links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter


 
Singapore:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 15th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

THE NYT FRONT PAGE ARTICLES DEEMED BY THE PAPER AS TOP STORIES.

————–

“High Costs Weigh on Troop Debate for Afghan War.”
By CHRISTOPHER DREW
The budget implications of President Obama’s decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan are adding pressure to limit the commitment, senior administration officials say.

 www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/us/pol…

—-

“Tangle of Clues on Fort Hood Suspect.”
From Washington DC – By SCOTT SHANE and JAMES DAO

Investigators are trying to determine whether Maj. Nidal
Malik Hasan was a terrorist driven by extremism, a troubled
loner, or both.

 www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/us/15h…

—-

“China’s Role as U.S. Lender Alters Dynamics for Obama.”
Finalized In-House in New York City and signed  by HELENE COOPER, MICHAEL WINES and DAVID E. SANGER – “President Obama will likely spend more time reassuring Beijing than pushing reform.”

 www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/world/…

————————————————–

FRONT PAGE, NOT INCLUDED IN TOP STORIES, AUTHORED AWAY FROM NEW YORK, BUT USED AS QUOTE OF THE DAY.

—–

 www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/us/pol…

Robert Pear – from Washington DC – “In House Record, Many Spoke With One Voice: The Lobbyists.”

A terrific article about how US Congress works.

– QUOTATION OF THE DAY –

“We were approached by the lobbyist, who asked if we would be willing to enter a statement in the Congressional Record. I asked him for a draft. I tweaked a couple of words. There’s not much reason to reinvent the wheel on a Congressional Record entry.”
– STANLEY V. WHITE, chief of staff for Representative Robert A. Brady of Pennsylvania, one of dozens of lawmakers who used speeches ghostwritten by a biotechnology company during the health-care debate in the House.

—–

FRONT PAGE, NOT INCLUDED IN TOP STORIES, AUTHORED AWAY FROM NEW YORK.

 www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/us/15k…

Mark Mazzetti – from Washington DC – “Portrait of 9/11 ‘Jackal’ Emerges As He Awaits Stage in New York.”

Not long after he was rousted from bed and seized in a predawn raid in Pakistan in March 2003, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed gave his captors two demands: He wanted a lawyer, and he wanted to be taken to New York. So, he will get his wish.

——————————-

Page 6 of the paper – first page INTERNATIONAL – WORLD on the web:

“Leaders Agree to Delay a Deal on Climate Change.”
From Singapore – By HELENE COOPER
“President Obama and other world leaders have decided to put off the difficult task of reaching a climate change agreement at a global climate conference scheduled for next month.”
 www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/world/…

“Forest People May Lose Home in Kenyan Plan.”
From Marashoni, Kenya – By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
Officials are gearing up to evict tens of thousands from the Mau Forest, in a government conservation effort that has raised suspicion about less-altruistic motives.
 www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/world/…

“Broaching Birth Control With Afghan Mullahs.”
From Mazar – I – Sharif, Afghanistan – By SABRINA TAVERNISE
Afghan religious leaders attended a workshop on birth
control, birth spacing and breast-feeding last month.
 www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/world/…

………………

NOT ON “WORLD” LIST and on page 8 of The New York Times:

Isabel Kirschner from Jerusalem – “Unusual Partners Study Divisive Jerusalem Site.”

 www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/world/…

The article ends with: “Mr. Nusseibeh, the president of Al-Quds University, takes an equally unconventional stance. He speaks of mutual denial, including Israeli-led archaeological excavations near the mount that threaten Muslim relics, practices, he said, that ‘totally flout what is divine!’
But he goes on to ask, ‘Can we still not entertain the hope that the holy precinct — what it is and what it symbolizes — will nonetheless one day succeed to inspire people who believe in the one God themselves to become united in their faith?’

Then, to the chagrin of some of his Israeli colleagues, he signs off, ‘East Jerusalem, Palestine.’”

—————————————

FROM THE WEEK IN REVIEW – THE WORLD SECTION:

 www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/weekin…

David Barboza – “China’s Sprint for the Gold.”

In 2009 it still has only 79 billionaires as compared to the US having 359 while the GDP of China is now $4.3 trillion as compared to the US of $14.2 trillions – whatever those figures are measuring. Yes – but don’t forget the trends! Then see the following ending paragraph:

“But even leading economists confess to difficulty at fully understanding the role of a nation dominated by state-owned companies.

For instance, while some argue that China’s low-cost manufacturing hurts America by draining away American jobs, other economists say that exporting those jobs to China allows companies to become more profitable in America, and expand their better-paying advertising, service and development departments at home. They also point out that Chinese factories hold down the price of everyday goods for Americans. One study, cited in “China: The Balance Sheet” (Public Affairs, 2006), said that, on average, America is about $70 billion a year richer because of trade with China.

Through all the arguments and counterarguments, one thing seems clear: China’s momentous shift is creating the need for armies of analysts, economists and experts to explain and forecast how China’s rise will remake the world, and the lives of ordinary Americans.”

—————————-

FROM THE SUNDAY BUSINESS SECTION WE PICK THE FOLLOWING:

From page 1 – “At Bloomberg, A Modest Strategy to Rule The World (as in “we want to be the World’s most influential news organization.” by Stephanie Clifford and Juli Creswall.

 www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/busine…

———-

and from page 7 – SOAP BOX:

By Harry Hurt III – Off – the – shelf: “Can Public Aid Really Help Business?”

 www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/busine…

and BACKDROP (City Photos)  also in the SOAP BOX section under multimedia:

The astonishing – “MICROLENDING FROM BANGLADESH TO THE BOROUGHS.” This is about the Grameen Bank established in Bangladesh to help poor women in developing countries – helping right here in New York City immigrant women with average loans of $1,625. NOW THIS IS JUST AS REVEALING OF THE STATE OF THE UNION IN THE US AS ANY ARTICLE ABOUT THE RISE OF CHINA. WE ASK – WHY WAS THIS ARTICLE NOT INCLUDED AMONG THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY?

Aha! Let us rethink the stimulus  to the big banks idea – perhaps by bringing Professor Yunus in as advisor to the White House? This is actually our idea of the day!

 www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/11…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 13th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Obama arrived at Tokyo’s Haneda airport aboard Air Force One earlier in the day on his first official trip to Japan. He will depart Saturday for Singapore to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit.

“I began my trip here in Tokyo because the alliance between the United States and Japan is a foundation for security and prosperity not just for our two countries but for the Asia-Pacific region,” Obama said.

With the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-U.S. security treaty coming up next year, the two leaders promised to strengthen the bilateral ties to aim for a “world without nuclear weapons.”

“I told Obama that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the foundation of everything in regards to Japan’s diplomacy,” Hatoyama said. “But the times and the situation of the world have changed and I suggested to further advance and develop the alliance, to create a constructive and future-oriented new Japan-U.S. alliance.”

During the evening talks at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, Hatoyama and Obama issued a joint statement, pledging the two governments to work closely toward nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize last month for his vision of a nuclear-free world.

And On Climate Change according to Kyodo News:

80% cut in CO2 by ’50 reaffirmed.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and U.S. President Barack Obamareaffirmed at their summit Friday the shared goal of achieving an 80 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and supporting efforts by “the poor and most vulnerable” nations to combat climate change.

Also – Hatoyama and Obama endorsed a pledge by the Group of Eight major economies in July in L’Aquila, Italy, to halve global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. However, they did not touch on an emissions reduction goal by developed countries by 2020, as it is the focal point of the current U.N. climate negotiations.

Hatoyama hopes to achieve a 25 percent cut in the nation’s heat-trapping gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020.

Shifting to low-carbon growth is indispensable to the health of the planet and will play a central role in reviving the global economy, Obama and Hatoyama agreed.

They urged all major economies to “take ambitious concrete actions” on setting emission reduction targets and be “subject to a robust regime of reporting and international review.”
{this was in effect the language for Japan only we heard earlier at the meeting at the Japan Society in New York}

—————-

In Japan, Obama stresses Asia’s role in U.S. economy

President Obama embarks on a nine-day tour of Asian countries, including Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea.

Obama is expected to address topics such as security, environment, the economy and U.S.-Asia relations.

Event: Obama speaks at Suntory Hall in Tokyo about American engagement in Asia.

Meeting: Meets with emperor and empress of Japan.

Travel: Leaves for Singapore.

By Anne E. Kornblut and Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, November 14, 2009

TOKYO — Declaring himself “America’s first Pacific president,” President Obama opened his trip to the region Saturday by asserting that the future of the U.S. economy depends more than ever on Asia — and by pledging that China’s growth will not come at the expense of its neighbors.

In speaking to an invited audience at Tokyo’s Santory Hall, Obama offered only cursory remarks on human rights, an issue that will grow more prominent this weekend as he crosses paths in Singapore with the leader of the Burmese military junta and then heads to China. As a sign of how exhausting his trip has already been, Obama briefly stumbled over the name of the Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Unlike in earlier speeches in Cairo and Berlin, Obama did not seem to be trying to shift a global dynamic. But in the only major address he plans to give during this trip, he brought the force of his personal story to bear, invoking memories of a childhood visit to Japan and, in praising Asians as part of the immigrant experience in the United States, relating that experience to his own.

“I am an American president who was born in Hawaii and lived in Indonesia as a boy,” Obama said, mentioning his sister, Maya, who was born in Jakarta, and his mother’s years in Southeast Asia. “So the Pacific Rim has helped shape my view of the world.”

He mentioned his love for Japanese ice cream, thanking Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama for serving his favored childhood treat at a dinner Friday night. He even offered “greetings and gratitude to the citizens of Obama, Japan.”

The speech was notably short on new initiatives toward Asia. Instead, the president emphasized that the future of U.S. prosperity is irreversibly tied to the dynamic economies of the region. “The fortunes of America and the Asia Pacific have become more closely linked than ever before,” Obama said. “So I want every American to know that we have a stake in the future of this region, because what happens here has a direct effect on our lives at home.”

Obama singled out China as a primary engine for sustaining the world’s economic recovery, saying the United States welcomes Beijing’s greater role on the world stage and intends to “pursue pragmatic cooperation with China on issues of mutual concern.”

“So the United States does not seek to contain China, nor does a deeper relationship with China mean a weakening of our bilateral alliances,” Obama said. “On the contrary, the rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations.”

Obama said the United States and China “will not agree on every issue” — he mentioned religious freedom and human rights — but added that the two countries should move “forward in a spirit of partnership rather than rancor.”

To keep the nascent economic recovery going, Obama said the United States and the countries of East Asia need to make fundamental changes in their respective economies — with Americans saving more, spending less and increasing exports, while Asians spend more on housing and infrastructure and also increase their standard of living.

“We have now reached one of those rare inflection points in history where we have the opportunity to take a different path,” Obama said. “One of the important lessons this recession has taught us is the limits of depending primarily on American consumers and Asian exports to drive growth.”

In an earlier news conference, Obama addressed what has become a serious sticking point in U.S.-Japanese relations, saying he expects Tokyo to implement its 2006 agreement to allow a U.S. Marine air station in Okinawa to be relocated on the island.

Hatoyama, who took office in September, has suggested that Futenma Air Station be moved off Okinawa or even outside the country. Hatoyama’s position was bluntly rejected last month by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

The two countries agreed earlier in the week to form a high-level working group on the air station.

Obama said the two governments shared a common goal of providing for “the defense of Japan with minimal intrusion on the lives of the people who share this space.”

But a White House official traveling with the president emphasized that the working group would not reopen or renegotiate the three-year-old deal on restructuring U.S. forces in Japan.

——

The Chinese are ‘changing us’
Rising global power is reshaping the way Americans do business and live their lives.

By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 14, 2009

WAUSAU, WIS. — In a cavernous warehouse amid rolling hills and dairy farms, a group of farmers recently gathered around a buyer in a conversation heralding a sea change in the United States.

“I don’t think you Americans get it,” said the buyer, dressed casually in designer brands and sporting a watch worth as much as the mud-splattered GM trucks in the parking lot outside. “We need quality. We demand quality. Top quality. If you work with me, we can win together. But if you don’t, there’s nothing I can do.”

Being harangued by a pharmaceutical company executive from China was new for these burly farmers, but no one complained. These tough men from the American Midwest treated their Chinese guest as a savior of sorts, in an important economic and cultural reality that will confront President Obama on his first visit to China, starting Sunday.

On visits to Shanghai and Beijing, Obama will encounter not simply a rising global power but a nation that is transforming and challenging the way Americans live overseas and at home, from college classrooms to real estate offices to the ginseng farms of central Wisconsin.

Americans have been selling Panax quinquefolius to China since 1784 when the first China-bound trading ship sailed from New York to Canton, today’s Guangzhou, weighed down with 30 tons of the root, prized in Asia for medicinal properties. But today the U.S. ginseng industry, centered here in Wisconsin, is on its back, kicked down by bogus imitations from Chinese competitors and state-subsidized crops from Canada.

