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Our new normal should be a green one—WWF

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Businesses have ground to a halt and whole industries have dried up as we enter into the third month of modified lockdown measures. As we progress ever further into our quarantine journey, the question remains – what will our post-pandemic world look like? With all this talk about shifting to the new normal, we also have to think about the bigger implications in terms of making economic recovery more ecologically-responsive and sustainable.

The argument for sustainability and environmental responsiveness

Atty. Angela Ibay, WWF-Philippines Head of Climate and Energy, lays out three arguments for businesses and cities to become more sustainable:

“First, we need to be more self-reliant as a country, even in terms of our energy needs,” she said. Much of the coal we use to power our plants is imported. With whole countries in lockdown, this importation has stopped. Meanwhile, we have abundant indigenous and renewable energy sources right here in the Philippines, that are ready and available for use whenever we need them.”

According to the Department of Energy, the country’s renewable energy potential is vast with at least 4,000 megawatts (MW) for geothermal, 76,600 MW for wind, 10,000 MW for hydropower, 5 kilowatt-hours per square meter per day for solar, 170,000 MW for ocean, and 500MW for biomass. The recent proposed auctioning of 2,000 MW and identification of competitive renewable energy zones (CREZs) of renewable energy capacity is a good start, Atty. Ibay says.

“However, we need to be able to support ourselves, which is why we must continue to explore and use these renewable sources of power. ”

Atty. Ibay continues by outlining a second need: To address our looming power needs.

“The lockdown has caused a delay in the construction and commissioning of several fossil-fueled power plants that had been slated for operation,” she said. “This could lead to supply challenges in the future. Commercial and industrial power demand may have decreased during the lockdown, but this has been offset by an increase in power demand from our own homes. Once community quarantines are lifted or eased, we can expect a surge in demand. There is immense opportunity, therefore, for us to plug our growing gaps in local power production, if only we were to tap into our bountiful sources of clean, renewable, and indigenous energy and implement stronger energy efficiency initiatives.”

Finally, Atty. Ibay says we need to stray away from thinking that our economic recovery will be a choice between livelihood and the environment.

“The dichotomy… does not exist,” she said, stressing that sustainable business can easily meet our needs as a country.

“We’ve seen that investing in natural capital for ecosystem resilience, especially in climate-responsive sectors such as sustainable agriculture, does not only come with the associated environmental and health benefits, but can also provide a much needed economic boost,” she said. “It is possible for our economy to recover on the back of green industry, so long as companies are innovative and we create the environment for sustainable businesses to thrive. It is not a choice between the economy and the planet.”

Making the new normal green

According to Atty. Ibay, we can look to investments in clean energy infrastructure, clean research, and the greenification of private and public spaces as a way to expand the economy while addressing the looming climate crisis.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas recognizes this with their recent sustainable banking framework, which integrates sustainability in the banking sector with increasing financing flows and investments to green and sustainable economic development.

The pandemic has forced us to dramatically rethink and recalibrate our way of life, Atty. Ibay said. Hopefully, we will see this crisis as an opportunity to rebuild our economies for a better and more equitable future, one that is more resilient to systemically disruptive factors such as pandemics and climate change.



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Euro Falters After Longest Rally Since 2011 Raised Red Flags

