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The China 5X8 in the news: the 88888 Beijing Olympics to start on August 8, 2008 8:08

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The key to nuclear’s future or an element of doubt?

Date: 14-Oct-14
REUTERS – PLANET ARK – October 13, 2014
Author: Geert De Clercq

The key to nuclear’s future or an element of doubt?

Work at the Cadarache CEA (Atomic Energy Authority) site near Saint-Paul-les-Durance, south eastern France, September 26, 2014.


For sodium, the sixth-most abundant element on the planet, is being held up as the key to one of several new types of nuclear reactor being developed as governments grapple with the problem of making atomic energy more environmentally friendly, safe and financially viable.

The 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan effectively brought a global nuclear boom to a halt, but a decade-old research program into new reactors has regained relevance of late.

Quite apart from Germany’s decision to phase out a large slice of its nuclear capacity in the wake of Fukushima, Britain and Belgium have recently switched off several aging reactors over safety concerns while a number of U.S. plants have closed because they can no longer compete with cheap shale gas.

Launched by the United States in 2000, the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) has 13 member countries including China, Russia, France, Japan and Britain, which have whittled down nearly 100 proffered concepts to focus research on six nuclear reactor models.

By far the most advanced of the six is the sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR), developed by France, Russia and China from a concept pioneered in the United States in the 1950s.

The SFR’s main advantage is that it can burn spent uranium and plutonium. These unwanted byproducts from water-cooled reactors have been piling up for years and the World Nuclear Association estimates stocks at about 1.5 million tonnes.

“We could produce power for several thousands of years with that without getting new natural uranium,” said Christophe Behar, the vice-chairman of GIF.

Behar, also head of research at French nuclear agency CEA, points out that SFRs can also burn up uranium’s most long-lived radioactive waste products, reducing the need for deep storage.

EXPLOSIVE DRAWBACK

Liquid sodium is better than water at evacuating heat from the reactor core and its high boiling point of about 900 degrees Celsius allows SFRs to operate close to atmospheric pressure, negating the need for the thick, steel containment vessels at pressurized water reactors.

But sodium has significant disadvantages, too. On contact with air, it burns; plunged into water, it explodes.

Early SFRs built by France, Russia and Japan have suffered corrosion and sodium leaks. But these were not built to GIF standards and the CEA research facility amid the pine trees in Cadarache, southeast France, is working on how to tame sodium as the agency seeks to convince lawmakers to allow construction of its new Astrid reactor, a 600 megawatt SFR.

The Astrid project was granted a 652 million euro ($823 million) budget in 2010 and a decision on construction is expected around 2019.

The use of sodium, which occurs naturally only as a compound in other minerals, presents huge challenges, however.

Nitrogen-driven turbines are being designed to prevent sodium from mixing with water, while purpose-built electromagnetic pumps are seen as the solution to moving the superheated metal within reactors. Then there’s the headache of not being able to see through the liquid metal should something go wrong in a reactor core.

The other five concepts – including lead and helium-cooled fast neutron reactors and three very-high-temperature reactors – are less mature than the SFR and face similar technological hurdles.

But technology is not the only obstacle. Cost is key, as ever, and abundant U.S. shale gas and a renewables energy boom in Europe have undermined the viability of the nuclear industry, leading some GIF member states, including Japan, Canada and Switzerland, to scale back funding.

SCIENCE FRICTION

Regardless of which, if any, of the new concepts eventually holds sway, the inevitable political wrangling over commercial projects will almost inevitably bring further delays, as with Britain’s 16 billion pound ($26 billion) Hinkley Point C plant to be operated by French utility EDF.

“Between the ambition in the beginning and today’s status, the Generation IV research is not exactly on track,” the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency’s Thierry Dujardin said.

GIF’s target of having the first prototypes in operation around 2020 has been pushed back to 2030, with the first commercial plants not expected before 2040-2050, but such are the timescales in the nuclear industry.

The group does have some wriggle room, as many of the second-generation reactors built in 1970s and 1980s are expected to run for another decade, while third-generation plants built today by firms such as Areva and Westinghouse are designed to operate for up to 60 years.

Critics of GIF say that France and other nations have been too quick to focus research on the SFR and should have made a more audacious bet on newer technologies, such as the pebble-bed high-temperature reactor or the molten-salt reactor.

“There is not a single really new idea among the 4G models,” said Bernard Laponche, a retired CEA nuclear engineer.

Given sodium’s explosive potential, Laponche argues that the molten-salt reactor, the least developed technology, is the safest of the six models.

“It’s not a windmill, but it’s better than the others,” he said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Dear Friends and Family of Africa.com,

Unprecedented. Historic. Watershed. Milestone.

Independent of what you may think of the US-Africa Leaders Summit, there is no doubt that the event could be characterized by all of these terms.

It represented a moment in history when the game changed between the US and Africa; the Summit will play a significant role in the shaping of Obama’s foreign policy legacy.

50 presidents. 1400 accredited media. 80 official events.

  Teresa’s five key observations are summarized here:

1) Ebola got more attention than it deserved – but for those Americans engaged in the bilateral meetings, the topic served as a vehicle to demonstrate that the vast and varied continent of Africa can not be painted with a single brush stroke. When the questions were raised by American, you could hear a collective sigh among the Africans, and the Americans were forced into a geography lesson that required them to understand that the ebola outbreak impacted three of the fifty four countries on the continent.

2) The main event was not the meeting among the fifty heads of state, but the business forum hosted by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Mike Bloomberg (in his capacity as businessman, not former mayor). This was a business summit, and the African presidents got to “come along” to the party. 

There were two principal events during the week:  a) The Leaders Summit where the 50 heads of state met with Obama and b) the Business Forum where business leaders met with Obama.

In terms of influence, keep in mind that the following parties were at the Business Forum, not the Leaders Summit: 

US Delegation: 

Moderator Charlie Rose – Journalist
Jeff Immelt – CEO of GE
Virginia Rometty – CEO of IBM
Andrew Liveris – CEO of Dow Chemical
Ajay Banga – CEO of Mastercard
David Rubinstein – CEO of the Carlyle Group
Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart
Muhtar Kent – CEO of Coca Cola 
Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone

African Delegation:

Aliko Dangote – CEO of Dangote Group
Mo Ibrahim – CEO of Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Tony Elumelu – CEO of Heirs Holdings
Sim Tshabala – CEO of Standard Bank
Strive Masiyiwa – Chairman Econet Wireless

3) If one were to ask the average millennial African which American companies have a great influence on the continent today, the answer would no doubt include Facebook and Google. It is interesting to note that the West Coast was not represented in these business meetings.

4) African presidents have been invited en masse, in this type of context, by several trading regions throughout the world, including China and the E.U. This was simply the first hosted by the United States. Take note that the next Chinese summit is scheduled for the end of August. Keep your eye on the news to see how the Chinese react to the US’ entry into this game.

5) The First Ladies Summit was co-hosted by Michelle Obama and Laura Bush. The corporate influence in that event was also very strong, with Walmart and Caterpillar deeply engaged, including Walmart’s pledge of $100 million to empower women in Africa.

There was so much to this event, that I want to point you to additional sources of information, should you have an interest in learning more. Much like our Africa.com Top 10 curated news, I have curated my Top 7 stories on the Summit from Africa.com, New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and the White House’s official website. Please find links to these articles below.

Thank you for your continued interest in Africa.com and the work we do to cover Africa. 

As always, we value your comments and observations. Please feel free to reply to this email 
with any thoughts you may have.

Kindest regards,

Teresa

Teresa Clarke
<info@africa.com>

Africa.com LLC
3 Columbus Circle
15th Floor
New York, NY 10023

Teresa’s Top 7 Stories about the US-Africa Summit:

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

UPDATES FROM THE SLOCAT PARTNERSHIP

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

CLIMATE CHANGE

NEWS FROM SLoCaT MEMBERS

REPORTS

IN OTHER NEWS

UPCOMING EVENTS

ADB Transport Forum, 15-17 September, Manila, Philippines

On Track to Clean and Green Transport: High Level Event on Transport and Climate Change, 22 September 2014, New York, USA

UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit , 23 September 2014, New York, USA

The 1st Ministerial and Policy Conference on Sustainable Transport in Africa, 28 -30 October 2014, Nairobi, Kenya

BAQ 2014 & EST Asia Forum, 19-21 November, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Transport Day 2014, 7 December 2014, Lima, Peru

UPDATES FROM THE SLOCAT PARTNERSHIP

Great Progress in the establishment of the SLoCaT Foundation

We expect that the SLoCaT Foundation, with the objective to provide support to the SLoCaT Partnership, will be formally established in the coming weeks. Over the last months the SLoCaT Secretariat, overseen by a special Ad-Hoc Committee, developed the governance structure, consisting of a Constitution and a set of By-Laws.  The members of the SLoCaT Partnership were asked on two opportunities to comment on the proposed governance structure.

The Board of the SLoCaT Foundation is being established in two phases, with the election of four Board members representing members of the SLoCaT Partnership taking place this week and the remaining three Board members representing the Supporters of the SLoCaT Foundation to be elected in Autumn 2014.

The SLoCaT Foundation will be registered in the Netherlands, while the Secretariat will remain to be located in Shanghai, China.  Over the next weeks we will be updating the SLoCaT website to provide more detailed information on the new organizational structure of SLoCaT.

We expect that the SLoCaT Foundation will be formally launched in late September at the sidelines of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit on Climate Change.

Growing Support for the SLoCaT Partnership

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

With  Interference from Breaking News from the battle fields in the Ukraine and the Muslim World – the US and Russia are at Cold War level; Israel has already 20 dead (two civilians) and dozens wounded – Fareed Zakaria on CNN/Global Public Square did his best this Sunday July 20, 2014, to try to make sense from the present global wars.
I will try to reorganize the material into a neat tableau that can be viewed as a whole.

Fareed’s own introduction was about what happened in recent years is a “democratization of violence” that created an asymmetry like in Al Qaeda’s 9/11 where each of their one dollar generated the need for  7 million dollars to be spent by the US in order to counter-react. Thus, before, it was armies of States that were needed to have a war – now everyone can cause it with a pauper’s means.

Then he continued by saying that this is NOT what happened in Ukraine. There Putin was trying to fake it, by using his resources large State resources to create from former Russian soldiers a “rebel force in the Ukraine.”  The Kremlin is operating the rebels in a situation where the military expenditures by Russia, which are 35 times larger then those of the Ukraine, take care of the expenditures of this war.

But where Vladimir Putin miscalculated – it is that he did not realize that when he takes the ginny of Nationalism out of his dark box, he will never be able to cause it to go back. Putin unleashed both – Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism and it might be that by now he is no boss over the outcome anymore.

Let us face it – G.W. Bush played a similar game in Iraq and Afghanistan and the US will not be  master in the Middle East anymore.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was asked on the program what should Obama do?

He thinks this is a historical defining moment that allows still to Putin to redeem himself. It is for him – rather then somebody else – to call for an International tribunal and allow open investigation by telling the pro-Russians in the Ukraine, whom he supported and provided them with arms, that they crossed the line.  Brzezinski says this is a situation for Europe like it was before WWII.

The issue is that the Europeans are not yet behind the US. London is a Las Vegas for the Russians, France supplies them military goods, it was a German Chancellor before Merkel who made Europe dependent on Rusian gas.
Without being clearly united behind the US, the West will get nowhere.

On the other hand – Russia, seeing the sanctions coming, sees the prospect of becoming a China satellite if sanctions go into effect. Not a great prospect for itself either.

So, the answer is Obama leadership to be backed by the Europeans and Putin making steps to smooth out the situation and redeem himself. This is the only way to save the old order.

Steven Cohen, Professor on Russia at Princeton: The US is in a complicated situation by having backed fully the Ukrainian government.

It is the US that pushed Putin to take his positions. The Ukraine is a divided country and the story is not just a recent development. Putin cannot just walk away from the separatists in the Ukraine – they will not listen to him. The reality in the Ukraine, as per Professor Cohen, is very complex and there are no good guys there – basically just a complex reality that was exploited from the outside.

Christa Freeland, a famous journalist, who is now a Canadian member of Parliament, and traveled many times to the Ukraine, completely disagrees with Cohen and says a US leadership is imperative.

Our feeling is that all this discussion goes on as if it were in a vacuum – the true reality is that in the Globalized World we are far beyond the post WWII configuration that was just Trans-Atlantic with a Eurasian Continental spur going to China and Japan.  What has happened since is the RISE OF THE REST OF THE WORLD – with China, india, Brazil, and even South Africa, telling the West that besides dealing with Russia the West must deal with them as well !!
 The BRICS meeting in Fortaleza (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) where this week they established a $50 Billion alternative to the World Bank and a $100 Billion alternative to the IMF, ought to be part of the negotiation in the US and at the EU Member States  when talking about a post-Ukraine-flare-up World. The timing may have been coincidental – but the build-up was not.

