Category Archives: Business, Economics & Politics

India Looks to Battery Storage to Supplement Its Solar Boom

 

Image Source: Green Tech Media
Image Source: Green Tech Media

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Written by: Mike Stone. Posted on: March 14, 2016


For the first time ever, India is putting out the call for energy storage developers.

The state-run Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is seeking bids for a 750-megawatt solar park at Ananthapuramu in Andhra Pradesh. In order to supplement the massive series of projects, SECI is looking to procure 100 megawatts of storage capacity.

It’s a small step for solar storage in a country that currently has little capacity. But if batteries are regularly added to future tenders, it could add up to a large market, given India’s ambitious solar targets.

The government is planning 20 gigawatts of solar installations over the next few years and 100 gigawatts by 2020 or 2022 — amounting to a $100 billion opportunity for solar, according to Ernst & Young’s renewable energy attractiveness index.

Madhavan Nampoothiri, founder of RESolve Energy Consultants, thinks solar-plus-storage will benefit.

“The opportunity is huge in India, mainly in the rooftop/off-grid space,” he said. “Power outages are rampant in India, and energy storage can help reduce the outages. On the utility-scale projects side, grid balancing and grid integration become increasingly important in order to counter the [intermittent] nature of solar.”

Large companies are preparing to do business in the sector. General Electric recently announced that its energy consulting business was chosen by IL&FS, one of India’s leading infrastructure developers and financiers, to examine the feasibility of integrated wind, solar and energy storage projects at sites in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

“Energy storage can be particularly helpful for integrating variable renewable generation in India since the technical infrastructure and market mechanisms available at the disposal of many other power grids are not yet available in the country,” said Sundar Venkataraman, GE Energy Consulting’s technical director. “As the costs start to come down, energy storage will become an integral part of India’s grid.”

IL&FS, also one of the biggest independent wind power producers in India, last year secured funding from the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to look into utility-scale integration of wind, solar and storage in India. The grant is part of $2 billion in trade investment that USTDA has earmarked for renewable energy projects in India.

GE’s contribution to the research will include designing a power plant combining wind, solar, energy storage and controls. The company will then look at the costs incurred and build a business plan in order to make the project commercially viable.

At this stage, it is unclear what battery chemistries will dominate in India’s market. It will likely be lithium-ion; however, according to Madhavan Nampoothiri, there will be a place for vanadium redox flow batteries in the longer term.

For example, SunEdison ordered 1,000 vanadium storage systems from Imergy last year for use in solar-powered microgrids in rural India.

Despite its bold plans, India doesn’t have much solar to speak of yet. At the moment, its 3 gigawatts of installed solar account for only 1 percent of the country’s total generating capacity. To put that into perspective, China and Germany already have roughly 40 gigawatts each.

India’s storage sector may depend on how quickly solar scales up in the country.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published at Green Tech Media and was retrieved on March 16, 2016 and posted here at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the post remains those of the author. Please cite the original source accordingly.


 

 

Hydroelectric power sustainable development in Laos needs to focus on environmental, social impacts

VIENTIANE, March 7 (Xinhua) — An official from International Finance Corporation (IFC) urged Lao government to better understand cumulative river and ecosystem-wide impacts, which was of vital importance to achieving sustainable hydropower projects.

Kate Lazarus, team leader for the Mekong Sustainable Hydropower Program at IFC told Xinhua that the government of Laos has identified hydropower as an important source of income while contributing to poverty reduction and graduation from least developed country status.

“Hydropower investments require lengthy and thorough study to determine project feasibility and impact. The environmental and social impacts from hydropower projects need to be understand and managed. Government policy needs to be continually updated,” Lazarus said.

“With abundant water resources, hydropower, if developed and managed well, hydropower can be shared regionally through wider connectivity of the grid, benefitting neighboring countries,” she added.

The Mekong-side country is expected to have more than 60 generation projects online by 2020 up from the current 38, bringing electrification to 98 percent of the country’s households up from the current 85 percent, according to the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines.

