“Sometimes, we get a little parochial in Canada — we think that the whole world is entirely focused on tar sands as the biggest problem. What we’re saying here is that it’s one of the biggest problems.”Canada’s oil sands are midway down the pack of the world’s climate change villains, according to a new Greenpeace report ranking potential carbon emissions from the globe’s top energy developments.Climate enemies numbers 1 and 2 — by far — are expanding coal projects in Australia and China, the report says. The oil sands don’t appear until fifth spot, which is shared with projects in Iraq and the United States.“Coal is the biggest threat globally,” said Keith Stewart, one of the report’s authors.“Sometimes, we get a little parochial in Canada — we think that the whole world is entirely focused on tar sands as the biggest problem. What we’re saying here is that it’s one of the biggest problems.”The report, using data from the International Energy Agency, looks at what it considers the top 14 growth areas for fossil fuel production over the next few years, from expanded offshore drilling in Brazil to new gas production in Africa. It was released the same day the governor of Nebraska approved an oil sands pipeline through his state and as world leaders met in Davos, Switzerland to discuss the global economy.The report says the oil sands could be emitting 420 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2020, from both production and consumption. The shale gas boom in the U.S. could add 280 million tonnes, with expanded American coal exports good for another 420 million tonnes.New coal from Indonesia would cough up 460 million tonnes and Iraqi production growth would kick in another 420 million tonnes.But those are wisps in a windstorm compared with China and Australia, where the report says booming coal production will create 1,400 million tonnes and 720 million tonnes of additional greenhouse gases a year by 2020.Some of those developments are well under way. The oil sands already produce about 1.4 million barrels per day.Some of the estimates are more speculative. The report suggests oil from the Arctic will produce 520 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2020, even though offshore drilling in the region has barely begun.The point, said Stewart, is to consider the cumulative climate change impacts of those developments before they’re fully realized.“These are major initiatives that government and industry are trying to move forward and if we’re serious about stopping climate change we have to stop these projects as a first order of business.”The report calculates that carbon emissions from these 14 developments would take CO2 levels right to the edge of pushing global warming past two degrees, the point at which many scientists believe catastrophic climate change would set in. And because they are large-scale, infrastructure-intensive developments, they would lock those emissions in for many years.“Once you’ve built the project, it’s less likely to shut it down than if you choose to build something else instead,” said Stewart.Greenpeace hopes the report will focus public attention on specific projects and create a global perspective.“One of the pushbacks we get from industry in every single country where we work is that, ’Oh, if you stop this project it doesn’t make a difference because all these other things are happening,’ ” he said. “We’re showing … if we (stop) these major things, it will make a significant difference.”The Greenpeace report echoes findings released last February from one of Canada’s top climate scientists. Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria calculated that coal, not oil sands, was the primary global warming threat simply because of its abundance and popularity.“(The study is) actually reporting what the scientific community’s been saying,” said Weaver, who will run as a Green Party candidate in the next B.C. provincial election. “China’s emissions are going up 10 per cent a year — staggering emissions growth.”Weaver points out there’s plenty of blame to go around. While China and Australia are the jewels in King Coal’s crown, the European Union is building new coal-fired power plants and Canada is ramping up coal exports through the port of Vancouver.He agreed that governments need to start thinking about the future consequences of development today.“If we want to deal with (climate change), we’ve got to move on it now because the type of commitments we’re making to future emissions through the infrastructure projects that are in place are going to take us to a position where the consequences are huge.” read more