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(Bloomberg) — The longest euro rally in almost a decade is on shaky grounds even as investors’ appetite for risk makes a comeback.Europe’s shared-currency halted an eight-day rally Friday – which was its best since 2011. It earlier reached an almost three-month high of $1.1384, more than 4.5% above its May 25 low, before reversing gains in London.The euro gained a fresh boost Thursday after the European Central Bank expanded its emergency bond-buying program to counter the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet while it’s surge against the dollar and other peers took it past key resistance levels, some strategists are urging caution and technical gauges are flashing warning signs.“The ECB-induced euro rally is running out of steam,” Petr Krpata, a strategist at ING Bank said by email. Any “meaningful” euro gains should stem more from the dollar’s bear trend, rather than additional ECB impact, he said.The euro currently appears to be overbought against the greenback, based on a relative strength index — an indicator that measures the speed and size of price movements. A stochastic gauge, meanwhile, suggests that upward momentum may dwindle in coming sessions as the pair nears its year-to-date high of $1.1495.Citigroup’s global head of foreign-exchange analysis Ebrahim Rahbari reckons now is a good time to take some profits even though he remains bullish on the currency. And ABN Amro’s Georgette Boele says it is premature to expect a “continued strong rally” in the currency as “difficult discussions” are ahead on the European Commission’s stimulus program.The euro largely traded in lockstep with surging equity markets amid optimism about the prospects for a global economic recovery. Some are concerned that the recent surge in appetite for riskier assets may have gone too far, though, and that could also weigh on the common currency.There are echoes in the current move of the euro’s rebound in late March, when it recovered from its pandemic lows. Back then, a rally of around 5% in just over a week was followed by a 3.5% slide in a matter of days.Many observers nevertheless remain solid in their bullish calls for the euro. A trio of Societe Generale SA’s quantitative models are signaling that the euro is the top Group-of-10 currency that investors should wager on to rally.Nomura’s Jordan Rochester has a “high conviction” on the euro-dollar pair after last week flipping to a long position from a short one. And Standard Chartered’s Steven Englander says the euro region is looking more attractive.Yen CrossThe currency earlier busted through several key technical resistance levels against its Japanese peer. The euro reached 124.43 on Friday, the highest since May 2019.The technical significance of the move was further bolstered by the fact that the pair has breached its 55-week and 100-week moving averages.But, as with the euro-dollar pair, further gains may be difficult to muster. The euro-yen cross has struggled in the past to breach its 200-week moving average — currently 124.50 — and RSI gauges are also signaling that it’s getting stretched.That, combined with concern about waning fundamental factors, could well provide fodder for euro bears.(Updates prices; a previous version of this story was corrected to show that the length of the euro’s rally was eight days)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



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China relaxes flight restrictions after U.S. threat—but U.S. airlines say it’s not enough

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The U.S. said on Thursday it would continue to let some Chinese airlines operate flights to the U.S., pulling back a Wednesday order that would have banned Chinese airline service to the country.

The announcement came a day after China’s aviation authority, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), rolled back restrictions on foreign airlines, including U.S. carriers, that were in place to prevent imported coronavirus cases to China, where the virus outbreak is largely under control.

That rollback itself happened a day after the Trump administration said it would ban seven major Chinese airlines from the U.S. to retaliate against China’s foreign airline restrictions, which applied to U.S. carriers Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and American Airlines. (Delta and United had asked to resume flights to China this month; American plans to restart its service at the end of October.)

The CAAC did not name specific airlines or the U.S. in particular, but the timing of the announcement appeared to be a concession from China that may ease rising tensions between the two countries.

Yet a trade group representing U.S. carriers said the change was not enough, and the airlines wanted a higher flight frequency than the promised once-a-week. “While the Chinese response to the Department of Transportation is a step toward parity for U.S. carriers, more is needed to achieve the goals of the agreement,” the group Airlines for America said Thursday, referring to the U.S.-China Civil Air Transport Agreement of 1980.

Four Chinese airlines—Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, and Xiamen Airlines—were granted flights to the U.S. for June. If the Wednesday order were to have gone through, those four carriers’ flights—each carrier was scheduled for one flight a week—would have been suspended.

“[W]e will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours[,]” the U.S. DOT statement said.

According to the DOT, the 1980 deal says China must allow one U.S. carrier one flight to China for every flight to the U.S. by a Chinese carrier.

China’s relaxed flight arrangements will allow Delta and United to fly to a city of their choice in China starting June 8. China’s aviation regulator, the CAAC also said that foreign airlines will be able to fly to China twice a week instead of once if all their passengers test negative for coronavirus for three consecutive weeks.

If five or more passengers on a flight test positive on arrival in China, the CAAC said, that airline will be banned from flying into the country for one week; if 10 or more people test positive, the ban increases to four weeks.

International flights will be able to land in 37 Chinese cities, the CAAC said. Besides U.S. airlines, European carriers like Lufthansa and Finnair had also applied to resume China flights in June, but those two airlines told Caixin in late May that they had not yet received a verdict.

“When the risks are under control and adequate guarantees are received, the number of flights from eligible countries can be appropriately increased,” the CAAC said.

More must-read international coverage from Fortune:



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How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse

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When AG Hair moved into its new, 70,000-sq.-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Coquitlam, B.C., two years ago, it was part of a plan to supercharge expansion of its hair care product line to salons in international markets. Europe was next on its list. Then COVID-19 hit.

