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Electricity Use and Economic Activity Fall Across EU — but UK Is an Outlier

Source: Entso-e, Euler Hermes, Allianz Research

*Note: X-Axis represents European countries (DE=Germany, UK=United Kingdom, ES=Spain, IT=Italy, FR=France)

The U.K. is registering lower levels of activity compared to the EU — and is forecasted to see a 20% decline in GDP for Q2 this year. Compared to neighboring countries, the U.K. has had one of the longest and strictest lockdowns, according to a Euler Hermes report, which used electricity production data to measure relative levels of activity by country. 

The data shows the U.K. as a regional outlier, with “a -21% drop on average in both energy production and consumption since mid-March, compared to -17% in France and -11% in Germany,” according to the report. This has been caused largely by closures of office buildings, schools, factories and retail centers. Factors also include the length and severity of the shutdown, which has been extended to June 1.

On a larger scale, coronavirus has delayed the Brexit negotiations and complicated the transition period, as economic pressures from the pandemic continue to drive the U.K. and EU apart. With the current transition plan set to expire at the end of 2020, the report notes that an extension into 2021 looks likely.

Most Countries Doubt Future Generations’ Earning Potential

Source: Pew Research Center

Majority of the public in 17 countries surveyed believe that their children will be in a worse financial situation than their generation. A median 32% of those surveyed by Pew Research Center disagree. 

Respondents who have a poorer view of how the pandemic was handled by their government, or who had their own life affected by COVID-19, are more likely to have a negative view on their children’s future. France and Japan have the highest percentages of those who believe their children will be financially worse off at 77%, while the public in Singapore and Sweden are more positive about their kids’ prospects. 

A 2020 study found that the loss of early childhood development could majorly damage income potential and productivity over the younger generation’s lifetime. Education-related funding is predicted to increase this year as schools ensure that sanitary supplies are present to properly enforce in-person, COVID-safety standards and eliminate further school closures.

Electricity Demand Could Drive Record CO2 Emissions

Source: International Energy Agency

Carbon emissions produced by the energy sector will grow by 3.5% this year and by 2.5% in 2022, taking emissions to record levels. Almost half of this increase in electricity demand will come from fossil fuels that could push carbon dioxide emissions in the energy sector to record levels in the next two years. 

Coal is expected to increase by almost 5% this year and an additional 3% in 2022, according to the IEA. Although renewable energy is expected to grow by 8% this year and 6% in 2022, IEA states that, “renewables will only be able to meet around half the projected increase in global electricity demand over those two years.”

In 2020, electricity demand fell by 1% due to less social and economic activity and extreme weather-related outages. Electricity demand is expected to rise by 5% this year and 4% in 2022, driven in part by global economic recovery. To improve the energy sector’s resilience, IEA states that “power systems need not only to maintain system adequacy but also to be flexible enough to balance supply and demand at all times.”

Majority of US Employees Support Employer Vaccine Mandates

Source: Morning Consult

Fifty-eight percent of American employees support employer vaccine mandates. A June survey shows that baby boomers, millennials and men express the most support in companies requiring vaccines.   

Over 40% of respondents say they already have an in-person workplace structure, but 12% of workers say they would prefer to never physically return to the office. Women and Generation X were the largest groups to express a lack of interest in an in-person workplace. Many women have had to reprioritize their time since early 2020 to care for children or help guide them through remote education, ultimately setting them back in the job market.

Although employee uncertainty around returning to work appears to be declining, Morning Consult found that most employees want to have a say in the outcome. Forty-six percent expressed that if they are unhappy or feel unsafe about their company’s plan, they would consider quitting. A hybrid workplace is the favorable option for most — 75% plan to continue working remotely one to four days per week.

Dangerous Air Quality: 5 Asian Countries That Surpass the WHO’s Limit

Source: World Bank

Five Central Asian countries far exceed the WHO’s recommended exposure to air pollution — 10 micograms per cubic meter on average each year. Bishkek, in the Kyrgyz Republic, recorded the highest level of pollution in the world last year. 

At an international level, the cost associated with the damage to health, driven by poor air quality, is estimated to be $5.7 trillion — around 4.8% of global GDP. Asia accounts for 53% of global emissions, ranking as the largest contributor to global emissions. With immediate action, Central Asia could contribute to GHG emissions reductions goals by 2030 while simultaneously improving people’s health and achieving billions in economic gains.

The World Bank identifies five actions that Central Asia could take for more sustainable air quality, including improving the precision of air quality monitoring, as well as investing in cleaner fuels and technologies. The World Bank also recommends overhauling industry permits and offering incentives to encourage behavior change. All actions would “require a formal commitment from governments, financial investments, capacity building, and the deployment of new technology.”

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