TORONTO — Average prices for three common types of housing were up year-over-year in most Canadian markets in the first quarter, national real estate company Royal LePage said Thursday.[np_storybar title=”Why Canadian banks shouldn’t fear the housing slowdown” link=”https://business.financialpost.com/2013/04/02/canadian-housing-slowdown-seen-as-overly-discounted-in-bank-stocks/”%5D Canadian banks continue to report healthy and better-than-expected earnings, near-record profits, and capital levels at all-time highs. Yet valuation expansion for the sector has been muted so far in 2013 due to negative sentiment about the domestic housing market.Continue reading. [/np_storybar]Royal LePage said the average price for a standard two-storey detached house was up 2.2% in the January-March period compared with a year ago, while the national average price for detached bungalows rose 2.4%.The average price for condominiums rose 1.2% from first quarter of 2012.Some local markets didn’t fit the national pattern, however.For example, Vancouver, Victoria and Saint John, N.B., had year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter price declines in all three categories.According to the Royal LePage survey, the national average price for a two-storey house was $407,044 in the quarter, the bungalow average was $364,857 and the average price for a condos was $246,071.Vancouver remained by far the most expensive market in Canada with the average price for detached two-storey houses and bungalows above $1-million while the average condo price was $481,250.Toronto, the country’s most populous city and often considered the second-most expensive after Vancouver, followed the national trend to higher prices in all three types of housing.The Toronto two-storey average in the first quarter was $671,252, the bungalow average was $565,700 and the condo average was $359,671.Royal LePage president and CEO Phil Soper says the Canadian housing industry is in a very unusual situation.“The combination of very low mortgage rates and flat home prices, against a background of general economic improvement across the nation, is not something we’ve seen before,” Soper said Thursday.“Typically one of these variables is moving hard in an opposite direction.”Soper acknowledged that there have been warnings of impending market upset and dramatic price decreases but said there’s no evidence of that.“The current environment is very supportive for housing,” Soper added.The survey’s findings of continuing, but slower, year-to-year price increases in most markets is consistent with other real estate reports.However, Royal LePage also found that in most cities there were also increases between the last quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013 — in contrast with some reports that have shown month-to-month decreases since last summer. read more

OTTAWA — Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz says the country’s economy is finally gathering momentum after hobbling through the effects of the slow U.S. recovery, feeble exports and a stubborn commodity-price slump.In prepared remarks of a speech Wednesday in Whitehorse, Yukon, Poloz said while the economic situation remained complicated and uncertain, he was confident Canada was emerging from its stretch of slow growth.“Continued patience is required, but we have the right to be optimistic,” Poloz said.Poloz pointed to signs that Canada is benefiting from a stronger U.S. economy, a robust level of household spending and a rebound in many non-energy export categories.Two steps forward, one step backward.For example, he noted that recent numbers have shown improvements in the export of items such as packaging materials, furniture and pharmaceutical products. He added that tourism has also seen a boost in Canada, which has seen its currency depreciate.But Poloz said the national economy has also suffered an unexpected hit from the huge wildfire that swept through Alberta. It forced 90,000 people to flee Fort McMurray and the shutdowns of crucial oil-production facilities.He predicted the impact of the wildfires to shave between one and 1.25 percentage points from second quarter growth, which could produce a slight contraction. However, Poloz added that the dip likely means the third quarter will show bigger-than-expected growth, which is measured by real gross domestic product.“This suggests that GDP growth will be very choppy in the second and third quarters,” he said.The Bank of Canada will update its projections next month in its monetary policy report — a package of forecasts that Poloz suggested could shift once again depending on the outcome of the upcoming referendum on whether Britain will leave the European Union.Canadians’ household debt remains near record at 165% of incomeConsumer confidence edges higher as more Canadians put faith in blisteringly hot housing marketRisks to Canadian economy pile up as outlook looks bleaker and bleakerThe federal Liberals have warned that a vote by the United Kingdom in favour of leaving the EU — the so-called Brexit — would be a negative for the Canadian economy.Poloz also noted that the central bank continues to monitor the potential financial stability risks caused by strong household spending, particularly in the soaring real-estate markets of Vancouver and Toronto. He said while it remains a concern, the bank predicts the level of risk to fade as the economy rebuilds.In his speech, Poloz underlined the resource sector’s ongoing “painful and complex” adjustment to low oil prices. He also noted that the non-resource economy is still “moving unevenly toward full recovery” following the trauma caused by the 2008-09 financial crisis.“Two steps forward, one step backward,” Poloz said. “There’s a resilience and flexibility among Canadians that gives me confidence that we will get through these adjustments and our economy will return to natural, self-sustaining growth.” read more

The Minister said that elections are likely to be held in the Central, North Western and Southern Provincial Councils this year.The Minister also said that the Sri Lankan government will not hold Presidential early Presidential elections next year as hoped for by certain quarters. (Colombo Gazette) The government may hold elections for three Provincial Councils this year, Media Minister and government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.He said this while speaking at the weekly post Cabinet press briefing held today. read more

