13 of world’s hottest years have been in the last 15 years, slowing growth in mortgage debt, indicating a strong housing market.

by Tim Broadway

Durban Climate Change Conference: 13 of world’s hottest years on record have been in last 15 years

Arctic ice levels were this year the thinnest they have ever been, scientists have warned.

By Aislinn Laing, Durban 5:18PM GMT 29 Nov 2011

This year was also the hottest ever to coincide with the normally cooling effect of the La Nina weather system in the Pacific which tends to cause lower temperatures across the globe, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) found.

Without urgent action by all governments, they say, global temperatures could “very rapidly” reach the 2C mark which would trigger irreversible changes in the climate. Environmental groups say such an outcome would have “devastating results” for people in poorer countries whose lives and livelihoods would be gravely affected.

The latest statistics were released in Durban, South Africa at the United Nation’s 17th annual Conference of the Parties.

The WMO said the warmest 13 years of average global temperatures have all occurred in the 15 years since 1997, generating extreme weather that increased the intensity of droughts and heavy precipitation across the world.

In northern Russia, temperatures in the first 10 months of this year reached as much as 9C above normal. In the Arctic, seen as a barometer for how the world will be affected in the future, last summer saw the complete disappearance of ice around the northeastern and northwestern corridors.

According to the Met Office, which helped to compile the WMO report together with the University of East Anglia, Arctic ice could disappear altogether by 2050. “Our science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities,” Jerry Lengoasa, WMO Deputy Secretary-General, said. “Climate change is real, and we are already observing its manifestations in weather and climate patterns around the world. On Day Two of the climate change summit, delegations in Durban knuckled down to negotiating their positions on legally-binding carbon emissions targets, something the European Union is pushing for but China and the US remain resistant to. Climate negotiators have set a goal of keeping temperatures from rising more than 2C above pre-industrial levels – they are already are 0.8C above the 1850 average.

Small island states such as the Maldives, which will be among the first to be submerged by rising sea levels caused by global warming, want the target reset to a rise of no more than 1.5 C. Dave Britton, from the Met Office, said that while temperatures still varied from year to year, the long-term picture proved without question that temperatures were rising.

“There’s no need for scientists to set specific dates to show the trend,” he said. “If you go back to 1850, it speaks for itself. It’s a very clear signal of global warming.” Meanwhile the UN announced next year’s conference will be held in Qatar. The choice of venue raised eyebrows among negotiators as the nation is a major gas exporter.



Growth of mortgage debt slows

tara perkins

Globe and Mail Update Published Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011 11:02AM EST

The rate at which Canadians have been racking up new mortgage debt has slowed in recent months, lending credence to the theory that the country’s housing market will hold up, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. suggests.

The crown corporation released its third-quarter financial results Tuesday, offering a new glimpse into the country’s mortgage market.

Canadian housing frothier than U.S. at peak: Economist Reverse mortgages are set to rise.

“The level of household debt remains a concern but there are encouraging signals,” it said.

The growth of mortgage debt has significantly decelerated since March, particularly in recent months, it said. The growth of personal loans, lines of credit and credit cards has also levelled off recently. But the largest debts that Canadians hold are their mortgages, and so the trend in that area is helping to reduce the growth rate of total household credit.

At the same time, CMHC says its analysis suggests house prices are in line with demographic changes and economic growth. “CMHC, in consultation with the Bank of Canada and the Department of Finance, is continuing to refine models and techniques used to help identify risks of house price bubbles,” it stated. “At the moment, there is little evidence of a significant over-valuation in the Canadian housing market overall, although some centres warrant close monitoring.”

CMHC expects housing markets to stabilize next year, and house prices to grow modestly going forward. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty took action earlier this year to reduce the growth of mortgage debt, including tightening up the rules surrounding mortgage refinancing, and decreasing the maximum length of insured mortgages from 35 years to 30. (Canadian mortgages must be insured if borrowers have a downpayment of less than 20 per cent).

CMHC says that the refinance activity it’s seeing, which initially fell by nearly 40 per cent, is still down 25 per cent compared to the level it was at before the new rules came into effect. The overall level of mortgage insurance that’s being sought from the crown corporation dipped by about 10 per cent initially, but has since recovered.