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Demand for Coal Remains Resilient in Asian Countries

Source: IEA

Global coal demand fell 5% in 2020 — the biggest decline since World War II. Europe and the U.S. saw significant declines in demand, but demand for coal in Asia remained steady, according to the International Energy Agency. 

Transitioning to renewable energy sources, a major drop in electricity use due to COVID-19 lockdowns and lower natural gas prices all contributed to declining demand for coal in 2020. Whereas demand for coal fell by over 15% in North America and Europe, IEA expects China’s coal use to have declined by less than 1% for 2020. China and other Southeast Asian countries combined account for about 75% of global coal demand. 

Despite the negative impact that coal use has on global climate goals, the IEA expects the industry to rebound in 2021 — depending on electricity demand and industrial output post-pandemic. Driven by China, India and Southeast Asia, coal consumption is expected to rise by 2.6% this year.

1 in 5 People Will Live in Sub-Saharan Africa By 2030

 

The world’s population will grow to an estimated 10.9 billion by the end of the 21st century, with 8 out of 10 people projected to live in Asia or Africa, estimates Our World in Data. Five of the most populous countries are expected to be in Africa: Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Egypt.

But the growth rate of the African population, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, is projected to accelerate more quickly than other regions. Due to factors like declining infant mortality rate and increased life expectancy, the population is forecast to triple from 1.3 billion to 4.3 billion by 2100. And by 2030, one in five people will live in sub-Saharan Africa. The World Bank estimates that this will continue to concentrate poverty in the region. By 2030, nine in 10 people living in extreme poverty are expected to be in sub-Saharan Africa.

Over the past 50 years, Asia experienced the most rapid population growth, with 4.6 billion people living in the region — most of them in China (1.4 billion) or India (1.3 billion). Analysts expect that growth to top 5 billion people by 2050. North, South, and Central America, and Oceania are forecast to have more modest growth than Africa, while Europe’s population is expected to fall.

China Received the Most Investment in Tourism in 2020

China was the leading recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in tourism from 2019-2020, despite the start of the pandemic, an analysis from Investment Monitor shows.

In 2020, China became the top global (FDI) destination overall — overtaking the U.S. for the first time in decades — in part due to strict lockdowns enabling its economic recovery in the first year of COVID-19. China was also the leading destination for construction projects, which helped attract foreign investors including Starbucks, Tesla and Walt Disney.

Most of China’s investments came from the U.S. (64 projects), including U.S.-based hotel companies like Wyndham and Hilton, which opened new hotels in 2020. Singapore was the second-largest investor with 24 projects. The U.S. is the leading source of outbound tourism FDI overall and invested in more operations in the Asia-Pacific than any other region.

The pandemic greatly impacted tourism FDI, which declined by 17.4% between 2019 and 2020. But overall, global FDI flows bounced back in 2021 with an 88% surge, rising above pre-pandemic levels. Tourism FDI is also projected to have grown last year, given the availability of vaccines and lifting of lockdowns and travel bans, though Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have impacted its growth.

Global Housing Shortages Push Prices Higher

Source: World Economic Forum

Housing prices are climbing worldwide as construction lags and inflation rises, reports the World Economic Forum. Global prices increased at their fastest pace in 40 years during the pandemic and by nearly 70% in the past two decades. 

Low interest rates, government support and remote work all contributed to the housing boom during the pandemic, according to the International Monetary Fund. Supply chain disruptions during the pandemic also raised the costs of construction.

The cost of housing has outpaced wages in most countries, leaving many families without the means to afford a home. Experts estimate that affordability for first-time buyers will worsen over the next two years. This has also caused upward pressure on rents: Renters are spending an increased percentage of their household income on housing, creating a growing affordability gap between renters and homeowners.

Macron Loses Majority in French Legislative Elections

President Emmanuel Macron lost his absolute majority in the French National Assembly after voters gave more seats to the far left and right in Sunday’s legislative elections. President Macron’s centrist coalition held onto 245 seats in the lower Parliamentary house, well short of the 289 seats needed to maintain a majority. The loss of dozens of seats will cause friction in the president’s second term as he negotiates with opposition parties.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon successfully brought together more mainstream left parties with the Communist and Greens into an alliance called NUPES (New Ecological and Social Popular Union). NUPES now has 131 seats in the Assembly, making it the largest opposition force in France.

Marine Le Pen and her far-right National Rally party also gained ground, turning eight seats into 89. Le Pen, who lost the presidential election to President Macron in April, helped win the record number of seats for the National Rally with her efforts to attract voters during her presidential campaign.

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