He concluded his speech saying that he was “proud to declare that we are at the cusp of a reclaiming our heritage of being connected to each other and connected to the world. In a few months we will truly be able to say: Sri Lanka. Covered” Foreign, Telecommunications and IT Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, today announced on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka a historic initiative to cover the entire country with affordable high-speed internet in partnership with Google.Using high altitude balloons Google Loon will cover every inch of Sri Lanka with seamless access to the internet. Sri Lanka is now on its way to becoming the first country in the world to have universal internet coverage. The minister noted that “from this event onwards advertisements or headlines saying “Matara covered” or “Jaffna covered” will become a part of history.” This initiative would not have been possible without the support of LotusFlare, whose chairperson is a visionary member of the Sri Lankan diaspora, Chamath Palihapitya, and Project RAMA. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Troops of the 141 Brigade, 8 Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI), 2 (V) Sri Lanka Army Service Corps (SLASC) of the 14 Division as on Monday (15) are serving Diklanda, Katukenda, Sirignawatta, Alugolla, Agalegedara, Mellawagedara, Heeralugedara, Pethigoda, Polhena, Walpita, Tammita, Kudagammana, Hagawatta, Waradala, Pahalamadithiyawela, Ullapola, Ihalamadithiyawela, Hunumulla, Kalumada and Delwagura areas where more than 661 houses remain either partly or fully damaged due to those cyclonic winds.Major General Ralph Nugera, GOC, 14 Division in the past two days visited the worst-affected Alugolla, Mallawagedara, Diklanda, Katukenda, Heeralugedara and Giriulla areas and encouraged the troops. Army troops, deployed in more than 20 Grama Niladari Divisions in Divulapitiya Divisional Secretariat area in Gampaha District are still engaged in clearing and relief operations in cyclonic wind-hit locations in close coordination with members of sister services, District Secretariat and officials of the Disaster Management Centre, the Army media unit said.The sudden emergence of cyclonic winds in the western province during evening hours on Friday (12) prompted Army personnel in the Security Force Headquarters – West (SFHQ-West) to rush to affected areas and respond quickly providing immediate clearing assistance and relief measures. Alert to the sudden cyclonic catastrophe, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army instructed the SFHQ-West to take necessary steps as necessary and help the victims as much as possible. Troops are currently busy clearing of roads, restoring electricity, removal of fallen trees and other paraphernalia, establishment of temporary shelters and huts, laying of tarpaulin on damaged roofs, transport of garbage and other related work under the guidance of Major General Ralph Nugera, General Officer Commanding, 14 Division. read more

He mentioned that the “mischievous and malafide reports” were utterly baseless and false, and seemed intended to create misunderstanding between the two leaders as well as damage the cordial relations between the two friendly neighbours. The President apprised the Indian Prime Minister of the urgent steps taken by him personally and the Government of Sri Lanka to publicly reject these reports. In this context, he also recalled his meeting with the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka today morning. The President also stated that he regards the Prime Minister as a true friend of Sri Lanka, as also a close personal friend.He stressed that he greatly valued the mutually beneficial ties between India and Sri Lanka, and remained steadfast to work with the Prime Minister for futher strengtheing them. President Maithripala Sirisena telephoned Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today in what was seen as a damage control attempt after a media report stated that Sirisena had accused RAW of being involved in a plot to kill him.Modi’s office said that the President of Sri Lanka stated that he categorically rejected the reports in sections of the media about him alluding to the involvement of India in any manner whatsoever in an alleged plot to assassinate the President and a former Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka. The Prime Minister appreciated the prompt steps taken by the President and his Government to firmly refute the malicious reports by publicly clarifying the matters.He also reiterated India’s emphasis on ‘neighbourhood first’ policy and the priority the Government of India and he personally attach to developing even stronger all-round cooperation between the two countries. (Colombo Gazette) read more

One person who was injured in the shooting incident at the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) premises in Dematagoda today, succumbed to his injuries in hospital.At least two people sustained injuries in the shooting incident. The shooting incident took place when former Minister Arjuna Ranatunga arrived at the location.A tense situation arose with some people attempting to assault Ranatunga. Ranatunga’s security guard opened fire injuring at least two people.One person succumbed to his injuries in hospital later. Ranatunga’s security guard was arrested over the shooting incident. (Colombo Gazette) read more