Twenty years ago, 1,500 farmers grew ginseng in Wisconsin for the China market; now the number is down to 150. Prices have dropped from $60 a pound to $24. The farmers around the ginseng barrels on this rainy fall night looked for an answer from Chun Yu, a Chinese businessman dangling his company’s chain of 1,000 retail stores throughout China as the ultimate prize.

“Years ago, it didn’t matter what we grew. They bought everything we had,” said Randy Ross, a 54-year-old former dairy farmer who has been growing ginseng since 1978. “Now we’ve got to learn how to satisfy them. They are changing us.”

Catching China fever:

While it’s not exactly the People’s Republic of Wisconsin, this state has been seized with a China fever of sorts. Throughout the United States, old notions of China have been replaced with a deeper understanding that China is a force that must be reckoned with. Hate it or love it, China is a major player in American life.

China is now Wisconsin’s (and the country’s) third-biggest export market, buying more American soybeans, oil seeds, hides and animal skins, raw cotton, copper, nonferrous metals, wood pulp, semiconductors and miscellaneous chicken parts (a.k.a. chicken feet) than anyone else.

At the University of Wisconsin, as at college campuses across the United States, mainland Chinese dominate the study of science and technology and form the backbone of the engineering, chemistry and pharmacy departments. They receive twice as many doctorates in this country as students from India, the next-closest foreign competitor. And among foreigners, they register by far the most patents in the United States.

Chinese investors have snapped up pieces of distressed real estate in Milwaukee, as they have in other crumbling Midwestern industrial cities, not to mention in Florida, California and Arizona. Last year, a group from Germantown, Md., and China bought an empty mall on Milwaukee’s depressed northwest side for $6 million, down from its $8 million list price. In July, a Chinese steelmaker bought 54 acres in an industrial park off Interstate 94 between Milwaukee and Chicago.

A team of Midwestern businessmen, including the former CIA station chief in Beijing, has recently established, in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, a special zone in Wisconsin that would grant U.S. citizenship in exchange for a $1 million investment.

Meanwhile, in a state that has lost more than 160,000 (or one-third) of its manufacturing jobs in a decade, local newspapers have been running editorials praising the People’s Republic and blasting those who oppose closer trade ties or Chinese investment. “China is a friend to Wisconsin and its businesses, not an enemy in a trade war,” the Wisconsin State Journal said in an editorial.

Seeking out business:

Wisconsin’s governor, Jim Doyle (D), has been to China to promote Wisconsin three times since he took office in 2003. When he first went, he said, fellow governors in other states worried about the appearance of an American governor going to China seeking business. Now, it’s commonplace. More than 14 of his counterparts have visited China in the past two years.

“China is incredibly important to us,” he said in an interview. “Even in these difficult times, some of the industries getting by are the ones selling to China. If we didn’t have the Chinese, we would have been in much, much tougher shape.”

One of those firms is Bucyrus International, based in South Milwaukee, which has exported coal-mining equipment to China since trade relations were opened in the 1970s. In the past three years, it has doubled its workforce, in part because of the China trade.

“We were still skeptical seven or eight years ago that these guys were for real,” said Bucyrus chief executive Tim Sullivan. “Now we know.”

The boosterism about China sometimes reaches a fever pitch. One of the businessmen who helped set up the special investment zone, Robert Kraft, said China in the future will do what the Germans did for Milwaukee in the past. “The Chinese are coming,” Kraft said in a telephone interview from China, where he was scouting for Chinese investors. “We’re just trying to get a piece of it for Wisconsin.”

“The Chinese Are Coming” was the title of a session in late September in Baltimore at the annual meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. There educators spoke about skyrocketing numbers of Chinese high school graduates applying for admission at U.S. colleges. That’s new. For the last 20 years, Chinese have been at or near the top of the number of foreign students in the United States — but most were in grad school. In all, about 89,000 are currently in the United States, according the Chinese Embassy.

China has also helped establish 61 Confucius Institutes across the United States, including one in Wisconsin, to teach Chinese and undertake “cultural dialogues,” the embassy said.

At the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Chinese undergraduates now account for more than half of the 1,109 Chinese students there. That increase is another sign that China is coming because Wisconsin, like many state schools, doesn’t provide scholarships for international undergrads. Last year, Chinese students paid out $2 billion in tuition nationwide. “That money is keeping some American colleges alive,” said Laurie Cox, who runs the international student center at the Madison campus.

“Every time I turn around, another campus has signed a memorandum of understanding with another Chinese university,” said Kevin Reilly, the president of the university’s 26 campuses. Reilly recently joined Doyle on a trip to China. “I came away thinking, if the 20th century was the American century . . . you have to believe that the 21st century will be the Chinese century.”

Difficulties and disputes:

Wisconsin is not immune to troubles with China. For years, until they were stopped in 2004, two Chinese nationals used Milwaukee as a base from which they exported restricted electronics and computer chips to Chinese institutes that make missiles.

Quality problems with China’s imports have also bedeviled Wisconsin firms — as they have American consumers who purchased deadly pet food, lead-laden toys, and defective drywall that is believed to have rendered thousands of homes in the South almost uninhabitable.

One Wisconsin company, Scientific Protein Laboratories, was in the center of a supply chain making the blood-thinner heparin.

Hundreds of allergic reactions to the drug, including 81 reported deaths, led to a nationwide recall that was linked to tainted raw materials from China in 2007 and 2008.

These days Wisconsin is at the center of a new trade dispute with China. Appleton Coated of Kimberly was one of three paper companies to join with the United Steelworkers to file a petition with the government alleging that China was dumping certain types of paper products in the U.S. market. On Nov. 6, the U.S. International Trade Commission decided to investigate allegations of unfair subsidies.

Jon Geenan, international vice president for the United Steelworkers, grew up near the Kimberly plant. He estimates that Chinese and Indonesian imports have cost the state more than 5,000 jobs in its paper mills. That means dozens of foreclosed homes and hundreds of people who are behind on their property taxes. “Even the churches say that donations are down,” he said. “They are definitely challenging the way we live.”

In Marathon County, where the glaciated soil makes for a bitter ginseng, the way many Chinese like it, Yu, the ginseng buyer, appears content with his new role as big shot. He recently met Gov. Doyle and signed a deal to become China’s exclusive importer of Wisconsin’s prized root. “But only if the quality is good,” he said. “The student has become the teacher!”


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Close to the departure of President Obama on his all-important trip to Asia with stops in Tokyo November 12th, Singapore November 13-15, Shanghai November 15th, Beijing November 16-18, and Seoul November 18-19, the Japan Society has planned co-incidentally the event we are reporting about here.

Japan is the only original OECD member in Asia, as such Japan clearly feels justifiably it is a US prime partner in Asia. It also was clearly instrumental in nailing down the 1987 Kyoto Protocol to The Framework Convention on Climate Change, and hopes that this material will continue to be the base for future climate negotiations. That was the basis for having co-organized and hosted  the following meeting – November 10th.

————-

Copenhagen & Beyond: A Multilateral Debate about Climate Change Policy.
Green Japan Series
Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at the Japan Society, New York.

The positions and participation of Japan, China and the United States in any successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol will help determine its success or failure. In a Tuesday November 10, 2009 panel, at the Japan Society, New York, Masayoshi Arai, Director, JETRO New York, Special Advisor, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI); The Honorable Zhenmin Liu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations; Elliot Diringer, Vice President, International Strategies, Pew Center on Global Climate Change; and Takao Shibata, chair of the working group that drafted the Kyoto Protocol, debated the direction of international climate change policy.

It was Moderated by Jim Efstathiou, Correspondent, Bloomberg News, and co-organized by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

————–

Takao Shibata, who is now a Chancellor Lecturer at the University of Kansas and Japan Consul General in Kansas City,mentioed that Japan is ready to commit to a 2020 reduction of 25% in emissions provided that there is FAIR and EFFECTIVE agreement with a VIGUROUS COMPLIANCE agreement as part of it. He stressed that the problem with Kyoto was that there was no compliance paragraph in the Protocol. All it said was that we postpone decision.

The OBJECTIVE must be: THE STABILIZATION OF CO2 CONCENTRATION IN THE ATMOSPHERE rather then fighting over figures of temperature increase or concentrations in parts per milion numbers. We have already a Framework he said – the Copenhagen process should be about STABILIZATION. Later he added that we must at least agree to a 2050 position.

Mr. Masayoshi Arai, who is in New York since June 2009, with The Japaese External Trade Organization (JETRO), after having held 16 positions within Japan Government, includingthe Prime Minister’s task force that created the Japan Consumer Protection Agency, and with The Fair Trade Commission and Agency for Natural Resouces and Energy and its Research Institute, Supervised manufacturing industries in their CO2 emissions reduction, and has also an MBA from Wharton, probably because of his present government trade position, was rather careful in what he said. He said that we ned something “meaningful”  for global warming  and left the Japanese point of view to Professor Shibata.

————-

Eliot Diringer whose organization, the Washington based Pew Center, is a link between Environmentalism, industry and government made it clear that what is lacking is a legal architecture in place to deal with the problems created by climate change to which now Professor Shibata answered on the spot that the history is such that already in Berlin, later in Kyoto, the US was against a legal concept – that is a clear 15 year old problem. In Kyoto, the US Vice President came to seal the Protocol in full knowledge that it is unratifiable in Washington. Shibata does not want a repeat of this with a US that is in no position to ratify an agreement.

Diringer came back with the suggestion that he can see that Developing countries will accept self prescribed domestic reductions and will request an agreement that makes this possible for them to do so. That means a new FRAMEWORK that is more flexible then the original.

—————

Ambassador Zhenmin Liu, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the UN in New York since 2006, in charge of China’s participation on the Second Committee at the UN, with prior experience at the UN in Geneva and as Director-General of the Treaty and Law Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been involved in Climate Change negotiations for China. He was actually the only member of the panel entitled to express a national negotiating position, and he did indeed come through.

Ambassador Liu said that he cannot have now a document to replace Kyoto – this lines him up with what might be a Japanese interest, but clearly is no answer to the problems that were pointed out at why Kyoto was a failure.

But then he also said that you need a GLOBAL CAP for the GHG emissions that must then take into account, when talking about individual nations, their level of industrialization.

A certain raport evolved between him and Washingtonian Diringer.

It was agreed that there is the need for Technology Innovation, Technology Cooperation, and Technology Transfer.

Diringer said that China is very well positioning itself for the green technology economy. People in the US start to understand that the US will lose the competition for future technology and there must be a start for support in US Congress for energy action right now.

These exchanges gave me an opening to ask mty question about what goes on right now – the days that President Obama plans for his trip to Asia with a long stopover in China.

I started my question to ambassador Liu by saying that on the internet there is a lot of talk about a G-2 US-China agreement needed to jump start the Copenhagen negotiations, and I saw visually the Ambassador cringe.  to this idea of a G-2. I continued by asking that what can we expect as an outcome from the meetings in Beijing if there is anything he could tell us as we believe that some concluding material was negotiated prior to the deision for this trip considering tha this is in effect the second meeting between the leaders?

I was honored with a long answer that included several main points.

The first point is that the US has accepted Kyoto and I guess China does not want to renegotiate Kyoto.

Then, China has 20% of the world population the US only 5%, but China has only a fraction of the GDP per capita then the US, so there is no G-2 situation here. That must have been the reason for the cringing – China does not want to lose its place as leader of the underdeveloped nations.

Secondly – this is not a US – China negotiation but a negotiation for all groups.

Thirdly, there is place for clean energy cooperation, bilateral programs and projects – to jointly use clean technology.

——-

Professor Shibata added that we talk of the atmosphere where there are no national boundaries. We talk of sovereign areas only on the surface of the earth – and we must realize that the effects turn up in the air and we have no national control of the air.

Further, he said that in the west when something bad happens, the first thing we do is we sue the polluter – ask him to pay. He continued saying “I would encourage everyone to think about that.”

Mr. Diringer added that the CDM was introduced to harness market forces to get reduction of CO2 emissions at lowes cost.

——-

To summarize – it was nice for Japan to try to host a US-China debate before moves that will inevitably have to bring the US and China closer together. To follow up – let us look at President Obama’s itinerary to get further in depth to what a reorientation of the US towards Asia could mean.

Japan, South Korea, and China are trying to form an East Asia Trilateral grouping with a Free Trade Agreement among the three countries. Obviously, this will open the Chinese market to Japan and Korea and there is no way for the US, with its own effective NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico. Japan wants thus perhaps more then just be a pivot in US – Chiba negotiations, it rather has also to make sure that it can hold on to its own agreements with both main countries. President Obama has thus quite a few non-climate topics to talk about in his Yokyo and Seoul stops.

The second big stop is in Singapore where he will meet the 21 members of APEC: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong (part of China), Indonesia, Japan,  Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, The Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Thailand, The United States, and Viet Nam. This will be the reintroduction of the US to the Pacific region in general – an area that the locals contend was totally neglected by the US in the eight years of the Bush administration. A main point in this meeting will be to help redirect the participating economies from export to the US to supply to their local populations – this so that they help both areas – their own and the US economy as well.

