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

China's Image: China Phalanx, China Central, China Federation - China's Choice.


 
China:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 30th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The THIRD ANNUAL ARCTIC CIRCLE ASSEMBLY
OCTOBER 16 – 18, 2015
REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND

PRESIDENT OF FRANCE – WILL ATTEND THE ASSEMBLY and Deliver an Opening Speech linked to the Climate Negotiations at COP 21.

At a meeting at the Élysée Palace in Paris on April 17th, the President of France, François Hollande, accepted an invitation from President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson to deliver an opening speech at the October Assembly. The attendance by President Hollande is linked to the upcoming climate negotiations COP21 in Paris in December and the relevance of the Arctic to those negotiations.

PRESIDENT XI JINPING – And Offered to host a special CHINA SESSION at the Assembly.

President of China XI Jinping has in a recent letter to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson endorsed China’s participation in the Arctic Circle Assembly and declared his decision that China will host a special Plenary Session at the October Assembly in Reykjavík.


CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL – suggested a special plenary GERMANY and the ARCTIC SESSION at the Assembly.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has in a recent letter to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson announced her support for the Arctic Circle and its importance as a venue to present the involvement of Germany in the future of the Arctic. Consequently, the program of the October Assembly in Reykjavík will include a special Plenary Session on Germany and the Arctic.

More Assembly news in the coming weeks.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 7th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Peace and reunification in Korea: in our life time
.
Christine Ahn 6 March 2015, the 50.50 blog of UK based openDemocracy

International women peacemakers are planning a peace walk across the De-Militarized Zone to bring global attention to the unresolved Korean War and amplify women’s leadership to help reunify the country.

The year 2013 marked the sixtieth anniversary of the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War. The temporary ceasefire has never been replaced with a peace treaty, and the 2 mile-wide and 155 mile-long demilitarized zone (DMZ) continues to divide the Korean peninsula with recurring tensions that serve as a sobering reminder of the possibility of renewed war.

Traversing the seemingly impermeable border, five New Zealanders crossed the DMZ in August 2013. They rode their motorbikes from Mt. Paekdu on the northern border with China all the way down the peninsula to Mt. Halla on the southernmost island of Jeju. This inspired me to begin imagining a women’s peace walk across the DMZ by international women peacemakers – many from countries that fought in the Korean War – to bring global attention to the unresolved Korean War and amplify women’s leadership to help reunify the country. After talking to one of the organizers of the August 2013 crossing, I decided to sequentially follow their blueprint and reached out first to the North Korean government

A year ago, I went on this peacebuilding mission to Pyongyang to discuss an international women’s peace walk across the two-mile wide De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas. To my relief, Pyongyang responded very favourably towards our proposal, but with a stern caveat: only if the conditions were favourable.

Today, despite New Year calls for engagement by both Korean leaders, tensions remain very high. And this month, the United States and South Korea are conducting a two-month long period of military exercises called Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, which the North Korean Rodong Sinmun believes are “aimed to occupy the DPRK through pre-emptive strikes.”

The conditions are not favourable, but we are still planning the women’s peace walk across the DMZ this May. We have formed an organization called Women De-Militarize the Zone, and thirty women from more than a dozen countries have signed dup to walk for peace and the reunification of Korea. They range from Nobel peace laureates to artists, academics, humanitarian aid workers, and faith leaders.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the division of Korea by the United States and the former Soviet Union. For nearly seven decades, Koreans on both sides of the DMZ have long awaited a peace treaty to formally resolve the 1950-53 Korean War that only ended with a ceasefire agreement. Instead, 70 million Koreans across the peninsula, from the northern border of China down to the southern-most Jeju Island, have endured political repression and an endless arms race.

In 1945, after Japan’s defeat in WWII, the United States landed in Korea, which had been under brutal Japanese colonization for 35 years. Without the consent of Koreans, who were awaiting its liberation and sovereignty after an entire generation under Japanese occupation, the two Cold War powers – Washington and Moscow – divided the peninsula along the 38th parallel. It was supposed to be a temporary division, but instead the creation of two separate states precipitated the 1950-53 Korean War.

Despite the massive loss of human life and destruction, the Korean War has come to be known as the “forgotten war.” More bombs were dropped on Korea from 1950 to 1953 than on all of Asia and the Pacific islands during World War II, and President Truman came seriously close to deploying an atomic bomb. One year into the Korean War, US Major General Emmett O’Donnell Jr. testified before the Senate, “I would say that the entire, almost the entire Korean Peninsula is just a terrible mess. Everything is destroyed. There is nothing standing worthy of the name . . . There [are] no more targets in Korea.” According to University of Chicago historian Bruce Cumings, during the Korean War, U.S. airstrikes led to the destruction of 18 of 22 major North Korean cities. Cumings cites Hungarian journalist Tibor Meray, who recalled, “I saw destruction and horrible things committed by American forces… Everything which moved in North Korea is a military target, peasants in the field often were machine gunned by pilots, who, this was my impression, amused themselves to shoot targets which moved.”

In 1953, after nearly 4 million people were killed, mostly Korean civilians, North Korea, China and the United States, representing the United Nations Command, signed the armistice agreement with a promise within three months to sign a peace treaty. Over 60 years later, we are still waiting for a peace treaty to end war.

