November 25, 2014

Harper’s aggressive championing of Albertan energy ambitions backfiring: Hébert

For almost a decade now, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been a vocal proponent of maximizing oil output in Alberta. He has used significant diplomatic and political clout to remove perceived political and regulatory barriers restricting his dream of making Canada into an energy superpower. “But instead of a clearer course to its goal, Canada’s energy industry is now left to cope with movable lines in the provincial sand and a politically poisoned pipeline well,” says political columnist Chantal Hébert in the Toronto Star. She points to the rapidly-mobilizing opposition to the Energy East pipeline as the most recent example of the political toxicity of Harper’s energy agenda.


China delays approval of certain American GMO varieties

Faced with growing domestic opposition to GMO food in China and worried about excessive dependence on U.S. food supplies, the Chinese government has been taking longer to approve new GMO crops from the United States. This has disrupted both new product launches and R&D investments for American seed makers Syngenta AG and Dow AgroSciences. The biggest concern is that harvests of unapproved varieties could be accidentally shipped to the world’s fastest-growing corn market and denied entry there, as they are often stored in the same warehouses in the U.S. prior to shipping. The Canadian government has initiated a dialogue with the Chinese government about potentially allowing small levels of GMO “contamination” into their grain shipments, but no formal agreement has been reached.


Could a U.S.-India climate deal be next?

The recent China-U.S. climate deal may have involved commitments to reduce emissions from the two largest sources of carbon on the planet, but it left out the third largest source: India. Last year, Indian emissions rose by 5.1 per cent, largely due to the continued expansion of Indian coal power plants. Could the U.S. reach a similar deal with India as it did with China? Wilson Center Fellow Michael Kugelman writes that it could be possible, based on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s climate-friendly record as chief minister of Gujarat State.


Making the Delhi Metro safe for women

One of the biggest issues facing the Indian state, beyond energy and climate change issues, is the lack of female empowerment within their society. Widespread protests have sprung up across India over the past several years over a series of high-profile sexual assaults and murders targeting women. Public transportation is often seen as an unsafe option for women who are often verbally and physically harassed by groups of men. Ladies compartments were established on the Delhi metro last year in an attempt to create a safer space, where 25 per cent of passengers are women.  But are these compartments the right answer? Quartz reporter Ankita Rao makes the argument that they might actually be counterproductive. “The real solution, I believe, lies in a shift in mindset, fueled by the public visibility of women in every space—not a designated corner—to create actual safety rather than the illusion of a comfort zone,” she writes. “These are not pockets of freedom, as they have been touted, they are further, systematic support for a male-dominated city, requiring women to work around the bias.”


Bond: Green Bond

Green bonds have exploded in popularity over the past several years, with the Green Bond Initiative estimating that the market will grow to over $40 billion in 2014 alone. Even municipalities, such as New York City, are exploring the issuance of green bonds to pay for infrastructure upgrades. Yet, skeptics, such as Marc Gunther, are questioning their perceived benefits. He worries about the lack of consensus about what actually constitutes a green bond. An even greater challenge involves determining whether these investments would have occurred without the green bond designation. “If green bonds don’t attract new investment to low-carbon projects, they will turn out to be little more than a feel-good exercise,” he writes.

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