Will they also consult on whom to back for the job of UN Secretary-General in 2010? That is about the time to start this sort of negotiations, and Singapore seems to be the right place to look for the best viable candidate.

Eventually, the Third leg of the trip – the stops  in China – will have to be the clear main target of the trip – as said here by Ambassador Liu, the business deals in clean energy that can underpin both economies  (US and China) so they become an example for cooperation on climate change that presents direct benefits to economies looking for sustainable growth, that is a match to the needs of the people and the climate as well –  this is what we call Sustainable Development that is mutual – for the newly industrializing nation and for the phasing out of the old polluting industries of the past.

——————

for information from President Obama’s Asian trip we recommend:

www.ft.com/obamainasia 

www.ft.com/rachmanblog

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 15th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Some of the World Environment News – September 15, 2009 – from Planet Ark of Reuters:
———————————————————————————————————————————-

DENMARK
Europe Wind Power Body Sees Big Offshore Potential
 planetark.org/wen/54659

GERMANY
EU Delays Van Emissions Clampdown
 planetark.org/wen/54657

NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand To Revise Emissions Scheme
 planetark.org/wen/54660

NORWAY
Clean Energy To Create More Jobs Than Coal
 planetark.org/wen/54661

SINGAPORE
Scientists Find CO2 Link To Antarctic Ice Cap Origin
 planetark.org/wen/54655

UK
Many Climate Change Costs Seen Avoidable
 planetark.org/wen/54658

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

mail-2.jpg

Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) and Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS, Singapore) are jointly organizing the first BIPSS-ISAS Roundtable dialogue on Singapore-Bangladesh Relations on 25 May 2009 in Singapore.

A four member delegation from Bangladesh led by President BIPSS, Major General ANM Muniruzzaman (Retd.), will arrive in Singapore on 24 May, 2009. The roundtable agenda encompasses a wide range of issues that are of interest for both the countries; Singapore and Bangladesh.   Both the institutes will present papers (each institute will present 4 papers) on domestic economic developments (of respective countries), regional security architecture, evolving regional relations in South and Southeast Asia and future of regional groupings in South and Southeast Asia (i.e. SAARC and ASEAN). The Roundtable will also review past and existing relations between Bangladesh and Singapore.

The roundtable dialogue will essentially play a major role in strengthening Singapore-Bangladesh relations and furthering regional cooperation. This will be a yearly event at Track II level, and the 2nd Singapore-Bangladesh Roundtable will be hosted in Bangladesh in 2010.

Tentative Programme

logo_isas.jpg


SUNDAY, 24 MAY 2009

Arrival of Bangladesh Delegation to Singapore


MONDAY, 25 MAY 2009

8.30am                      
Arrival of Delegates and Tea / Coffee
9.00am
WELCOME ADDRESS

Professor Tan Tai Yong
Co-Chair, First Roundtable on Singapore-Bangladesh Relations, and
Director, Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore

Major General Muniruzzaman
Co-Chair, First Roundtable on Singapore-Bangladesh Relations, and
President, Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies

9.15am
SESSION ONE
Singapore and Bangladesh: Understanding Domestic Socio- economic and Political Environments

Moderator
Dr Amitendu Palit
Visiting Research Fellow
Institute of South Asian Studies

Presentations

Key Socio-economic and Political Developments in Bangladesh
Dr. S Mahmud Ali, Senior Editorial Coordinator – Asia-Pacific, at the BBC World Service, London and a member of the BIPSS International Advisory Board.
Key Socio-economic and Political Developments in Singapore
Dr Gillian Koh, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS.
Discussions

10.45am
SESSION TWO
Bangladesh-Singapore Relations

Moderator
Dr. S Mahmud Ali,
Senior Editorial Coordinator – Asia-Pacific, at the BBC World Service, London and a member of the BIPSS International Advisory Board.

Presentations

Relations between Singapore and Bangladesh – The Bangladesh Perspective Khaled Iqbal Chowdhury, Research Associate, BIPSS
Relations between Singapore and Bangladesh – The Singapore Perspective Mr M. Shahidul Islam, Research Associate, Institute of South Asian Studies


12.15pm                

Lunch


1.30pm

SESSION THREE
Singapore and Bangladesh: The Regional Security Architecture

Moderator
Professor S. D. Muni
Visiting Senior Research Fellow
Institute of South Asian Studies

Presentations

Major Security Challenges facing South Asia
Major General ANM Muniruzzaman (Retd.),
President BIPSS.
Major Security Challenges facing Southeast Asia
Mr Daljit Singh
Visiting Senior Research Fellow
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
Discussions


3.00pm

Tea / Coffee

3.15pm

SESSION FOUR
Singapore and Bangladesh: Regionalism and the Future of
Regional Groupings in South and Southeast Asia

Moderator
Major General ANM Muniruzzaman (Retd.),
President BIPSS.

Presentations

Bangladesh, the South Asian Region and SAARC
Shafqat Munir, Research Analyst, BIPSS.
Singapore, the Southeast Asian Region and ASEAN
Ambassador See Chak Mun
Senior FellowInstitute of South Asian Studies
Discussions


4.45pm

CLOSING REMARKS

Professor Tan Tai Yong
Co-Chair, First Roundtable on Singapore-Bangladesh Relations, and
Director, Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore

Major General Muniruzzaman
Co-Chair, First Roundtable on Singapore-Bangladesh Relations, and
President, Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies

5.00pm

End of Roundtable


6.30pm

Cocktails followed by Dinner hosted by ISAS


9.00pm

End of Dinner

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 28th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

APEC – the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation – was a Bush generated organization. Can the Obama Administration work with them?

We just got a heavily symbols-larded e-mail announcing their March 24-25, 2009 Workshop on Policies to Promote Energy Efficiency in Transport – but we were unable to open their Draft Agenda. Nevertheless, we spotted some IEA related names in the heavily designed cover letter as supposed stars of the event. We doubt that this is an environment fit for the new Washington White House.

Further, the so called “Alliance to Save Energy” was nothing more then a pre-Bush nuclear energy Washington Lobby – are they supposed to lead the new US effort?

In short – what is the US going to do with this organization? Is it worth the effort to restructure it in order to save the names mentioned in the press announcement? Can this be done without a complete revolution of the staff? Is this the platform for a US-China collaboration in the Obama era? We would love to get answers from the organizers so we can post them for our readers. We are for negotiations with anyone, but then some fora may just be a waste of time.

apec002.gif

unknown.jpg

unknown-1.jpg

The APEC Workshop on Policies to Promote Energy Efficiency in Transport

On 24 and 25 March 2009, the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) Secretariat in Singapore will host the APEC Workshop on Policies that Promote Energy Efficiency in Transport (WPPEET). Policy makers and experts within the transportation, environment, energy and related fields from the 21 APEC member economies are invited to attend. Please register by 6 March 2009; there is no cost for registration.

The workshop will bring together APEC economy policymakers and international experts to discuss best practices and lessons learned in all APEC economies, with the aim of informing future policy for promoting energy-efficient and sustainable transport throughout the APEC region.   The intended outcomes of the workshop include an expansion of a 2008 survey of APEC transportation policies to incorporate the best practices and case studies discussed during the workshop, and a draft action plan for APEC economies.

The attached draft agenda shows the main topics to be discussed during the workshop, all of which will touch on the themes that will be established by the Plenary panel:

·                 Challenges in Transport and Climate Change (Lee Schipper, Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency).
·                 Addressing Climate Change in the Transport Sector through the Avoid-Shift-Improve approach (Jamie Leather, Asian Development Bank)
·                 Action Plan on Transport and Climate Change for the International Community (Cornie Huizenga, Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia) Center)

We hope you will join your peers from a wide range of APEC economies at this timely and important event.     We look forward to your positive response and to seeing you at WPPEET in March! Please contact me at  slarsen at ase.org or at +1 (202) 530-2227 if you have any questions about the workshop.

Thank you,

Sally Larsen
Policy and Research Associate
The Alliance to Save Energy
(202) 530-2227

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 5th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

IOM Press Briefing Notes
Friday 5 September 2008

INDONESIA – Religious Teachers Carry Ramadan Message of Community Policing to Aceh – IOM is working with the Ar-Raniry State Islamic Institute and the Aceh Provincial Police (Polda NAD) through the Holy month of Ramadhan to promote community policing in the Indonesia’s northernmost province through the use of Islamic cultural values unique to the area.

The 15-day Safari Kemitraan Ramadhan (Ramadhan Partnership Road show), which kicks off today, is funded by the European Commission and the Royal Netherlands Embassy, and aims to inform villagers about the value of community policing using religious messages.

IOM is providing logistical support, transport and printed materials for the team of religious teachers from the Institute and police officers implementing the scheme.

“Communities in Aceh will benefit from all the positive values embodied in community policing. The roadshow will help to endorse the program and will be an effective tool to build partnerships with Acehnese across the province,” says Dr. Abdul Rani, Msi, a professor of Ar-Raniry.

Located at the northernmost tip of the island of Sumatra, Aceh is also known colloquially as Mecca’s Veranda. For hundreds of years it served as the final port of call for pilgrims making the long sea voyage from Indonesia, the most populous Moslem nation on earth, to Mecca. It is the most devout area in Indonesia, and proud of its Islamic heritage.

Aceh Senior Police Commissioner Setyanto says he supports the use of a culturally sensitive approach to informing a public that is deeply suspicious of the police. Aceh was the scene of a violent, decades-long separatist conflict that drew to a close in 2005, with the signing of a peace agreement between rebels and the central government.

{As it happens, Aceh is also home of large oil fields with international oil companies having had involvement here. Aceh once was sponsored from the outside in its attempt of becoming independent from Indonesia – thus the announcement and the backing are quite interesting.}

IOM is in the midst of a two year programme to training more than 7,200 of the roughly 9,200 police officers in Aceh in community policing and human rights. The trainings aim to reduce conflict and underpin a return to peace and security in the province.

For further information, please contact Jihan Labetubun at IOM Jakarta. Tel. +62 8111907028. Email:  jlabetubun at iom.int

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 20th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

World Economic Forum: “Dire Situations Call for Bold Measures.”

The World Economic Forum on East Asia wrapped up this week with Ahn Ho-Young, South Korea’s Deput   Minister for Trade, saying it was dominated by “the three F’s”: food, fuel and finance.

A forum survey of the 55 business leaders who attended the two-day meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, showed that an overwhelming 81% voted for “addressing growing global concern over environmental challenges such as climate change and water” as the top issue facing Asia.

Also of concern were “preventing political and economic instability linked to rising food and energy prices” and “managing the social, environmental and infrastructural implications of rapid urbanization.”
The survey also revealed that the price of rice had more than tripled in Thailand since January. During the same time, diesel prices have risen over 26% in Vietnam.
Water is another issue rising to the fore, with Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of the Board, Nestle, Switzerland, repeating his dire warning: “We will be running out of water long before we run out of oil.”

He lamented that more of the world’s GDP was not being allocated to water: “One out of every five children is dying every 20 seconds because we haven’t been able to solve the problem of clean water today.”


Mr. Ho-Young (South Korea)   urged Asia to do three things: “First, it is important for Asian countries to maintain their open market policies which will enable us to maintain the momentum of economic growth,” he said. Second, he urged Asian countries to pay more attention to the economic and social impacts imposed by the global economic uncertainties. Third, “Asian countries should and must play a more active role in solving global issues,” he said (Xinhua).

In his opening remarks, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah bin Ahmad Badawi referred to fundamental questions, primary assumptions, and revered assumptions, that had to be reviewed and re-evaluated. “Unless we are prepared to address these questions sincerely and take necessary remedial measures,” he said, “our economies and the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people will continue to be vulnerable. Dire situations call for bold measures” (The Toronto Star).

East Asia (generally consisting of Japan, North and South Korea, China, Taiwan, with Vietnam and Singapore) has come to the realization that it is now in a position to react positively, with the best interests of the region in mind, to the world’s economic challenges.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 24th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

malaysia001.jpg

malaysia002.gif

Melaka’s modern history began in 1403 with the arrival of Parameswara, an exiled Hindu Prince from the Kingdom of Sri Vijaya on Sumatra Island.
He embraced Islam under the title Raja Iskandar and started the Sultanate of Melaka that evolved into a vibrant maritime trading center.

The Portuguese, led by Alfonso d’Albuquerque conquered Melaka in 1511 and held it for 130 years until it was taken over by the Dutch in 1641 who ruled
for 154 years until 1824 when it was taken over by the British.   Malaysia’s independence in was 1957. The Japanese ruled during the 1942 – 1945 years.

In addition to the obvious Portuguese, Dutch, and British influences, actually the main influence was that of the Chinese and Indians who ran the economy of Melaka.

