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Editor's Edition | Yahoo Finance Canada

Yahoo Finance Canada presents Editor's Edition, featuring finance industry insiders and the Yahoo Finance Canada editorial team discussing the top issues facing Canada's business and political realms.

  • Science
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    ‘Lipstick on a pig’: Can Ontario’s new highway plan be green?

    Highway 413, or the GTA West Corridor, is a massive new 400-series road proposed by the Ontario government aimed at relieving congestion on the existing highways north of downtown Toronto. The project would stretch for 59 kilometres through York, Peel and Halton Regions, where populations are expected to surge in the coming years. Critics predict minimal benefits for commuters, and highlight risks to wildlife, farmland, and air quality. There are also bigger questions about how such projects enforce driving personal cars over public transit, and potentially conflict with the federal government’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Now, Ottawa is getting involved in what has traditionally been the jurisdiction of the province, launching its own assessment to determine the environmental impact of the project. Tom Rand, author of Climate Capitalism, is in favour of the federal government’s intervention, and against the project for a variety of reasons. Those include cost, capacity on Highway 407, and environmental impact. He said the inclusion of EV charging stations and a separate public transit corridor are nice green perks, but essentially amount to “lipstick on a pig.” Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist. Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for Apple and Android.

  • Science
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    Editor’s Edition: Will Highway 413 undercut Canada's net-zero future

    Highway 413, or the GTA West Corridor, is a massive new 400-series road proposed by the Ontario government aimed at relieving congestion on the existing highways north of downtown Toronto. The project would stretch for 59 kilometres through York, Peel and Halton Regions, where populations are expected to surge in the coming years. Critics predict minimal benefits for commuters, and highlight risks to wildlife, farmland, and air quality. There are also bigger questions about how such projects enforce driving personal cars over public transit, and potentially conflict with the federal government’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Now, Ottawa is getting involved in what has traditionally been the jurisdiction of the province, launching its own assessment to determine the environmental impact of the project. Tom Rand, author of Climate Capitalism, is in favour of the federal government’s intervention, and against the project for a variety of reasons. Those include cost, capacity on Highway 407, and environmental impact. He said the inclusion of EV charging stations and a separate public transit corridor are nice green perks, but essentially amount to “lipstick on a pig.” Rand also discusses his investment in Toronto-based Hydrostor, a company using compressed air, water and manmade underground caverns to store excess energy from the electricity grid, and deploy it back when needed. The technology is expected to play an important role as grids incorporate more intermittent sources, like wind and solar. Rand said the technology is more cost effective than conventional batteries, and able to store energy longer. It also relies on off-the-rack components, and can be deployed virtually anywhere in the world.“This is the holy grail for me of clean tech and climate tech,” Rand told Yahoo Finance Canada senior reporter Jeff Lagerquist. “If you can put grid-scale, really cheap energy storage on the grid, and it's ubiquitous, then there's no ceiling in terms of the amount of solar and wind you can put on the grid either. Frankly, [you can] solve the climate problem from an energy perspective.” Returning to a subject from a previous episode, Bitcoin has faced criticism for the amount of energy used by computers to mine the cryptocurrency. Now, Ninepoint Partners is looking to give green-minded investors a way to have their crypto cake and eat it too. The Toronto-based firm is putting a portion of its Bitcoin ETF’s management fees towards carbon offsets in an attempt to mitigate its environmental impact. The firm has not disclosed the size of that portion. Rand sees this putting pressure on the already tight carbon offsets market for a purpose that adds little economic value from the emissions it creates. He cautions that “greenwashing” is a significant risk for climate-conscious investors. “If you're going to offset, you should be offsetting important economic activity, not Bitcoin,” Rand said. “The duckers and divers who are making money off of Bitcoin want to keep it spinning up. It is absolutely fundamental to the way Bitcoin is run that it will always be an energy hog on every transaction.” Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist. Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for Apple and Android.

  • Business
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    Why new Canadian housing rule is 'political lip service'

    Rapidly rising house prices in Canada’s biggest markets is locking out a growing number of first-time home buyers. The federal government announced a new foreign buyers tax to help bring more supply onto the market, but some question its effectiveness in bringing prices down. We’ve been getting monthly updates from the ground floor from Realosophy Realty’s John Pasalis and Oakwyn Realty’s Steve Saretsky, who help make sense of it all, with advice for anyone buying or selling a home. They shared their thoughts on where they see the markets going and why the new rule is a case of smoke and mirrors. Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains. Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for Apple and Android.