According to the Ministry’s Vision 2030 presented to January’s five-yearly 10th Congress of the ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, the country’s installed hydropower capacity by 2030 will be 17,000 megawatts (MW) of which 10,000 are expected to be exported, providing a significant economic and fiscal contribution in the highly import-dependent country.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the ShanghaiDaily on and was retrieved on March 10, 2016 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views, comments and contents of the article remains those of the author. Please cite the original source accordingly.


 

 

Indonesia developing mega coal mine five times larger than Singapore

Indonesian coal mining firm PT Adaro has partnered with Australian group BHP Billiton to develop a mining complex that would produce about 1.27 billion tonnes of coal resources. Image: Adaro
Indonesian coal mining firm PT Adaro has partnered with Australian group BHP Billiton to develop a mining complex that would produce about 1.27 billion tonnes of coal resources. Image: Adaro

Global miner BHP Billiton and Indonesian partner PT Adaro are developing what could become the single largest mine in Indonesia in terms of land area, with BHP owning 75 per cent.

The IndoMet mine complex in Central and East Kalimantan provinces on Borneo comprises seven coal concessions, which cover 350,000 hectares, or about five times the size of Singapore.

In total, the area has an estimated 1.27 billion metric tonnes of coal resources, according to Adaro, mainly coking coal used to make steel.

In detailed responses to questions, BHP says it is making progress on developing the first mine in the complex, called Haju. Infrastructure development is underway, including road works and a port along the Barito River. Haju is planned to produce one million metric tonnes of coal per year.

Haju mine itself will cover 660 hectares and initial production is expected in 2015, BHP says.


IndoMet mine complex in Central and East Kalimantan provinces on Borneo comprises seven coal concessions, which cover 350,000 hectares, or about five times the size of Singapore


 

The company says the current area covered by the seven concessions will be reduced over time and returned to the government, in line with regulations that mandate 50 per cent of the exploration area be returned within a set timeframe. That means the mandated maximum holding of the total area of the seven concessions is expected to be no more than about 175,000 hectares, BHP says.

Conservation groups, such as the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (or Walhi) fear the project will cause widespread deforestation in an area of the province that still has large areas of rainforest.

“It is expected that only a fraction of this area will be actively mined at any given time, about 5,000 hectares. Additionally, there are other restrictions on how much of this can be used, for example under forestry laws,” BHP said.

“The total area required for the Haju Mine is 660 hectares, all of which is overlapped by logging concessions. Not all of this will need to be cleared. Where possible the Haju Mine project will make use of existing logging roads, with only 7.5 kilometers (5 miles) of new road required outside the mine area to join an existing road network,” BHP said.

According to the company, an environmental and social impact assessment was approved in 2006. In addition, biodiversity and water management plans have been implemented for the Haju project. Regular monitoring of air and water quality, noise, river sediment, aquatic life, terrestrial fauna and flora in the Haju area will be carried out, the company says, along with extensive engagement with local communities.

BHP says it is supporting conservation initiatives, starting with a two-year project with Fauna and Flora International. Part of this project includes funding for an orangutan reintroduction program managed by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF). This program helps orangutans that have been displaced from their habitat in other parts of Central Kalimantan.

The company says it funded the construction of a quarantine facility for up to 50 orangutans at the BOSF Nyaru Menteng Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Central Kalimantan and has been involved in the safe release of more than 260 orangutans into the wild.

The mine is hundreds of kilometers from the coast and will rely on barges to transport the coal to a port for loading onto ships. This is costly and river transport is available for about nine months of the year because of fluctuating water levels.

A $2.3 billion coal railway to the coast is being considered by the central and provincial governments, but it is unclear if BHP and Adaro would be customers.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by Eco-Business on retrieved on March 9, 2016 and shared here for information and educational purposes only. The views, contents and materials used in this article remains those of the author. Please cite the original source accordingly.


 

 

Muslims oppose plan to declare Liberia a Christian state

Source: African News
Source: African News

Written by: Dibie Ike Michael with AGENCY


A proposal to declare Liberia as a Christian state is raising questions about religious tolerance in the West African country.