Here we will deal with the so called “Straits Chinese” or “Pernakan.”   They are the “Baba-Nyonyas.” There are no Babas and Nyonyas, though a myth is being created
that made outsiders believe that the babas are the males and the nyonyas the females, while others think it the other way. In short – we were surprised to find that even
part of the publicity for the UN Delegates’ Dining Room special two weeks, included this inaccuracy.

malaysia003.gif

malaysia004.jpg

The straits of Melaka, between the Malay Peninsula and the long Sumatra Island is one of the busiest sea lanes through which today pass oil tankers, but even now, the straights are infested by pirates.
The Melaka city was thus an important fort in the colonial days, and still an important commercial center run in major part by the Nyonyas of today. Part of the Nyonyas and the Indians left Malaysia at a
time the Mahatir government took highly Malay ethnic nationalistic stand and tried to displace the Chinese and Indians from their positions. A Pernakan community exists now in New York and some
from that community came to eat at the UN. Three ladies sat at a neighboring table.

As the event was basically a really high caliber culinary event, I enjoyed immensely Chef Ismail Muhammad, who is something of a celebrity chef in Kuala Lumpur, run me through the ethnic background
of the food. I am thus happy to report that I ate spicy Malay meet, Portuguese inspired fish and Indian inspired curry-chicken, also a Chinese excellent vegetarian dish. There were terrific noodle dishes
and a desert   table that had sweets and not-so sweet works of art.

Now, what did I celebrate there personally – this is simple. I was in Melaka twice, in two separate visits to Malaysia. The fist time it was in 1987 when I went to investigate the smoke that was supposed
to have been caused by the Indonesian fires on Borneo island. I went then to see by myself the situation in Melaka and was convinced, that though highly polluted from the motor vehicular transportation,
Melaka suffered much less then Kuala Lumpur – this because the winds from the sea were able to dissipate some of the pollution – so I knew that the haze was not of Sumatra origin. In effect, probably,
Sumatra was getting Malaysian pollution and not the other way around.

malaysia005.gif

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 11th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Anson Chan joined Hong Kong civil service in 1962, and advanced within the system until nominated as Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative region from 1997 to 2001 – First as Deputy to the last British Governor, Chris Patten, and then to Beijing-appointed chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. I happened to be in Hong Kong in 1997, and am aware of the mixed feelings at the time, as people saw in her the China-plant in the British Administration. But now I think that it is agreed that Hon. Anson Chan was rather the person that managed to help smooth the transition of Hong Kong – from a British Colony to an affiliate of China.

She is seen now as the person that while dealing with the mechanics oof government, she also oversaw an orderly transition to a more democratic system – something that Hong Kong did not have under the British either! Hong Kong under China was given an agreed upon “Basic Law” that allows for sort of a mini-constitution; under this law she was pushing through the slow democratizing process. In 2006 she sat up a Core Group to promote democracy and universal suffrage. On that platform she was elected to the Hong Kong Legislative Council in December 2007, and looks forward to pursue that special goal which she keeps defining as UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE.

Friday, May 9, 2008, Hon. Anson Chan came for a breakfast meeting/discussion with the Asia Society President Dr. Vishaka N. Desai. The topic was: THE FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY IN HONG KONG.

She started out by telling us that until the 1980s there was no attempt under the British to establish a representative government in Hong Kong. The first election was held in 1985. By 1991 there were 10 members elected on the basis of one man – one vote. And there was also the corporate identity that created a Functional Constituency that takes part in the elections. She expressed the obvious that these Functional Constituencies can not be part of the universal suffrage idea.

We regard that time in China as Oppressive – she said, and by the time the British made some moves to have representative government it was already too late. The first real sign of progress was thus the election of December 2007 – and this is with Hong Kong as part of China.

Even Bhutan has now elections – so why does Hong Kong have to wait? – she asked. But still – Hong Kong will have complete personal elections only by 2020. There is an intermediary stage set for 2012, but she hopes that within 4 years, the Central Government (that is Beijing) may get the trust of the people – as the people in Hong Kong are loyal to China, and know that HK is part of China. So, there will be no reason not to have every person in have the right to vote and to stand for election. This second part is important in democracy and this is not yet the case in HK. A nominating Committee should not be a filtering sieve to eliminate those you do not want to stand for the election she explained.

Further she explained of a system of four sectors in the election comittee. She hoped that in stages there will be an increase in elected officials 2012 – 2016 – 2020. Having served for 39 years in HK government , her “passion” is now to get fair government for Hong Kong, she said.

Dr. Desai asked her – after 39 years in government, how is this that you decided now to move over to the elected branch? (or in her actual words – “to the other side”)

Anson explained that she created a group of like-minded people to put forward ideas that the government ignored. The situation was – “put-up or shut-up.” So she decided to run for elections. Quite a few people, even high-school students, went to Taiwan to observe elections. This is very good she said – specially for the young – it will be for them.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO ESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP TO TAIWAN, a government-to-government relationship, she said.

Q. What role can the International Community play to help on this path? This because of the strong international presence – it is Asia’s International City?

A. there are ex-pats living in HK, so there is concern. At the moment it is air quality! Not just politics! It is important that HK remains GHG Green. This is not interference by the International Community.

Q. From someone who lived in Singapore and wanted to know if the elections could lead to a situation like in Singapore?

A. “I hope it will not be the model for HK – think there will be a genuine choice for Singapore. We have a number of social problems, health care, how to educate, how to teach skills..”

She further expressed her concern with what happens with the civil service as a whole. She was not able to back some of the appointments that were made without the necessary checks and balances. Her opponent was appointed from one of the “friendly parties.”

Now I had my chance, and asked Ms. Chang if she sees a possibility for China evolving into a Federal government situation that could then allow for diversity. I did add perhaps a possibility to have such entities like Macao, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Tibet among the units. I got in reply forthcoming information that was, honestly, even more then I hoped for.

Ms. Chan mentioned the Economic Zones that have their separate governing systems. She also mentioned the Autonomous Regions – so in principle the diversity is possible, and it is not set in stone because of existing present lines of demarcation that separate different administrative units. So, what I understand is that the whole Chinese central government is evolving – so that the state is ready to allow functional entities to evolve in different ways – as ingredients of a China that does figure to be a multi-system state – rather then a tightly centralized state. This gives us the justification that the system of buttons we introduced on www.SustainabiliTank.info, as part of our China button, is indeed the way of the future. We may thus enlarge our present selection by including buttons, as needed, for the Special Economic Zones.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 23rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Global Economy Gets a Little Greener.

Ten New Participants Join UNEP’s Climate Neutral Network at the Global
Business for the Environment Summit in Singapore.

SINGAPORE/NAIROBI, 23 April 2008 — What brings together a Latin American
beauty corporation, a boutique French advertising agency, a UK-based
sustainability think-tank and a Brazilian online carbon-trading venture?

All of them have pledged to significantly reduce their greenhouse gas
emissions en route to zero emissions by joining the Climate Neutral Network
(CN Net), a web-based forum to catalyse a transition to a low-carbon world
set up by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in cooperation with the UN’s
Environment Management Group.

The announcement was made today at the Global Business for the Environment
(B4E) Summit in Singapore.   The two-day conference, jointly organized by
UNEP and the UN Global Compact, is discussing business-driven solutions for
mitigating and adapting to climate change.

“A small but growing band of countries, cities and corporations are making
the clear and explicit statement that aspiring to low, even zero, emission
economies-is not some unobtainable pipe-dream but a path to profitability,
stability and sanity in an increasingly unstable world”, said Achim
Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director.

CN Net is federating this development and in doing so will catalyse a
transition to a low-carbon society able to transform the way we do business
on this planet.   The existing and new participants are leading by example
and proving the art of the possible and a determination to be part of a
global climate solution.   I look forward to welcoming more to the network
on World Environment Day 5 June under the theme ‘Kick the Carbon Habit'”,
he added.

A growing number of countries, cities, companies and organizations have
become CN Net participants since the initiative’s launch in February 2008
during UNEP’s Governing Council in Monaco.

The latest wave of participants extends the initiative’s reach to small-
and medium-size enterprises, as well as international, non-governmental and
research organizations.

New Additions:

Headquartered in Peru, Belcorp is an international corporation with 40
years’ experience in the manufacturing and sale of beauty products.
Well-known throughout Latin America for its iconic brands, Belcorp has
taken steps to reduce its carbon footprint throughout the supply chain —
from manufacturing to distribution of its products by some 500,000 female
sales representatives.

Inoxia is a small advertising outlet based in Bordeaux, France, which
prides itself on being a “responsible agency”.   Having completed its carbon
assessment for 2006-2007, Inoxia has set out on an ambitious plan of action
to cut greenhouse gas emissions caused by staff travel by 20% within two
years.

The aptly named BlindSpot research centre in the United Kingdom explores
opportunities for global sustainability which are conventionally
overlooked.   The centre has developed tools to make sustainable development
economically achievable such as “precycling insurance” that seeks to free
up funds for more preventive investment in global security.

Based in Brazil’s financial capital São Paolo, Incentive Sol is an
up-and-coming online venture that enables users to contribute towards the
global fight against global warming by purchasing environmentally-friendly
products and services.   A certain percentage of each transaction is
invested in community-based sustainability projects, such as small-scale
solar energy, while the buyers earn “carbon points” that could be used for
future online purchases.

Sempre Avanti Consulting is a carbon-neutral consulting practice based in
Wellington, New Zealand,
which specializes in management consulting,
transportation, procurement and sustainability.   A participant in the
national carboNZero programme since 2006, the consultancy has a stringent
travel policy that favours companies offering emissions offsets, and a
vehicle purchasing policy with a focus on the use of hybrid cars and
bio-fuels.

The UK-based Carbon Clear helps businesses and individuals calculate their
carbon footprint, reduce greenhouse emissions at the source, and purchase
carbon offset credits to balance their unavoidable climate impacts.   Carbon
Clear invests in projects that improve living standards in developing
countries, while providing global climate benefits, such as fuel-efficient
cook stoves in Sudan, energy-efficient artisan brick kilns in Nicaragua,
and engine retrofits for two-stroke tricycle motorbike taxis in the
Philippines.

Wright Communications is New Zealand’s only public relations consultancy
specializing in corporate responsibility and sustainability communications.

It works with a broad range of entities many of which are pursuing carbon
neutrality, including  multinational corporations, New Zealand-owned
businesses, government agencies and the not-for-profit sector.

Established in 1999, Planète Urgence is a French NGO that has pioneered the
concept of “solidarity holidays”, which allows working professionals to
engage in a concrete humanitarian mission during their annual leave or
other spare time.   By joining CN Net, the NGO has further committed to
offsetting its volunteers’ carbon emissions by investing in reforestation
projects in the developing countries it operates in.

The Regional Ozone Network in Europe and Central Asia (ECA) was created in
2003 to assist 12 countries of the region in phasing out ozone-depleting
substances in support of the Montreal Protocol, which in itself has
significantly contributed to climate protection by phasing out substances
which had caused both ozone-depletion and global warming at the same time.
In line with UNEP’s climate-neutral strategy, the ECA network adopted its
climate-friendly approach to organizing regional network meetings from 1
January 2008.

Last but not least, the United Nations has, under the leadership of UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, also backed a decision to work towards
climate neutrality and UNEP is among the first to adopt measures to realize
this goal.   As part of UNEP’s climate-neutral strategy, a preliminary
comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory was prepared in March 2008 and
UNEP’s 2008 carbon footprint will be offset through the purchase of
certified emission reductions and other activities, such as tree planting
in support of its Billion Tree Campaign.