These days there is the celebration of 70 years (1–22 July 1944) of the establishing of the Bretton Woods agreements system that created the old institutions that can be changed only with the help of US Congress – something that just will not happen. Those are the World Bank and the IMF – but In the meantime China has become the World’s largest economy and they still have less voting power at the World Bank then the three BENELUX countries.
The BRICS do not accept anymore the domination of the US dollar over their economies. If nothing else they want a seat at the table, and detest the fact that three out of five are not even at the UN Security Council.

So, the New World Order will have to account for this Rise of the Rest having had the old order based just on the West.

   Further on today’s program, Paul Krugman a very wise man, a Nobel Prize holder in Economics, was brought in to show  a quick take on the economy. He made it clear that there is an improvement but it is by far not enough.

It is more half empty then half full because by now it should have been better. But he stressed that despite the interference, Obamacare works better and ahead of expectations. Even premiums rise slower then before.

Yes, there are some losers, but this is a narrow group of young and healthy, but people that were supposed to be helped are helped.

On energy – yes – renewable costs are lower then expected.

Obama’s grade? Over all B or B-, but on what he endured from the opposition A-. Yes, we can trust Obama to decide the correct moves – and on International and Foreign Policy the White House has freer hands then in Internal, National, policy. His presidency is the most consequential since Ronald Reagan – whatever we think of Reagan – but in Obama’s case, he will leave behind  a legacy of the country having been involved in less disasters, but leaving behind more achievements – be those in health-care, environment, finances, energy, migration, etc. then any President of the last 40 years. But where does this leave him in relation to the Rest of the World?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program – as reported by Irith Jawetz who participated at the UN in Vienna Compound July 15th Meeting .

 

The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) and Search for Common Ground  invited us to attend a panel discussion titled “A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program,” which was held on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 13:00 at the Vienna Center for Disarmament & Non Proliferation (VCDNP).

 
As P5+1 and Iran are meeting in Vienna at Foreign Ministers level to resolve the outstanding issues preventing a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program before the 20 July deadline, a group of renown experts on the technical and political aspects of the negotiations have met at VCDNP to discuss and identify possible compromises.

 

Panelists: 
 
Dr. Frank von Hippel, Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security 
 
Mr. Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Coalition to reduce Nuclear Dangers, and the Director of Security Programs for Physicians for Social Responsibility.
 
Ambassador (ret.) William G. Miller, Senior Advisor for the US-Iran Program, Search for Common GroupHe is a Senior Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Middle East Institute. He is the co-Chairman of the Kyiv Mohyla Foundation of America and a Director of The Andrei Sakharov Foundation. He has also been a senior consultant for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

This was a very timely event, as the Foreign Ministers of the P5+1 group of Nations – the U.S., U.K., France. Germany, China, and Russia – spent the weekend in Vienna  discussing follow ups to the interim agreement reached between them and Iran in advance of this July 20th deadline.


At the start of the Panel discussion, it was announced that at that very moment Secretary of State John Kerry is giving his Press Conference before flying back to Washington to report to President Obama about the negotiations. He is willing to come back next weekend for the July 20-th continuation of the discussions.

———–

Ambassador Miller was the first speaker, and he gave a rather optimistic view of the situation. His presentation had more of a political nature.  In his presentation he said that the basic principles of the negotiations is to assure that Iran has no nuclear weapons . Iran has the capability, brain, expertise and knowhow but has no strategic moral or ethical reason to develop nuclear weapons to be used as weapons of mass destruction.
It is a fact, though, that the Iranians insist on use of peaceful nuclear energy – to what extent it is peaceful and how can the rest of the world be sure that it will be peaceful, this is why the negotiations have to succeed. Ambassador Miller is hopeful that, after 35 years of the current regime in Iran, those negotiations will result in a positive answer.
Ambassador Miller commended all the participating teams, the Press and Academia. First he mentioned the top quality Iranian team at the negotiations, many of the participants he knows personally. They were able, motivated, and anxious to find a solution. The US team, led by Secretary Kerry did a  remarkably good job, as did the rest of the teams. He commended the Press who were persistent – fully covered the negotiations and were very professional – and academia who helped with background information.
—————

Mr. Daryl G.Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association talked about a solution for the Iranian Uranium-Enrichment Puzzle. In his presentation he stressed that “Solutions that prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, lower the risk of yet another major conflict in the region, and still provide Iran with the means to pursue a realistic, peaceful nuclear program are within reach” – he said.
Progress has already been achieved on several key issues – stregthening International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections and oversight at existing and undeclared sites.  …   Iran has agreed to modify its Arak heavy-water reactor to drastically cut its plutonium output, and a general framework has been developed to waive, and eventually lift, sanctions against Iran.   …  Nevertheless, the two sides have more work to do to bridge differences on the most difficult issue: limiting Iran’s uranium-enrichment capacity.As part of a comprehensive deal, Iran and the P5+1 have to agree on several steps to constrain Iran: limit uranium enrichment to levels of less than 5% – keep stocks of its enriched uranium near zero – and halt production-scale work at the smaller Fordow enrichment plant and convert it to research-only facility.

He shares Ambassador Miller’s hope and positive outlook that the negotiations will succeed. Anything less than success will be a catastrophe.

—————-
The last speaker was Dr. Frank von Hippel who is a Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.Dr. von Hippel gave a very technical presentation about the Possible elements of a compromise on Iran’s Nuclear Program.

Potential sources of fissile material from Iran’s nuclear energy program are:

1. Plutonium presence in reactor fuel (current issue is Arak reactor)

2. Iran’s centrifuge enrichment complex.

There are two stages in rationalizing the Current situartion:

Stage I

Iran currently has installed 18,000 IR-1 centrifuges  – the compromise would be:

1) to retire IR-1  and replace it with already installed IR-2ms to support research-reactor LEU needs.

2) Continued transparency for Iran’s centrifuge production – possibly as a template for enhanced transparency for centrifuge production worldwide.

3) Continued minimization of stocks of low enriched UF6.

Stage 1 will provide time to cool down an inflamed situation and would provide Iran and the West an opportunity for a cooler assessment of the costs and benefits of diferent possible paths.

In stage II, negotiations might agree on a solution currently beyond reach and also lay a base for a new global regime for enrichment.

Stage II

 

National or Multi-National enrichment? A global Issue.

National – Every  state has the right to enrich fuel for power reactor fuel. However today only Brazil, China, Iran, Japan and Russia have completely independent national civilian enrichment programs.

Multinational – Urenco (Germany, Netherland, UK) . Today Urenco owns the only operating U.S,. civilian enrichment plant.

Building in Flexibility for Iran:

1. Iran should have access to nuclear reactor and fuel vendors worldwide – to ensure that it is getting a good price and reliable delivery.

2. Iran could build up stockpile of fabricated fuel for Bushehr. That would take care of Iran’s fuel security concerns and make it easier for Iran to postpone a large domestic enrichment capacity or depend on a multinational enrichment plant – perhape equiped with Iranian centrifuges in another country in the Middle East.

Dr. von Hippel COPLIMENTED his theory with  charts.

The consensus at the end of the discussion was that the negotiations seem to go well, and all panelists, as well as some members of the audience expressed their hope that they will indeed succeed. Ambassador Miller even went as far as to state that Iran at the moment is the most stable nation in the region, and we have to take advantage of it, make sure the negotiation succeed,  and bring Iran back to the International community.

In the news today it was reported that Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Washington to brief President Obama on the negotiations – rather then on a prior advertised new effort in the Israel-Palestine arena. He was hopeful, but also said there are still some points which need to be clarified.

==========================
Further last comment by SustainabiliTank editor – we add – taken from a Thom Friedman article about a different issue:
We accept that in the future the World true powers of today – The US, China, India, Russia, Japan and the EU – and we like to add Brazil as well – will have to meet their minds and harmonize what ought to be a global leadership for a safe future planet. Just ad hoc chaperoning specific issues will be proven to be not enough.

The way to find a solution to the issue of a nuclear Iran shows that in the globalized world of today there must be an international guiding force. But on this much more has to be written for the sake of Sustainability.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

BEIJING, May 21, 2014  —  China and Russia signed a $400 billion gas deal on Wednesday, giving Moscow a megamarket for its leading export and linking two major powers that, despite a rocky history of alliances and rivalries, have drawn closer to counter the clout of the United States and Europe.

The impetus to complete the gas deal, which has been talked about as a game-changing accord for more than a decade, finally came together after the Ukrainian crisis forced Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, to urgently seek an alternative to Europe, Moscow’s main energy market. Europe has slapped sanctions on Russia and sought ways to reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

Mr. Putin, on a two-day visit to Shanghai, and the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, oversaw the signing of the contract between Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation, the biggest natural gas deal Russia has sealed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The contract runs for 30 years and calls for the construction of pipelines and other infrastructure that will require tens of billions of dollars in investment.

Ostensibly on the same side during the Cold War, the Asian neighbors even then competed for global influence with their divergent brands of communism. They fought a brief but explosive border war in 1969, and later took opposite sides in conflicts in Vietnam and Afghanistan.

They have similar views of the United States, however, including opposition to its unilateral military actions in Kosovo, Iraq and Libya, and wanted to take Uncle Sam down a peg or two.  Mr. Putin, in particular, wanted to make a point of showing that the United States and its NATO partners were in decline.

The deal offered a lift for the Russian economy, he said, and for Mr. Putin, China’s validation would improve Russia’s world image.

At the same time, Mr. Xi is unhappy with the Obama administration on issues ranging from Washington’s outspoken support of its military alliance with Japan, its criticism of China’s actions in the South China Sea, and its hard line on cybertheft.

Although China had expressed neutrality over the Ukraine crisis because of the take-over of land – the strained relations with Washington in other spheres tip China’s position in favor of Russia.

The final price of the Russian gas, which will flow through a 2,500-mile pipeline from two fields in Siberia, was not disclosed, and energy markets were trying to parse who gained the bigger advantage.

Russia had been holding out for a price close to what European countries pay, and China for a price akin to the cheaper gas it buys from Central Asia, energy experts who tracked the talks said.

With Russia’s economy near recession and the International Monetary Fund projecting 0.2 percent growth this year, Mr. Putin was desperate to get the deal done, energy experts said.

The chief executive of Gazprom, Alexey Miller, said the contract called for Russia to supply 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually over 30 years, making the price about $350 per thousand cubic meters. In 2013, the average price of Gazprom’s gas in Europe was about $380 per thousand cubic meters.

“The pricing appears to be between European Union prices and Turkmenistan prices,” said Joerg Wuttke, the president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. “We will have to wait for the next few months to learn about the details.”

Morena Skalamera, a fellow at the Geopolitics of Energy Project at Harvard, said Mr. Putin was more willing to concede on price than he had been before the Ukraine crisis.

“If the European market was a question mark before the Ukrainian crisis, now with sanctions, Putin needed China even more,” she said.

“Politically, it is important for Putin to show that the ‘Greater Russia’ is back on the international scene and that it has other, non-Western options to restore its rightful place.”

In exchange for a lower price, China offered a loan of about $50 billion that will finance development of the gas fields and the construction of the pipeline by Russia up to the Chinese border, Ms. Skalamera said. The Chinese would build the remaining pipeline, and gas is scheduled to start pumping in 2018, she said.

In remarks after the signing, Mr. Putin stressed that the price of the gas was based on the market price for oil, just as it was for Russia’s gas supplies to European countries. “The gas price formula, as in our other contracts, is pegged to the market of oil and oil products,” Itar-Tass quoted him as saying.

Without the oil price benchmark, Russia would be under pressure to renegotiate European prices, said Kenneth S. Courtis, a founding partner of Thames Investment. The price of Russian gas to Europe is based on fluctuations in oil prices, making it more expensive than gas that China buys from Central Asia, he said.

Even with this new agreement, Europe will remain Russia’s biggest market, but Siberian natural gas does give China a cleaner substitute for the fossil fuels — coal and petroleum — that provide most of its energy needs, and cause much of the pollution smothering China’s cities. China will  have diverse suppliers of gas not making it not dependent only on the Russians.

Globally, the newly marketed shale gas technology allows for additional potential gas suppliers to join the international market. The subject of gas supplies becomes thus a main issue of geopolitics and Europe is best advised not to find itself dependent on the goodwill of Russia. So we see no reason for Austria continuing to back the construction of new pipelines for Russian gas – the like of  “South Stream” and let Europe use the funds in order to develop indigenous renewable sources of energy instead.