What has ensued instead for the past six decades is an endless arms race between North and South Korea. Whether we like it or not, the fact that the Korean War ended with a temporary cease-fire rather than a permanent peace treaty gives both Korean governments justification to invest heavily in the country’s militarization. According to the Ploughshares Fund World Nuclear Stockpile Report, North Korea possesses less than 10 nuclear weapons of the 16,300 worldwide that are predominantly held by Russia and the United States. North Korea invests approximately $8.7 billion — significantly higher than the $570 million Pyongyang claims — or one-third of its GDP in the military, according to the South Korean government-run Korea Institute of Defense Analyses. In 2013, to great surprise, Pyongyang acknowledged how the un-ended war has forced it “to divert large human and material resources to bolstering up the armed forces though they should have been directed to the economic development and improvement of people’s living standards.”

But it’s not just North Korea. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) 2014 Yearbook, South Korea was the world’s 10th highest military spender, with its expenditures reaching $34 billion for the year. World Bank data shows that in 2012, 13.6 percent of the central government’s expenditures in South Korea went towards defence spending. According to a North Korea expert at Seoul National University, Suh Bohyuk, in 2011, South Korea became the world’s number-two weapons importer. In September 2014, South Korea spent $7 billion for 40 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets. “The reason that we are building up our military is to counter North Korea’s attacks and provocations,” said a South Korean military official. According to political science professor Yang Seung-ham of Yonsei University, “The Park administration is rapidly purchasing many advanced weaponry for military security, which does not help in easing inter-Korea tensions.” Conservative hawks in Washington are also pushing South Korea’s militarization. According to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, although Washington withdrew 11 types of nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991, hawks in U.S. Congress are now advocating for the return of U.S. nukes.

North Korea’s heavy military spending isn’t just to defend against South Korea, but against the world’s most powerful military in the world: the United States, which has since it landed on Korean soil in 1945 maintained thousands of soldiers and bases throughout the southern half of the peninsula. Washington regularly conducts military exercises with Seoul, simulating the invasion of North Korea. In January, in order to promote dialogue on the Korean peninsula, Pyongyang offered a moratorium on nuclear testing in exchange for the United States to postpone war game exercises with South Korea. The olive branch came a day after the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Years Day speech in which he offered to meet President Park if “the mood was right” and that the two Koreas should promote reconciliation on the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule. North Korea’s gesture to lessen tensions was rebuffed by Washington, which recently passed another round of sanctions against North Korea for its alleged hacking of the corporation, Sony.

In 2012, Washington spent $682 billion on its military, or 39 percent of the world’s total spending. While the Pentagon uses China’s military spending, which has grown annually in the double digits, to justify Washington’s Asia-Pacific Pivot, the unresolved Korean War gives regional powers such as the United States, China, and Japan justification to further militarize, including expanding missile defence systems and building new military bases, as they continually lack funds for social welfare, such as education or childcare. Last year, at a March 25 Senate Defense Committee hearing on the 2015 budget, the commander of the U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK), General Curtis Scaparrotti, argued that while the 28,500 U.S. troops based in South Korea were “fully resourced,” he was concerned about the readiness of “follow-on” forces needed if fighting erupted. According to investigative journalist Tim Shorrock, during heightened tensions with Pyongyang in 2013, Washington deployed a new THAAD portable defense system to Guam and that plans are underway for a massive expansion of the U.S. missile defense system in Alaska and along the west coast as a “precautionary” measure against a possible North Korean missile strike.

Since military intervention is not an option, the Obama administration has used sanctions to pressure North Korea to de-nuclearize. Instead, North Korea has since conducted three nuclear tests, calling sanctions “an act of war”. That is because sanctions have had deleterious effects on the day-to-day lives of ordinary North Korean people. “In almost any case when there are sanctions against an entire people, the people suffer the most and the leaders suffer least,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on his last visit to North Korea.

International sanctions have made it extremely difficult for North Koreans to access basic necessities, such as food, seeds, medicine and technology. Felix Abt, a Swiss entrepreneur who has conducted business in North Korea for over a decade says that it is “the most heavily sanctioned nation in the world, and no other people have had to deal with the massive quarantines that Western and Asian powers have enclosed around its economy.”

A less obvious legacy of the Korean War is how governments use the state of war to justify repression in the name of preserving national security. Whether in Pyongyang, Seoul or Washington, the threat of war or terrorism is used to justify government repression and overreach, such as warrantless surveillance, imprisonment and torture in the name of preserving national security.

While repression in North Korea is widely known, less known is how the South Korean government uses the antiquated 1948-enacted National Security Law (NSL) to prosecute political dissidents, particularly those sympathetic towards or seeking to engage North Korea. In South Korea, the Constitutional Court recently abolished the Unified Progressive Party, a liberal opposition party, on charges of being pro-North. Amnesty International says that this case “has seriously damaged the human rights improvement of South Korean society which has struggled and fought for freedom of thoughts and conscience and freedom of expression.” And in January, the South Korean government used the NSL to deport and ban for five years Shin Eun-mi, a 54-year old Korean-American housewife who had written about her travels to North Korea, including describing North Koreans as warm-hearted and urging Korean reunification.

There is wide consensus that replacing the temporary armistice agreement with a permanent peace treaty would go a long way towards de-escalating tensions that have long plagued Korea and the region. In a 2011 paper, the U.S. Army War College warns that the only way to avert a catastrophic confrontation is to “reach agreement on ending the armistice from the Korean War” and “giv[e] a formal security guarantee to North Korea tied to nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” U.S. Ambassadors to Korea since the 1980s have argued for engagement and a formalized peace process. James Laney, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea in the Clinton administration prescribed, “to remove all unnecessary obstacles to progress, is the establishment of a peace treaty to replace the truce that has been in place since 1953. One of the things that have bedeviled all talks until now is the unresolved status of the Korean War…. Absent such a peace treaty, every dispute presents afresh the question of the other side’s legitimacy.”