Quotes from Some of the New Climate Neutral Network (CN Net) Participants:

Belcorp  www.belcorp.biz/):   “As a corporation, we are committed to
looking after our planet to make it a safe and healthy place to live on.
This is hard work, but we know we can achieve it through the passion,
commitment and enthusiasm of each of our collaborators, because, more than
just a corporation, we are a great team capable of turning extraordinary
things into reality.” — Paul Duclos, Research & Development Corporate
Expert

Inoxia  inoxia.com/):   “Inoxia strongly believes that each company’s
actions will have an impact on the environment, no matter how big or small!
Our commitment to CN Net shows that even an SME in the advertising industry
can find a whole range of solutions to become more carbon neutral.” —
Philippe Barre, CEO

BlindSpot  www.blindspot.org.uk/):   “If ever there was a moment for
new thinking and fast action, it’s now.   BlindSpot’s work on global
economic tools will be shared through CN Net to give every business and
every community a real chance to become climate neutral, or better.   We
want to see both the economy and the climate recover quickly – CN Net is
helping to make that possible.” — James Greyson, Sustainability Analyst

Incentive Sol Soluções Solidárias Ltda  www. incentivesol.com):
“We believe that the climate change problem is far too large to be
confronted by one single individual, organization, group or nation, and
only initiatives based on solidarity and team work, as the example set by
UNEP’s Climate Neutral Network, will contribute to making the world more
sustainable.” — Stelio G. Cristovão, CEO

Sempre Avanti Consulting NZ Ltd (http:// www.sempreavantinz.co.nz/):   “We
have chosen to join the Climate Neutral Network as we see this as a natural
extension of our participation in the New Zealand-based carboNZero
programme.   The CN Net gives global profile to business environmental
sustainability.   We are passionate about our companies’ sustainability
practices and see the CN Net as the best vehicle to show our global
commitment to these issues.   Sempre Avanti Consulting supports the goals of
the CN Net and believes that businesses need to show commitment to their
corporate social responsibilities by joining networks like the CN Net.” —
Gordon Shaw, Consulting Director

Carbon Clear  www.carbon-clear.com/):   “Carbon Clear is delighted to
support the aims of the Climate Neutral Network.   As a company, we are
passionate about helping business make the transition to a sustainable
future.   It is important that we inspire leaders in business and government
by sharing share best practice and success stories.   Through the Climate
Neutral Network, we can contribute to a community that illustrates the
benefits of a low-carbon future.” — Mark U. Chadwick, CEO

Wright Communications  www.wrightcommunications.co.nz/):   “A number
of our clients are already certified carbon neutral and others are
currently participating in the carboNZero programme, so it is of great
value to understand what they are going through and what they are working
towards.   What we’ve found is that many sustainable solutions don’t involve
large financial investments, just sound decision making at critical
moments-which any sized company can do.” — Nikki Wright, Managing Director

Planète Urgence  www.planete-urgence.com/):   “Planète Urgence is
proud to join UNEP’s Carbon Neutral Network in recognition of NGOs’ leading
role in the fight against climate change and their key function as an
interface between the companies of North and the people in the South.   To
reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to compensate for those which cannot be
reduced, to be carbon-neutral today and carbon-negative tomorrow — that’s
the potential of the Carbon Neutral Network for us.” — Hervé Dubois,
Director

Regional Ozone Network in Europe and Central Asia
 www.uneptie.org/ozonaction/networ…):   “Most ozone
depleting substances are greenhouse gases, some of which are thousands of
times more potent than carbon dioxide.   That’s why the implementation of
the Montreal Protocol has already contributed in a very significant way to
mitigating climate change and achieving the Kyoto targets.   The European
and Central Asian network is working with Governments, industry and
bilateral partners in the 12 participating countries to raise climate
change awareness and test new approaches, and has recently organized its
first climate-friendly meeting in Albania. But above all, we endeavour to
‘kick the habit’ and our addiction to carbon!” — Rajendra Shende, Head of
UNEP’s OzonAction Branch

The aims and objectives of the Climate Neutral Network, the pledges and
strategies of the participants and details on how to join are at
 www.unep.org

UNEP resources on climate change are at www.unep.org

UN Environment Management Group is at www.unemg.org

Global Business Summit for the Environment — www.b4esummit.com/

For more information, please contact:
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, on Tel: +254-20-762-3084, Mobile:
+254-733-632755, or when travelling: +41-79-596-5737, or e-mail:
 nick.nuttall at unep.org
Anne-France White, Associate Information Officer, on Tel: +254-20-762-3088,
Mobile: +254-738-652793, or e-mail:  anne-france.white at unep.org

***********************************
Jim Sniffen
Information Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210
 info at nyo.unep.org
 www.nyo.unep.org
*********************************

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

A Brand Exists In People’s Hearts and Minds – In Today’s Asia, You are what you wear. That’s why people pay in Asia US$1000 (and more) for a canvas handbag that is branded Louis Vuitton.

Chadha Strategy is a Hong Kong-based brand consultancy that specializes in connecting global brands with Asian consumers’ hearts and minds.

It was founded in 2000 by Radha Chadha, one of Asia’s foremost brand strategy and consumer insights experts. Radha hails from India, she has worked with leading advertising agencies Ogilvy & Mather, JWT, Grey Worldwide and Bates Asia. She has held senior strategic planning positions, and led the thinking on brands such as HSBC, American Express, British Airways, Glaxo SmithKline and Mandarin Oriental.

Chadha Strategy advises companies operating in Asia on all areas relating to building a brand and its communication, and provides a range of services from brand strategy development to corporate training and speaking engagements.

Radha is the co-author of the newly released book “The Cult of the Luxury Brand: Inside Asia’s Love Affair with Luxury.”

Visit the web site of the book  www.cultoftheluxurybrand.com to learn more.

Hong Kong boasts more Gucci and Hermes stores than New York or Paris. China’s luxury market is growing with such gusto that it will single-handedly become the biggest by 2014. Even India, the new kid on the luxury block, has 3-month waiting lists for hot items, while in Tokyo, the epicenter of the cult, 94% of women in their 20s own a Louis Vuitton bag.

The cult of the luxury brand is so powerful that Asian consumers account for as much as half of the $80 billion global luxe industry. Radha Chadha and Paul Husband explain the paradox of simultaneously pumping up your product’s status while pumping it out to the masses. They crack the code of the cult, offering a tried-and-tested approach to creating an explosive following for your brand. They outline a powerful model that explains the spread of luxury in developed markets such as Japan and Hong Kong, while predicting the future course for emerging markets such as China and India. They also examine the phenomenon of “genuine fakes”, impossible to tell from the originals and detracting from their sales.

We learned astonishing things, at the Asia Society in New York, from Ms. Chadha in her conversation with Greg Furman, Wednesday March 5, 2008. Mr. Furman, President, Furman Communications & Marketing, is the Founder/Chairman of the Luxury Marketing Council.

Today, Hong Kong has more Gucci and Hermes stores then Paris or New York. Ferragamo looks like the new National Shoe Brand in some developing countries. Talking of goods one wears – while consumers in the US buy only 11% of the global sales of luxury brands, and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa, together) 32% – Asian consumer buy today 52% of the total global sales of these goods. Ms. Chadha knows about 50 women in Hong Kong that spend $1 Million for clothing and further 250 women – half a million each, she knows that many women are not rich, simply secretaries, and nevertheless buy brand name goods. She explained why so many Asians spend so much on luxury brand bags, watches, and jewellery. Her basic answer is that today in Asia you are what you wear!

Further, as there was in all of Asia some variation of the caste system – this has been dismantled with the new economy and instead came – “How much money you have!” So now some signal via goods they wear – here – I come from a decent family league and by showing off even more expensive goods – I come from even a higher league! so, the brands have become symbols to redefine the position of Asians in Society.

Above created the interest in “logofication” of the goods – the logo can tell anyone who you think you really are.

This sociology got even more interesting with the description of the five stages of this pseudo-development – that is not just the domain of the rich:

It all starts with Stage 1 – that is the basic past SUBJUGATION stage. Every Asian Society was subjugated in the last 200 years but now the new independence and economy have introduced the bed of money.

Stage 2 is thus START OF MONEY. India is now getting to this stage. But China is already ahead at Stage 3 which is the Stage of SHOW OFF. It is already 1% of the Chinese population that have reached this stage.

Stage 4 is FIT IN – or what we called in the West “Keeping up with the Joneses.” That is where Hong Kong and Singapore are now and Taiwan and Korea are now entering this stage also. But the highest heaven in this scale is Stage 5 – that is the stage when all of this has become a “WAY OF LIFE.” Now you cannot think of doing it any other way.

To understand how all of this happened, Ms. Chadha gave us as example the ACCELERATORS for three countries.

The Japan Accelerators: In per capita, the income of the Japanese is like in the US, but the homes are small, the transportation is cumbersome and people do not own cars. They have money to spend – so they spend it on their bodies. The luxury brands are very expensive so they suck up some of these available funds.

in Japan young people are clinging to their parents’ home – This liberates money for secretaries and sales force employees. That is 50% of those sales.

The China Accelerators: Much is given as gifts to business contacts. The brands entered in the 90’s and every transaction was smoothed with a gift. Now also an “own use” market is growing, and because the men earn mainly the money – this has created a man’s market for 50% of the sales.

Then, in China there is the Mistresses sink-hole. As China has become the largest target for foreign investment, this as Japan was in the past, there are many male busines people that come to China and acquire the confort of a second wife. obviously, this is no hint to any legal connection, but it is a highly important driver for luxury brand items.

India is a different case. A major Accelerator for the market are the Marriage extravaganzas. An Indian wedding could go for 7 days and there is a lot of gifting. Mainly from the bride’s family side to the groom’s family side. Some families have saved for years in order to spend it on this extravaganza.

A second Accelerator in India is now the POWER OF BOLLYWOOD.

From spending on the body, now quality is appreciated in other areas as well. Radha was talking of the “impact of the hand” – the heritage – to show value. So a luxury hotel that once was priding itself with good beds and pillows – now talks of great service to be remembered.

In the Q&A came up the question of Eco-luxury or the new values that are demanded by some from Europe and the US. This is not yet well developed but it is on the way. Also, in the Us we start now with “Luxury of Wellness” – with concierge services for the whole family. This actually existed in Asia before and does see now a resurgence and repackaging.

Someone wanted to find out about counterfeiting in Asia – how is it perceived when actually a lot of the products come from China and Korea? Then further – the effect of manufacturing over-runs that are sold as if they where counterfeits but are in effect the real thing? The answer to all of this is that the Asian customer – once he buys the real thing he will not go back to a non-known product.

OK, all what we heard was about the European brands having taken over the Asian Luxury-Brands market. But what about developing Asian own luxury brands? The answer was that time has come, but nevertheless, there is here an aura of country of origin. People in Asia look up to Western brands and when Japanese designer got successful overseas – it is just that – they had to show their mettle first by succeeding in the foreign markets. And that is totally ridiculous – just think that when in Europe they still wore “Wolf-Suits”, luxury items were imported from Persia, India, China.

Luxury brands is a make believe exclusivity. It is by association with cellebrity – it is about creating an aura. Then the buyer will also believe that luxury rests in quality of manufacturing.

I had the chance to speak with Ms. Chadha after the presentation and told her that i did indeed buy about 15 years ago two pairs (black and brown) of Coach shoes (one of the brands that were mentioned) and they were so good that I keep giving them to the shoemaker for repair – and the company just lost me as a client – I am sure that this does not endear me to Coach.

Now, thinking about sustainable development, the reality depicted in this evening tales is quite appauling when one feels compassion for the development in these countries. In effect we can see little difference with the imports of Cadillacs in the 50s-60s to Saudi Arabia. We clearly would have liked to hear that quality is related to environmental achievements – or at least something more cerebral then showing off to the Joneses. So be it – I hope the folks at UNICEF read this – they may find some vindication here of their own Gucci story. 9 those uninitiated, please use the search mechanism of our website to read about the UN and Gucci.

————-

Further, from this article we also learn about a rearranged world. And that might even be more interesting then the actual content of luxury brands.

 Now – did you realize that Asia is now basically composed of the economies of China Taiwan, Hongkong, Singapore, Korea, Japan, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia – ten States from the South, South East and Far East parts of Asia?

Above States are basically Budhist and Hindu with a springling of Islam? As said in the article all these societies had historic caste structures. Malysia comes in thanks to the very active Budhist and Hindu minorities. Eventually this Asia will fill out a bit with the addition of Mongolia, Burma, Cambodia, Laos … when those countries will start also to take part in the regional development process. Perhapse also others like Bangladesh and the Philippines, North Korea, Indonesia in some form or other.

The fact that this Asia will interact with the US is of no surprise, but rather as a major surprise we found here this EMEA concept – Europe – Middle East – Africa that lumps all what is to the West of this Asia into one group that is now led by Europe – but who knows – someday it might actually be led by the Islamic Middle East.

All what did not fit in to above three economic blocs – that is Latin America/Caribbean and Australia/New Zealand/Pacific are   simply the outsiders – those famous “Others” in UN language. Seemingly this Asia does not have much use for them.  www.SustainabiliTank.info comment)

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 28th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From the spokesperson’s office of UNEP we were sent the following Press Release.

{But let us, note first that –  SustainabiliTank.info finds of particular interest the choice for the African region of
“Balgis Osman-Elasha, a senior researcher at Sudan’s Higher Council for Environment & Natural Resources,”
and we notice that there is no paragraph when explaining the choice as it was done for all other six choices – the special award, the US award, and the awards from the other five regions. Is this because the gentleman is an official of the government of Sudan and was proposed by the African Union in their routine of spiting the West?     We recreated the paragraph spacing in our posting.}

Climate Change Links 2008 Champions of the Earth Award Winners.

Green achievers from Bangladesh to New Zealand will be honoured at
international award ceremony in April in Singapore

NAIROBI, 28 January 2008 – From protecting the unique biodiversity of
Yemen’s islands to piloting climate-proofing strategies in Sudan and
boosting conservation in Barbados, the 2008 Champions of the Earth are
making their mark across the planet.

Prince Albert II of Monaco, former US Senator Timothy E. Wirth and New
Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark – whose country will host World
Environment Day this year with the theme “Kick the Habit! Towards a Low
Carbon Economy” – are among the seven environmental achievers chosen for
this year’s awards, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
announced today.

The Champions of the Earth prize, which will be given out at a ceremony in
Singapore on 22 April, recognizes individuals from each region of the world
who have shown extraordinary leadership on environmental issues.

