Peak Oil

Outsized appetite in a finite world

Two months ago, the US Department of Agriculture forecast the biggest corn harvest in history: 376million tonnes. After two months of record heat and drought in the US Midwest, it has dropped its forecast to 274million tonnes.

Friday, 17 August, 2012, 1:35am

You've got the power

The world was a better place before the global financial crisis, but it was not perfect. People may now gloss over the fact that, before the crisis, Asia was in the grips of an inflation scare. Oil prices were soaring. As oil is a key cost for almost all economic activity, this drove a rise in general inflation, most notably in the cost of food.

23 Jul 2012 - 12:00am

New resources reality set to bite

Naturally, the world's attention is focused on Spain, Greece, the euro and their consequences for the global economy. Any day could bring a turning point for better or worse. But perhaps just as important in the longer run is a turning point in something that is gradual and undramatic but ultimately has a profound impact on the balance of wealth and power in the world: commodity prices.

3 Jun 2012 - 12:00am

Property prices fall for eighth month

Mainland home prices fell for the eighth month in a row last month, data from one of the country's largest property research firms shows.

Year on year, prices fell for the first time last month by 0.71 per cent.

3 May 2012 - 12:00am

Beware the shifting sands

Sunshine Oilsands, founded by Canadian oil and gas industry veteran Michael Hibberd and geologist Shen Songning in 2007, is seeking to raise up to US$700 million in Hong Kong's first initial public offering of an oil sands developer.

17 Feb 2012 - 12:00am

Canary in China's coal mine stopped singing in January

Interpreting January's economic data from China is always tricky. There are too many distortions around the Lunar New Year holidays to draw conclusions with any confidence.

Even so, some of the numbers that have emerged over the last week are sufficiently ugly to have analysts seriously worried.

13 Feb 2012 - 12:00am


Not all biofuels are good for the planet

Cathay Pacific is planning to use biofuels to meet strict carbon emission requirements. This is great news, because if airliners use renewable energy, it will benefit the environment.

However, if using biofuel means burning corn and fermenting crops to generate ethanol, this can be quite damaging.

7 Dec 2011 - 12:00am

Record crop yields likely to stem food inflation

The mainland's grain output rose 4.5 per cent this year to a record 571.21 million tonnes, with corn output beating expectations, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

3 Dec 2011 - 12:00am

Beijing pressed to open up on grain stockpiles

The last month has been the busiest time of year for Li Yingwen and his fellow grain farmers.

The tasks include testing combine harvesters, looking for labourers, supervising the reaping and spreading out the grain in the sun. Soon, Li will find himself dealing with rice traders from across the country.

6 Nov 2011 - 12:00am

Virgin to use jet fuel made from steel mill waste gas

Virgin Atlantic Airways says it may have found the best source yet for aviation biofuel.

Earlier this month, the airline announced a partnership with New Zealand low-carbon fuel specialist LanzaTech to develop an aviation fuel by converting waste gases from steel mills using special microbes.

24 Oct 2011 - 12:00am

China's US$21b fossil fuel subsidy

China doled out US$21 billion of subsidies on pollution-prone fossil fuel consumption last year, hampering efforts to cut global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The subsidies increased 29 per cent from the US$16.52 billion dished out in 2009, but were lower than the US$43.9 billion in 2008, when energy prices broke records.

18 Oct 2011 - 12:00am

Too poor for one square meal a day

Low-income families in the city cannot afford even half the price of a square meal needed for a balanced daily diet, according to a study.

The Oxfam Hong Kong study released yesterday found that an adult needs to spend more than HK$66 a day to maintain a balanced diet, but this is more than double the HK$30 a day that low-income families can afford.

3 Oct 2011 - 12:00am

Are mainland prices higher than in U.S?

Have prices of some consumer goods on the mainland outpaced those in the United States?

The findings of an informal survey by a mainland newspapers suggest that may be the case.

Last week, the Guangzhou-based Yangcheng Evening News distributed a questionnaire to its readers with the headline 'What can 100 yuan buy on the mainland?'

19 Sep 2011 - 12:00am

Cleaners and guards eating less as prices rise

One in two cleaners and security guards - the first low-paid sectors to receive a legal wage floor - say they are eating less because of rising food prices, a survey has found.

One in five said they bought food products about to expire - which usually carry a discount - to save money, the Friends of the Earth study found.

12 Sep 2011 - 12:00am

Farm overseas to help nation, companies told

Greater support for agricultural investment overseas has been written into China's new five-year blueprint for agriculture, as limited farmland and water resources present a growing challenge to provide food for the nation's expanding population.

7 Sep 2011 - 12:00am