Perhaps most tragic about Korea’s division is the two-mile wide De-Militarized Zone that separates millions of Korean families. In April 2014, South Korean President Park said in her Dresden speech on Korean reunification that in 2013, “some 3,800 people who have yearned a lifetime just to be able to hold their sons’ and daughters’ hands — just to know whether they’re alive – passed away with their unfulfilled dreams.”

To end the state of war and help reunite families, international women peacemakers have come together to form Women De-Militarize the Zone, an organization dedicated to promoting the peaceful reunification of Korea through women’s leadership. From Northern Ireland to Liberia, we have seen how women’s participation in peace negotiations makes peace attainable, and that peace itself is inextricably linked with the advancement of women. We will work towards seeing the passage of a peace treaty to defuse dangerous tensions in Northeast Asia and de-militarizing our world. We must act now to give hope to Koreans that peace and reunification is tenable in their lifetimes and to the thousands of Korean elders that they will be able to embrace their loved ones across the DMZ before they pass away.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

my correspondence with Kaveh following RIO II

It came up when I googled for Ahmad Fawzi in pursuit of content for another article – and decided that this was an exchange in 2012 that has renewed value today.

Afrasiabi gained a PhD in Political Science from Boston University in 1988, under the supervision of Professor Howard Zinn, with a thesis titled “State and Populism in Iran.”

Afrasiabi has taught political science at the University of Tehran, Boston University, and Bentley University. Afrasiabi has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University (1989-1990), University of California, Berkeley (2000-2001), Binghamton University (2001-2002) and the Center for Strategic Research, Tehran. During 2004-2005, Afrasiabi was involved in Iran as an advisor to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team.

Afrasiabi is a former consultant to the United Nations “Dialogue Among Civilizations”, for which he interviewed the former Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami.

Afrasiabi is a member of the advisory board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran. Afrasiabi has authored numerous articles in scholarly journals and newspapers, including Harvard Theological Review, Harvard International Review, UN Chronicle, Boston Globe, Global Dialogue, Middle East Journal, Mediterranean Affairs, Brown’s Journal of World Affairs, International Herald Tribune, Der Tageszeit, Der Tagesspiegel, Journal of International Affairs, Telos, Nation Magazine, Asia times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Monthly Review, as well as dozens of articles and letters in The New York Times. Afrasiabi has made dozens of television appearances as a Middle East expert on CNN, Aljazeera, Voice of America, PBS, BBC, PressTV, Russia Today, and other networks.

Selected works by Afrasiabi:
After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy (1994)
Nir/North: A Cinematic Story about the Iran-Contra Affair (1996)
Infringements (1998)
Islam and Ecology (2003)
Iran’s Nuclear Program: Debating Facts Versus Fiction (2006)
Reading in Iran’s Foreign Policy After September 11 (2008)
Looking For Rights At Harvard (2010)
UN Management Reform (2011)
Iran Phobia and US Terror Plot: A Legal Deconstruction (2012)

A Controversy with Harvard that blew out of proportion in Boston:

Afrasiabi v. Mottahedeh

From 1996 to 2003, Afrasiabi was involved in a legal conflict with Roy Mottahedeh, former director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, who had been his superior during Afrasiabi’s time as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, and Harvard University itself.

The conflict started with an alleged extortion against Mottahedeh’s subordinates and a “pre-dawn” arrest of Afrasiabi by Harvard police, and terminated in 2003 with a civil rights case against Harvard, Mottahedeh and the Supreme Court of the United States, in which Afrasiabi acted as his own attorney. During associated controversies, Afrasiabi was supported by Mike Wallace of the US television program 60 Minutes, author David Mamet, linguist Noam Chomsky, and political scientist Howard Zinn, and former deputy prime minister of Iran, Farhang Mehr. In a video deposition, Mr. Wallace has defended Afrasiabi and accused professor Mottahedeh of making false statements to him about Afrasiabi. His “David and Goliath” battle with Harvard has been praised by Mike Wallace, who has stated “I admire Dr. Afrasiabi. He has been wronged. The cannons of Harvard are lined up against a pea shooter.”

June 2010 incident

On June 27, 2010, Afrasiabi went to the Zuzu restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. According to Afrasiabi, employees there showed “racist and indecent behavior” and “treated him unprofessionally”, after which he exited the restaurant without finishing his meal nor paying for it. He approached some police standing nearby. A restaurant employee approached the police. The police then arrested Afrasiabi, on the basis of an outstanding warrant. Afrasiabi claims the warrant was issued in error, based on a 1986 unregistered vehicle incident, for which he had already paid the fines. The police claim it originated from an incident in 1999. Afrasiabi described the arrest taking place with “a racist attitude.” While in custody, Afrasiabi claims that he was denied the right to a telephone call to contact his family and/or a lawyer. He said that the police officers were racist and brutal, stating, “If I had blond hair and blue eyes and had an American-sounding last name, no, I wouldn’t have been subjected to this. They did this to me because they’re racist.”

In July 2010, Afrasiabi filed a formal complaint against Cambridge police alleging racism and physical injury in the hands of Cambridge police, who placed him under arrest after he had approached them to complain of being mistreated at a restaurant.[20] The basis for his arrest was an outstanding warrant for a 1986 ticket, which Afrasiabi claimed to have paid at the time. A judge in Newton, Massachusetts agreed with Afrasiabi and dismissed the warrant without imposing any fines. Afrasiabi has alleged that while being transported to a court the next day, he was deliberately injured when the police van slammed the break after driving in full speed, resulting in Afrasiabi’s multiple visits to hospitals. The Cambridge police initially claimed that Afrasiabi had walked out of a restaurant without paying and then changed their story, deleting any reference to the restaurant. In a letter to The Cambridge Chronicle, Afrasiabi has demanded an apology from the police for what he alleges is their racist and brutal mistreatment of him.