The other 2008 Champions of the Earth are: Balgis Osman-Elasha, a senior
researcher at Sudan’s Higher Council for Environment & Natural Resources;

Atiq Rahman, the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced
Studies; Liz Thompson, the former Energy and Environment Minister of
Barbados; and Abdul-Qader Ba-Jammal, the Secretary-General of the Yemen
People’s General Congress.

All the winners have spearheaded outstanding initiatives in many different
areas from environmental policy to cutting-edge research, with a particular
focus on sustainable development and the fight against climate change.

The announcement comes on the eve of the 10th Special Session of the UNEP
Governing Council, which will bring together over 100 ministers from around
the world in Monaco from 20 to 22 February. This year’s Governing Council
will also focus on the urgent challenge of climate change – specifically,
the issue of mobilizing finance to realize a low-carbon world.

Achim Steiner, the UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director,
said: “Today, we face environmental challenges of unprecedented magnitude.
More than ever, our planet needs committed leaders and achievers like the
2008 Champions of the Earth who spur real, positive change and fuel
innovative solutions to environmental problems.

In doing so, these inspirational individuals demonstrate not only that
action and different development paths are possible but also the abundant
opportunities arising as a result of a transformation towards a green
economy.”

2008 Champions of the Earth:

UNEP SPECIAL PRIZE
Rt. Hon. Helen Clark

By setting a carbon-neutral goal for New Zealand, Prime Minister Helen
Clark has put her country at the forefront of today’s environmental
challenges. Three major policy initiatives launched by Miss Clark are also
blazing new trails for sustainability and the fight against climate change:
the Emissions Trading Scheme; the Energy Strategy; and the Energy
Efficiency and Conservation Strategy.

Miss Clark’s policies champion renewable energy and energy efficiency
across key sectors of the economy. Her Government is also achieving
substantial work on environmental protection, from forestry and agriculture
to improving public awareness and boosting private sector involvement in
sustainability. New Zealand will be hosting this year’s World Environment
Day – one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations
stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political
attention and action. The event will take place on 5 June 2008 with the
slogan “Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy”.

AFRICA                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Dr. Balgis Osman-Elasha

Dr. Balgis Osman-Elasha, a senior scientist from Sudan, is at the forefront
of global research on climate change. A leading author of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, she has produced
groundbreaking work on global warming – the defining challenge of our era –
in Africa, with an emphasis on northern and eastern Africa.

Dr. Osman-Elasha’s emphasis on global warming and adaptation in Sudan is
vital given the strong interlinkages between climate change and conflict in
the country. Her work as a prominent researcher on climate change makes her
a true role model for women in Africa.

The award also recognizes Dr. Osman-Elasha’s efforts to educate Sudanese
university students about the issue of climate change, thus raising
awareness among the country’s new generation.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
Dr. Atiq Rahman

Dr. Atiq Rahman is an eloquent advocate for sustainable development from
Bangladesh – a country highly vulnerable to climate change and flooding. As
one of the top specialists in his field, the Executive Director of the
Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) transformed the
non-governmental organization (NGO) into a leading think-tank in South Asia
on sustainable development issues.

Dr. Rahman’s extensive publications on the subjects of environment and
development in Bangladesh are a reference for his peers, and he has also
developed an innovative post-graduate course on sustainable development and
North-South dialogue.

With his national and international experience in environment and resource
management, Dr. Rahman’s expertise remains vital throughout the
Asia-Pacific region and beyond as he helps to raise awareness of the
hazards of global warming.

EUROPE
H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco

One of Prince Albert II’s first acts as sovereign of Monaco was to sign the
Kyoto Protocol – an eloquent sign of his longstanding commitment to the
environment. Prince Albert has been a prominent voice on environmental
issues since the early 1990s and he has been strongly involved in raising
awareness on climate change, leading an expedition to the North Pole in
2006 to draw attention to the consequences of global warming.

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which he created in 2006, works
actively on protecting the environment and promoting sustainable
development, with a focus on biodiversity loss, water and the fight against
climate change. Prince Albert is also a patron of the Billion Tree
Campaign, which successfully led to the planting of well over a billion
trees across the planet in 2007.

Prince Albert has also shown remarkable commitment to sustainable
development on his home turf of Monaco. Under his leadership, Monaco is now
applying an exemplary policy on CO2 reduction in every sphere of society as
well as in the business sector.

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
H. E. Liz Thompson

Ms. Thompson has become one of the recognized leaders on environmental
issues of the small island developing States.

During her time as Minister of Energy and the Environment of Barbados, she
enacted a range of progressive policies for sustainable development and
environmental protection.

She also became a key voice to raise awareness of global warming in
Barbados – a country where the challenges of climate change and
conservation are of particular relevance.

Ms. Thompson has also played a role in environmental awareness and
protection across the Caribbean region. She has encouraged small island
States to diversify their economies, undertake sustainability assessments,
and promote community-based programmes that have positive environmental
impacts.

NORTH AMERICA
Timothy E. Wirth

For the last 30 years, Timothy E. Wirth has been an advocate for
environmental issues in the United States. As the president of the United
Nations Foundation and Better World Fund, Mr. Wirth has established the
environment as a key priority and is mobilizing strong resources to address
crucial issues from biodiversity to climate change and renewable energy.

A strong supporter of the Kyoto Protocol, Mr. Wirth was instrumental in
raising awareness and calling for policy action on global warming during
his time as United States Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs.

Mr. Wirth was also a steadfast advocate on environmental issues during his
time as a member of the US Senate, when he engaged in a number of
conservation and natural resource issues in his state of Colorado. Mr.
Wirth authored the Colorado Wilderness Bill as well as other successful
legislation on energy, conservation and environmental protection.

WEST ASIA
H.E. Abdul-Qader Ba-Jammal

Mr. Ba-Jammal has had a truly pioneering influence on environmental
protection in Yemen – a country which faces acute challenges from water
scarcity to desertification. During his time as Minister and then Prime
Minister, he established Yemen’s Ministry of Water and Environment and
Environment Protection Authority, solicited national and international
funding for environmental conservation and sustainable water management,
and implemented a series of groundbreaking environmental policies in Yemen
and its re
gion.

Mr. Ba-Jammal also orchestrated conservation efforts for the Socotra
archipelago, a site of global importance for biodiversity. The Socotra
conservation fund came into being under his patronage, and the archipelago
was listed as a UNESCO Man and Biosphere reserve in 2003.

Among other achievements, Mr. Ba-Jammal also supported the declaration of
several marine and land protected areas in Yemen and established a state
agency for the development of Yemeni islands with a focus on marine
resources conservation. Along with Mr. Ba-Jammal’s work on Yemen’s water
sector, all these projects serve as key examples of environmental awareness
in a region where water and conservation issues are of vital importance –
increasingly so in a climate-constrained world.

Champions of the Earth is an international environment award established in
2004 by UNEP. The annual prize rewards individuals from around the globe
who have made a significant and recognized contribution globally,
regionally and beyond, to the protection and sustainable management of the
Earth’s environment and natural resources. Candidates are judged by a
senior UNEP panel with input from UNEP’s regional offices.

Past Champions of the Earth winners include, among others: Ms. Massoudeh
Ebtekar, the former Vice-President of Iran; H.E. Mikhail Gorbachev of the
Russian Federation; H.R.H. Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan; Jacques Rogge
and the International Olympic Committee; and Al Gore, the former
Vice-President of the United States.

The Champions of the Earth are invited to accept their award at an
international ceremony which will be held in Singapore on 22 April 2008.
The event will be hosted in conjunction with the Business for the
Environment Summit (B4E), details of which can be found on the UNEP
website.

No monetary reward is attached to the prize – each laureate receives a
trophy made of recycled metal especially designed by the Kenyan sculptor
Kioko and representing the fundamental elements for life on earth: sun,
air, land and water.

Background on the Champions of the Earth award and all the laureates can be
found at www.unep.org or from UNEP’s communications division at
 nep.org.
” title=”mailto:championsoftheearth@unep.org.“>championsoftheearth at unep.org.

The 10th Special Session of UNEP’s Governing Council /Global Ministerial
Environment Forum will take place at the Principality of Monaco from 20 to
22 February 2008. More information can be found at
 www.unep.org/gc/gcss-x/

For information on World Environment Day 2008, please visit
 www.unep.org/wed/2008/english/Abo…

For more information, please contact: Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, on
Tel: +254-20-762-3084, Mobile: +254-733-632-755, or: +41-79-596-5737, or
e-mail:  nick.nuttall at unep.org; or Anne-France White, Associate Information
Officer, on Tel: +254-20-762-3088, Mobile: +254-738-652793, or e-mail:
 anne-france.white at unep.org

UNEP News Release 2008/1

***********************************
Jim Sniffen
Information Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210
 info at nyo.unep.org
 www.nyo.unep.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 26th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 The article apeared on The Japan Times online January 27, 2008.

 search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/eo20…

. . . Some misguided souls suggest that the world will start holding up the “China model” as a viable alternative to liberal democracy. One famous commentator provocatively proposes that “China’s success story is the most serious challenge that liberal democracy has faced since fascism in the 1930s.”

How silly. It is true that China is currently enjoying an extraordinary economic rise, and its leaders and people absolutely deserve to be lustily — not cautiously — applauded for all their hard work, their good economic judgment and unbelievable luck. But they would be the first to tell anyone that the world’s most populated nation has mountains of problems and that their future outlook is up in the air.

Especially up in the air is China’s ability to pull off the showcase Summer Olympics without athletes falling over dead from the capital’s deeply polluted air. Pundits speculate that because China is a totalitarian nation, the big boys in Beijing will simply order the factories to shut down for a few weeks, push people out of their cars and back onto their bicycles and order everyone to stop smoking cigarettes during the Games. That’s possible, but the totality of the pollution problem in China is probably more of a monstrosity than even a monster command-government can handle.

Sure, almost everyone is deliriously happy to have watched China escape the misery of the Mao era, but only a profound pessimist could aver that the “China model” is widely viewed, even in Asia, as an alternative to the “democracy model.”

The truth is that each country must evolve its own model. Some will want parts of America’s people power or a Japan at its crisis-best. Others will want to borrow some of the elite policy-engineering savvy of successful Singapore.

Others will inevitably look to Scandinavia for guidance on the social safety-net issue. But China as a starter-kit model? Look, the place has at least 1.3 billion people.

The only country close to that is India, with its bumbling, inefficient democracy. But India is never going to emulate China, ever. Nor — in our lifetime at least — is anyone else. Thankfully.

Let China be China — and let’s leave it at that.

Tom Plate is a veteran journalist and author. He teaches policy and communication studies at UCLA.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 22nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Cartoons #108 – “Things Are Bad When Credit Card Applications Stop Coming.” London Talks Of a Crash Fed By Expectation of a US Recession.
The US Economy Is Still The Biggest In The World – So! It Can Start The Biggest Harm As Well. The World Having Been Integrated Can Go Down Together, Though It Never Went Up Together.
Rich get richer, poor get poorer, but when the flue, or climate change strike – all do suffer as one. Now, this is something to chew on.
There is talk about postponing the Doha talks until after the US Presidential elections in November. Will the world put everything on halt until there is a new Administration in Washington?
Will the UN also move the climate change negotiations until spring next year? What does one do until then? OK – work on your own home markets and improve the lot of your own people.
That is something positive you can do. Globalization will come to a halt anyway, when the markets put a brake on the economy.

republicans003.jpg

Crash! Biggest fall in shares since September 11

Recession fears wipe £84bn off the value of Britain’s biggest companies as stock markets tumble across the globe

By Nick Clark

Published: 22 January 2008

crash220108_263164g.gif

Click here for full-size version

It was the day that the fear factor took over. From Asia to South America, share prices tumbled yesterday as the world’s investors gambled that a US recession was now inevitable. In London, the City endured its darkest day since the nadir of 9/11. What Alan Greenspan once called the “irrational exuberance” of traders gambling on rising asset values has gone. In its place, a deep-rooted pessimism has taken hold.

In a single session, a massive £84bn was wiped off the value of Britain’s biggest companies, as the FTSE 100 index plummeted by 5.5 per cent, closing 323.5 points lower at 5578.2. Last week the index dipped beneath the 6,000 mark for the first time since the credit crunch began in August. It was the eighth consecutive day of losses. Since Christmas Eve, the FTSE has dropped by almost 1,000 points and last night analysts were predicting further falls.

While President George Bush has authorized an economic rescue package to address the US sub-prime crisis, market experts believe the plan has come too late. And no one believes the world’s other major economies will remain unscathed as America plunges into an economic downturn. For the world’s biggest companies, recession in an export market as vital as the US can only spell trouble.

One senior UK-based trader said: “The fear is palpable as investors are getting more worried about the prospect of a recession in the US. In the current climate any vaguely scary news is pummeling the market.” Martin Slaney, head of derivatives at GFT Global Markets, said: “The punches just keep coming. Ambivalence over Bush’s rescue plan for the US economy was the trigger of this rout, causing fears of an economic slowdown.”