Not only was the European expansion put on hold, but salons in major markets across Canada and the United States were temporarily closed. Very few were purchasing hair products, so manufacturing was halted in mid-March, leaving most of the company’s 82 employees out of work.

AG Hair could have waited out the pandemic but instead decided to lean into its entrepreneurial culture and make a sharp pivot. It began providing hand-sanitizing products for front-line health-care workers, addressing a global shortage.

“We realized there was this massive need for health-care professionals, and we wanted to make a difference and be able to provide them with the products they needed,” says AG Hair CEO Graham Fraser.

AG Hair received Canadian and U.S. approvals a week after applying for the licences needed to make sanitizer, and produced samples to show local authorities within 48 hours.

AG Hair’s Coquitlam facility has pivoted to making hand sanitizer (Photograph by Alana Paterson)

“That rapid response time, and the fact that we had gone through all of the Health Canada regulatory hurdles, showed [the local health authorities] that we were a partner they could trust and someone they could look to, to deliver the products they needed,” Fraser says.

Within a month, the company started pumping out the products, first for the health-care industry, then for consumers on its own website and on Amazon. About 10 per cent of AG Hair’s hand-sanitizer production also went to people in need, as identified by organizations such as United Way.

Parallel 49 Brewing Company is also using AG Hair’s Coquitlam manufacturing facility to produce its own blend of liquid hand sanitizer for front-line health and emergency workers, in partnership with the B.C. government.

Fraser credits his team for its energy and creativity in making the hand-sanitizer production happen, and helping put AG Hair staff back to work.

“We realized we had an opportunity . . . and then it became this incredible, almost war-room mentality and collaboration with our owners, our executive team and our people to say, ‘How are we going to get through this?’ ” Fraser recalls. “I think our success speaks to the type of people we have and the entrepreneurial spirit of pursuing every avenue we have, understanding how we can produce the products and making it happen.”

AG Hair’s commitment to investing in future growth is a big part of what makes it a Best Managed company, says Nicole Coleman, a partner at Deloitte and co-lead of its Best Managed Program in B.C.

“Capability and innovation come through quite strongly with this company,” says Coleman, who is also AG Hair’s coach at Deloitte. “I don’t think they would be able to pivot as quickly if they weren’t so strategic and had the internal capabilities to do it.”

The manufacturing facility was a big investment, but one Coleman says has already paid dividends.

“They were looking forward with a strategic plan in mind about future growth and how they could expand, rather than just focusing on the day to day,” she says. “Best Managed companies are always pushing the envelope and are conscious about planning for the future.”

AG Hair was founded in Vancouver in 1989 by hairstylist John Davis and graphic artist Lotte Davis. The husband-and-wife team began bottling hair products in their basement and selling them direct to salons from the back of a station wagon.

The company eventually moved its manufacturing off-site, to a third party. One day, John went to watch the operations and was surprised to see salt being poured into the mixture. Although he was told salt is commonly used as a thickener, he didn’t like the potential side effects of dry hair and skin.

It was at that moment John decided the company would oversee its own manufacturing. “Through that experience, John also became an expert in product development,” says Fraser, who came to the company in 2000 as director of sales.

After having worked for more than two decades at PepsiCo and Kraft Foods, Fraser was eager to work at a smaller, more agile company where he felt he could help make a difference.

“It was perfect because I got to bring a lot of structure and process that I learned in those organizations, but I also learned an awful lot about being an entrepreneur from John and Lotte: that sense of urgency, the decision-making process, the need to get things done and drive things forward and pursue opportunities,” he says.

Fraser has helped drive AG Hair’s expansion into the U.S. and internationally, including Australia, Taiwan, and Central and South America. A portion of its sales go to One Girl Can, a charity founded by Lotte that provides schooling, education and mentoring for girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fraser also oversees the development of new, trending products, including a new deep-conditioning hair mask made with 98 per cent plant-based and natural ingredients. Hand-sanitizing spray and gel will be the latest addition to the company’s product lineup.

“We don’t see the demand [for hand-sanitizing products] going away,” he says. “As the isolation policies start to get lifted, people are going to need forms of security and protocols as they get back into regular life and work. We see there’s going to be a need for these types of products long-term.”


This article appears in print in the June 2020 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Working out the kinks.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.

The post How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse appeared first on Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News.



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