References
 www.researchgate.net/publication/…

 mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/afr…

 www.bentley.edu/offices/sites/www…

 www.bentley.edu/offices/sites/ww…

Upton, Geoffrey C. (1996-02-08). “Former Post-Doc Will Stand Trial; Afrasiabi Denies Extortion Charge, Cites ‘Mind-Blowing Conspiracy’”. Harvard University. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
 ias44.ias.berkeley.edu/Newsletter…

 www2.binghamton.edu/fbc/archive/n…

Fathi, Nazila (2004-11-28). “Iran Reasserts Its Right to Enrich Uranium as Standoff Persists”. The New York Times.

Khatami, Mohammad; Kaveh L. Afrasiabi (2006-09-11). “Mohammad Khatami on the Dialogue Among Civilizations”. United Nations. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03.

Afrasiabi, Kaveh L. (2005-02-17). “A letter to America”. Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03.

“KAVEH L. AFRASIABI, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. HARVARD UNIVERSITY; HARVARD UNIVERSITY POLICE DEPARTMENT; RICHARD W. MEDEROS; FRANCIS RILEY; LAUREEN DONAHUE; CENTER FOR MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES; ROY P. MOTTAHEDEH; REZA ALAVI and SHOBHANA RANA, Defendants, Appellees.”. United States Court of Appeals. 2002-07-01. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04.

“Between Mike Wallace and Me”.

“The David Mamet Society”.

“Reading Kafka at Harvard”.

 www.iranian.com/main/2008/reading…

“Abused scholar: US police conspiring against me”. Press TV. 2010-07-01. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-11.

Guha, Auditi; Jen Thomas (2010-07-08). “Iranian pundit claims ‘police brutality’ in Cambridge”. Cambridge Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-11.

“Veteran Iranian-American Professor Talks of US Police Brutality Against Him”. Hamsayeh.Net. 2010-07-02. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
 www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/new…

 www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/fea…,

 www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/new…

So, of real interest is:

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi | Al Jazeera America
 afrasiabik at yahoo.com to me May 17, 2012

Thanks so here s my real question;
What can third world leaders from iran bolivia etc do to make a real splash in rio? I would appreciate an answer. I was thinking of an ad hoc sub group making joint statement beyond the resolution etc.

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

and my answer:

Real fast answer – as you can see from my website – I do not shy away from the two countries you mention – an ALBA button is right there in front of my website. Having made that remark – I would suggest that specifically these two countries would be best advised to keep out of the limelight.

For AlLBA – it is Ecuador with some help from Argentina and Chile – that speaks up and that is perfect.

Then, for the best of the countries in trouble spoke recently Bangladesh, Fiji, Grenada, Costa Rica, even Mexico.

Subjects like the issue of going to the International Court of Justice for transnational pollution and climate change, and the effects on the poorest countries – these are subjects that can make a splash.

Also, backing A SMALL OFFICE of a UN Commissioner for Future Generations and the need to do away with the GDP as yardstick for Growth, and some reference to Well Being and Happiness that are not based on consumption (the Bhutan concept) are good topics where your two named countries could be seconds if someone else leeds.

Bolivia has done very well in the past by pushing the Pacha Mama, but Iran has never understood that it had a great pre-Islamic past and thus failed to establish real leadership of any kind.

While Bolivia’s problem is that it pushed too hard, Iran’ problem is that it did not push at all its culture of the past and militancy is not what the UN is about. In both cases what I really talk about – is a real push of culture for the 21-st century.

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

and the third round of that day:

From Kaveh Afrasiabi to me:

How about int environmental court championed by morales?
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

and my answer:

I really think now that I gave you enough, and basically – all that material is indeed on my web because these are the things that made me decide to keep the site going. In my book – Copenhagen was the last place that saw progress – and that was thanks to Obama who brought in the Chinese for the first time, and they brought in the IBSA as well.

Pincas

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

followed by:

Many thanks i will quote you in my piece and send y link
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

and the following day:

I have a small book on un reform it s’at un bookshop. Fyi
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Having found this by accident, I intend now to restart that contact
to find out what the gentleman is doing these days.

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

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 4th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Sustainable Energy Revolution Grows, Says Bloomberg Report

Despite strong resistance on the part of the fossil-fuel sector and some policymakers, a new way of thinking about energy is taking hold.

by ANASTASIA PANTSIOS OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT, Wednesday, 04 February 2015.

Article reprinted by Truthout from EcoWatch of Bloomberg

The third annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook released today documents the continuing dramatic changes in how the U.S. produces, delivers and consumes energy, and makes some projections and predictions about the direction of the energy sector in the future. The report was researched and produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and commissioned by The Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

“To single out just a few tell-tale headlines from the hundreds of statistics presented in this report: over the 2007-2014 period, U.S. carbon emissions from the energy sector dropped 9 percent, U.S. natural gas production rose 25 percent and total U.S. investment in clean energy (renewables and advanced grid, storage and electrified transport technologies) totaled $386 billion,” the report said.

The report backs up what other studies have been showing—that despite strong resistance on the part of the fossil-fuel sector and some policymakers, a new way of thinking about energy is taking hold. The factbook points to four significant trends:

– the advance in infrastructure projects and technology to accommodate new forms of energy;
– more capital flowing to projects aimed at sustainable energy development with the U.S. attracting the second highest
number of dollars after China;
– companies with high energy-related costs gravitating to the U.S.; and
– government policies that favor the development of clean energy sources.