——————————————————

Gas deal more important to Russia than China
Tom Mitchell and Kathrin Hille, The Financial Times
Chinese President Xi Jinping finally granted his Russian counterpart a long-awaited gas supply contract on Wednesday, ending a decade of negotiations during which China’s economic growth tilted the bilateral balance of power in Beijing’s favour.
jlne.ws/1m7Qp4W

Russia-China Deal Seen Damping LNG Prices as Output Rises
Robert Tuttle, Anna Shiryaevskaya and Isis Almeida, Bloomberg
China’s deal to buy natural gas from Russia after a decade of talks risks making tanker shipments of the fuel less competitive as new projects target Asian markets.
jlne.ws/1i6SCJF

Russia’s Rosneft gearing up for gas exports to Asia
Alexei Anishchuk, Reuters
Russia could significantly boost its natural gas sales to Asia if companies other than Kremlin-controlled Gazprom secured exporting rights, documents from Russia’s top oil producer Rosneft showed.
jlne.ws/1jFGlkS

PetroChina, Utilities Stand to Gain From Russia Gas Deal
Aibing Guo, Bloomberg
PetroChina Co., the country’s biggest oil and gas producer, stands to win from Russia’s $400 billion deal to supply natural gas to China as it will provide gas at a price lower than had been expected.
jlne.ws/1m7XceO

Russia may exempt China gas from mineral extraction tax – Ifax
Reuters
Russia will consider exempting gas sent to China from mineral extraction tax, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Thursday in comments cited by the Interfax news agency.
jlne.ws/RWLB7O

China’s Global Search for Energy
Clifford Krauss and Keith Bradsher, The New York Times
Whether by diplomacy, investment or in extreme cases, force, China is going to great lengths to satisfy its growing hunger for energy to fuel its expanding car fleet and electrify its swelling cities.
jlne.ws/1k7h0je

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###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE FOLLOWING WE PICKED UP FROM THE GFSE (Global Forum on Sustainable Energy) Newsletter #2,  of  May 21, 2014.

 

SE4ALL Chief Executive proposes three “Creative Coalitions” to transform the world’s energy system.

NEW DELHI, 6 February 2014 – The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All and Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4All), Kandeh K. Yumkella, today proposed the establishment of three “Creative Coalitions” during a keynote address titled “Rethinking Development” at the 2014 Delhi Sustainable Development Summit hosted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Yumkella’s coalitions’ will focus on accelerating continued cost reductions for renewable energy technologies, forging a deal on energy efficiency among the twenty three highest green-house-gas emitters, and supporting a group of progressive developing countries to deepen energy sector reforms to attract investments in distributive energy systems and sustainable infrastructure.

(I)  Describing the first coalition as the Solar Coalition for Increased Cost Reduction, CEO Yumkella noted that accelerating massive cost reductions in renewable energy technologies is essential. “We need a group of countries to come together and agree to radically drive down the cost of renewable energy within a decade. Though there are already some locations where wind and solar power have reached grid parity with fossil generated electricity, the key is to make renewable energy universally as cheap as, or cheaper than, current centralized-fossil-based power generation,” he said.

(II) The second coalition, the Energy Efficiency Coalition will comprise the 23 members of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) who account for about 80 percent of global energy demand and 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. “They must agree to act collectively to achieve the doubling of the rate of energy efficiency in their economies and small actions such as energy-saving bulbs can reduce a household’s total electricity consumption by up to 15% and could save Europe 40 billion kilowatt-hours a year,” he said.
(III) Noting that African countries embraced mobile telephony more rapidly than other regions, Yumkella’s third coalition – the Coalition of Progressive Transformers would allow the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) to lead the coalition and help many least developed countries leap -frog into the energy internet. “The developing countries can ride the green energy wave into the energy internet by beginning to unbundle the power sector, reforming the governance of their power utilities to make them more transparent and profitable, and by establishing robust institutions, and longer-term predictable policies to crowd-in investment into the sector.”
Yumkella’s proposals are in keeping with the three interlinked targets of the initiative on sustainable energy including increasing access to energy, improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of renewables by the year 2030 and an effort to achieve a dedicated goal on “securing sustainable energy for all” in the post -2015 development agenda.

————-
For more information:

Mr. Anthony Kamara
Communications & Media Relations Coordinator
UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4ALL)
W: +43-1-260-608-3402
M: +43-699-1458-3402
E: A.Kamara@SE4ALL.org

===========================

 

Energy: Finally Recognized as a Key Driver for Sustainable Development?

author irene ginerreichl

by  Ambassador Irene Giner-Reichl

How do we move towards sustainable development? How do we ensure the provision of water, food, and natural resources for a world population expected to peak around 9 billion people by mid-century? How do we balance economic growth with social justice and with a management of natural resources that respects the earth’s carrying capacity and takes into consideration future generations’ needs? And how does energy fit into the equation?

These are concerns the international community deals with in its search for a new development paradigm beyond 2015. A paradigm that should guide the development of so-called developing and developed countries alike. A paradigm under which governments and civil society, businesses and academia will have to find new ways of adjusting production and consumption. A paradigm which will operate within countries and across national boundaries.

 

Energy’s Slow Move unto the Sustainable Development Agenda:

Even though it is hardly conceivable to discuss “sustainable development” without also examining the production, distribution and use of energy, some 20 years had to pass since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit before energy considerations started to be included into global governance. Neither Agenda 21 (the seminal program of action passed at Rio) nor the Millennium Development Declaration adopted in 2000, included energy considerations.

Informal multi-stakeholder platforms operating patiently over lengthy periods of time and major international scientific endeavors contributed greatly to building a consensus about the role of energy in the pursuit of sustainable development. In the late 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century, recognition spread slowly that poverty eradication would remain elusive as long as extreme energy poverty was not tackled; that none of the MDGs could be attained without appropriate energy interventions; and that curbing greenhouse gas emissions would require a major shift to more sustainable energy futures.

Expert groups such as Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC) brought together major stakeholders and their reports helped jell the emerging consensus. The Vienna Energy Forum meetings of 2009 and 2011, drawing on the international network built in yearly meetings of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy (www.gfse.at) since 2000, prepared the ground for the launching of the Initiative of the UN Secretary-General on “Sustainable Energy for All” (SE4All) in December 2011.

 

insights giner reichl  SE4All has three overarching objectives that are mutually supportive and should be reached by 2030:
• To provide access to electricity and to modern cooking fuels for those billion people currently without it;
• To double the rate of energy efficiency improvements;
• To double the share of renewable energies in the overall energy end use.

 

A New Form of International Cooperation on Sustainable Energy for All:

At the Rio+20 conference in June 2012, major partners of SE4All came together to publicly show their support for the initiative. On 21 June 2012, the UN SG announced more than 100 commitments to sustainable energy, estimated at over $50 billion and formulated by governments; private sector corporations, small and medium-scale enterprises; financial institutions, donors and development banks; by non-governmental organizations, artists, academia, and individuals.

Kandeh Yumkella, who had been working tirelessly to build the needed coalitions, was named as UN-SG Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All. He acts as SE4All’s full-time CEO since June 2013.

SE4All is in search of its future legal nature. Any format chosen will have to allow for a good interaction between the public and the private sectors. As the WEC Trilemma Reports 2012 and 2013  underline, public and private players need to listen better to each other and to interact more effectively. Governments need to set clear, long-term frameworks for markets; private sector players have to articulate their needs and expectations clearly to governments.

But an “Initiative” cannot sign checks, nor rent premises. The options are to align with the UN, to form another international organization, or to operate out of a non-for-profit non-governmental setting. For many stakeholders, strict intergovernmental settings and alignment to the UN are too narrow. Yet the UN’s convening power and ability to promote global consensus are irreplaceable.

In order to keep the momentum going Kandeh Yumkella has most recently proposed to form three “creative coalitions” to transform the world’s energy system. These would accelerate continued cost reductions for renewable energy technologies (Solar Coalition for Increased Cost Reduction); forge a deal on energy efficiency among the twenty three highest green-house-gas emitters (the Energy Efficiency Coalition); and support a group of progressive developing countries to deepen energy sector reforms to attract investments in distributive energy systems and sustainable infrastructure (the Coalition of Progressive Transformers).

 

Evolving Regional Cooperation:

As SE4All is unfolding as a network of networks, regional institutions are also evolving. In Africa, the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, in operation since 2010, has already catalyzed the adoption of regional policies on renewables, energy efficiency, hydro-power and biofuels.

ECREEE is perceived to be so successful that the Eastern African Community (EAC) is now emulating its approach, and so is SADC. The small island developing States, long averse to regional cooperation, are developing similar endeavors with the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE) and the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE).

 

UN-Decade of Sustainable Energy for All:

In 2012, the UN decided that 2014 to 2024 should be the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All. On 16 December 2013, member States agreed on the first overall energy mandate for the SG who is tasked to coordinate the UN’s work on the Decade of SE4All (2014-2024). All member States are urged to contribute to it.

 

Post 2015: a Sustainable Development Paradigm with Energy Goals:

So when the international community later this year negotiates the development paradigm for the post-2015 period , energy considerations will hopefully be fully integrated into the deliberations. The High-Level Report “A New Global Partnership” of 30 May 2013 includes, among the 12 indicative goals proposed, goals on energy: the three SE4All goals plus a fourth goal, “to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption”. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s report, “An Action Agenda for Sustainable Development” proposes 10 goals and includes “ensuring sustainable energy”. A global consultation process about targets and indicators is currently under way.

While it is not certain that the post-2015 development paradigm negotiations will agree on goals, targets and indicators, the energy community has every interest to keep energy considerations on the table and to see energy goals included, if at all there are goals.

 

Ambassador Irene Giner-Reichl is founder and president of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy and a Vice-President of REN21. She currently serves as Austria’s Ambassador to the PR of China and to Mongolia.
==================================

UNIDO support for ECREEE and new regional sustainable energy centers in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific.

VIENNA, 13 December 2013 – The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of the Austrian Development Cooperation, signed agreements to support the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) and to set up three more centres in East and Southern African and in the Caribbean region. 

“The regional renewable energy and energy efficiency centres are another good example of our fruitful partnership with Austria. Local companies and industry will benefit from the growing sustainable energy market opportunities, as well as from regional cooperation and South-South and North-South technology and knowledge transfer,” said LI Yong, the Director General of UNIDO.

“We consider the regional centres to be a powerful way to simultaneously address the challenges of energy access, energy security and climate change mitigation in our partner countries. We are pleased to see that our initial contributions have already leveraged major funding commitments from international donors and generated tangible results and impacts. In this context, we would like to thank the Energy and Climate Change Branch of UNIDO for the excellent cooperation in previous years,” said Martin Ledolter, Managing Director of the ADA.

The ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), based in Praia, Cabo Verde, was established in 2010 to create favourable framework conditions for renewable energy and energy efficiency markets in the 15 member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  The new project will strengthen the ECREEE’s capacity to deal with a rapidly growing project portfolio and expanding external demands for its services.

The two new centres in sub-Saharan Africa will seek to replicate the success of the ECREEE model. One will be established, together with the East African Community (EAC), to serve partner States, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda; and the other will serve the 15 Members States of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). It is expected that both centres will be fully operational in 2014.

Recently, UNIDO was requested by the Sustainable Energy Island Initiative (SIDS DOCK) of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) to assist the island nations in the Caribbean and Pacific in the creation of similar centres. A final agreement on the centres is expected in 2014, which has been declared the International Year of Small Island Developing States.

 

ECOWAS Observatory Countries:

Benin
Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Cote d Ivoire
Gambia
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Liberia
Mali
Niger
Nigeria
Senegal
Sierra Leone
Togo

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indi…

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indi…

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

Last updated on 19 May 2014, 7:40 am

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

 

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

India, the world’s third largest polluter, has just elected a new leader.

This makes Narendra Modi, the dynamic chief of India’s now ruling BJP party, one of the most powerful players in fight against climate change.

Dubbed the “Development Man” during his mammoth election campaign, Modi pushed a vision of prosperity to India: more power, electrified cities, and wealthier citizens. How he chooses to deliver on such a promise has profound implications for the planet over years to come.

A country’s ability to develop largely depends on its energy supply. In the BJP’s election manifesto, its slogan concerning energy is “Generate More, Use Rationally, Waste Less”.

Whether he depends on fossil fuels or renewables to top up electricity supplies in India – a country where around a third of people are still not connected to the national grid – could determine the planet’s chance staying within safe limits of global warming.

“The question is what won’t they do as much as what will they do,” says Nitin Pandit, managing director of World Resources Institute India, one of many observers eager to see if Modi will, for example, move India away from polluting coal as a primary energy source.

But as Modi seeks to push a ferocious agenda of national development, he may find it difficult to reject development proposals that looks “wonderful on paper”, says Pandit, even if it doesn’t strictly adhere to his manifesto pledge to “put sustainability at the centre of our thoughts and actions” – a suitably vague notion that has left experts pondering how much they can expect from India’s new leader.

Development

Delve deeper into the BJP manifesto, and Modi’s climate policies remain mysterious. The focus is not how, but how much energy they are going to be able to produce.

Following in the footsteps of the US, India looks ready to adopt an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to energy: the manifesto promises to “maximize the potential of oil, gas, hydel power, ocean, wind, coal and nuclear”. This includes exploring for and producing more coal, at the same time as advancing India’s solar mission.

A diverse supply of energy is not without benefits – it creates security of energy supply, and decreases vulnerability to changeable markets – but, says Pandit, “I don’t think the thinking is about diversity per se. It is just being about being able to get more supply, no matter which way.”