The National Muslim Council of Liberia (NMCL) on Friday withdrew from the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia (IRCL) following reports that the Liberian Council of Churches (LCC) had supported the proposal.

NMCL Secretary-General Sheikh Akibu Sheriff described the move taken by the CCL as “unfortunate”.

“It has become unequivocally clear to the Muslim community of Liberia that the Council of Churches has embarked on a carefully crafted plan to declare Liberia a Christian nation,” he said.

He said the plan was aimed at imposing “all the features of prejudices” against all other faiths and to give preferential treatment to Christianity.

IRCL was founded during the Liberian civil war to help foster peace.

The group is credited for playing a major role in bringing peace to the country, like the inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone.

The IRCL was established in Freetown in 1990 before war broke out in the country, to negotiate between the government of President Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor’s rebel forces.

The debate on whether to declare Liberia a Christian state began as early as in 2011.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published at African News and was retrieved on March 7, 2016 and posted here at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The content of the article remains those of the author only. Please cite the original source accordingly.


Sustainable strategies to foster mining growth

Sternford Moyo

HARARE – Mining is in most cases a long term investment which demands huge capital outlays with benefits to be enjoyed many years after expenditure of money in exploration, surveys, infrastructure development and physical mining.

Any legal regime which does not take the economic reality of contemporary global investment imperatives into account will not succeed in helping Zimbabwe to reap the developmental benefits of its resources.

To achieve the developmental benefits, a number of measures which promote both investment and the interest of communities in which investment takes place are required.

Huge Capital Investments are required to improve infrastructure, including power and accessibility of mines and to purchase new equipment. Investments in technology and infrastructure will reduce cost, improve efficiencies and make the country globally competitive.

Some of the key issues are:

Create a simple legal regime

The Mines and Minerals Act Chapter 21:05 is a 1961 Statute. The world has moved considerably since then. It is an unreadable statute drafted with undue prolixity and there is considerable avoidable repetition in it.

Trying to improve it may turn out to be an exercise in futility. It may be easier to repeal it and start from a clean slate with a view to producing a clearer, shorter and investor friendly statute.

Attractive investment destination

Government should address reasons why its people and businesses desire to keep their money offshore. Where the reasons are legitimate, it should facilitate banking arrangements which will enable its people and businesses to access their money offshore. Where a business requires to maintain banking accounts outside in order to facilitate the raising of capital, it should facilitate that also.

Zimbabwe should address all the factors that add up to the high risk rating that the country suffers from. If Mauritius and the United Arab Emirates were able to turn themselves into capital havens, there is no reason why Zimbabwe should not be able to do so. The starting point is display in unequivocal respect for property rights.

Reducing resource nationalism rhetoric

Resource nationalism frightens investors. They have seen its impact in countries such as Venezuela. It adds nothing to the understanding of what is needed for Zimbabwe to leverage its minerals for growth and development. Its two main slogans are:

(i) The minerals of Zimbabwe are a heritage of all Zimbabweans and they must belong to State. Under the law of Zimbabwe, all minerals belong to the State. All that a miner acquires are mining rights. Consequently, this slogan is as empty as most slogans.

(ii) The State must take custody of all mineral resources and hold same for the benefit of all Zimbabweans.

The State already has custody of all minerals under the laws of Zimbabwe. It is the one that issues mining rights and mining permits. Again, this slogan is entirely empty.

Reducing operating costs

The cataclysmic changes in world metal prices and foreign exchange markets demand that Zimbabwe must intensify its focus on cost reduction and international competitiveness. Companies which create models which can survive the current fall in world mineral prices will become unassailably strong and sustainable businesses. However, sacrifices will have to be made.

Companies should try to use hedging instruments to protect themselves from price changes and changes that take place in foreign exchange markets. Mining is global. It is only by employing global strategies that the miners can compete on the global stage.

Government should respond to fall in mineral prices

Taxation policies will need to take into account the pressure on revenues emanating from the reduction in prices of minerals. Legislation will have to be crafted on the basis that investors should remain secure irrespective of volatility.  One way to achieve this is to have stabilization agreements allowing for renegotiation in the event of any adverse change in circumstances or allowing for a frozen regime of taxes.