In regard to government policies, it specifically cites President Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan, announced in June, to retire coal-fired plants and the historic agreement struck between the U.S. and China in November in which the U.S. pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025 while China would reach peak emissions by 2030.


“The 2015 Factbook clearly shows that America is on the path to a more sustainable energy sector,” said Lisa Jacobson, president of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “Our energy productivity is rising along with economic growth, while energy-intensive industries are onshoring production to the United States to take advantage of low energy costs. All of this is happening as investment in clean energy continues to grow and as new natural gas infrastructure continues to come online. These are strong positive signs for America’s economy and environment.”

The U.S. is becoming more “energy productive” with its economic growth decoupled from the growth in demand for electricity, according to the report. “Between 1950 and 1990, electricity demand grew at an annual rate of just below 6%,” it says. “Between 1990 and 2007, it grew at an annual of 1.9%. Between 2007 and 2014, annualized electricity demand growth has been … zero.”

The trend toward decarbonization continues with renewable energy’s share of the total energy mix rising from 7 percent in 2007 to 13 percent in 2014. Since 2000, 93 percent of new U.S. power capacity has been natural gas, wind, solar, biomass, geothermal or other renewable projects. Investment in the clean energy sector has grown hand in hand with that, adding up to $386 billion since 2007 and increasing by 7 percent in 2014 over 2013’s level.

“Against the backdrop of a surging economy and crumbling oil prices, major trends around decarbonization and improving energy productivity continued in the United States,” said Michel Di Capua, head of Americas research for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Low-carbon energy technologies stand to benefit from key policies proposed in 2014, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulation for the power sector and an innovative new vision for the electricity market in New York State.”


The report finds that gasoline consumption in the transportation sector is down by 8 percent, due to a combination of factors including more energy-efficient vehicles, the public’s preference for those vehicles and a decline in driving, as well as the still small but growing adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles. Yet conversely the factbook says, thanks largely to fracking, U.S. oil production has grown by 41 percent since 2007 and “has returned to levels not seen since the 1980s.”


It also points to some retrenchment in clean energy growth. In what will seem like mixed news to many renewable energy advocates, the contribution of natural gas to U.S. electricity generation has declined somewhat since 2013, and thanks to a drop in energy prices, that has allowed coal to become more competitive and regain a small piece of its market share, ticking up to 39 percent in 2013 and 2014, after dropping to 37 percent in 2012 from 49 percent in 2007. But longer-term trends, especially the closing of coal-fired power plants, will probably not sustain such growth in the future. Carbon emissions have increased as well, although that trend too is likely to reverse as coal-fired plants are shut down.

The final area of backtracking the factbook points to is the uncertainty over the very government policies the report says have fueled growth in the sustainable energy sector. Regarding President Obama’s Clean Energy Plan and the U.S.-China agreement, it says, “Neither policy will come easy. Legal challenges to the EPA’s proposal are underway, and achievement of the 2025 pledge will require new policy action.”

The enactment of policies at the state level that encouraged investment in and growth of wind and solar power has not just slowed down but shows signs of reversing. In 2014, Ohio froze its renewable energy standards, which has reduced job growth and investments in solar and wind projects, while Arizona is considering a tax on rooftop solar installations, and other states are discussing such backward moves, including the Hoosier state.


“Policy actions taken by the U.S. in 2014 have set the stage for a potentially momentous global climate summit at Paris in December 2015,” says the report. “The U.S.-China pact was the most notable achievement in the global climate negotiations process in 2014. Such public pledges from China and the U.S. (the world’s first and second biggest emitters, respectively) have the potential to challenge other nations to do more as well. The summit to be held in Paris at the end of 2015 will be the most significant multilateral climate negotiations since the discussions in Copenhagen in 2009. The growth of sustainable energy is a critical part of achieving any targets that might be struck under diplomatic deals on greenhouse gas emissions.”

—————————————

Some Comments on Truthout:

bobaka • 5 hours ago

You exclude the most important point your ideological blinders prevent you from seeing. The basic problem with power is that it is a source of private greed. All power must be a public utility and the 1% will no longer be able to bankroll their goons into office on a flood of profits–huge profits off the mass market that individual power users are forced into. Get the elitist beasts off our backs and we would all have solar.

SinglePayer2017 • 7 hours ago

Great. Next, we need a Green Economic Revolution to repair the devastation caused by the income-inequality fossil fuel economy over the last 40 years. Restorative justice requires the wealthy to voluntarily adopt a Maximum Income to repay their debts to society.
Here’s The Plan:
Maximum Income Tax + Guaranteed Income = Reparations, Economic Justice
This formula represents a Green New Deal to tackle structural income inequality. The Maximum Income is the only way to keep the rich from going crazy and jumping into the abyss…again. The Guaranteed Income is the only humane way to deal with the despair and homelessness caused by a militarized economy that values one lousy, outdated plane more than the lives of its own citizens.
Human Rights need to be integrated into the accounting equation. Next to the Stockholders’ Equity account, we need a Workers’ Equity account, so working people can enjoy the same dividends as the rich do now. The poorest should have a Guaranteed Income, so poverty will still have dignity, and the rich need to learn that all things have limits, including wealth.
Or, you can ignore this advice, and hope for a better deal from the angry mobs…I hear them talking about guillotines an awful lot these days.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from: Martin Indyk
please reply to:  foreign_policy at brookings.edu

Subject: Brookings Search for a New Energy Security and Climate Initiative Director

THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION – FOREIGN POLICY
 www.brookings.edu/about/employmen….