Some are optimistic that Modi and his pro-business attitude mean that he will be a force for good in pushing India’s rapidly developing renewables market.

“Modi absolutely believes, and he has publicly stated many times, that he wants to embrace the clean energy model,” says Krishnan Pallassana, executive director of The Climate Group India. “With Modi as prime minister we expect there will be a huge boost to this sector, because he not only talks, he also walks the walk.”

Congress, he adds, whom Modi beat in a landslide victory, had good intentions, but their more “welfare-centric, subsidy-centric” approach failed to deliver the promised results.

An agenda centred around development could indeed be a boon for the planet, if the government succeeds in linking this up to a complementary climate agenda.

While the economy and anti-corruption measures have provided the rallying cry of this election, when the fever has died down, these are the sort of links that the new government could start to make, according to Suruchi Bhadwal, Associate Director of Earth Science and Climate Change at the Energy and Resources Institute in India.

“It may not draw immediate attention, but maybe in a year or two may tap into adaptation mitigation,” she says. And there are parts of the “Modi intelligentsia” who are already beginning to make the link, adds Pandit.

The presidential-style candidate, dominated by Modi’s own dynamism, has also added to hopes that he stands ready to take advantage of renewable energy opportunities if they will spur further development in India. “Given the personality of the person, if there are opportunities to tap into in any area, I think he’s the kind of person who will jump into it hands on,” says Bhadwal.

Gujarat experience

Modi’s stint as chief minister in the Indian state of Gujarat provides something of a backstory to what can be expected from him now that he has the whole of India in his hands.

Under his governance, Gujarat became India’s leader in solar energy, pre-empting the national government by releasing its own solar policy in 2009, a year before the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was issued.

Of the 1000+ MW installed in the country over the period 2010-2012, over 70% of this belonged to Gujarat. Modi also launched Asia’s first ever government department dedicated to climate change, and even followed in the footsteps of Al Gore, becoming the second politician to pen a book on global warming.

But from thereon, the tale loses some of its glory. Local reports from last year suggest that the climate change department has all but collapsed, and as other states have caught up on Gujarat’s solar revolution, its share of India’s total solar capacity has fallen to around 40%.

This has raised some doubts about his ability to replicate his success in one state across all 29. “I feel there are quite some challenges for him, but he may succeed in some parts. Not all states are at the same level of development, and there are very different institutional capacities across the country,” comments Bhadwal.

International

Modi will also have to familiarise himself with the international politics of climate change – his tenure will overlap with the UN’s attempt in 2015 to sign of a global, legally binding climate deal.

India’s stance at the talks so far has been less than conciliatory, with many issues still remained to be smoothed out between them and other big emitters such as the EU and US.

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

The outspoken party is unlikely to change this approach any time soon, and while adaptation is likely to remain a priority, it is unlikely they are going to be pressured into taking on mitigation actions equal to those of developed countries any time soon.

“I don’t see why they would feel the need to suddenly start accepting international demands on what must happen to the climate,” says Pandit.

“The belief there is the largest per capita contributors to the problem have been the developed countries, and frankly until they make a dent in their emissions the issue is not going to be resolved. That opinion is shared quite commonly among a large spectrum of Indians, and there’s no reason why the Modi government will differ from that.”

But it is ultimately the priorities of electorate that determines the content of the parties’ manifestos, as each attempts to score political points over the other. The continued lack of awareness means this will go down as just one more exercise in democracy where climate change was forced into the back seat.

Yet there is something of a disconnect in this, considering the other dominant concern in India at the moment: the oncoming rains.

“What matters to the common man is what the rains are going to be like this season and whether the bread baskets are going to be full. No matter what happens in the elections the monsoons will show us the way,” says Pandit.

“The impact of climate change on the weather is not an easy subject, but more emphasis could be put on it to raise awareness of people, so they can hopefully vote accordingly.”

—————————————————–

Newly-elected Modi aims to bring solar to every Indian home by 2019
BusinessGreen 
India plans to produce enough solar energy to power a lightbulb in every home in the country by 2019, a party official has said.     jlne.ws/1to1AJJ

 

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indias-new-pm-modi-be-a-climate-change-champion/#sthash.dlTvP58z.dpuf

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

By Sophie Yeo

India, the world’s third largest polluter, has just elected a new leader.

This makes Narendra Modi, the dynamic chief of India’s now ruling BJP party, one of the most powerful players in fight against climate change.

Dubbed the “Development Man” during his mammoth election campaign, Modi pushed a vision of prosperity to India: more power, electrified cities, and wealthier citizens. How he chooses to deliver on such a promise has profound implications for the planet over years to come.

A country’s ability to develop largely depends on its energy supply. In the BJP’s election manifesto, its slogan concerning energy is “Generate More, Use Rationally, Waste Less”.

Whether he depends on fossil fuels or renewables to top up electricity supplies in India – a country where around a third of people are still not connected to the national grid – could determine the planet’s chance staying within safe limits of global warming.

“The question is what won’t they do as much as what will they do,” says Nitin Pandit, managing director of World Resources Institute India, one of many observers eager to see if Modi will, for example, move India away from polluting coal as a primary energy source.

But as Modi seeks to push a ferocious agenda of national development, he may find it difficult to reject development proposals that looks “wonderful on paper”, says Pandit, even if it doesn’t strictly adhere to his manifesto pledge to “put sustainability at the centre of our thoughts and actions” – a suitably vague notion that has left experts pondering how much they can expect from India’s new leader.

Development

Delve deeper into the BJP manifesto, and Modi’s climate policies remain mysterious. The focus is not how, but how much energy they are going to be able to produce.

Following in the footsteps of the US, India looks ready to adopt an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to energy: the manifesto promises to “maximize the potential of oil, gas, hydel power, ocean, wind, coal and nuclear”. This includes exploring for and producing more coal, at the same time as advancing India’s solar mission.

Narendra Modi and his competition Rahul Gandhi (Pic: Global Panorama/Flickr)

Narendra Modi and his competition Rahul Gandhi (Pic: Global Panorama/Flickr)

A diverse supply of energy is not without benefits – it creates security of energy supply, and decreases vulnerability to changeable markets – but, says Pandit, “I don’t think the thinking is about diversity per se. It is just being about being able to get more supply, no matter which way.”

Some are optimistic that Modi and his pro-business attitude mean that he will be a force for good in pushing India’s rapidly developing renewables market.

“Modi absolutely believes, and he has publicly stated many times, that he wants to embrace the clean energy model,” says Krishnan Pallassana, executive director of The Climate Group India. “With Modi as prime minister we expect there will be a huge boost to this sector, because he not only talks, he also walks the walk.”

Congress, he adds, whom Modi beat in a landslide victory, had good intentions, but their more “welfare-centric, subsidy-centric” approach failed to deliver the promised results.

An agenda centred around development could indeed be a boon for the planet, if the government succeeds in linking this up to a complementary climate agenda.

While the economy and anti-corruption measures have provided the rallying cry of this election, when the fever has died down, these are the sort of links that the new government could start to make, according to Suruchi Bhadwal, Associate Director of Earth Science and Climate Change at the Energy and Resources Institute in India.

“It may not draw immediate attention, but maybe in a year or two may tap into adaptation mitigation,” she says. And there are parts of the “Modi intelligentsia” who are already beginning to make the link, adds Pandit.

The presidential-style candidate, dominated by Modi’s own dynamism, has also added to hopes that he stands ready to take advantage of renewable energy opportunities if they will spur further development in India. “Given the personality of the person, if there are opportunities to tap into in any area, I think he’s the kind of person who will jump into it hands on,” says Bhadwal.

Gujarat experience

Modi’s stint as chief minister in the Indian state of Gujarat provides something of a backstory to what can be expected from him now that he has the whole of India in his hands.

Under his governance, Gujarat became India’s leader in solar energy, pre-empting the national government by releasing its own solar policy in 2009, a year before the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was issued.

Of the 1000+ MW installed in the country over the period 2010-2012, over 70% of this belonged to Gujarat. Modi also launched Asia’s first ever government department dedicated to climate change, and even followed in the footsteps of Al Gore, becoming the second politician to pen a book on global warming.

But from thereon, the tale loses some of its glory. Local reports from last year suggest that the climate change department has all but collapsed, and as other states have caught up on Gujarat’s solar revolution, its share of India’s total solar capacity has fallen to around 40%.

This has raised some doubts about his ability to replicate his success in one state across all 29. “I feel there are quite some challenges for him, but he may succeed in some parts. Not all states are at the same level of development, and there are very different institutional capacities across the country,” comments Bhadwal.

International

Modi will also have to familiarise himself with the international politics of climate change – his tenure will overlap with the UN’s attempt in 2015 to sign of a global, legally binding climate deal.

India’s stance at the talks so far has been less than conciliatory, with many issues still remained to be smoothed out between them and other big emitters such as the EU and US.

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

The outspoken party is unlikely to change this approach any time soon, and while adaptation is likely to remain a priority, it is unlikely they are going to be pressured into taking on mitigation actions equal to those of developed countries any time soon.

“I don’t see why they would feel the need to suddenly start accepting international demands on what must happen to the climate,” says Pandit.

“The belief there is the largest per capita contributors to the problem have been the developed countries, and frankly until they make a dent in their emissions the issue is not going to be resolved. That opinion is shared quite commonly among a large spectrum of Indians, and there’s no reason why the Modi government will differ from that.”

But it is ultimately the priorities of electorate that determines the content of the parties’ manifestos, as each attempts to score political points over the other. The continued lack of awareness means this will go down as just one more exercise in democracy where climate change was forced into the back seat.

Yet there is something of a disconnect in this, considering the other dominant concern in India at the moment: the oncoming rains.

“What matters to the common man is what the rains are going to be like this season and whether the bread baskets are going to be full. No matter what happens in the elections the monsoons will show us the way,” says Pandit.

“The impact of climate change on the weather is not an easy subject, but more emphasis could be put on it to raise awareness of people, so they can hopefully vote accordingly.”

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indi…

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

By Sophie Yeo

India, the world’s third largest polluter, has just elected a new leader.

This makes Narendra Modi, the dynamic chief of India’s now ruling BJP party, one of the most powerful players in fight against climate change.

Dubbed the “Development Man” during his mammoth election campaign, Modi pushed a vision of prosperity to India: more power, electrified cities, and wealthier citizens. How he chooses to deliver on such a promise has profound implications for the planet over years to come.

A country’s ability to develop largely depends on its energy supply. In the BJP’s election manifesto, its slogan concerning energy is “Generate More, Use Rationally, Waste Less”.

Whether he depends on fossil fuels or renewables to top up electricity supplies in India – a country where around a third of people are still not connected to the national grid – could determine the planet’s chance staying within safe limits of global warming.

“The question is what won’t they do as much as what will they do,” says Nitin Pandit, managing director of World Resources Institute India, one of many observers eager to see if Modi will, for example, move India away from polluting coal as a primary energy source.

But as Modi seeks to push a ferocious agenda of national development, he may find it difficult to reject development proposals that looks “wonderful on paper”, says Pandit, even if it doesn’t strictly adhere to his manifesto pledge to “put sustainability at the centre of our thoughts and actions” – a suitably vague notion that has left experts pondering how much they can expect from India’s new leader.

Development

Delve deeper into the BJP manifesto, and Modi’s climate policies remain mysterious. The focus is not how, but how much energy they are going to be able to produce.

Following in the footsteps of the US, India looks ready to adopt an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to energy: the manifesto promises to “maximize the potential of oil, gas, hydel power, ocean, wind, coal and nuclear”. This includes exploring for and producing more coal, at the same time as advancing India’s solar mission.

Narendra Modi and his competition Rahul Gandhi (Pic: Global Panorama/Flickr)

Narendra Modi and his competition Rahul Gandhi (Pic: Global Panorama/Flickr)

A diverse supply of energy is not without benefits – it creates security of energy supply, and decreases vulnerability to changeable markets – but, says Pandit, “I don’t think the thinking is about diversity per se. It is just being about being able to get more supply, no matter which way.”

Some are optimistic that Modi and his pro-business attitude mean that he will be a force for good in pushing India’s rapidly developing renewables market.

“Modi absolutely believes, and he has publicly stated many times, that he wants to embrace the clean energy model,” says Krishnan Pallassana, executive director of The Climate Group India. “With Modi as prime minister we expect there will be a huge boost to this sector, because he not only talks, he also walks the walk.”

Congress, he adds, whom Modi beat in a landslide victory, had good intentions, but their more “welfare-centric, subsidy-centric” approach failed to deliver the promised results.

An agenda centred around development could indeed be a boon for the planet, if the government succeeds in linking this up to a complementary climate agenda.

While the economy and anti-corruption measures have provided the rallying cry of this election, when the fever has died down, these are the sort of links that the new government could start to make, according to Suruchi Bhadwal, Associate Director of Earth Science and Climate Change at the Energy and Resources Institute in India.

