China: Auto sales down for 12th month

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Auto sales down for 12th month

China’s auto sales fell 9.6 percent from a year earlier to 2.06 million vehicles in June, the 12th consecutive monthly decline, according to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers on Wednesday.

The association said sales and production in the country’s automobile market in the first six months was below what had been expected at the start of the year.

It also said China’s auto sales are expected to decline for the whole year and it urged government policies to promote consumption to be implemented as soon as possible.

Overall auto sales declined 12.4 percent to 12.32 million vehicles in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year, the data showed.

In January, the association forecast that 2019 sales would be flat at around 28 million. China’s auto market fell 2.8 percent in 2018 from a year earlier to 28.1 million units.

“Market sentiment has not been improved despite sales promotions for some car models. Consumers took a wait-and-see stance when buying vehicles,” the association said.

Industry insiders also attributed the sales decline to reasons including macroeconomic factors and increased housing costs leaving less money to spend on cars.

Industry analysts earlier estimated that sales in June would be relatively good, driven by sales promotions. Some dealers had promotions to clear out models built with China V emission standards as some regions adopted the stricter China VI standards from July. In addition, some dealers offered promotions in June as they wanted to perform well in the half-year assessment.

However, the association’s data showed that overall auto sales continued to decline in June.

Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association, said that “after a difficult situation in the first half of this year, carmakers need to adjust their annual sales target. Some manufacturers made promotions in May and June, which leads to a front loading effect for car sales in the second half.”

Cui said that consumers still hesitate when buying vehicles and car dealers are making adjustments in July. From August, the automobile market will see an improvement, Cui added.

Lin Huaibin, manager of China Light Vehicle Sales Forecast with IHS Markit, said, “Monthly sales volume in June seems to be improving while dealer inventory is also declining. Market could trough out from July onward given the lower sales base in the second half of 2018. Trade truce could also provide tailwind although we would still remain cautious as uncertainty may unsettle growth unexpectedly in the short term.”

Sales of new-energy vehicles, however, are still booming, with an 80 percent jump in June to 152,000 vehicles. In the first half of the year, sales of green cars rose 49.6 percent from a year earlier to 617,000 vehicles.

Electric vehicles accounted for around 79 percent of new-energy vehicle sales, rising 56.6 percent year on year to 490,000 units. Sales of plug-in hybrids rose 26.4 percent to 126,000 vehicles. Sales of fuel-cell vehicles totaled 1,102 units in the first six months.

Sales of passenger cars accounted for about 82.1 percent of total vehicle sales, with 10.12 million units sold in the first half of this year. Commercial vehicles took up the remaining 17.9 percent, with 2.2 million units sold.

In the first half, sales of sports-utility vehicles fell 13.4 percent from a year earlier to 4.3 million units. Sedan sales declined 12.9 percent to 4.96 million units. Multi-purpose vehicle sales dropped 24 percent to 670,000 vehicles.

Chinese carmaker Geely sold 651,680 vehicles in the first six months, a decline of about 15 percent year on year. The company said it achieved 43 percent of the group’s full-year sales volume target of 1.51 million units in 2019. Geely said the amount of net profit for the first half of this year is expected to decrease by about 40 percent compared with the 6.67 billion yuan in the same period last year.

Porsche sold a total of 42,608 vehicles in China, achieving growth of 28 percent in the first six months, according to the data from the company.

BMW sold 350,070 BMW and MINI-branded vehicles in China in the first half of 2019, up 16.8 percent year on year.

UAE Adopts 122 Economic Activity of 100% Foreign Ownership

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

UAE Adopts 122 Economic Activity of 100% Foreign Ownership

Wednesday, 3 July, 2019 – 11:45
Dubai Cabinet Meeting chaired by Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (WAM)
Dubai- Asharq Al-Awsat
UAE’s cabinet approved a decision allowing foreign investors in the sectors and economic activities eligible of ownership up to 100 percent in the UAE.

A statement issued by the government said that the decision aims to support the country’s growth environment and reaffirm its position on the global arena as a hub for investment.

The cabinet meeting was chaired by Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced the decision in a tweet on his account, saying: “we approved 100% foreign ownership in 122 economic activities in fields including agriculture, manufacturing, renewable energy, e-commerce, transportation, arts, construction and entertainment.”

The Prime Minister declared that local governments will identify relevant ownership percentages in every activity, indicating that the goal is to stimulate, facilitate and activate business, open and expand new economic sectors, attract new investors and talents, and enhance global competitiveness of the national economy.