Concessions will need to be guaranteed on a long-term basis. The 30 year period introduced by the Mozambican government and tax holidays to allow for pay back on initial investments before it sought to increase its revenues is an example of what needs to be done to attract investment into the mining sector.

Rules based legal regime

A rules based legal regime which curtails the discretionary latitude of the government is imperative. A rules based regime will help to reduce corruption, cronyism and the burden of bureaucracy in the processing of permits and granting and retention of mineral rights.

Zimbabwe must ensure that the minister acts on the advice of an independent statutory body whose function shall be to look at the technical and economic benefits of project proposals without any political or partisan considerations;

It must ensure that all settlement of disputes is done in a manner consistent with the International Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and must provide, as an appendix to the legislation, for a standard mining development agreement and enjoin both the investors and the government to act in accordance with it.

Zimbabwe should also provide for easily marketable, transferable and mortgageable mining rights. Such a regime will increase the attractiveness of the Zimbabwe mining sector to investors and enhance the ability of investors in the mining sector to access both local and international finance. Where the approval of the minister or government is required to alienate mining rights, the use of the rights as security to raise capital becomes substantially reduced.

Define and confine the

role of the State

The law should define and confine the role of the State to that of a regulator and creator of an enabling environment for mining investment. As a country, we should respect the customary distinction between operators and regulators.

Furthermore, to promote mining development, the State should provide geological data and information.

Government should maintain a laboratory, and have a library of information necessary to enable it to assist potential investors into the mining sector.

It also needs to ensure that information contained in reports submitted by holders of mining rights is adequately protected from disclosure without the consent of the mining companies submitting them.

The mining development agreement or model investment contract for mining ventures should be strictly informed by the need to balance the interests of investors and those of the communities where extraction takes place.

To ensure security of tenure, all provisions in the Act threatening the tenure of mining companies which adhere to the provisions of the Act and the mining development agreement, should be repealed.

Government should have strict provisions relating to protection of the environment. Environmental protection is now a constitutional right of all Zimbabweans.

The country also needs undergo a philosophical shift from thinking in terms of sustaining resources to thinking of sustainable benefits. Resources are by their nature not sustainable. Only benefits can be sustained.

Zimbabwe’s rules and regulations must ensure that investors do not lose control of their investments and must have elaborate statutory provisions to minimize corruption, tax abuses and illicit financial flows.

Lastly, the government needs to control the activities of artisanal miners to eliminate environmental hazards, health hazards, safety hazards and lack of accountability in respect of taxes. – The Source

Sternford Moyo is the chairman and senior partner at Scanlen & Holderness, a premier law firm in Zimbabwe.


This article was originally published by the Southern Times and was retrieved on 12/05/2015 and posted here at INDESEEM for educational and information purposes only. The views and thoughts expressed in the article remains those of the author. Please cite the source appropriately.


 

An Open Response to “Tony Blair’s: The clear lesson of Iraq war”

Tony Blair
Tony Blair

Recently, Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of UK wrote an opinion piece in the CNN Opinions in which he still seems to maintain that the invasion of Iraq was inevitable and that he and George Bush’s acts of war were justified and that he (Tony Blair) literally found it “it hard to apologize for removing Saddam.”

We all know the main cause or causes for the invasion of Iraq and that as Blair maintains – was not because Saddam or Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and that neither Saddam and his regime facilitated directly or indirectly to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States.

The subject of the human costs of the war in Iraq was of significant interest to me, which facilitated contact with one of the senior researchers at Medact with the permission to use their published empirical data of the impacts of the war in Iraq on ordinary Iraqis.

This post is not in reflection of that work, but an open response to the recent opinion piece written by Former Prime Minister of the UK in the CNN Opinion. You can read his claims, positions and reflections leading to the war in Iraq and the consequences thereof.

With that being said, I will now focus the rest of this post to specifically address each points of reflection stated by Mr. Blair.

The source of the post that is being segmented here for discussion was taken from CNN.