“It may not draw immediate attention, but maybe in a year or two may tap into adaptation mitigation,” she says. And there are parts of the “Modi intelligentsia” who are already beginning to make the link, adds Pandit.

The presidential-style candidate, dominated by Modi’s own dynamism, has also added to hopes that he stands ready to take advantage of renewable energy opportunities if they will spur further development in India. “Given the personality of the person, if there are opportunities to tap into in any area, I think he’s the kind of person who will jump into it hands on,” says Bhadwal.

Gujarat experience

Modi’s stint as chief minister in the Indian state of Gujarat provides something of a backstory to what can be expected from him now that he has the whole of India in his hands.

Under his governance, Gujarat became India’s leader in solar energy, pre-empting the national government by releasing its own solar policy in 2009, a year before the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was issued.

Of the 1000+ MW installed in the country over the period 2010-2012, over 70% of this belonged to Gujarat. Modi also launched Asia’s first ever government department dedicated to climate change, and even followed in the footsteps of Al Gore, becoming the second politician to pen a book on global warming.

But from thereon, the tale loses some of its glory. Local reports from last year suggest that the climate change department has all but collapsed, and as other states have caught up on Gujarat’s solar revolution, its share of India’s total solar capacity has fallen to around 40%.

This has raised some doubts about his ability to replicate his success in one state across all 29. “I feel there are quite some challenges for him, but he may succeed in some parts. Not all states are at the same level of development, and there are very different institutional capacities across the country,” comments Bhadwal.

International

Modi will also have to familiarise himself with the international politics of climate change – his tenure will overlap with the UN’s attempt in 2015 to sign of a global, legally binding climate deal.

India’s stance at the talks so far has been less than conciliatory, with many issues still remained to be smoothed out between them and other big emitters such as the EU and US.

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

The outspoken party is unlikely to change this approach any time soon, and while adaptation is likely to remain a priority, it is unlikely they are going to be pressured into taking on mitigation actions equal to those of developed countries any time soon.

“I don’t see why they would feel the need to suddenly start accepting international demands on what must happen to the climate,” says Pandit.

“The belief there is the largest per capita contributors to the problem have been the developed countries, and frankly until they make a dent in their emissions the issue is not going to be resolved. That opinion is shared quite commonly among a large spectrum of Indians, and there’s no reason why the Modi government will differ from that.”

But it is ultimately the priorities of electorate that determines the content of the parties’ manifestos, as each attempts to score political points over the other. The continued lack of awareness means this will go down as just one more exercise in democracy where climate change was forced into the back seat.

Yet there is something of a disconnect in this, considering the other dominant concern in India at the moment: the oncoming rains.

“What matters to the common man is what the rains are going to be like this season and whether the bread baskets are going to be full. No matter what happens in the elections the monsoons will show us the way,” says Pandit.

“The impact of climate change on the weather is not an easy subject, but more emphasis could be put on it to raise awareness of people, so they can hopefully vote accordingly.”

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indi…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Ban Ki-moon: China must offer global climate ‘leadership’

UN Secretary General hails Chinese efforts to combat climate change during trip to Shanghai

- See more at: 

Ban Ki-moon: China must offer global climate ‘leadership’

Last updated on 20 May 2014,  RTCC. org (Responding to Climate Change)

UN Secretary General hails Chinese efforts to combat climate change during trip to Shanghai.

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/20/ban-ki-mo…

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/20/ban-ki-mo…

By Sophie Yeo

China must provide “global leadership” in the fight against climate change, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Shanghai yesterday.

The UN chief is visiting China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead of the climate change summit that he will convene in September, where world leaders are invited to make “bold pledges” on how their country can tackle global warming.

China should lead this global effort, Ban stressed during a talk to the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, and highlighted existing government actions to address the country’s rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions.

“Here in China you are on the frontlines of the fight – with new carbon markets, large investments in renewable energy and strong new laws on pollution,” he said.

Since arriving in China on Sunday, Ban Ki-moon has held discussions with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. According to a UN spokesperson, Ban told Li that he hoped to see China present both its national and global climate vision during his September Summit.

In 2009 China pledged to reduce its output of greenhouse gases 40-45% per unit of GDP by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. Since Chinese emissions continue to grow, this does not equal a reduction in absolute emissions.

Development goals

Due to the rate of its greenhouse gas emissions, China’s contribution to a 2015 UN climate deal will be crucial to the global push to stop global warming reaching dangerous levels. China is engaging in intense diplomacy with other large emitters from the developed world, particularly the US, in order to figure out how to shape such a deal.

Ban also highlighted the importance of shaping the UN’s new development framework, called the Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. The new targets, he said, will help to end extreme poverty and “allow us to focus on sustainable development as a model for the global economy.”

The impacts of climate change are already being felt across the world, said Ban: “Key resources – energy, food, land, water, clean air – are in progressively shorter supply.”

Scientists, economists and the military have all sounded the alarm on the negative consequences of a warmer world.

A report last week from ratings agency Standard and Poor (S&P) warned that climate change could threaten sovereign credit ratings, with vulnerable countries being hit the hardest. Bangladesh, Senegal and Vietnam were the placed at the bottom of S&P’s ranking of vulnerable countries.

The report explained: “This is in part due to their reliance on agricultural production and employment, which can be vulnerable to shifting climate patterns and extreme weather events, but also due to their weaker capacity to absorb the financial cost.”

 

Ban Ki-moon: China must offer global climate ‘leadership’

UN Secretary General hails Chinese efforts to combat climate change during trip to Shanghai

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

By Sophie Yeo

China must provide “global leadership” in the fight against climate change, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Shanghai yesterday.

The UN chief is visiting China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead of the climate change summit that he will convene in September, where world leaders are invited to make “bold pledges” on how their country can tackle global warming.

China should lead this global effort, Ban stressed during a talk to the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, and highlighted existing government actions to address the country’s rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions.

“Here in China you are on the frontlines of the fight – with new carbon markets, large investments in renewable energy and strong new laws on pollution,” he said.

Since arriving in China on Sunday, Ban Ki-moon has held discussions with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. According to a UN spokesperson, Ban told Li that he hoped to see China present both its national and global climate vision during his September Summit.

In 2009 China pledged to reduce its output of greenhouse gases 40-45% per unit of GDP by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. Since Chinese emissions continue to grow, this does not equal a reduction in absolute emissions.

Development goals

Due to the rate of its greenhouse gas emissions, China’s contribution to a 2015 UN climate deal will be crucial to the global push to stop global warming reaching dangerous levels. China is engaging in intense diplomacy with other large emitters from the developed world, particularly the US, in order to figure out how to shape such a deal.

Ban also highlighted the importance of shaping the UN’s new development framework, called the Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. The new targets, he said, will help to end extreme poverty and “allow us to focus on sustainable development as a model for the global economy.”

The impacts of climate change are already being felt across the world, said Ban: “Key resources – energy, food, land, water, clean air – are in progressively shorter supply.”

Scientists, economists and the military have all sounded the alarm on the negative consequences of a warmer world.

A report last week from ratings agency Standard and Poor (S&P) warned that climate change could threaten sovereign credit ratings, with vulnerable countries being hit the hardest. Bangladesh, Senegal and Vietnam were the placed at the bottom of S&P’s ranking of vulnerable countries.

The report explained: “This is in part due to their reliance on agricultural production and employment, which can be vulnerable to shifting climate patterns and extreme weather events, but also due to their weaker capacity to absorb the financial cost.”

- See more at: 

Ban Ki-moon: China must offer global climate ‘leadership’

UN Secretary General hails Chinese efforts to combat climate change during trip to Shanghai

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

By Sophie Yeo

China must provide “global leadership” in the fight against climate change, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Shanghai yesterday.

The UN chief is visiting China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead of the climate change summit that he will convene in September, where world leaders are invited to make “bold pledges” on how their country can tackle global warming.

China should lead this global effort, Ban stressed during a talk to the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, and highlighted existing government actions to address the country’s rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions.

“Here in China you are on the frontlines of the fight – with new carbon markets, large investments in renewable energy and strong new laws on pollution,” he said.

Since arriving in China on Sunday, Ban Ki-moon has held discussions with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. According to a UN spokesperson, Ban told Li that he hoped to see China present both its national and global climate vision during his September Summit.

In 2009 China pledged to reduce its output of greenhouse gases 40-45% per unit of GDP by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. Since Chinese emissions continue to grow, this does not equal a reduction in absolute emissions.

Development goals

Due to the rate of its greenhouse gas emissions, China’s contribution to a 2015 UN climate deal will be crucial to the global push to stop global warming reaching dangerous levels. China is engaging in intense diplomacy with other large emitters from the developed world, particularly the US, in order to figure out how to shape such a deal.

Ban also highlighted the importance of shaping the UN’s new development framework, called the Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. The new targets, he said, will help to end extreme poverty and “allow us to focus on sustainable development as a model for the global economy.”

The impacts of climate change are already being felt across the world, said Ban: “Key resources – energy, food, land, water, clean air – are in progressively shorter supply.”

Scientists, economists and the military have all sounded the alarm on the negative consequences of a warmer world.

A report last week from ratings agency Standard and Poor (S&P) warned that climate change could threaten sovereign credit ratings, with vulnerable countries being hit the hardest. Bangladesh, Senegal and Vietnam were the placed at the bottom of S&P’s ranking of vulnerable countries.

The report explained: “This is in part due to their reliance on agricultural production and employment, which can be vulnerable to shifting climate patterns and extreme weather events, but also due to their weaker capacity to absorb the financial cost.”

- See more at: 

Ban Ki-moon: China must offer global climate ‘leadership’

UN Secretary General hails Chinese efforts to combat climate change during trip to Shanghai

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Ban Ki-moon is greeted by Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. (Pic: UN Photo/Mark Garten)

By Sophie Yeo

China must provide “global leadership” in the fight against climate change, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Shanghai yesterday.

The UN chief is visiting China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead of the climate change summit that he will convene in September, where world leaders are invited to make “bold pledges” on how their country can tackle global warming.

China should lead this global effort, Ban stressed during a talk to the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, and highlighted existing government actions to address the country’s rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions.

“Here in China you are on the frontlines of the fight – with new carbon markets, large investments in renewable energy and strong new laws on pollution,” he said.

Since arriving in China on Sunday, Ban Ki-moon has held discussions with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. According to a UN spokesperson, Ban told Li that he hoped to see China present both its national and global climate vision during his September Summit.

In 2009 China pledged to reduce its output of greenhouse gases 40-45% per unit of GDP by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. Since Chinese emissions continue to grow, this does not equal a reduction in absolute emissions.

Development goals

Due to the rate of its greenhouse gas emissions, China’s contribution to a 2015 UN climate deal will be crucial to the global push to stop global warming reaching dangerous levels. China is engaging in intense diplomacy with other large emitters from the developed world, particularly the US, in order to figure out how to shape such a deal.

Ban also highlighted the importance of shaping the UN’s new development framework, called the Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. The new targets, he said, will help to end extreme poverty and “allow us to focus on sustainable development as a model for the global economy.”

The impacts of climate change are already being felt across the world, said Ban: “Key resources – energy, food, land, water, clean air – are in progressively shorter supply.”

Scientists, economists and the military have all sounded the alarm on the negative consequences of a warmer world.

A report last week from ratings agency Standard and Poor (S&P) warned that climate change could threaten sovereign credit ratings, with vulnerable countries being hit the hardest. Bangladesh, Senegal and Vietnam were the placed at the bottom of S&P’s ranking of vulnerable countries.

The report explained: “This is in part due to their reliance on agricultural production and employment, which can be vulnerable to shifting climate patterns and extreme weather events, but also due to their weaker capacity to absorb the financial cost.”

- See more at:  Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
Posted in Archives, China, Obama Styling, Real World's News, Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Photo

Ukrainian soldiers guarded a base outside Izyum on Monday, as Russia announced another pullback of its forces from the border. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin said Monday that he was withdrawing Russian troops from the border with Ukraine, the second time he has said that in less than two weeks. He also praised the government in Kiev, which he had previously called an illegal, fascist junta, for its willingness to negotiate structural changes.

But the intended audience for these conciliatory remarks may not have been the United States and Europe, who would distrust them in any event. No, Mr. Putin’s gaze was more likely fixed on China, where he arrives on Tuesday by all accounts determined to show that he, too, wants to pivot to Asia.

 

While Mr. Putin has been casting an eye eastward practically since he returned to the presidency in 2012, the crisis in relations with the West over Ukraine has made ties to Asia, and particularly relations with its economic engine, China, a key strategic priority. With Europe trying to wean itself off Russian gas, and the possibility of far more serious Western sanctions looming should the crisis deepen, Moscow needs an alternative.

Mr. Putin has stressed repeatedly in recent weeks that Russia sees its economic future with China, noting that its Asian neighbor was on track to surpass the United States as the leading global economic power. A tilt to the East is also in keeping with Mr. Putin’s recent turn to a conservative nationalist ideology, emphasizing religion, family values and patriotism in contrast to what he sees as the increasingly godless, relativist and decadent West.