“We also approved a benefit-transfer scheme among the country’s pension funds. We want to facilitate procedures for our citizens to move between federal and local sectors and civil and military sectors, and vice versa. We are united to serve one country and one goal.”

As a result, a total of 122 economic activities across 13 sectors were specified to be eligible for up to 100 percent foreign ownership such as renewable energy, space, agriculture, and manufacturing Industry.

The decision provides investors with an opportunity to acquire various shares in a number of economic activities including the production of solar panels, power transformers, green technology, and hybrid power plants, according to WAM.

Areas of foreign ownership also include transport and storage, which allows investors to own projects in the field of e-commerce transport, supply chain, logistics, and cold storage for pharmaceutical products.

Other areas of ownership by foreign investors include hospitality and food services, information and communications, as well as professional, scientific and technical activities, thereby allowing for ownership in laboratories for research and development in biotechnology.

The list also includes administrative services, support services, educational activities, healthcare, art and entertainment, and construction.

In other governmental affairs, the cabinet adopted the restructuring of the Education and Human Resources Council, chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

It also approved the decision to finance the funding of federal universities and colleges based on performance results for the academic year 2018-2019, aiming to increase financial planning efficiency and implementation of the budget.

The cabinet reviewed a number of reports of the Higher Committee to measure compliance with international standards for combating money laundering and combating terrorism financing and corrective actions.

Brazil’s President Bolsonaro: I Do Not Understand Economics

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS)

 

UN report finds creative China is booming, supporting Asian trade

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S SHINE NETWORK)

 

UN report finds creative China is booming, supporting Asian trade

Xinhua

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said Wednesday that one of its recent reports on the creative economy shows that China’s trade in creative goods and services is outstripping those of other countries and regions.

This makes it the “driving force behind a prosperous creative economy over the past 15 years”, said UNCTAD in a statement here.

The report tracks the country’s performance in the trade of creative goods and services between 2002 and 2015 and finds that China is the biggest single exporter and importer.

UNCTAD said that China’s trade in creative goods between 2002 and 2015 grew exponentially, at an annual rate of 14 percent.

In 2002, China’s trade in creative goods amounted to US$32 billion. By 2014, this figure had increased more than fivefold, climbing to US$191.4 billion.

There was a drop off in 2015 when China recorded a US$168.5-billion trade in creative goods, but comparatively the country has maintained the lion’s share of the trade in creative goods.

“China’s contribution to the global creative economy is both important and has driven more than a decade’s worth of growth in creative industries and services,” said UNCTAD creative economy head, Marisa Henderson.

Currently, China is the world’s biggest art market, and the film market is set to expand.

The country’s creative economy growth is fueled by internet accessibility, a big consumer marketplace, and a growing digital economy, both closely integrated with the creative economy.

The data also shows that Asia outpaced all other regions, with China and South East Asia, combined accounting for US$228 billion of creative exports, almost double that of Europe.

Besides China, India, Turkey, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico, and the Philippines were also among the top performing developing economies stimulating global trade in creative goods.

“Generally, South-South trade is on the rise and looks set to be an area of vibrant future growth especially for the creative economy, where the Asian nations are currently very strong performers,” said Henderson.

Among developed economies, the United States, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, and Japan were the top 10 creative goods exporters.

China hits back by raising tariffs on US products

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA’S SHINE NEWS)

 

China hits back by raising tariffs on US products

Xinhua

China yesterday announced that it will raise the rate of additional tariffs imposed on some of the imported US products from June 1.

China had earlier imposed additional tariffs on US$60 billion worth of US imports, the rates of additional tariffs on some of the products will now be increased to 25 percent, 20 percent and 10 percent, according to a statement by the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council.

A total of 5,140 US products will be subject to additional tariffs of 5 percent, 10 percent, 20 percent and 25 percent starting on June 1, the finance ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The decision follows the US move to increase tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent as of May 10.

The measure taken by the United States escalated trade frictions and violated the consensuses reached by both sides to tackle trade disputes through consultations, the statement said.

The US move damaged the interests of the two sides and did not meet universal expectation of the international community, it said.

To defend multilateral trade mechanisms and safeguard its own rights and interests, China had to adjust its additional tariffs on some of the goods imported from the United States in response to the US act of unilateralism and trade protectionism, the statement noted.

China hopes that the United States would return to the right track of bilateral economic and trade consultations, make joint efforts with China to meet each other halfway and strive to reach a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement on the basis of mutual respect.

