‘degrowth’ economy, and why you might actually enjoy it by Samuel Alexander at The Conversation.

May 22, 2017 at 11:54 am Leave a comment

StrongestTown Contest 2017 – Championship Round

We’ve invited our members, listeners and readers to nominate towns based on the Strong Towns strength test and Strong Towns principles. We know that no town is perfect. This contest is about showcasing towns that are doing their best to be strong, that have the building blocks in place to be strong towns today and in the future.

The votes are in and we’ve narrowed down our 16 town bracket to two final contestants: Guelph, Ontario and Traverse City, Michigan.

April 10, 2017 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

Despite Trump, Canada’s budget stays the course on climate change

Some industry groups and politicians worry about making a clean energy transition in Canada when President Trump still “digs coal.”

So perhaps the most important test for this budget was whether Canada would stick to its guns, or whether Trump’s influence would spur a change in course.

The budget’s clean technology section opens by saying that the “global campaign against climate change is an economic opportunity for Canada,” an opportunity where Canada “can be a true global leader.”

The government zeroes in on clean tech, along with digital industries and agri-food, as growing industries that are key to Canada’s economic success.

The clean power sector alone employed over 9 million people in 2015, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (and including large hydro).

Canada has a strong clean tech foundation. According to data from Analytica Advisors, a consultancy tracking Canada’s clean tech sector, Canada had over 700 companies, $11 billion in revenues, and 55,600 people working in the sector in 2016. But we’ve also been losing market share to our peers, falling from 14th to 19th among the world’s top 25 clean tech exporters in 2016.

Read Despite Trump, Canada’s budget stays the course on climate change by Clare Demerse at cleanenergycanada.

March 27, 2017 at 10:56 am Leave a comment

Policies for Shareable Cities

IMG_0443Cities are built for sharing. It’s what makes cities engines of prosperity, innovation, and cultural exchange. Well connected cities have the unique capacity to raise per capita production and innovation while using dramatically less energy. For this reason, cities may be our best hope for achieving widespread prosperity within the earth’s natural limits.

The sharing economy has deep implications for how cities design urban spaces, create jobs, reduce crime, manage transportation, and provide for citizens. As such, the sharing economy also has deep implications for policy making. The sharing economy challenges core assumptions made in 20th century planning and regulatory frameworks – namely, that residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural activities should be physically separated from one other, and that each single family household operates as an independent economic unit.

The guide curates scores of innovative, high impact policies that US city governments have put in place to help citizens share resources, co-produce, and create their own jobs. It focuses on sharing policy innovations in food, housing, transportation, and jobs — key pocket book issues of citizens and priorities of urban leaders everywhere. The guide is meant to help cities develop more resilient, innovative, and democratic economies.

Read the guide  Policies for Shareable Cities: A Sharing Economy Policy Primer for Urban Leaders produced by Shareable and the Sustainable Economies Law Center.

March 6, 2017 at 11:57 am Leave a comment

No one can make electricity cheap again

reactorOntario’s electricity woes stem back to the late 1970s and, over the past 40 odd years, all three parties have had a hand in them. It started with the building of the Darlington nuclear station, which the Bill Davis Tories approved and the David Peterson Liberals saw through to completion — 10 years late and almost $12 billion over budget. No one could afford to pay the real cost of Darlington, so Ontarians carried that debt for the next three decades.

Here’s the short answer: electricity requires infrastructure, infrastructure costs are tied to commodities and labour, and these costs go up over time. What people pay for electricity in any given region is a product of geographic luck (the availability of cheap hydro for example) and having rare — but possible — infrastructure foresight (the ability to plan effectively for the electricity of the future).

Read No one can make electricity cheap again by Bruce Lourie at The Star.

February 27, 2017 at 12:14 pm Leave a comment

Where money grows

Cities routinely rake up tens of millions of dollars from their urban forests annually in ways that are not always obvious. Leafy canopies lower summer air conditioning bills, but more shade also means less blade to maintain thousands of acres of grass. Health-wise, trees contribute to lower asthma rates and birth defects by removing air pollutants.

Portland, New York City, Milwaukee and Atlanta are among the cities that have quantified the payoff from pines and palms, olives and oaks. It’s part of a breakthrough in thinking among city planners in recent decades who now realize that a city runs not just on engineering, but on biology and ecology as well.

Read Where money grows by Jack Payne at Corporate Knights.

February 6, 2017 at 12:01 pm Leave a comment

The cost of carbon pricing in Ontario and Alberta

rebate_figureClaims that carbon pricing will lead to skyrocketing price increases throughout the economy are misplaced at best—and misleading at worst.

On January 1, Ontario and Alberta adopted broad-based carbon pricing policies. Alberta opted for a carbon tax while Ontario chose a cap-and-trade system. Alberta’s carbon tax is $20/t of carbon dioxide in 2017, while permits in Ontario’s cap and trade system currently trade at about $18/t of carbon dioxide.

In these early days of carbon pricing, detailed empirical analysis is necessarily limited. Our brief analysis shows that the direct effect of carbon prices will be about $150 (Ontario) to $200 (Alberta) per year for an average household. The indirect effect on carbon pricing on the goods and services we buy will be on the order of $100 for the typical household in 2017. Of course, even modest cost increases may be challenging for many households but rebates can effectively mitigate these concerns. In Alberta, lump-sum rebates will be sufficient to ensure low- and middle-income households aren’t (on average) made worse-off by carbon taxes. Ontario meanwhile has no explicit support program, but has a variety of other initiatives.

Read The cost of carbon pricing in Ontario and Alberta by Trevor Tombe and Nicholas Rivers at Macleans.ca.

January 9, 2017 at 12:19 pm Leave a comment

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