“Today, Russia firmly places China at the top of its foreign trade partners,” Mr. Putin said in an interview with Chinese journalists on the eve of his visit, according to a transcript released Monday by the Kremlin. “In the context of turbulent global economy, the strengthening of mutually beneficial trade and economic ties, as well as the increase of investment flows between Russia and China, are of paramount importance.”

Mr. Putin’s announcement of a pullback of Russian forces from the Ukraine border was likely to help calm the situation there before presidential elections scheduled for Sunday. But it could also be seen as a gesture to Chinese sensitivities about separatism, given Beijing’s continuing troubles with Tibet, the Uighurs and scores of lesser-known ethnic and religious minorities.

It was also the third time Mr. Putin had announced a pullback without any evidence of troops actually departing, the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, noted Monday at a news conference in Brussels.

The centerpiece of Mr. Putin’s two-day visit to China could well be a long-stalled deal with Russia to ship natural gas from new Siberian fields to China starting around 2019. The two have been haggling over the deal for a decade, but could not agree on a price for the gas.

Experts anticipate that Russia is finally prepared to come to terms, if only to let Washington and Western Europe know that it has other markets for its gas and important friends in the world.

“Because of this current disaster in our relations with the West, they have no alternative,” said Vasily B. Kashin, a China expert at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a Moscow policy organization. “They need to go to Asia to make any deals possible as quickly as possible.”

Mr. Putin is due in Normandy on June 6 for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. He is likely to meet with President Obama and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to discuss the Ukraine crisis. Brandishing a new gas deal with China would strengthen Mr. Putin’s hand, helping deflate the threat of Western sanctions.

In the interview with Chinese journalists, Mr. Putin noted that bilateral trade with China last year was close to $90 billion. Although Russian trade with the European Union as a bloc is far larger, amounting to some $370 billion in 2012, trade with China is on par with leading individual partners like Germany. Trade with the United States was only $26 billion in 2012.

Russia needs new markets because it is hugely dependent on commodity exports, earning some 67 percent of its export income from oil and gas alone. Financing from China would also help offset reluctance by Western banks to extend new loans, given the threat of sanctions.

“There will be a natural gas agreement, which is very important not for the agreement itself, but because it will open the road for further, much bigger agreements in natural gas and other raw materials,” Mr. Kashin said.

Mr. Putin said Russia would try to increase trade volume with China to $100 billion next year and double that by 2020.

Aside from what he described as a “strategic energy alliance,” Mr. Putin mentioned possible joint projects in airplanes and helicopters, mining, agricultural processing and transportation infrastructure. Other technical and military cooperation agreements will also be discussed, but both sides tend to keep those secret, so details might not emerge for some months, experts said.

Russia and China, which share a border of more than 2,600 miles, have long had uneasy relations. Russia, wary about the economic gorilla along its southern borders, blocked Chinese investment, particularly in fields considered strategic like energy, except for two small deals. Mr. Putin on Monday clearly enunciated a more welcoming message.

“That is a big shift,” said Clifford Gaddy, of the Brookings Institution in Washington and the author of a book on Mr. Putin, “and indicates how serious they are in taking a step toward China.”

Mr. Gaddy added, “It is a shift in rhetoric, and we will see if it is followed up with a shift in action.”

In highlighting that the sanctions are helping to disrupt the Russian economy, the Obama administration has virtually ignored that it is pushing Russia toward greater dependence on China, Mr. Gaddy noted.

The Russians are hoping that China will also agree to help build a bridge linking the mainland to the Crimean port of Kerch, lending not only valuable expertise but also tacit endorsement of an annexation that much of the world considers illegal. There is no current land link to the annexed territory.

China abstained from a United Nations Security Council vote in March rejecting the referendum that Russia organized in Crimea before annexing it. That earned China special praise from Mr. Putin in his speech announcing the annexation.

Russia and China are also scheduled to hold joint naval exercises in China toward the end of the month, and President Xi Jinping was one of the few world leaders to put in an appearance at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

There is, of course, no guarantee that the two sides will come to terms on the gas deal. Alexei Miller, the chief executive of state-run Gazprom, announced over the weekend that Russia and China had agreed on everything in the 30-year contract except the price.

Experts noted that the price gap had endured for years, although it is generally believed to have shrunk from hundreds of dollars per thousand cubic meters to $50 or less. Before, Moscow’s bargaining strategy was to wait out the Chinese, figuring that their insatiable appetite for natural resources would bring them to Russia’s doorstep at favorable terms.

But analysts believe that passive strategy is over.

“There is no more time, with sanctions escalating,” said Ildar Davletshin, the head of oil and gas research at Renaissance Capital, an investment bank. “Russia has become more desperate to get a real outlet.”

Mr. Davletshin also noted that as negotiations had dragged on, Russia gradually lost market share to other suppliers in Central Asia.

Russia, with its massive resources, is attractive to the Chinese. “Russia is just across the river and it is vast and underpopulated, so it is attractive for China to own a piece,” Mr. Davletshin said.

That also puts its resources out of reach of American sanctions and the United States Navy, analysts noted.

As initially conceived, Russian gas was to enter China in its far west, where the demand was lowest, and in the ensuing years China negotiated deals for other, cheaper sources.

So the current deal concentrates on selling 38 billion cubic meters of gas, worth about $14 billion if they agree to a price of around $380 per thousand cubic meters, as analysts expect. Part of the bargaining also concerns the financing China might provide to build the nearly 1,500 mile pipeline, estimated to cost $30 billion.

 

Andrew Higgins contributed reporting from Brussels.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Exit the Petrodollar, Enter the Gas-o-Yuan?

Also Think of the BRICS, supported by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, that within the G20, are the new grouping that intends to stand up to NATO and the G7 and is meeting in July 2014 in Brazil to establish a $100 billion  BRICS development bank, announced in 2012, to be a potential alternative to the US led UN’s International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank – as a source of project financing for the developing world – with the former 120 NAM (Non Aligned Movement) Nations solidly aligned with the China-Russia led, and gas fed, new result of Asia’s own “Pivoting” that is evolving since Washington’s own “RESET to Asia” policy. This is no less then a World reorganization to change the post WWII architecture that rebuilt Europe and established the UN. Now a China led new structure is the result of China becoming the World’s largest economy, a new Sino-Russia relationship, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization,

More BRICS cooperation meant to bypass the dollar is reflected in the “Gas-o-yuan,” as in natural gas bought and paid for in Chinese currency. Gazprom is even considering marketing bonds in yuan as part of the financial planning for its expansion. Yuan-backed bonds are already trading in Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and most recently   Frankfurt.

Above stresses the importance of the largest BUYER in the fossil fuels market, whose currency then becomes the World’s Reserve currency. Hence the dollar that bought Arab oil might now be replaced by the Yuan that buys Russian gas. Strange as it might seem, but the dependence on these imports of energy matter is the reasurance of the stability of the buyer’s currency – that needs no-more to show it has large reserves of Gold to gain the needed credibility.

We strongly recommend the following link and TomDispatch.com Asian correspondent’s Pepe Escobar’s look at what he sees as the start of Cold War II with these “resets” and “pivots” and the Shanghai Cooperation Council. He also looks at Washington and sees there the start of a Cold War 2.0 mentality that stresses military hardware expense allowing for a neglect of internal infrastructure at a time China grows by building up its own internal market.

Please look up:

www.tomdispatch.com/post/175845/tomgram%3A_pepe_escobar%2C_who%27s_pivoting_where_in_eurasia/

Nevertheless, we must also remark here that Pepe Escobar has not looked yet at the new India as it might evolve under the Narendra D. Modi Administration, and a possible US attempt to try some new alignment with the largest democracy in the world as its way of re-entering the large mass of people economics needed to have weight in a world of consumers. We must also note that in order to reenter the global market, the US must have again also exportable consumer goods besides the present military exports – the latter also by now not being left as a US global monopoly.  Much of the decreased US need for oil imports being not just because of increases in energy efficiency and increases in alternate sources of energy, but as well in the loss of production of goods and employment of its people.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From UNEP:

 

UNEP and China collaboration to help Global South fight climate change.

 

14 May 2014 | William Brittlebank | Finance & The Green Economy, Policy & Legislation, Africa, Asia

 

 

 

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and China have agreed to assist Global South countries in fighting climate change.

 

The new agreement was endorsed last week in Nairobi by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

 

Mr. Steiner said: “This new agreement sends another powerful message that China is committed to combating climate change, not only within its borders, but across the Global South – and that in doing so, it count on UNEP’s unflagging support.”

 

Chinese Premier Li said: “China would like to continue to collaborate with UNEP to enhance green development and sustainable environmental management. China has contributed US$6 million to the UNEP trust fund and will continue to make contributions to that fund into the future. China also wants to enhance communication, cooperation and coordination with UNEP and multilateral environmental agreements in support of global environmental sustainability and action to combat climate change at the national and global levels.”

 

During the discussions, efforts to accelerate China’s transition to a green economy were also addressed.

 

They also discussed China’s newly declared “war” on air pollution and the top issues on the agenda of the inaugural United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), that is will be held in Nairobi in June.

 

UNEP and China have collaborated with countries across Africa and Asia on climate adaptation projects since 2008 which have been financed by the Global Environment Facility and the Chinese government.

 

Mr. Steiner currently serves as Vice-Chairperson of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), of which Premier Li was the former Chair.

——————

 

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

From the New York based Council on Foreign Relations we learn that On Tuesday, April 22, 2014 -  President Obama will leave on his rescheduled trip to Asia, making stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

THE PRESIDENT WILL NOT GO TO CHINA which is significant – AND WILL BE IN JAPAN – APRIL 23-25th – Continuing from there to South Korea – Apr 25-26th; Malaysia: 26-28th; and the Philippines: Apr 28-29th.

Everyone knows that the main topic of discussion will be China – but it can be assumed as well that at this time the main issue in President Obama’s mind are The Ukraine. In effect except for South Korea there are on-going conflicts between the other three States on the list and China. Some of these conflicts stem from China’s attempt to gain islands and the waters around them that may have a potential for oil and gas resources. The South Korea – North Korea schism is just one additional problem, and the North Korea missiles pointed at South Korea and Japan are a perpetual threat.

Obama will try to reassure his hosts that the US will stand by them if China decides to perform a land take-over like Russia just  did in Crimea – This was probably what Secretary of the Military – former Senator Chuck Hagel – told his Chinese counterpart – Chung Wanquan in his recent trip to Beijing.

Senior CFR Fellow for Japan Studies Sheila Smith, and Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia Joshua Kurlantzick will discuss on a call-in April 21, 2014 the president’s priorities for his trip. But it is already known that the CFR considers this trip as badly timed, and at least in the case of Malaysia totally wrong.

Smith wrote on the CFR blog Asia Unbound that the visit to Japan will provide opportunities to address the perception that the Obama administration and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet are ill-suited to working together – and to allow the two leaders a chance to highlight the aspirations of the relationship rather than the litany of issues that need attention.

But Kurlantzick wrote on Asia Unbound that Obama will add to the Malaysian government’s promotion of itself as a successful and democratic nation, at a cost. “This approach to the Malaysia visit would mean downplaying – or simply not even discussing – serious regression in Malaysia’s domestic politics, including the recent sentencing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to five years in jail for sodomy, the highly flawed 2013 national elections that barely kept Prime Minister Najib tun Razak in office, and the increasingly shrill, anti-Chinese and anti-Indian rhetoric and legislation of the Najib government, hardly the kind of sentiments a supposed leader of political moderation should be espousing.”

Let me add to above from Vienna, the immediate reaction to the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, as spoken up by aviation expert Nicky Lauda, was that Malaysia Government did not say all they knew about the incident – in effect their non-participation and the fact that for hours nothing was said about the plane’s disappearance, has caused loss of the most precious time for search. In short – the Malaysian government is no partner to the US for any serious negotiations.

Date: Monday, April 21, 2014

Call Time: 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Dial-In Information:

U.S. Callers: 1-866-710-0179

International Callers: 1-334-323-7224

Password: ASIATRIP

Speakers:

Sheila Smith

Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Joshua Kurlantzick

Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, Democracy in Retreat

Presider:

James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations

Audio and transcript of the call will be posted afterward.

Press Contact:

Tricia Miller Klapheke

Assistant Director, Global Communications and Media Relations

DCPressRSVP@cfr.org

202.509.8525

No objectionable comments were posted on the South Korea and Philippine legs of the trip.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Our Planet’s Future Is in the Hands of 58 People
 
By Roberto Savio*
 
ROME, April 19  2014 (IPS)   –   In case you missed it, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third and final part of a report on Apr. 13 in which it says bluntly that we only have 15 years left to avoid exceeding the “safe” threshold of a 2°C increase in global temperatures, beyond which the consequences will be dramatic.
 
And only the most myopic are unaware of what these are – from an increase in sea level, through more frequent hurricanes and storms (increasingly in previously unaffected areas), to an adverse impact on food production.
 