Are We On The Road To Civilization Collapse?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Studying the demise of historic civilisations can tell us how much risk we face today, says collapse expert Luke Kemp. Worryingly, the signs are worsening.

Great civilisations are not murdered. Instead, they take their own lives.

DEEP CIVILISATION

This article is part of a new BBC Future series about the long view of humanity, which aims to stand back from the daily news cycle and widen the lens of our current place in time. Modern society is suffering from “temporal exhaustion”, the sociologist Elise Boulding once said. “If one is mentally out of breath all the time from dealing with the present, there is no energy left for imagining the future,” she wrote.

That’s why the Deep Civilisation season will explore what really matters in the broader arc of human history and what it means for us and our descendants.

So concluded the historian Arnold Toynbee in his 12-volume magnum opus A Study of History. It was an exploration of the rise and fall of 28 different civilisations.

He was right in some respects: civilisations are often responsible for their own decline. However, their self-destruction is usually assisted.

The Roman Empire, for example, was the victim of many ills including overexpansion, climatic change, environmental degradation and poor leadership. But it was also brought to its knees when Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 and the Vandals in 455.

Collapse is often quick and greatness provides no immunity. The Roman Empire covered 4.4 million sq km (1.9 million sq miles) in 390. Five years later, it had plummeted to 2 million sq km (770,000 sq miles). By 476, the empire’s reach was zero.

Our deep past is marked by recurring failure. As part of my research at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, I am attempting to find out why collapse occurs through a historical autopsy. What can the rise and fall of historic civilisations tell us about our own? What are the forces that precipitate or delay a collapse? And do we see similar patterns today?

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The first way to look at past civilisations is to compare their longevity. This can be difficult, because there is no strict definition of civilisation, nor an overarching database of their births and deaths.

In the graphic below, I have compared the lifespan of various civilisations, which I define as a society with agriculture, multiple cities, military dominance in its geographical region and a continuous political structure. Given this definition, all empires are civilisations, but not all civilisations are empires. The data is drawn from two studies on the growth and decline of empires (for 3000-600BC and 600BC-600), and an informal, crowd-sourced survey of ancient civilisations (which I have amended).

“Historic

Click/pinch to enlarge. Here’s the full list of the civilisations displayed above. (Credit: Nigel Hawtin)

Collapse can be defined as a rapid and enduring loss of population, identity and socio-economic complexity. Public services crumble and disorder ensues as government loses control of its monopoly on violence.

Virtually all past civilisations have faced this fate. Some recovered or transformed, such as the Chinese and Egyptian. Other collapses were permanent, as was the case of Easter Island. Sometimes the cities at the epicentre of collapse are revived, as was the case with Rome. In other cases, such as the Mayan ruins, they are left abandoned as a mausoleum for future tourists.

What can this tell us about the future of global modern civilisation? Are the lessons of agrarian empires applicable to our post-18th Century period of industrial capitalism?

Collapse may be a normal phenomenon for civilisations, regardless of their size and technological stage

I would argue that they are. Societies of the past and present are just complex systems composed of people and technology. The theory of “normal accidents” suggests that complex technological systems regularly give way to failure. So collapse may be a normal phenomenon for civilisations, regardless of their size and stage.

We may be more technologically advanced now. But this gives little ground to believe that we are immune to the threats that undid our ancestors. Our newfound technological abilities even bring new, unprecedented challenges to the mix.

And while our scale may now be global, collapse appears to happen to both sprawling empires and fledgling kingdoms alike. There is no reason to believe that greater size is armour against societal dissolution. Our tightly-coupled, globalised economic system is, if anything, more likely to make crisis spread.

Building falling into sea

Climatic pressures are worsening (Credit: Getty Images)

If the fate of previous civilisations can be a roadmap to our future, what does it say? One method is to examine the trends that preceded historic collapses and see how they are unfolding today.

While there is no single accepted theory for why collapses happen, historians, anthropologists and others have proposed various explanations, including:

CLIMATIC CHANGE: When climatic stability changes, the results can be disastrous, resulting in crop failure, starvation and desertification. The collapse of the Anasazi, the Tiwanaku civilisation, the Akkadians, the Mayan, the Roman Empire, and many others have all coincided with abrupt climatic changes, usually droughts.

ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION: Collapse can occur when societies overshoot the carrying capacity of their environment. This ecological collapse theory, which has been the subject of bestselling books, points to excessive deforestation, water pollution, soil degradation and the loss of biodiversity as precipitating causes.