Please share this job posting with qualified candidates. We appreciate your help in getting the word out to qualified candidates in the energy security and climate policy communities.

Best Regards,

Martin Indyk
Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy
The Brookings Institution

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Lessons from Lima, Prospects for Paris: What Future for Climate Change?
The view, on reflection, from United Nations Headquarters, New York City.

For SustainabiliTank by George Baumgarten, United Nations Correspondent, January 18, 2015.

The United Nations Climate Conference in Lima, Peru {(known as “COP-20” (of the UNFCCC)} produced an outcome which could at least be called “hopeful”. But it really just foreshadows the real show: the forthcoming ultimate Conference, to be held in Paris, this coming December. And the Lima outcome was itself largely upstaged by the announcement — just a month earlier — of an historic bilateral agreement, between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China.

The Lima Conference was the latest in a string of annual such conferences, dating back to the one held in Berlin in 1995. These annual conclaves have plodded along now for two tortured decades, as the greenhouse gas emissions just go on, the industrial smokestacks go on belching, and the conferee politicians–slowly, deliberately, ploddingly, and tortuously–go on endlessly talking.

The most interesting product of the Lima conference was one of Hope: Perhaps—just perhaps—an agreement could be crafted, at or before Paris, to achieve the critical emissions reductions.
Charles Frank, writing for a bulletin of the Brookings Institution, notes that Chinese greenhouse gas emissions have been rising at a rate of 10% per year, with the country’s galloping rate of industrialization. Therefore, the Chinese Agreement with the U.S. — while a breakthrough — reflects a “weak” commitment, on the part of the Chinese. But his Brookings colleague Joshua Meltzer regards even this weak commitment as a plus. That China has agreed to any target at all, he sees as a “…significant step for climate change diplomacy.”

The U.S.-China Climate Accord, which overshadowed the results of the Lima conference, dealt with the thorny — and, in the U.S., controversial – issue of carbon emissions. It was the very first agreement by which China agreed on targets for the reduction of such emissions – in fact – to stop the growth of such emissions by 2030. This agreement was the product of nine long months of negotiations, and—it was hoped—would become a catalyst for a world emissions agreement at Paris next December.

By the Agreement, the U.S. undertakes to emit 26-28% less carbon by 2025 than it did in 2005. And China promised to stop increasing its carbon emissions by 2030. Commenting on this Agreement, President Obama told his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, that he wanted to take the U.S.-China relationship “to a new level.”

In the official press release giving the text of the Agreement, the very first paragraph says, succinctly and directly: “The seriousness of the challenge calls upon the two sides to work constructively together for the common good.” And they acknowledged “…the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances.”

Thus – to summarize – the following paragraph states the two aforementioned goals: The U.S. commits to an “economy-wide target” of reducing its emissions by 26-28% of 2005 levels, by 2025. And China, for its part, undertakes to reduce its CO2 emissions, after their peaking no later than 2030, and to make efforts to peak early.

The Agreement also proposes that “The United States and China hope that by announcing these targets now, they can inject momentum into the global climate negotiations.” It further notes that “The global scientific community has made clear that human activity is already changing the world’s climate system.” To follow up – the agreement provides for the creation of a U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group (CCWG).


Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s address, delivered on Tuesday, December 9, 2014, made very clear one of his primary hopes: “There is still a chance to stay within the internationally-agreed ceiling of less than 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise”. In short, concise, successive statements, he asserted:

“All countries must be part of the solution. All of society must be engaged.”

“This is not a time for tinkering—it is a time for transformation,” and

“The momentum for action is building.”

The Conference’s “Lima Call for Climate Action” made clear that there is still a long way to go toward the Paris Conference of next December, but it did state without elaborating that “governments have left with a far clearer vision of what the draft Paris agreement will look like…”

Among the other results were pledges that for the first time took the new “Green Climate Fund” (GCF) past the initial $10 billion budget. And “new levels of transparency” on the part of industrialized nations were said to have been achieved. This was also reflected in the “increased visibility” of National Adaptation Plans (NAP’s). New instruments were announced with regard to forests, the provision of technology to developing countries, and the role of women, which was said to be “key to the response to climate change.”

A particular initiative was established for Education and Awareness Training, so that far greater numbers of persons, worldwide, can be made aware and conscious of the challenges faced by humanity. Peru and France also announced a joint “Lima-Paris Action Agenda”, to point the way to next year’s final, climatic Conference.

The U.N.’s official response to the Lima outcome, released by the office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General, congratulated the Conference, and noted that its actions “pave the way for the adoption of a universal and meaningful agreement in 2015.” He applauded the finalization of an “institutional architecture for a mechanism on loss and damage.”
The Secretary-General also called “… on all parties, especially the major economies, to submit their ambitious national commitments well in advance of Paris.”

While the COP-20 Conference can point to some [long-overdue] accomplishments, this is clearly a situation of having “still very far to go, and a [relatively] short time to do so.” And an awful lot of scientists of all sorts – not to mention the diplomats and politicians – can expect to be kept very busy this year.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Economy / AlterNet / By Janet Allon

Paul Krugman on Why the U.S.-China Agreement on Carbon Emissions Is a Really Big Deal
“It’s been a good week for the planet.”

November 14, 2014 |

The climate deal reached by the U.S. and China at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting this week is a very big deal, Paul Krugman writes in his Friday column.

The opposition to doing anything to save the planet has been long, idiotic and stubborn, and of course will continue in Republican circles, especially as Senator James Inhofe, who believes climate change is a hoax, takes over the leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Climate change denialists have even pursued witch hunts against climate scientists.

