Posts filed under ‘Economy’

Rail lines, not pipelines: the past, present, and future of Canadian passenger rail

Graph of Canadian railway network, kilometres, historic, 1836 to 2016

One kilometre of oil pipeline contains the same amount of steel as two kilometres of railway track.* The proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will, if it goes ahead, consume enough steel to build nearly 2,000 kms of new passenger rail track. The Keystone XL project would consume enough steel to build nearly 4,000 kms of track. And the now-cancelled Energy East pipeline would have required as much steel as 10,000 kms of track.

With these facts in mind, Canadians (and Americans) should consider our options and priorities. There’s tremendous pressure to build new pipelines. Building them, proponents claim, will result in jobs and economic development. But if we’re going to spend billions of dollars, lay down millions of tonnes of steel, and consume millions of person-hours of labour, should we be building soon-to-be-obsolete infrastructure to transport climate-destabilizing fossil fuels? Or should we take the opportunity to create even more jobs building a zero-emission twenty-first century transportation network for Canada and North America?

Read Rail lines, not pipelines: the past, present, and future of Canadian passenger rail by Darrin Qualman at Darrin Qualman blog.

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May 21, 2018 at 11:05 am Leave a comment

Climate change is the story you missed in 2017. And the media is to blame

Which story did you hear more about this year – how climate change makes disasters like hurricanes worse, or how Donald Trump threw paper towels at Puerto Ricans?

If you answered the latter, you have plenty of company. Academic Jennifer Good analyzed two weeks of hurricane coverage during the height of hurricane season on eight major TV networks, and found that about 60% of the stories included the word Trump, and only about 5% mentioned climate change.

Read Climate change is the story you missed in 2017. And the media is to blame by Lisa Hymas at The Guardian.

January 8, 2018 at 12:09 pm Leave a comment

World Bank to end financial support for oil and gas exploration

The World Bank will end its financial support for oil and gas exploration within the next two years in response to the growing threat posed by climate change.

In a statement that delighted campaigners opposed to fossil fuels, the Bank used a conference in Paris to announce that it “will no longer finance upstream oil and gas” after 2019.

The Bank ceased lending for coal-fired power stations in 2010 but has been under pressure from lobby groups also to halt the $1bn (£750m) a year it has been lending for oil and gas in developing countries.

The Bank said it saw the need to change the way it was operating in a “rapidly changing world”, adding that it was on course to have 28% of its lending going to climate action by 2020. At present, 1-2% of the Bank’s $280bn portfolio is accounted for by oil and gas projects.

Read World Bank to end financial support for oil and gas exploration by Larry Elliot at The Guardian.

December 13, 2017 at 11:55 am Leave a comment

Re-Imagine the Future

We hope the film Re-imagine the Future provoked your interest in exploring its themes more deeply. The quest to build attractive, functional alternatives to the world ordained by neoliberal economics is, in fact, growing. A kaleidoscope of innovations around the world is showing that the market and state are not the only players. A burgeoning Commons Sector is emerging and starting to flourish.

This WEBPAGE is a portal into the growing world of system-change activism, experimentation, legal and policy innovation, academic research and political analysis. Consider these links an invitation to enter into this world yourself. After all, the answers are not going to come from somewhere else; they have to start with us, personally and locally, and expand outward. We need to re-imagine the future.

 

November 13, 2017 at 12:03 pm Leave a comment

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

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

The New Consumerism: Redefining Ownership, Values and Priorities

the-new-consumerism

As consumers reassess their priorities and increasingly ask themselves what they truly value, a host of major consumer trends have emerged: from the sharing economy to the preference given to experience over possessions, to frugal innovation and trading up and down. This shift towards new priorities, which we have christened “The New Consumerism”, is impacting across a multitude of industry sectors and has the power to transform even the most established markets.

The eight trends which are combining to form the New Consumerism are:

  • The sharing economy: this is all about supply and demand. Connecting people and businesses with the resources to those that want them. It removes market inefficiencies, empowers consumers and has disrupted, or has the potential to disrupt, a wide range of sectors.
  • The circular economy: one where everything is reused and nothing is wasted. It is the antithesis of the linear “build, buy, bury” model of a one-way stream of raw material to factory, to user, then landfill. It has the potential to completely transform the way in which we do business.

Read The New Consumerism: Redefining Ownership, Values and Priorities by Sarah Boumbphrey at Euromonitor International.

January 2, 2017 at 12:10 pm Leave a comment

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