INEQUALITY AND OLIGARCHY: Wealth and political inequality can be central drivers of social disintegration, as can oligarchy and centralisation of power among leaders. This not only causes social distress, but handicaps a society’s ability to respond to ecological, social and economic problems.

The field of cliodynamics models how factors such as equality and demography correlate with political violence. Statistical analysis of previous societies suggests that this happens in cycles. As population increases, the supply of labour outstrips demand, workers become cheap and society becomes top-heavy. This inequality undermines collective solidarity and political turbulence follows.

COMPLEXITY: Collapse expert and historian Joseph Tainter has proposed that societies eventually collapse under the weight of their own accumulated complexity and bureaucracy. Societies are problem-solving collectives that grow in complexity in order to overcome new issues. However, the returns from complexity eventually reach a point of diminishing returns. After this point, collapse will eventually ensue.

Another measure of increasing complexity is called Energy Return on Investment (EROI). This refers to the ratio between the amount of energy produced by a resource relative to the energy needed to obtain it. Like complexity, EROI appears to have a point of diminishing returns. In his book The Upside of Down, the political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon observed that environmental degradation throughout the Roman Empire led to falling EROI from their staple energy source: crops of wheat and alfalfa. The empire fell alongside their EROI. Tainter also blames it as a chief culprit of collapse, including for the Mayan.

EXTERNAL SHOCKS: In other words, the “four horsemen”: war, natural disasters, famine and plagues. The Aztec Empire, for example, was brought to an end by Spanish invaders. Most early agrarian states were fleeting due to deadly epidemics. The concentration of humans and cattle in walled settlements with poor hygiene made disease outbreaks unavoidable and catastrophic. Sometimes disasters combined, as was the case with the Spanish introducing salmonella to the Americas.

RANDOMNESS/BAD LUCK: Statistical analysis on empiressuggests that collapse is random and independent of age. Evolutionary biologist and data scientist Indre Zliobaite and her colleagues have observed a similar pattern in the evolutionary record of species. A common explanation of this apparent randomness is the “Red Queen Effect”: if species are constantly fighting for survival in a changing environment with numerous competitors, extinction is a consistent possibility.

Despite the abundance of books and articles, we don’t have a conclusive explanation as to why civilisations collapse. What we do know is this: the factors highlighted above can all contribute. Collapse is a tipping point phenomena, when compounding stressors overrun societal coping capacity.

We can examine these indicators of danger to see if our chance of collapse is falling or rising. Here are four of those possible metrics, measured over the past few decades:

Graphics showing collapse risk rising

Click/pinch to enlarge (Credit: Nigel Hawtin)

Temperature is a clear metric for climate change, GDP is a proxy for complexity and the ecological footprint is an indicator for environmental degradation. Each of these has been trending steeply upwards.

Inequality is more difficult to calculate. The typical measurement of the Gini Index suggests that inequality has decreased slightly globally (although it is increasing within countries). However, the Gini Index can be misleading as it only measures relative changes in income. In other words, if two individuals earning $1 and $100,000 both doubled their income, the Gini would show no change. But the gap between the two would have jumped from $99,999 to $198,000.

Because of this, I have also depicted the income share of the global top 1%. The 1% have increased in their share of global income from approximately 16% in 1980 to over 20% today. Importantly, wealth inequality is even worse. The share of global wealth from the 1% has swelled from 25-30% in the 1980s to approximately 40% in 2016. The reality is likely to be starker as these numbers do not capture wealth and income siphoned into overseas tax havens.

Homeless on Wall Street (Credit: Getty Images)

The rich are getting richer, which in past civilisations has created additional stress on societies (Credit: Getty Images)

Studies suggest that the EROI for fossil fuels has been steadily decreasing over time as the easiest to reach and richest reserves are depleted. Unfortunately, most renewable replacements, such as solar, have a markedly lower EROI, largely due to their energy density and the rare earth metals and manufacturing required to produce them.

This has led much of the literature to discuss the possibility of an “energy cliff” as EROI declines to a point where current societal levels of affluence can no longer be maintained. The energy cliff need not be terminal if renewable technologies continue to improve and energy efficiency measures are speedily implemented.

Measures of resilience

The somewhat reassuring news is that collapse metrics are not the entire picture. Societal resilience may be able to delay or prevent collapse.