There have also been the economic scare tactics, which argue that limiting emissions will destroy jobs and end growth. “This argument sits oddly with the right’s usual faith in markets,” Krugman writes. “We’re supposed to believe that business can transcend any problem, adapt and innovate around any limits, but would shrivel up and die if policy put a price on carbon. Still, what’s bad for the Koch brothers must be bad for America, right?”

There are those, like new Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who wring their hands over the “war on coal,” which is not making a lot of impact, Krugman points out, since coal mining employs few people, and they’ve already been defeated.

What makes the agreement truly meaningful, Krugman argues, is that even Americans who are worried about global warming (most people) have felt helpless to fight it with other developing countries like China continuing to pollute. And, until now, no one thought China would get on board to help protect the climate. In some ways, this has been understandable, Krugman writes.

America is not exactly the most reliable negotiating partner on these issues, with climate denialists controlling Congress and the only prospect of action in the near future, and maybe for many years, coming from executive orders. (Not to mention the possibility that the next president could well be an anti-environmentalist who could reverse anything President Obama does.) Meanwhile, China’s leadership has to deal with its own nationalists, who hate any suggestion that the newly risen superpower might be letting the West dictate its policies. So what we’re getting here is more a statement of principle than the shape of policy to come.

Still, though, there is a lot to cheer here, Krugman concludes.

Until now, those of us who argued that China could be induced to join an international climate agreement were speculating. Now we have the Chinese saying that they are, indeed, willing to deal — and the opponents of action have to claim that they don’t mean what they say.

Needless to say, I don’t expect the usual suspects to concede that a major part of the anti-environmentalist argument has just collapsed. But it has. This was a good week for the planet.

—————-
SENATOR IMHOFE IS FROM OILKLAHOMA AND HAS AN OIL-CRAZED WORKERS AND COMPANY CEO’S _ THAT IS WHY HE OWNS THE ENERGY COMMITTEE. SO BE IT! I Met him at Kyoto and like him did not think the Protocol was a good idea. But since then I could not accept any other idea he stood for. // SustainabiliTank
—————-

Charlie Wood for the whole 350.org team writes:

This week, just weeks after the largest climate mobilisation ever, the world’s two biggest polluters — the United States and China — announced their most ambitious climate action yet. That is not a coincidence: it’s a sign that our pressure is working, and that we need to apply much more.

The emissions of China and the US have been used by governments around the world as an excuse to dodge their own responsibilities. But this new agreement leaves these governments with nowhere left to hide and opens the door for real progress from global governments. Right now, world leaders are converging on Australia for the G20 leaders summit and we have momentum on our side.

But Tony Abbott, Australia’s conservative Prime Minister and host of the G20, is refusing to allow a meaningful discussion of climate change at the G20. Climate change is the elephant in the room and Tony Abbott is asking the G20 to ignore it.

Send a message to Tony Abbott and tell him that he needs to get out of the way of climate action at the G20 and put climate change back on the agenda.

The world is ready to act. Most countries want to talk about climate change but Australia’s climate denying government is using their position as President to block discussion. We are not going to let one politician block discussion on climate change get off easy.

Put the pressure on Tony Abbott to stop blocking discussion at the G20 and get out of the way of real climate action.

There is plenty that the G20 could talk about when it comes to climate action. G20 countries are wasting US $88 billion a year just to help fossil fuel companies find new fossil fuel reserves, despite numerous warnings from scientists that we need to leave the fossil fuels we already know about in the ground.

With the new agreement between the US and China, now is the time for the G20 to commit to ending fossil fuel subsidies and taking steps towards real action on climate change. But unless Tony Abbott lets them talk about it, no commitments will be made.

Keep the pressure on Tony Abbott. Tell him to get out of the way of real progress.

——————–

And from the Canadian International Institute based in Winnipeg:

US-China Climate Commitment first step in road to phasing out coal and welcoming increased renewables says IISD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WINNIPEG—14 November 2014—The U.S. and China’s joint climate commitment is a strong boost for the international process and should pave the way for a phasing out of the use of coal and increased use of renewable energies, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD),

This important step comes directly after Ban Ki Moon’s successful New York Summit, and very early on the “Road to Paris 2015” and the international agreement expected there. But what does the announcement tell us about how the two countries will meet these commitments, and what steps might they and other countries take next?

“The Road to Paris will see countries pledging what they can deliver within their domestic political constraints,” said Peter Wooders, group leader of the Energy program at IISD. “This realism is a pragmatic first step and a change from the ‘top down’ commitment process which has largely stalled the UNFCCC, and which the U.S. could never ratify in any event, given division in Congress.”

IISD analysis notes that the U.S. and China have been able to make this commitment thanks to the common factor of coal, a major source of electricity generation in both countries. The “Shale Gas Revolution” in the U.S., its existing mix of power plants which allow ready switching between coal and natural gas, as well as the opportunity to import hydro power from Canadian provinces, give the U.S. the opportunity to significantly reduce projected emissions. In China, further increases in coal mining and supply are not the low-cost option they were once thought to be, and financial and environmental drivers – with the air quality of Beijing the most well-known issue – will reduce the reliance on coal.

“The use of coal has traditionally been under-priced, i.e. subsidized. Financially, the exploration, mining, transport and construction of coal plants has been supported around the world. Environmentally, we have not fully accounted for the air pollution and other costs,” said Wooders. “When these costs are taken into account – which they should be – renewable technologies and energy efficiency become much more attractive. But this is a major change to the business models around electricity generation, and will bring resistance from the potential losers and lobbying from the potential winners. The Chinese government in particular – as China does not currently have the scale of shale gas available to the U.S. – will need to support the energy transition through good policy.”