Now, in a normal and participatory world, in which at least 83 percent of those living today will still be alive in 15 years, this report would have created a dramatic reaction. Instead, there has not been a single comment by any of the leaders of the 196 countries in which the planet’s 7.5 billion “consumers” reside.
It’s just been business as usual.
 
Anthropologists, who study human beings’ similarity to and divergence from other animals, concluded a long time ago that humans are not superior in every aspect. For instance, human beings are less adaptable than many animals to survive in, for example, earthquakes, hurricanes and any other type of natural disaster.
You can be sure that, by now, other animals would be showing signs of alertness and uneasiness.
 
The first part of the report, released in September 2013 in Stockholm, declared with a 95 percent or greater certainty that humans are the main cause of global warming, while the second part, released in Yokohama at the end of March, reported that “in recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans”.
 
The IPCC is made up of over 2,000 scientists, and this is the first time that it has come to firm and final conclusions since its creation in 1988 by the United Nations.
 
The main conclusion of the report is that to slow the race to a point of no return, global emissions must be cut by 40 to 70 percent by 2050, and that “only major institutional and technological changes will give a better than even chance” that global warming will not go beyond the safety threshold and that these must start at the latest in 15 years, and be completed in 35 years.
 
It is worth noting that roughly half of the world’s population is under the age of 30, and it is largely the young who will have to bear the enormous costs of fighting climate change.
 
The IPCC’s main recommendation is very simple: major economies should place a tax on carbon pollution, raising the cost of fossil fuels and thus pushing the market toward clean sources such as wind, solar or nuclear energy. It is here that “major institutional changes” are required.
 
Ten countries are responsible for 70 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas pollution, with the United States and China accounting for over 55 percent of that share. Both countries are taking serious steps to fight pollution.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama tried in vain to obtain Senate support, and has used his authority under the 1970 Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from vehicles and industrial plants and encourage clean technologies. 
But he cannot do anything more without backing from the Senate.
 
The all-powerful new president of China, Xi Jinping, has made the environment a priority, also because official sources put the number of deaths in China each year from pollution at five million.
 
But China needs coal for its growth, and Xi’s position is: “Why should we slow down our development when it was you rich countries that created the problem by achieving your growth?” And that gives rise to a vicious circle. The countries of the South want the rich countries to finance their costs for reducing pollution, and the countries of the North want them to stop polluting.
 
As a result, the report’s executive summary, which is intended for political leaders, has been stripped of
charts which could have been read as showing the need for the South to do more, while the rich countries
put pressure on avoiding any language that could have been interpreted as the need for them to assume any financial obligations.
 
This should {and we say rather that the word is should - ST.info editor} make it easier to reach an agreement at the next Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Lima, where a new global agreement should be reached (remember the disaster at the climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009? {that we really did not call a disaster as thanks to President Obama – it was in Copenhagen that China came first time on board - ST.info editor }).
 
The key to any agreement is in the hands of the United States. The U.S. Congress has blocked any initiative on climate control, providing an easy escape for China, India and other polluters: why should we make commitments and sacrifices if the U.S. does not participate?
 
The problem is that the Republicans have made climate change denial one of their points of identity.
 
They have mocked and denied climate change and attacked Democrats who support carbon taxing as waging a war on coal. The American energy industry financially supports the Republican Party and it is considered political suicide to talk about climate change.
 
The last time a carbon tax was proposed in 2009, after a positive vote by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, the Republican-dominated Senate shot it down.
 
And in the 2010 elections, a number of politicians who voted for the carbon tax lost their seats, contributing to the Republican takeover of the House. The hope now for those who want a change is to wait for the 2016 elections, and hope that the new president will be able to change the situation – which is a good example of why the ancient Greeks said that Hope is the last Goddess.
 
And this brings us to a very simple reality. The U.S. Senate is made up of 100 members, and this means that you need 51 votes to kill any bill for a fossil fuels tax. In China, the situation is different, but decisions are taken, in the best of hypotheses, not by the president alone, but by the seven-member Standing Committee of the Central Committee, which holds the real power in the Communist Party.
 
In other words, the future of our planet is decided by 58 persons. With the current global population standing at close to 7.7 billion people, so much for a democratic world!
*Roberto Savio, founder and  president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Sunday
April 27
Symposium

Oil & Water Symposium

The   Museum of Chinese in America in New York City (MOCA) will host a   scholarly
symposium in conjunction with MOCA’s upcoming exhibition Oil   & Water: Reinterpreting
Ink, opening April 24th.  The exhibition will  feature the work of three renowned
Chinese  contemporary artists: Qiu  Deshu, Wei Jia, and Zhang Hongtu, guest  curated
by Michelle Y. Loh.

10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Museum of Chinese in America
215 Centre Street

Registration required

For more information and to register, click here [r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=00167beTHns6pzj-cS2-Xdec62GSqZdAXks51UXUXm3grc0kRAzdKXUmAdxPSN6LlicUEsRnMIQiL3oaydnIO66kIpQV-zavHy-YApl9TvXVSim2x0ku5dAUfHKSJgok-HhqKQQD4UHr_VWGjnovZniX-mIxdHdybBekLdKLUPRjVU=]

Sponsored by the Museum of Chinese in America

==================================

WE HOPE WE CAN CONVINCE THESE CHINESE TO TAKE A LOOK AT OIL & WATER IN THE FUTURE OF CHINA – AND TALK OF OIL & WATER IN TERMS OF SUSTAINABLILITY!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Photo

Credit Scott Menchin

 

 

WHAT can Washington, D.C., learn from a Buddhist monk?

Arthur C. Burns writes: In early 2013, I traveled with two colleagues to Dharamsala, India, to meet with the Dalai Lama. His Holiness has lived there since being driven from his Tibetan homeland by the Chinese government in 1959. From his outpost in the Himalayan foothills, he anchored the Tibetan government until 2011 and continues to serve as a spiritual shepherd for hundreds of millions of people, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.

Very early one morning during the visit, I was invited to meditate with the monks. About an hour had passed when hunger pangs began, but I worked hard to ignore them. It seemed to me that such earthly concerns had no place in the superconscious atmosphere of the monastery.

Incorrect. Not a minute later, a basket of freshly baked bread made its way down the silent line, followed by a jar of peanut butter with a single knife. We ate breakfast in silence, and resumed our meditation. This, I soon learned, is the Dalai Lama in a nutshell: transcendence and pragmatism together. Higher consciousness and utter practicality rolled into one.

That same duality was on display in February when the Dalai Lama joined a two-day summit at my institution, the American Enterprise Institute. At first, his visit caused confusion. Some people couldn’t imagine why he would visit us; as Vanity Fair asked in a headline, “Why Was the Dalai Lama Hanging Out with the Right-Wing American Enterprise Institute?”

There was no dissonance, though, because the Dalai Lama’s teaching defies freighted ideological labels. During our discussions, he returned over and over to two practical yet transcendent points.

First, his secret to human flourishing is the development of every individual.
In his own words: “Where does a happy world start?
From government? No.
From United Nations? No.
From individual.”

But his second message made it abundantly clear that he did not advocate an every-man-for-himself economy.

He insisted that while free enterprise could be a blessing, it was not guaranteed to be so.

Markets are instrumental, not intrinsic, for human flourishing.

As with any tool, wielding capitalism for good requires deep moral awareness.

Only activities motivated by a concern for others’ well-being, he declared, could be truly “constructive.”

Tibetan Buddhists actually count wealth among the four factors in a happy life, along with worldly satisfaction, spirituality and enlightenment.

Money per se is not evil. For the Dalai Lama, the key question is whether “we utilize our favorable circumstances, such as our good health or wealth, in positive ways, in helping others.”

There is much for Americans to absorb here.

Advocates of free enterprise must remember that the system’s moral core is neither profits nor efficiency. It is creating opportunity for individuals who need it the most.

Historically, free enterprise has done this to astonishing effect. In a remarkable paper, Maxim Pinkovskiy of M.I.T. and Xavier Sala-i-Martin of Columbia University calculate that the fraction of the world’s population living on a dollar a day — after adjusting for inflation — plummeted by 80 percent between 1970 and 2006. This is history’s greatest antipoverty achievement.

But while free enterprise keeps expanding globally, its success may be faltering in the United States. According to research from Pew’s Economic Mobility Project, men in their 30s in 2004 were earning 12 percent less in real terms than their fathers’ generation at the same point in their lives. That was before the financial crisis, the Great Recession, and years of federal policies that have done a great deal for the wealthy and well-connected but little to lift up the bottom half.

The solution does not lie in the dubious “fair share” class-baiting of politicians. We need to combine an effective, reliable safety net for the poor with a hard look at modern barriers to upward mobility. That means attacking cronyism that protects the well-connected. It means lifting poor children out of ineffective schools that leave them unable to compete. It entails pruning back outmoded licensing laws that restrain low-income entrepreneurs. And it means creating real solutions — not just proposing market distortions — for people who cannot find jobs that pay enough to support their families.

In other words, Washington needs to be more like the Dalai Lama. Without abandoning principles, we need practical policies based on moral empathy. Tackling these issues may offend entrenched interests, but this is immaterial. It must be done. And temporary political discomfort pales in comparison with the suffering that vulnerable people bear every day.

At one point in our summit, I deviated from the suffering of the poor and queried the Dalai Lama about discomfort in his own life. “Your Holiness,” I asked, “what gives you suffering?” I expected something quotably profound, perhaps about the loss of his homeland. Instead, he thought for a moment, loosened his maroon robe slightly, and once again married the practical with the rhapsodic.

“Right now,” he said, “I am a little hot.”

—————————–
THE DALAI LAMA MARRIES THE PRACTICAL WITH THE RHAPSODIC!

________________

 

Arthur C. Brooks, a contributing opinion writer, is the president of the American Enterprise Institute.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 We were not that clever by ourselves – but recognized the depth of the Title “SHIMON THE LAST” a title used by Ernst Trost for a column in March 30th Sunday issue of The Vienna Kronen Zeitung.

The idea here is that the 91  year young Shimon Peres is the last active politician of the generation of the Founders of the State of Israel.

Born Szymon Perski (2 August 1923) in Wiszniew, Poland (now Vishnyeva, Belarus), the grand-son of a Rabbi he adored, he got an orthodox upbringing. He came to Palestine in   1934.

At 15, he started at Ben Shemen agricultural school and lived on Kibbutz Geva for several years.   Peres was one of the founders of Kibbutz Alumot.   In 1941 he was elected Secretary of Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed, a Labor Zionist youth movement, and in 1944 returned to Alumot, where he worked as a dairy farmer, shepherd and kibbutz secretary.

All of Peres’ relatives who remained in Wiszniew in 1941 were murdered in the the Holocaust, many of them (including his beloved grand-fatherRabbi Meltzer) burned alive in the town’s synagogue.

In 1947, Peres joined the Haganah, the predecessor of the Israel Defense Forces. David Ben-Gurion made him responsible for personnel and arms purchases.

He held several diplomatic and military positions during and directly after Israel’s War of Independence.

His first high-level government position was as Deputy Director-General of Defense in 1952, and Director-General from 1953 until  1959.

During his career, he has represented five political parties in the Knesset: Mapai, Rafi, the Alignment, Labor and Kadima, and has led Alignment and Labor. Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for the peace talks that he participated in as Israeli Foreign Minister, producing the Oslo Accords.

Shimon’s last political position was the two terms of Israel Presidency – a position from which he will retire in July 2014.

His official State visit With the President of Austria was his farewell trip to Europe. He expects still to visit China as well.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Ukraine: the view from China.

by: Nicu Popescu, senior analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris, where he deals with the EU’s eastern neighbourhood and Russia-
now he extended it to China and the Asian States Former members pf the Soviet Union. China being the mirror Image to the EU with similar interests regarding the States that emerged from under the Russian leadership of the USSR.

Posted by EUobserver March 22, 2014.

With every new major international crisis – be it the Arab Spring, the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, recurrent emergencies in Africa, or the current Ukrainian-Russian tensions – it does not take long for diplomats and observers to start wondering ‘what does China think’. It is increasingly frequent during such crises for China to be put in the spotlight and expected to have a position on events and regions on which, until recently, Chinese opinions were barely worth a footnote. This is also true for the Crimean crisis. A few days into the crisis, the Russian foreign ministry announced that the Chinese and Russians shared “broadly coinciding points of view” on the situation.

Looking at China for comfort is driven by many factors. The rise of Chinese power is just one. In international public opinion China is often seen as a sort of ‘swing’ power, capable of tipping the political balance between entrenched political warriors whose preferences are already well known. On a crisis like the one in Crimea – which elicits completely different narratives from Russia, on the one hand, and the EU and US on the other – the Chinese are seen by some as a potentially less subjective or biased source of opinions. In this sense, China can offer surprises. After the 2008 Russia-Georgian war the Chinese maintained public politeness towards Russia but, in private, were clearly against the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia – thereby helping Central Asian countries resist alleged Russian pressures to recognise the independence of those entities.