The gloom and alarm coursing through the City was repeated wherever shares and stocks were changing hands. Europe suffered, with Germany’s Dax index off 7.16 per cent and France’s CAC 40 down 6.83 per cent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225, which closed before trading in London, fell 3.86 per cent to a two-year low. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 5.5 per cent, and Australia’s ASX 200, was down 2.9 per cent. It was the ASX’s 11th consecutive negative day, the longest losing run for a quarter of a century. David Buik, a market expert from Cantor Index, said: “The world is now in a severe credit crisis. Banks all over the world have been indiscriminately lending money to consumers and business alike and they will have to pull in their horns, which will affect growth throughout the world.”

Poor economic data and corporate news, as well as an acceptance that the sub-prime mortgage fallout has further to go, “has created the highly distressed conditions for a global sell-off in equities”, according to Mr Slaney, of GFT.

Philip Isherwood, European and UK equity strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort, said two factors had pushed the market towards the belief that a recession in the US was almost inevitable. With a sad irony, President Bush’s belated attempt to alleviate the crisis overwhelming US financial institutions may have had the opposite effect.

On Friday, President Bush proposed a rescue package of up to $150bn to help stabilize the US economy, which is staggering in the wake of the sub-prime crisis. He called for the plan, based on tax relief, after admitting the country faced the risk of a downturn. That came in the run-up to a critical meeting at the Federal Reserve on 31 January, when the option of cutting interest rates will be discussed. The general consensus is towards a cut of 0.5 per cent.

But Mr Isherwood said: “Both the impending cuts and the rescue package have helped push the market towards thinking a recession in the US is near fact.”

There may be no good option now. Further woes on the UK market and increased losses for the FTSE 100 are likely should the Fed sit on its hands.

As the rest of the financial world bet yesterday on a grim winter ahead, the US markets were closed to mark Martin Luther King Day. Traders felt the lack of direction from the US contributed to yesterday’s falls in London. One said: “Investors were working on the worst assumptions for the opening tomorrow. Markets don’t like uncertainty, and the lack of guidance on the Dow meant some just sold more aggressively.”

The UK market was dragged down by the heavily weighted mining giants, as the market has been hit by fears of waning demand for metals. Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, recently in talks over a $150bn merger, were the worst performers on the day, both shedding more than 10 per cent of their value. As the fear of recession looms, the banking sector tends to suffer: Royal Bank of Scotland fell 8.17 per cent to 342.75p; Lloyds TSB was down 6.92 per cent to 373.5p.

Mr Isherwood said a US recession would not automatically point to a recession here: “It is more debatable whether the UK will fall into recession. There has been some strength here, and the fundamental data is quite mixed. In the US, it points one way.” It looked likely yesterday that the rest of the world would follow.

republicans004.gif

Davos: Wealth, Power and a Sprinkling of Stardust.

The World Economic Forum gathers in a small town in Switzerland tomorrow. Who will be there, and what’s at stake? By Sean O’Grady

The Financial Times, January 22, 2008 news.independent.co.uk/business/analysis_and_features/article3359088.ece

From a suitably Olympian height, the world’s rich and powerful are descending on the Swiss ski resort of Davos by private jet, helicopter and limousine to right the world’s wrongs, network, take in a little practice time on the slopes, and cut a deal or two.

At 5,000 feet above sea level, the thin air will be thick with gossip, speculation and, this year, talk of recession. Once, our now moribund political parties used to gather at dismal British seaside resorts for their conferences. There, away from the party committee rooms, the council chambers and Westminster, they would indulge in lively debate, varying amounts of intellectual stimulation and a good deal of drinking. Now the World Economic Forum at Davos performs the same function for the big beasts of global business and politics; a few days out in a nice little corner of the Alps where socialising, thinking and sleeping battle for the participant’s time.

For a few days an obscene proportion of the world’s wealth and clout will be concentrated in one normally obscure Alpine town. Some 27 heads of state or government; 113 cabinet ministers; hundreds of chief executives, bankers, sovereign wealth fund managers, economists and the media: about 2,500 participants in all. This concentrated, eclectic mix of the top slice of humanity is part of the “magic” of this mountain redoubt. Where else, so the legend goes, might Gordon Brown find himself chatting over a cocktail with Sergey Brin? Or would we see Lakshmi Mittal sharing a plate of canapés with Ban Ki-moon? Or Carlos Ghosn chewing the fat with Mohamed ElBaradei?

With everyone from Bill Gates and Bono to Rupert Murdoch and Condoleezza Rice and the scores of lesser personalities expected in, it is no wonder the place will be surrounded by barbed wire and intense security. If you’ve ever wanted to know what the Swiss army is for (apart from inventing handy little multi-tools), an attempt to penetrate the perimeter of Davos will tell you, as 5,000 troops do their bit to protect international capitalism from its enemies. The Swiss air force, such as it is, also does its bit to patrol the skies. Right now there is probably no more tempting a target for the ambitious terrorist.

The WEF gets under way this week, and the formal title of the week’s proceedings, as ever, gives little away about the true agenda. “The Power of Collaborative Innovation”, while suggestive of the business elite’s obsessions with the pace of technological change, is unlikely to be a phrase that will drop easily from many lips during the hundreds of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, plenary sessions, “workshops”, parties and “nightcap” sessions that will exhaust even this most energetic cohort of gifted individuals until they return to the bosoms of their families – real and corporate – on Sunday.

So who’s coming and what will they be chattering about? Well, apart from the luminaries already mentioned, the official co-chairs of the Forum are mostly well-known names: Tony Blair, of JP Morgan; James Dimon, chairman and CEO of JP Morgan; KV Kamath, MD and CEO of India’s ICICI Bank; Henry Kissinger, chairman of Kissinger Associates; Indra K Noovi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo;, David J O’Reilly, chairman and CEO of Chevron Corporation; and Wang Jianzhou, CEO of China Mobile Communications Corporation.

The prominent role allotted to Mr Wang, while not entirely novel, is nonetheless significant. This year at Davos there will be fewer figures from Hollywood, and rather more representing the new forces in the global economy – the new transnationals based in China, India, other rapidly growing emerging economies and the sovereign wealth funds that those nations and the petro-states of the Gulf now command. The shift in the balance of world economic power eastwards will be apparent in the faces and accents around the seminars, chalets and hotel bars. Not since 9/11 has the Forum met in such a sombre mood.

The prospects for the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China and their smaller satellite economies) have been one of the staples of international gatherings for years, but now the ruminations have a little more point to them. In 2008, for the first time, China will contribute more to the growth of the world economy than the United States. Double-digit growth in China should still just be possible this year, and it alone seems to stand between the world and a full-blown recession.

Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) from China and elsewhere have already been busy re-capitalising the West’s stricken banks, often with a disregard for their own interests that borders on the philanthropic. The recycling of trillions of dollars of trade surpluses and petro dollars means that such deals will become more prevalent. Davos will provide one more opportunity for distressed American investment bankers to bump into munificent Singaporean or Qatari or Chinese SWF managers.

There will also be plenty of time and space for the likes of Al Gore and the green lobby to weld their hopes and fears for the planet with the more immediate, but connected, economic agenda of soaring food and oil prices, imminent water shortages and the conundrum of nuclear power.

So too will business leaders be able to get a first-hand take on the biggest single source of geopolitical instability in the world and, thus, the biggest threat to economic stability: the Middle East and central Asia. Condi Rice’s keynote message will likely concentrate on this, and with the presence of Tony Blair, the representative of the “Quartet” in the region, Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai and Israel’s Shimon Peres, we might expect some sort of initiative to come out of Davos. The conference has in the past been the scene of groundbreaking moves in the history of that region, and in the process of peaceful change in South Africa and eastern Europe after the fall of Communism. The WEF’s slogan – “Committed to Improving the State of the World” – is a reasonably sincere reflection of what can come out of this huge talking shop.

So while we will miss Sharon Stone’s impromptu charity auctions, Brad Pitt’s unique contributions to economic thought and Richard Gere’s perspective on global economic imbalances, the useful purposes of Davos will be immeasurably improved by the presence of serious movers from the emerging economies.

Apart from Bono, this year’s stardust quotient will be provided by Emma Thompson, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and the writer Paulo Coelho; more of a pleasant interlude than a threat to overshadow the whole event in meaningless celebrity hype.

This is as it should be. The event has been growing in importance and prominence since its pioneering days in the early 1970s. In 1971 a German-born Swiss economist named Klaus Schwab hit upon the idea of an eclectic, informal, low-key, almost secretive gathering of the world’s most influential figures and founded a not-for-profit foundation to achieve his ends.

In those days it had much in common with the Bilderberg group, but today the WEF has left its modest beginnings way behind and actively seeks out the attention of the world, whether it is to launch a campaign against World Poverty (as Gordon Brown and Bono did in 2005) or to balance the needs and aspirations of the old economies of the West, the emerging economies of the east and the still poor billions in the south.

More than anything, the WEF can push some unwelcome and unpalatable home truths under the noses of the bankers and business execs. It can stimulate the conscience as well as the imagination. It can even perhaps offer intimations of human frailty. A few scrapes on theski slopes might even convince some that they are far from invincible. A broken leg or a dislocated shoulder can do wonders for humility.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,the creator of Sherlock Holmes, “discovered” the delights ofskiing in Davos more than a century ago, and through Holmes even offered a little homily on its benefits. As the great detective remarked, “on any man suffering from too much dignity, a course of skis would have a fine moral effect”.

Who’s on-piste

Tony Blair Our former prime minister,Middle East envoy and now part time adviser to JP Morgan will be back where he likes to be: at the centre of attention. Davos is atraditional place for old business and political acquaintanceship to be rekindled, so maybe a chat over a drink with Gordon Brown might thaw their notoriously frosty relations.

Hank Paulson The US Treasury Secretary, and former Goldman Sachs chief, is bound to receive a careful hearing as the US economy moves steadily towards recession. Will President George Bush’s latest proposal to boost the American economy work?

Bader al Sa’ad Former college basketball player and investment banker, who is now responsible for the Kuwaiti Investment Authority. One of the older of the now burgeoning breed of sovereign wealth funds. He has $3 trillion to play with; how many Western bankers will be looking to him to help them out of a sticky situation?

Mukesh Ambani Typical emerging markets big beast. Chairman and chief executive of Reliance Industries of India, the mining and energy conglomerate. Personally worth $45bn, making him the sixth richest person in the world. Who wouldn’t want to share some fondue with him?

Where to be seen this year

Hotel Steigenberger Belvedere Where the bigwigs stay and scene of some of the best parties. Compared with this five-star establishment, little of importance goes on anywhere else in Davos, and some banks hire entire floors. This year, it’s the site of Google’s party, with Sergei Brin, Larry Page and assorted world leaders looking at the future of technology and sampling vintage wines while being entertained by the DJ and Kiss FM founder Norman Jay. Delegates can commiserate with Sir Wim Bischoff on Citigroup’s $10bn losses there on Friday night; while earlier in the week Arcelor Mittal plans a late-night “speakeasy” at the hotel.

McDonald’s The golden arches can be found, incongruously perhaps, even in this remote corner of the world. Just as well, as it is Bill Gates’ favoured eaterie. For some, at the very top of the world, food is mere fuel, and the faster it is prepared and downed the better. Mr Gates sends out for his meals.

Bill Gates session Talking of whom, perhaps the business highlight of the week will be Mr Gates’ session on the structural problems facing modern capitalism. He will be following a series of “brainstorming” sessions tomorrow where hundreds of chief executives will gather to debate and vote on fundamental challenges facing the world economy.

Hotel Schatzalp This former sanatorium was a pioneering site for research into TB and the setting for Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. It possesses a certain jaded Art Nouveau era beauty, and is perched precariously above the town on the Parsenn mountain. Famous for its hot chocolate these days, and the Barclays’ dinner.

YouTube Way outside the hall, indeed covering the world, is the World Economic Forum’s “Big Question”: YouTube users are being asked, “What single thing can global leaders do to improve the world?”

Hotel Europe Nightcaps are very popular, which makes the pace of Davos even more difficult to sustain. Try the piano bar of this Davos Platz institution, where Barry the cabaret singer will belt out Manilow and Queen covers. It’s said that Barry has met more global leaders than Elizabeth II.

republicans006a.jpg

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 19th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

unfccc005.gif

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 18th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The four pages we picked from The Economist of January 19th-25th 2008  www.economist.com are:

The first page deals with President Bush’s trip to the Arab world – low stature and some bravado.

The second page is about America’s petroleum complex.

The third page is about Sovereign States flocking to buy pieces of the quartered America.

The fourth page is about resulting migration inside America.

(click to enlarge)

economist005.gif

economist004.gif

economist003.gif

economist001.gif



###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 20th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/ed20071220a2.html

We were watching Malaysia since our visit there looking into reasons for air pollution and the effects of the fires set in Indonesia by Malaysian companies planting oil-trees. We saw the division between Malay, Chinese, and Indians. We saw in the north Al Qaeda type of Islamics preaching in the open. We saw a future of conflict and heard a Mahatir leadership that spoke about Jews like Ahmadinejad does now. Without its Chinese and Indian middle class the country will suffer serious retreat, but to be in front you had to be Malay. What now?
Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007
EDITORIAL, The Japanese Times online.