IISD’s work in China, and more broadly, focuses on some of the key tools needed:

the identification of subsidies to coal and renewable energy suppliers, allowing for a debate on their costs; the strong link between the government’s renewable commitments and the development of their renewable technology industries (“green industrial policy”); how the fiscal system can be made to work for sustainable development (“greening the financial system”); sustainable public procurement as an enabler of change; and the creation of low-carbon economic zones; the more general policy implementation support which comes from understanding who is impacted and how much, and how these impacts may be mitigated or the vested interests confronted.

The door is now open for renewables, and can be pushed wider.

And what of Canada? Its government has aligned its climate change policies – including overall targets – to that of the U.S. in the past. Both countries recently introduced regulations on coal-fired power generation, essentially banning new coal plant construction and – in the case of the U.S. – imposing constraints on existing plants. For Canada to follow the U.S. in terms of an overall target, however, it will have to find savings elsewhere. It – and other countries with relatively low coal generation – will need to move to reductions in oil and gas consumption and production now; they do not have the luxury of the one-off gain from the phase-out of coal.

For more information please contact Sumeep Bath, IISD media and communications officer, at  sbath at iisd.org or +1 (204) 958 7740.

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

Will Israel build two new ports in order to answer the needs of an evolving Fly-to-Buy trend?

Everything shown in articlewww.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/…was bought in China, including the lights and flooring of the entryway, had to be partially paid for upfront. There are no refunds and no returns in this niche fly-to-buy industry. Everything for the bathrooms was bought on the 10-day shopping trip to China except for the tile, which came from a Palestinian factory. Adi Asulin, the woman in the story, is shown in the kitchen of her family’s remodeled apartment, in Raanana, north of Tel Aviv. She saved thousands of dollars by flying to China to buy furnishings and flooring directly from manufacturers.

Adi Asulin lives in a fabulous apartment on the top floor of a seven-story building in the Israeli town of Ra’anana, north of Tel Aviv. The entry hall is long and light. Windows open onto an enormous balcony, which wraps around three sides of her home. The decor is fresh and white.

“It’s all made in China,” Asulin says.

Not just made in China. Nearly everything — the floors, the lighting, the furniture — she bought in China on a 10-day shopping spree.

The day after Asulin and her husband got keys to the place, she got on a plane to Guangzhou, in southern China.

“An adventure!” she says.

The big appeal was the price.

“Forty, sometimes 50 percent off the prices in Israel,” Asulin says.

The savings add up the bigger the job. Her new apartment had been a rental and needed a lot of fixing. But buying plus remodeling seemed beyond the family budget.

From a friend, Asulin heard about Israeli companies that arrange trips for individuals to buy directly from Chinese factories. She signed up, getting tickets and booking hotel rooms for herself, an architect and her dad for advice.

Once on the ground in Guangzhou, the trio was guided by the owner of the Israeli company and local staff. Their first stop was a flooring factory bigger than Asulin had ever seen — half the size of her city, she says.

“And I can choose whatever I want,” she says. “Different colors, different materials, different prices.”

The factory was organized by style: marble in one area, dark wood in another, colored linoleum somewhere else. For Asulin, it helped to have done a lot of planning and measuring before she arrived.

She loved having the time to focus exclusively on shopping — and finish most of it in a short time. She says this made the remodel much easier for her, a 37-year-old working mother of three.

“If I was buying everything in Israel, it was after work, with kids, afternoons and every weekend,” she says.

Flying to China instead of letting Chinese products come to you is not the approach for everyone. Nurit Gefen, an Israeli interior designer, went on one China shopping trip with a client. She will not go again.

Gefen says it is the entirely wrong way to create a home.

“When you build a house, it’s like pregnancy. You have to think about it, you have to dream about it,” she says.

Plus, there are significant financial risks, she says.

“When you go to China, you have to buy everything in advance. Before you know the colors, before you know exactly what you want,” Gefen says. “And you can make mistakes when you buy things in advance. And you can’t exchange it afterwards.”

Partial payment in cash is often required upfront. Israeli newspapers have run horror stories of people who were ripped off on China shopping trips.

Still, they go. And Israelis are not the only ones doing their shopping directly in China. Israelis in the business say it’s popular among people from a number of places, including Russia, India and the Gulf states.

Economics professor Daniel Levy of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University says this service began because of structural problems in the Israeli economy. Israel started out socialist, and he says many practices of centralized control still affect the economy today.

“We don’t have what you are used to in the U.S.,” he says, “everybody trying to offer the best deal, which brings about greater efficiency and lower prices and happy customers. That’s not what we have here at all.”

This shows up most dramatically in grocery bills in Israel. Protests over the cost of food shook up Israel’s elections last year. A 2011 parliamentary report showed that just two companies controlled more than 80 percent of the domestic cheese and yogurt production.

But weak competition also affects imports, including nonfood items like flooring and furniture.

Shai Safran heads Basini, an Israeli company that takes about 10 customers a month to China to buy everything they need for home remodels or building. He doesn’t have a big showroom in Israel. He just treats factories in China as his own.

“Like my stores are the factories in China,” Safran says. “I don’t need 50 workers; I don’t need inventory. I can save the cost of the business in Israel.”

Even with his fee — for his contacts, logistics and know-how — Safran says he still beats the prices offered in Israel.

But that could change over time. Israel is building two new private ports and is hoping to reduce import costs in part by banning labor unions. A contract for the first port was signed last month — with a construction firm based in Beijing.

Emily Harris is NPR’s Jerusalem correspondent. Follow her @emilygharris.

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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

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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

 

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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.”

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Posted in Archives, China, Obama Styling, Real World's News, Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York

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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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