For example, globally “economic diversity” – a measurement of the diversity and sophistication of country exports ­– is greater today than it was in the 1960s and 1970s, as measured by the Economic Complexity Index (ECI). Nations are, on average, less reliant on single types of exports than they once were. For example, a nation that had diversified beyond only exporting agricultural products would be more likely to weather ecological degradation or the loss of trading partners. The ECI also measures the knowledge-intensity of exports. More skilled populations may have a greater capacity to respond to crises as they arise.

There are some reasons to be optimistic, thanks to our ability to innovate and diversify away from disaster. Yet the world is worsening in areas that have contributed to the collapse of previous societies

Similarly, innovation – as measured by per capita patent applications– is also rising. In theory, a civilisation might be less vulnerable to collapse if new technologies can mitigate against pressures such as climate change.

It’s also possible that “collapse” can happen without violent catastrophe. As Rachel Nuwer wrote on BBC Future in 2017, “in some cases, civilisations simply fade out of existence – becoming the stuff of history not with a bang but a whimper”.

Factory workers welding (Credit: Getty Images)

Our technological capabilities may have the potential to delay collapse (Credit: Getty Images)

Still, when we look at all these collapse and resilience indicators as a whole, the message is clear that we should not be complacent. There are some reasons to be optimistic, thanks to our ability to innovate and diversify away from disaster. Yet the world is worsening in areas that have contributed to the collapse of previous societies. The climate is changing, the gap between the rich and poor is widening, the world is becoming increasingly complex, and our demands on the environment are outstripping planetary carrying capacity.

The rungless ladder

That’s not all. Worryingly, the world is now deeply interconnected and interdependent. In the past, collapse was confined to regions – it was a temporary setback, and people often could easily return to agrarian or hunter-gatherer lifestyles. For many, it was even a welcome reprieve from the oppression of early states. Moreover, the weapons available during social disorder were rudimentary: swords, arrows and occasionally guns.

Today, societal collapse is a more treacherous prospect. The weapons available to a state, and sometimes even groups, during a breakdown now range from biological agents to nuclear weapons. New instruments of violence, such as lethal autonomous weapons, may be available in the near future. People are increasingly specialised and disconnected from the production of food and basic goods. And a changing climate may irreparably damage our ability to return to simple farming practices.

Think of civilisation as a poorly-built ladder. As you climb, each step that you used falls away. A fall from a height of just a few rungs is fine. Yet the higher you climb, the larger the fall. Eventually, once you reach a sufficient height, any drop from the ladder is fatal.

With the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we may have already reached this point of civilisational “terminal velocity”. Any collapse – any fall from the ladder – risks being permanent. Nuclear war in itself could result in an existential risk: either the extinction of our species, or a permanent catapult back to the Stone Age.

Syria ruin

A woman walks in the ruins of a town in Syria following conflict between fighters (Credit: Getty Images)

While we are becoming more economically powerful and resilient, our technological capabilities also present unprecedented threats that no civilisation has had to contend with. For example, the climatic changes we face are of a different nature to what undid the Maya or Anazasi. They are global, human-driven, quicker, and more severe.

Assistance in our self-imposed ruin will not come from hostile neighbors, but from our own technological powers. Collapse, in our case, would be a progress trap.

The collapse of our civilisation is not inevitable. History suggests it is likely, but we have the unique advantage of being able to learn from the wreckages of societies past.

We know what needs to be done: emissions can be reduced, inequalities levelled, environmental degradation reversed, innovation unleashed and economies diversified. The policy proposals are there. Only the political will is lacking. We can also invest in recovery. There are already well-developed ideas for improving the ability of food and knowledge systems to be recuperated after catastrophe. Avoiding the creation of dangerous and widely-accessible technologies is also critical. Such steps will lessen the chance of a future collapse becoming irreversible.

We will only march into collapse if we advance blindly. We are only doomed if we are unwilling to listen to the past.

Luke Kemp is a researcher based at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge. He tweets @lukakemp.

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U.S. Government Report: Climate Change Will Shrink US Economy And Kill Thousands

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Climate change will shrink US economy and kill thousands, government report warns

(CNN)new US government report delivers a dire warning about climate change and its devastating impacts, saying the economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars — or, in the worst-case scenario, more than 10% of its GDP — by the end of the century.