Hence the rush by Russia to claim Chinese support for its actions in Ukraine – as an effort to claim greater legitimacy for its military invasion of a post-Soviet state. However, the claim that China is on Russia’s side is spurious.

China and the EU

The Chinese approach to the situation in Ukraine is driven by competing pressures. Its overall approach to the post-Soviet space is quite similar – or rather parallel – to that of the European Union as it is based on two equally important pillars: an evident desire to have good relations with Russia and a strong interest in not seeing the resurgence of a Russian empire and in supporting the independence of post-Soviet states. The difference here is that, for the EU, the Eastern Partnership states are of primary importance while, for China, the Central Asian countries are. In this respect, Brussels’ and Beijing’s interests and views regarding the post-Soviet states are both close and complementary. China would also like to see Central Asia become a higher priority for the EU – and it has been in principle favourable to the EU’s Association with countries like Ukraine.

Even their toolboxes are not dissimilar in that they mainly rely on political dialogue and economic integration. The EU offered Russia and other post-Soviet states trade integration. Russia has de facto, though not formally, rejected the offer which has been on the table for over a decade. China made a similar offer: it proposed the creation of a Free Trade Area within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, but Russia has refused that too. And now China is suggesting the creation of a ‘Silk Road Beltway’ through Central Asia as a vehicle for economic integration.

In both cases, Russia refused to go along with EU and Chinese initiatives, preferring to launch its Customs Union. The problem is that the Russian-led Customs Union would complicate the existing trade relations between the EU, China and the post-Soviet countries. This is not irrelevant since the EU is the biggest trading partner for Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan – while China is the biggest trading partner for Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

As is the case for the EU approach to Russia, it is not uncommon for China’s binary objectives (having good relations with Russia and supporting the independence of post-Soviet states) to clash each and every time Russia tries to assert its influence through economic, political or even military coercion. The Chinese think the crisis in Ukraine as a “headache” . It creates new problems in their relations with Russia since they cannot say either yes or no to their request for diplomatic support.

China and Ukraine

The Chinese strongly disapprove the Russian military intervention in Ukraine at several levels. Russia is an opportunistic supporter of the principle of state sovereignty: it resists military or political interventions in Kosovo, Iraq, or Syria, but practices such interventions in Georgia and Ukraine, while piling up pressure on other post-Soviet states. China is more consistent in its respect of sovereignty as it does not support or practice open military interventions, though it can still be tough with its neighbours.

The easy recourse by Russia to military means of power projection is also worrying for the Chinese with regard to Central Asia. It is not unimaginable that a country like Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan face a messy succession when their current ageing leaders have left the political stage. The question from a Chinese perspective is then: if such an intervention can take place in Ukraine, why should it not happen in Kazakhstan, too, provided there is a pretext for that?

There also are a number of Ukraine-specific reasons for China to be less than enchanted with Russia’s military behaviour. To begin with, China has just engaged in a 10 billion USD project to build a deep-water port in Crimea, the function of which would be to redistribute cargo flows from the East to Europe. Any uncertainty in Crimea thus affects this project, especially in the event of a de facto secession.

China also had a general preference for Ukraine to have closer links with the EU. The Chinese are inclined to think that Ukraine was moving closer to the EU, even under Yanukovich. They believe that the main debate within Ukraine was on how fast – and Yanukovich was in favour of a slower path. Yet, the direction towards the EU was still clear for the Chinese. In fact, a Ukraine embedded in a free trade area with the EU and with an improved business climate could offer extra advantages to Chinese business, especially if the new ‘silk road’ project takes shape. Ukraine would then give China a direct inland access to the European market.

On the other hand, while the strategic objectives of China overlap significantly with those of the EU, Beijing strongly rejected the tactics of the Ukrainian revolution. On that, China’s view is much closer to Russia’s: the overthrow of an autocratic regime by popular protesters is not something to its liking. And Yanukovich’s attempts to supress the Kiev revolt Tiananmen-style were also unlikely to provoke Chinese ire. Just like Russia, China hoped the 21 February agreement between the opposition and the President, giving him a lease of political life until December, would hold. Suspicion of US meddling is another factor bringing Russian and Chinese tactical views of the situation closer to one another.

In sum, sympathy with the European strategic interests in the post-Soviet space coupled with sympathy with the Russian assessment of the tactics of the revolution. None of these instincts is likely to be expressed in public. The China-Russia relationship is hidden under a much thicker layer of smiles, politeness and hypocrisy than the Russia-EU relationship – which often slides into impolite and ‘frank’ exchanges.

Chinese president Xi Jinping, over the phone with American president Obama, has “urged for a political and diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis” says XinHua news agency. However, Chinese interests in Eastern Europe remain too small for Beijing to take an open and vocal stance – at least for now, and as long as Russia’s aggressive actions do not reach into Central Asia.

Nicu Popescu and Camille Brugier, EUISS Alert, March 2014.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Photo

Peter T. Grauer, chairman of Bloomberg L.P., said being in China “occupies a lot of our thinking.” Credit Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

 

HONG KONG — The chairman of Bloomberg L.P. said in a speech here on Thursday that the company should have reconsidered articles that deviated from its core of coverage of business news, because they jeopardized the huge sales potential for its products in the Chinese market.

The comments by the chairman, Peter T. Grauer, represented the starkest acknowledgment yet by a senior Bloomberg executive that the ambitions of the news division should be assessed in the context of the business operation, which provides the bulk of the company’s revenue. They also signaled which of those considerations might get priority.

Acknowledging the vast size of the Chinese economy, the world’s second-biggest after that of the United States, Mr. Grauer, said, “We have to be there.”

“We have about 50 journalists in the market, primarily writing stories about the local business and economic environment,” Mr. Grauer said in response to questions after a speech at the Asia Society. “You’re all aware that every once in a while we wander a little bit away from that and write stories that we probably may have kind of rethought — should have rethought.”

Photo

In Hong Kong’s financial district a screen shows the Bloomberg Channel. Bloomberg relies on sales of its terminals world for about 82 percent of its revenue. Credit Tyrone Siu/Reuters

 

Bloomberg, the financial data and news company, relies on sales of its terminals, which are ubiquitous on bankers’ desks around the world, for about 82 percent of its $8.5 billion in revenue. But sales of those terminals in China declined after the company published an article in June 2012 on the family wealth of Xi Jinping, at that time the incoming Communist Party chief. After its publication, officials ordered state enterprises not to subscribe to the service. Mr. Grauer did not specifically mention the article about Mr. Xi or any other articles.

Mr. Grauer’s comments on Bloomberg’s journalistic priorities in China reflect what some Bloomberg employees say is a re-emphasis on financial news, and skepticism from the business side about whether investigative journalism is worth the potential problems it could create for terminal sales.

A Bloomberg spokesman in New York said the company would have no comment on Mr. Grauer’s remarks.

A day earlier, Justin B. Smith, the chief executive of the Bloomberg Media Group, outlined an ambitious growth strategy for the news unit that would require expansion and increased investment. In a memorandum posted on the website Medium, he wrote: “Bloomberg Media is setting out to build a leading digitally led, multiplatform media company for global business. We want to become the indispensable source of information for the world’s most influential people.”

Bloomberg, controlled by the billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg, who returned to the company at the beginning of this year after 12 years as mayor of New York City, employs about 125 people in mainland China across its businesses, which also include providing data about the country’s currency and bond futures markets.

“Being in China is very much a part of our long-term strategy and will continue to be so going forward,” Mr. Grauer said. “It occupies a lot of our thinking — Dan Doctoroff, our C.E.O.; me; Mike; and other members of our senior team.    After the article about the Xi family’s wealth was published, Chinese officials also blocked Bloomberg’s website on Chinese servers, and the company has been unable to get residency visas for new journalists. Other news organizations have come under similar pressure. The websites of The New York Times, including a new Chinese-language edition, were blocked when it published an article in October 2012 on the family wealth of Wen Jiabao, then the prime minister. Like Bloomberg, The Times has not received residency visas for new journalists.

In November, several news outlets, including The New York Times, published reports quoting unidentified Bloomberg employees saying that top editors at the company, led by Matthew Winkler, editor in chief of Bloomberg News, did not publish an investigative article because of fears the company would be expelled from China. Mr. Winkler denied that the article had been killed.

A reporter who was the co-writer of the unpublished investigative article — and who had been a lead reporter on the Xi family wealth article in 2012 — left Bloomberg News shortly after reports of the controversy were published in November. He joined The New York Times in January.

Some current and former Bloomberg journalists, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they had hoped the controversy surrounding Bloomberg’s China reporting would prompt the company to reaffirm its support for investigative efforts. Mr. Grauer’s comments were met with dismay, particularly because he is regarded as close to Mr. Bloomberg and would be unlikely to voice views that were not broadly accepted at the top of the company.

In his comments on Thursday, Mr. Grauer did not provide figures for the size of Bloomberg’s business in China. One former executive said in November that the company had about 2,000 to 2,500 terminals in mainland China, out of 300,000 terminals worldwide.

Mr. Grauer said the company was investing aggressively in fast-growing emerging markets, including China and dozens of other countries. Such nations account for about 12 percent of people who use Bloomberg terminals, but 30 percent of its sales in the year to date, he said.

“Our approach is pretty much to tune out all the news about weaknesses in the emerging markets,” Mr. Grauer said. “We’re investing full speed ahead.”

In recent weeks, Mr. Bloomberg has taken up residence on the fifth floor of his company’s New York headquarters, which primarily houses the television operation of Bloomberg News. The glass of a small conference room has been frosted since he arrived, and he uses it to take Spanish lessons, an employee said. His influence within the editorial unit has also increased since he left city hall, said people with knowledge of the operation, who insisted on anonymity in discussing internal operations.

Bloomberg has moved swiftly to put behind it a scandal in which its journalists were found to have used data from the terminals, like contact information, to help report stories. Reporters have been instructed in meetings, employees said, to avoid the use of proprietary information and to identify themselves clearly as from the news division. The aim, said one person present, has clearly been to assure terminal customers that their information is safe.

 

Neil Gough reported from Hong Kong and Ravi Somaiya reported from New York.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Professor Timmons Roberts and I would like to share with you our new policy paper published by Brookings Institution on Chinese-Latin American relations in a carbon constrained world.

The paper can be downloaded here: www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2014/03/carbon-partnership-china-latin-america-edwards-roberts

 

Best wishes,
Guy Edwards
Below we include the executive summary: 
China’s rapidly increasing investment, trade and loans in Latin America may be entrenching high-carbon development pathways in the region, a trend scarcely mentioned in policy circles. High-carbon activities include the extraction of fossil fuels and other natural resources, expansion of large-scale agriculture and the energy-intensive stages of processing natural resources into intermediate goods. 

 

This paper addresses three examples, including Chinese investments in Venezuela’s oil sector and a Costa Rican oil refinery, and Chinese investment in and purchases of Brazilian soybeans. We pose the question of whether there is a tie between China’s role in opening up vast resources in Latin America and the way those nations make national climate policy and how they behave at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations. 

 

China and Latin America have a critical role to play to ensure progress is made before the 2015 deadline, since they together account for approximately 40 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Several Latin American nations are world leaders in having reached high levels of human development while emitting very low levels of greenhouse gases. Several have publicly committed to ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Staying on or moving to low-carbon pathways is critical for these countries, but substantial Chinese investments in natural resources and commodities—when combined with those of other nations and firms—run the risk of taking the region in an unsustainable direction.

 

Chinese investments and imports of Latin American commodities may be strengthening the relative power of political and commercial domestic constituencies and of “dirty” ministries (e.g. ministries of mining, agriculture or energy) vis-à-vis environmental and climate change ministries and departments. These “cleaner” ministries are traditionally weak and marginalized actors in the region. China may thus be inadvertently undermining Latin American countries’ attempts to promote climate change policies by reinforcing and strengthening actors within those countries and governments that do not prioritize climate change and who have often seen environmental efforts as an impediment to economic growth.

 

China has stated that it is interested in cooperating with Latin America on combating climate change, but official bilateral or multilateral exchanges on the issue outside of the UNFCCC negotiations have been limited. Both China and Latin America could benefit substantially by refocusing on opportunities for low-carbon growth such as renewable energy. China’s growing influence in global renewable energy markets presents excellent opportunities to invest in clean energy in Latin America.

 

China and Latin American countries could launch a climate change initiative through the newly created China-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) Forum, focused on financing the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, forestry, energy and transport, as well as sharing technology and strategies for adapting to climate impacts. Chinese-Latin American relations should also mainstream environmental protection and low-carbon sustainable growth into their partnership, to avoid pushing countries in the region towards high-carbon pathways.


Research FellowCenter for Environmental Studies
Co-Director of the Climate and Development Lab

Brown University
Box 1943
135 Angell Street
Providence, RI 02912

climatedevlab.org/
www.intercambioclimatico.com/en/author/guy/

 

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