STRAINS IN MALAYSIA.

The arrest of leaders of an ethnic Indian rights group shines a spotlight on rising tensions in Malaysia. The government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi appears unnerved by growing protests; its resort to the Internal Security Act (ISA) is a troubling sign. The focus of complaint is charges of discrimination against Indians, a minority in Malaysia. This sensitive and politically charged issue has to be addressed with subtlety and tact; mere repression will only make things worse.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in recent weeks in Malaysia. Opposition leaders first led marches demanding electoral reform. They were followed a couple of weeks later by ethnic Indians protesting government policies that institutionalize discrimination in the form of preferences for native Malays. Indians, who make up about 8 percent of the population, have long complained that they miss political, economic and education opportunities.

The government denies charges of discrimination. There are assertions that some Indian protest leaders are linked to terrorist groups. The call by one of the ethnic Indian leaders for India to halt trade with Malaysia opens the door to sedition charges. As the situation intensifies — the government used tear gas and water cannons against marchers last month — five leaders were arrested under the ISA, which allows confinement without trial for up to two years. Other demonstrators have been arrested under less draconian measures.

The ISA has not been used against political opposition since 2001. Mr. Badawi is unapologetic, saying the government must be accountable to the whole. Protest leaders are equally unyielding; they warn that the protest movement has depth and there are ample replacements for any who are locked up.

The unrest is a warning to the Malaysian government that change is a must. While preferences that benefit Malays make some political sense, the program has been exploited; corruption has become endemic and a wide swath of citizens wants accountability. Silencing critics will not solve this problem.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 17th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 This is a reposting of the December 17th article and our comments then. By December 19th there were some moves in the Belgian Saga – next chapter to be written March 2008.

NYT Op-Ed Columnist, Roger Cohen on Belgium – A Surreal State.

Brussels, December 17, 2007

Belgium’s favorite Surrealist son, René Magritte, is famous for his painting of an apple on which he wrote: “This is not an apple.” He did the same for a pipe. Today he might aptly produce a rendering of his native land and inscribe on it: “This is not a country.”

It looks like a prosperous one, with its lace and chocolate stores, and beautiful Bruges, and its glassy sprawl of European Union institutions, and its very own tennis champion, Justine Henin. But for more than a half-year Belgium has been unable to form a government because its 10.4 million citizens can’t decide what the state is for.

In their grumpy way, Belgians — a majority Dutch-speaking, many French-speaking and a few German-speaking — have been posing a delicate question: does postmodern Europe, where even tiny states feel secure, really need a medium-small nation cobbled together in 1830 whose various communities dislike one another?

Moreover, does a country whose economy is largely run by European central bankers in control of the euro really need a government?

Gerrit Six, a teacher, suggested Belgian obsolescence when he put the country, complete with its busy king and ballooning debt, up for sale on eBay. It drew bids of close to $15 million. That was on day 100 of the political crisis. Belgium is now close to day 200. Italian politics suddenly look stable.

Little Belgium has become too conflicted to rule. It has three regions, three language communities that are not congruent with the regions, a smattering of local parliaments, a mainly French-speaking capital (Brussels) lodged in Dutch-speaking Flanders, a strong current of Flemish nationalism and an uneasy history.

Forming a government against this backdrop of federalism run amok has proved beyond the powers of good King Albert and an outgoing prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, who has redefined “outgoing” by staying. Magritte would have painted him and noted: this is not a departing leader. Surrealism is having a Belgian field day.

In the French-language daily Le Soir, Olivier Mouton opined last week that “On every front, we shoot, detest and accuse each other.” Yet the streets have been quiet since the elections back on June 10. The hour of hyperbole has sounded.

Behind it lurks the fact that Flanders wants its day. Dutch-speakers, long underdogs in a country without a Flemish university until 1922, are tired of subsidizing their now poorer French-speaking cousins. A successful anti-immigrant and separatist party, Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), is the odious expression of a wider desire to go it alone.

Flemish demands for greater decentralization and control (most recently over French-speaking schools in the Brussels periphery) have raised distrust to a poisonous level. “I am pretty sure Belgium will split eventually,” Caroline Sagesser, a political scientist, told me.

If it holds together, it will be because Brussels, with 10 percent of the population and 20 percent of gross domestic product, is too mixed to unravel. Like Baghdad, like Sarajevo, the capital is improbable but unyielding glue. Unlike them, it has avoided bloodshed. It also houses a modern marvel, the E.U. — and there’s the nub.

The 27-nation Union has banished war from the Continent and marginalized danger. Belgium fissures even as E.U. leaders sign the Treaty of Lisbon that will ultimately yield an E.U. president who can run things for up to five years (and so become identifiable), a foreign minister and a workable decision-making process. E.U. security makes Belgian instability harmless.

“The best position today is to be a small country within a large economic entity and trading area,” Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister told me. “That’s why we want an independent Scotland within the E.U.”

Flanders? Scotland? Brussels as Singapore-like city state? Wallonia? Kosovo? The map of Europe is not fixed. But I suspect its overall stability is. I am attached to Belgium — two of my children were born here — and I’d favor its preservation, but I can’t say it’s necessary within an overarching E.U.

As for a Belgian government, it would be nice to have one, but not essential. There’s no Belgian franc to go wobbly. There’s no monetary policy to set. There’s scarcely a country to govern, given how far European integration on the one hand and national devolution on the other have gone.

This is the 21st-century world the United States will face: a mysterious Europe with a more identifiable phone number living its postmodern version of paradise as its nation states get less meaningful or dissolve; and a rising Russia and China hurtling the other way, toward 19th-century-style nationalism, militarism and assertiveness.

Such dissonance will require American flexibility and imagination, enough to understand that the essence of the Belgian crisis is: this is not a crisis.

———————-

We loved this article because we feel somewhat part of this story.

Back in 1975 I wrote as a mini-thesis for a class in International Relations, at The American Graduate School For International Management, the former AGSIM and Thunderbird, at Glendale, Arizona, on the Topic Of A United Europe With The Break-Up Of The Present Political States. I did already then Speak of separate EU members called Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels, born by break-up of Belgium under the safety blancket of the EU. I looked then through all of the European States and gleaned out the ethnic entities that would like their own home government within the security of a European Parliament that recognizes them as equal partners. I was even, for a transition that allows some sort of three House structure, with the leadership of the economically strongest States – not by necessity all present membership – constitute a Governing Board to help in this reorganization that recognizes the will of the people rather then archaic Nationalism that was losing its influence anyway. Why not all present Member States in this third House? Just look how two Greek members are already in the Union, so are several other member States that might not be required in this transition supervisory capacity. The Other two Houses – a Senate and a Proportional House of Representatives, will then be built along USA lines. Eventually, not only Belgium and the UK will take advantage of this reorganization. Spain, Germany, France and Italy will follow. Most probably Poland, Austria, Rumania will follow. Is there a limit to this process? Who knows? Perhaps the large City unit, as exemplified by Brussels will be that – the German Federal Republic gas such City-States already now.

———————

Belgium forms interim government.

By Jochen Luypaert for EUobserver December 19, 2007.
Exactly 192 days since the June election, Belgian political parties have finally succeeded in forming a new government, albeit only a temporary one.

On Thursday (19 December), outgoing Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt formed an interim government, designed to last until 23 March next year.

The coalition will include Christian-Democrats and Liberals from both sides of the language border, as well as the French-speaking Socialists.

This ’emergency’ government is designed to tackle pressing issues, such as the mounting energy and food prices.

It is also hoped that a new government will reduce the international interest in the political crisis, which is believed to be detrimental to foreign investment.

In the meantime, talks about state reform can continue without affecting governmental decisions, giving parties time to reach an overall agreement on the issue by Easter.

Flemish parties are however being criticised for entering a government without being given guarantees by their French-speaking counterparts that they will support substantial state reform later on – fuelling fears that problems are only being postponed to a later stage.

Mr Verhofstadt is expected to renew his oath on Friday, making the new government the third in a row he will lead.

After Easter, Yves Leterme of the Flemish Christian-Democrats will take over Mr Verhofstadt’s office and establish a ‘normal’ government.

On Sunday, the Belgian parliament is expected to give a vote of confidence to the new government.

Why did it take so long?
Long formation negotiations are fairly common in Belgium which is deeply divided along linguistic lines.

The richer Dutch speaking Flanders is located in the north. Wallonia, located in the south of the country, is poorer and French-speaking. Brussels, the capital and located in Flanders, is officially bilingual but mainly French-speaking.

But it has never taken so long to form a government. The previous record of 148 days – set in 1988 – was broken in early November.

In order to amend the constitution and reform the state, an overall two-thirds parliamentary majority and a majority in each language group is required.

Broadly, Flemish parties demand that the regions are granted more powers in areas such as health care, employment and fiscal matters.

But French-speaking parties fear that this will undermine the financial solidarity between the richer Flanders and the poorer Wallonia and will eventually lead to a break-up of the country.

Another obstacle was the animosity between Liberals and Socialists in both halves of the country, partially inspired by the Liberal fear that social-economic reform would be stalled, making the participation of the Socialists difficult to sell to their voters.

In addition, Mr Leterme – appointed twice by the King to form a government – has made himself deeply unpopular in the south of the country by making a series of gaffes.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 12th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Nuclear Power’s “Green” Credentials Under Fire writes a Reuters dispatch from Singapore, but really they only scratch the envelope of the issue. As we wrote many times – Nuclear Power Is Not Green Because It Adds To GLOBAL WARMING, and Therefore to CLIMATE CHANGE, by Bringing Energy From The Inside Of Atoms To Disturb Even Further The SUNLIGHT/EARTH-LIGHT Balance in The Atmosphere.

SINGAPORE: December 13, 2007

SINGAPORE – Nuclear power’s claim to be the answer to global warming is being questioned by reports suggesting mining and processing of uranium is carbon intensive.

While nuclear power produces only one 50th of the carbon produced by many fossil fuels, its carbon footprint is rising, making wind power and other renewable energies increasingly attractive, according to environmental groups and some official reports.

The nuclear industry has come under fire over safety concerns for decades, but a growing recognition of the threat of climate change has put a renewed focus on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced throughout the energy chain.

“Nuclear is a climate change red herring,” said Ben Ayliffe, Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace. “There are safer, more reliable alternatives, like energy efficiency and renewables as part of a super-efficient decentralised energy system.”

While the earth’s crust still has large resources of uranium — 600 times more than gold — much of the highest grade orebodies are already being exploited, forcing miners to develop more technically challenging or lower grade resources.

That means uranium mining requires much more energy.

CARBON COST

One example is Cameco’s Cigar Lake project in Saskatchewan, which has been plagued with setbacks caused by floods at the underground mine, which may one day supply over 10 percent of the world’s mined uranium.

The problems have forced Cameco to push back the production start to 2011 from 2007, and analysts this week said further delays out to 2012 or 2013 were likely.

“The potential is that nuclear will increase its carbon footprint due to the lower grade ores that remain,” Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth said on the sidelines of a UN climate change conference in Bali.

The carbon cost at Rio Tinto’s Ranger uranium mine Australia has also risen. The mine produced 17.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per tonne of uranium oxide in 2006, from 13 tonnes in 2005, a Rio Tinto spokeswoman said.

She added that part of the rise was due to bad weather which restricted access to high grade ore, as well as an expansion in capacity, and the company was trying to reduce emissions again.

Uranium output at the mine was 4,748 tonnes last year, resulting in around 84,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Rio produced some 28.3 million tonnes of carbon across its business.

Despite these industry figures, Clarence Hardy, secretary of the Australia Nuclear Association and president of the Pacific Nuclear Council, says the environmental groups are wrong in their assumptions and that nuclear power is relatively clean.

“Carbon dioxide emissions from the nuclear cycle are very low. They are not zero, but they are low compared to fossil fuels and they are even low compared to hydro,” he said.

URGENT SOLUTIONS

Over the life of a nuclear power plant, carbon emissions are between 10 and 25 grams of C02 per kilowatt, as little as one 100th of that of a coal-fired plant, Hardy added.

“Even wind and solar have higher C02 emissions than the entire nuclear fuel cycle from mining through to waste management,” Hardy said, arguing that large volumes of steel and concrete — both energy-intensive products — were required for those products.

But UK data paints a different picture.

A UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology document on carbon emissions puts nuclear’s footprint was around 5 grams of CO2 per kilowatt, similar to the figure for offshore windpower at 5.25 grams and above onshore wind at 4.64 grams.

Scientists at the conference in Bali said the world needed urgent solutions and emissions needed to peak within the next 10 to 15 years.

But building a nuclear reactor typically takes decades.

“Even if we started scaling up nuclear power tomorrow we couldn’t do that because it would take longer than that to get a serious impact from new reactors,” Juniper said.

“The real answer is more renewable, sustainable energy and greater energy efficiency.”

###