The federally mandated study was supposed to come out in December but was released by the Trump administration on Friday, at a time when many Americans are on a long holiday weekend, distracted by family and shopping.
David Easterling, director of the Technical Support Unit at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, emphasized that there was “no external interference in the report’s development.” He added that the climate change the Earth is experiencing is unlike any other.
“The global average temperature is much higher and is rising more rapidly than anything modern civilization has experienced, and this warming trend can only be explained by human activities,” Easterling said.
Coming from the US Global Change Research Program, a team of 13 federal agencies, the Fourth National Climate Assessment was put together with the help of 1,000 people, including 300 leading scientists, roughly half from outside the government.
It’s the second of two volumes. The first, released in November 2017, concluded that there is “no convincing alternative explanation” for the changing climate other than “human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases.”
The report’s findings run counter to President Donald Trump’s consistent message that climate change is a hoax.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “Whatever happened to Global Warming?” as some Americans faced the coldest Thanksgiving in over a century.
But the science explained in these and other federal government reports is clear: Climate change is not disproved by the extreme weather of one day or a week; it’s demonstrated by long-term trends. Humans are living with the warmest temperatures in modern history. Even if the best-case scenario were to happen and greenhouse gas emissions were to drop to nothing, the world is on track to warm 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
As of now, not a single G20 country is meeting climate targets, research shows.
Without significant reductions in greenhouse emissions, the annual average global temperature could increase 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 Celsius) or more by the end of this century, compared with preindustrial temperatures, the report says.

The expense

The costs of climate change could reach hundreds of billions of dollars annually, according to the report. The Southeast alone will probably lose over a half a billion labor hours by 2100 due to extreme heat.
Farmers will face extremely tough times. The quality and quantity of their crops will decline across the country due to higher temperatures, drought and flooding. In parts of the Midwest, farms will be able to produce less than 75% of the corn they produce today, and the southern part of the region could lose more than 25% of its soybean yield.
Heat stress could cause average dairy production to fall between 0.60% and 1.35% over the next 12 years — having already cost the industry $1.2 billion from heat stress in 2010.
When it comes to shellfish there will be a $230 million loss by the end of the century due to ocean acidification, which is already killing off shellfish and corals. Red tides, or algae bloom that deplete oxygen in the water and can kill sea life — like those that triggered a state of emergency in Florida in August — will become more frequent.

Impacts on our health

Higher temperatures will also kill more people, the report says. The Midwest alone, which is predicted to have the largest increase in extreme temperature, will see an additional 2,000 premature deaths per year by 2090.
There will be more mosquito- and tick borne diseases like Zika, dengue and chikungunya. West Nile cases are expected to more than double by 2050 due to increasing temperatures.
Expect asthma and allergies to be worse due to climate change.
No one’s health is immune from climate change, the report concludes. People will be exposed to more foodborne and waterborne diseases. Particularly vulnerable to higher temperatures in the summer, children, the elderly, the poor and communities of color will be at a much greater risk for illness and death.

Heat and flooding

Wildfire seasons — already longer and more destructive than before — could burn up to six times more forest area annually by 2050 in parts of the United States. Burned areas in Southwestern California alone could double by 2050.
Dependable and safe water for the Hawaii, the Caribbean and others are threatened by these rising temperatures.
Along the US coasts, public infrastructure and $1 trillion in national wealth held in real estate are threatened by rising sea levels, flooding and storm surges.
Energy systems will be taxed, meaning more blackouts and power failures, and the potential loss in some sectors could reach hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of the century, the report said.
The number of days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit will multiply; Chicago, where these days are rare, could start to resemble Phoenix or Las Vegas, with up to two months worth of these scorching-hot days.
Sea levels have already gone up 7 to 8 inches since 1900. Almost half that rise has been since 1993, a rate of rise greater than during any century in the past 2,800 years. Some countries are already seeing land underwater.
By midcentury, it’s likely that the Arctic will lose all sea ice in late summer, and that could lead to more permafrost thaw, according to the report. As the permafrost thaws, more carbon dioxide and methane would be released, amplifying human-induced warming, “possibly significantly.”

What can be done

The report was created to inform policy-makers and makes no specific recommendations on how to remedy the problem. However, it suggests that if the United States immediately reduced its fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, it could save thousands of lives and generate billions of dollars in benefits for the country.
The Defense Department is trying to understand what risk climate change poses to security. But the Trump administration has signaled that the country will pull out of international initiatives like the Paris climate accord, aimed at lowering global temperatures, claiming that these treaties have been unfair for the US economy.
A report from the UN in October urged all governments to take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disaster from climate change. That report predicted that the Earth will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030. It also suggested the world faces a risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

Time for action

Reactions to the new report have been strong across the scientific community.
“If we’re going to run this country like a business, it’s time to address climate as the threat multiplier we know it is before more lives are lost,” said Robert Bullard, an environmental scientist at Texas Southern University.
“In Houston, communities of color have endured back to back major weather events without the acknowledgment from Washington that climate change is the cause. We’ve known for years that it’s true and it’s important to our organizing and our local policy efforts that information like this is not only considered, but believed and acted upon.”
Scientists who have been raising the alarm about the negative consequences of climate change for years welcomed the findings.
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“The findings in the Trump administration’s NCA report show how the health and daily lives of Americans are becoming more and more interrupted because of climate change,” said Beverly Wright, founding director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and a professor at Dillard University. “We challenge the administration to finally begin using this information to rebuild and strengthen the communities in the direct path of the atrocities wrought by the fossil fuel industry and decades of poor policies that have neglected our concerns. The science is undeniable, let’s fix it.”

Jordanians Dash Over for Cheap Shopping at Syria Border

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Jordanians Dash Over for Cheap Shopping at Syria Border

Monday, 12 November, 2018 – 09:30
Vehicles are being checked by custom officers at the recently reopened Nassib border post in the Daraa province, at the Syrian-Jordanian border south of Damascus on November 7, 2018. LOUAI BESHARA / AFP
Nassib (Syria) – Asharq Al-Awsat
Near the recently reopened border with Jordan, former Syrian opposition fighter Bahaa al-Masri sells date-filled pastries and sesame biscuits to Jordanians flocking across the frontier to snap up bargains.

Syrian regime forces retook control of the Nassib border crossing from the opposition in July, and last month reopened it after a three-year closure.

Just several hundred meters from the frontier, 26-year-old Masri counts the boxes of biscuits he still has left in a green plastic crate strapped to the back of his motorbike.

“For two weeks I have been bringing sweets from Damascus and selling them to Jordanians who come to buy them here because they’re cheaper,” says the ex-combatant, wearing a black jacket and woollen hat.

“I sell 27 to 30 boxes a day.”

Masri hawks the pastries every day in a rest area on the edge of Syria’s southern province of Daraa for three Jordanian dinars each (around $4, 3.5 euros).

“Thank God, when the border opened there was work again here, after I spent around six years without a job,” Masri tells AFP.

Also looking to cash in are Jordanian drivers, jokingly dubbed “sailors”, who ferry goods from Syria across the frontier for a small commission.

A whole economy has sprung up again since the border begun working.

At the crossing itself cars sit side by side in several long queues waiting to cross over into Syria.

Large trucks, some refrigerated, also wait their turn.

Before the war, “we used to come over to Syria every day — sometimes just to have breakfast”, says Mohammed Sayes, a 25-year-old from Jordan’s adjacent border town of Ramtha.

It was his second such trip since the border reopened “to see the sights, go out and eat” cheap, he says.

“Yes, Syria lived through a war, but we suffered a siege,” says the specialist in tourism management.

“When the border reopened, it was like paradise opened up again.”

Further up, dozens of people stand in line outside a row of small pre-fabricated buildings to have their Jordanian passports stamped by Syrian officials.

Jordanian driver Muflah al-Hurani, 53, is crossing the border to drive a family back home from the Syrian capital Damascus just over 100 kilometers to the north.

He has been going in and out of Syria on an almost daily basis since Nassib reopened, to transport passengers or shop for relatives.

“I bring back fruit and vegetables including potatoes, onions, garlic, as well as children’s clothes made of cotton,” he says.

“And I fill up my car will fuel… It’s less than half the price (in Syria) despite the war.”

Not far off, the former arrivals hall is being repaired after it was damaged in the war.

Damascus hopes the reopening of Nassib will boost its war-ravaged economy.

Before the conflict, the crossing was a key passage for trade, linking Syria — but also Lebanon and Turkey — with Jordan and the Gulf beyond.

Syrian officials have registered more than 33,000 arrivals since October 15, against 29,000 departures.

Among those waiting to head across the border are also Syrians returning home, car roofs piled high with suitcases and blankets.

Last week, a Jordanian official said 6,000 Syrians had gone back to their country, among them 517 registered refugees.

The head of the Nassib crossing Colonel Mazen Ghandour says the number of people heading into Syria is increasing daily, and that most of those coming are Jordanians.

“Most Jordanians come to shop and then go home,” Ghandour says. “Others go to see Damascus.”

A few meters away, a Syrian woman living in Jordan smiles as she waits to cross over with her family for a two-week visit.

“Damascus is a blessing… That’s why everybody wants to visit after being cut off for so long,” she says.

Singapore, China conclude talks to upgrade free trade agreement

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNA NEWS)

 

Singapore, China conclude talks to upgrade free trade agreement

 

Singapore, China conclude talks to upgrade FTA

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing (left) with Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce and China International Trade Representative Fu Ziying. (Photo: MTI)

SHANGHAI: Singapore and China have concluded talks to upgrade the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA), Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a statement on Monday (Nov 5).

This was announced following a meeting between Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and Fu Ziying, who is China’s Vice Minister of Commerce and the China International Trade Representative, on Monday. The meeting took place on the sidelines of the China International Import Expo.

Under the current CSFTA, there are no tariffs on 95 per cent of Singapore’s exports to China, while there are no tariffs on all Chinese exports to Singapore.

The upgraded CSFTA is expected to provide Singapore businesses with greater trade facilitation and investment protection in China.

It is also expected to provide Singapore businesses with improved market access and will cover cooperation in new areas, including legal and financial services, e-commerce and the environment.

Mr Chan said this development marks “an important step forward” for bilateral economic relations between Singapore and China.

“The upgrade signals our joint commitment towards greater economic collaboration and trade liberalisation. Singapore businesses can expect to enjoy greater access to the vast Chinese market and greater certainty in their investments when the upgraded CSFTA takes effect,” he said.

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Singapore, China conclude talks to upgrade FTA

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing (right) and Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce and China International Trade Representative Fu Ziying meeting at the inaugural China International Import Exposition in Shanghai. (Photo: MTI)

The CSFTA was the Chinese government’s first such agreement with an Asian country.

Talks to upgrade the FTA, which entered into force in January 2009, have been three years in the making. They began after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Singapore in November 2015.

In September, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean had said that the signing of the upgraded pact is expected when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits Singapore for the ASEAN Summit next week.

READ: China-Singapore trade agreement upgrade to be concluded by year-end

Singapore and China enjoy close economic ties, with total bilateral trade between the two countries reaching S$137.1 billion in 2017.

China was Singapore’s largest trading partner, while Singapore was China’s largest foreign investor for the fifth consecutive year since 2013.

More than a third of outward investments related to China’s Belt and Road Initiative flows through Singapore.

Source: CNA/nh(ra)

 

The Chinese century is well under way

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ECONOMIST)

 

 

The Chinese century is well under way

Many trends that appear global are in fact mostly Chinese

When scholars of international relations predict that the 2000s will be a “Chinese century”, they are not being premature. Although America remains the lone superpower, China has already replaced it as the driver of global change.

There is one economic metric on which China already ranks first. Measured at market exchange rates, China’s gdp is still 40% smaller than America’s. However, on a purchasing-power-parity (ppp) basis, which adjusts currencies so that a basket of goods and services is worth the same amount in different countries, the Chinese economy became the world’s largest in 2013. Although China is often grouped with other “emerging markets”, its performance is unique: its gdp per person at ppphas risen tenfold since 1990. In general, poorer economies grow faster than rich ones, because it is easier to “catch up” when starting from a low base. Yet in other countries that were as poor as China was in 1990, purchasing power has merely doubled.

China’s record has exerted a “gravitational pull” on the world’s economic output. The Economist has calculated a geographic centre of the global economy by taking an average of each country’s latitude and longitude, weighted by their gdp. At the height of America’s dominance, this point sat in the north Atlantic. But China has tugged it so far east that the global centre of economic gravity is now in Siberia.

Because China is so populous and is developing so quickly, it is responsible for a remarkable share of global change. Since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, for example, China has accounted for 45% of the gain in world gdp. In 1990 some 750m Chinese people lived in extreme poverty; today fewer than 10m do. That represents two-thirds of the world’s decline in poverty during that time. China is also responsible for half of the total increase in patent applications over the same period.

For all its talk of a “peaceful rise”, China has steadily beefed up its military investment—even as the rest of the world cut back after the end of the cold war. As a result, the People’s Liberation Army accounts for over 60% of the total increase in global defence spending since 1990. And all of this growth has come at a considerable cost to the environment: China is also the source of 55% of the increase in the world’s carbon emissions since 1990.

Sources: Economist Intelligence Unit; Global Carbon Project; Maddison Project Database; SIPRI; World Bank; World Intellectual Property Organisation; The Economist
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This article appeared in the Graphic detail section of the print edition under the headline “Well under way”