Blair: “The actual lesson of Iraq is not complicated but clear. When you remove the dictator — no matter how vicious and oppressive — you end one battle only to begin another: How to stabilize and govern the country when the ethnic, tribal and particularly religious tensions are unleashed after the oppression has been lifted. This is the true lesson of both Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Macedo: I concur with you Tony that when a dictator is removed, it is more likely that a more vicious, barbaric and oppressive dictator comes into picture. That is true on so many levels because once suppressed one seems to pass on to others what they might have gone through themselves. While this view may be contested by others, we see one oppressor being replaced by another oppressor. it is just as the Bible says, if a demon is removed from you and you didn’t fill your heart and body with those of Christ, demons ten thousand times powerful and vicious than what you had before will occupy your body and spirit.

Thus, the people of Iraq did not call for their leader to be removed. You and George Bush Jr. lied on the pretext that Iraq had WMD, had links to Al-Qaeda and pose a national security threat to the US and her allies.

A war that started with lies can not end with truth. So, you can’t make what is lie true, because it isn’t. Unlike the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan had a reason, which was justified, given the terror mentality, ideology and practices of the Talibans.

Blair: “But it doesn’t mean that it is right to keep the dictator in place. Or possible. Because the lesson of what used to be called the “Arab Spring” — beginning in 2011 — is that with young and alienated populations deprived of political rights, these dictatorships no longer had the capability of maintaining control.”

Macedo: The question that one should be asking Tony is that at what period does a dictator becomes an enemy? At what point being a dictator is okay in the national security interest of the UK or the US, since as Tony suggested, “doesn’t mean that it is right to keep the dictator in place?”

The list of dictators backed by Western Countries including the US and UK. At what point we are comfortable to walk at the palaces of dictators and at what point we feel confident to take them out? A dictator is always a dictator and we can not like one over the other because their means of governing contradicts our values and principles.

The situations of Arab Spring, whether that naming was coined by those of the Middle East and North Africa or by the West was such that most of the protestors were initially requesting for reform and not revolution. With external influences, the later became the status quo and language of the protestors over the former. Revolution became the slogan rather than reform. These paradox became especially complicated in Syria, which eventually led to the current mayhem.

Blair: “The real choice for the Middle East was, and is, reform or revolution. So when we come to reassess Iraq, it is possible to disagree strongly with the decision to remove Saddam Hussein in 2003, to be highly critical both of the intelligence on WMD and the planning for the aftermath, and yet still be glad that he is gone.”

Macedo: The decision to remove Saddam Hussein is in no way connected to the situations of the Arab Spring. First and foremost, there weren’t any protest in Iraq requesting for reform or removal? If those existed, which I believe did, the people of Iraq had the will and if they wanted such change, they could have done just that and wouldn’t request the UK and US for any assistance.

You may be gratified that removing Saddam was better and the right thing to do irrespective of whether or not WMDs were found or not is still thinking that your acts were justified even when 7+ billion people now living, know that you lied and you are an idiot who fails to acknowledge when he goes wrong.

Blair: “Indeed, had he and his two sons been running Iraq in 2011 when the regional revolts began, it is hard to see how the upheaval would not have spread to Iraq and hard to see that he would not have behaved like his fellow Baathist Bashar al-Assad rather than like the presidents of Egypt or Tunisia who stood down. The probability is that Hussein would have tried to cling to power by whatever means no matter how brutal.”

Macedo: Rightly, you can’t predict the past because it is irrelevant and insignificant; given that it is the past.Trying to argue your case by insinuating an irrelevant case building on what if in the past, demonstrates that you are not only mentally incompetent, but also a very unstable individual.

We can most certainly learn from the past and what the youth and children of today learned from your crude and unacceptable behavior and the unwillingness to accept responsibility by lying for hidden motives, is not to follow bad leaderships you and President Bush put us into.

The main reason we have upheavals today in the Middle East and elsewhere in North Africa is practically because of people like you. Failed leaders who think they can commit crimes and get away with it. I bet that the main inner reason you wrote this post is because of the desire to free yourself, but relented. You and Bush were wrong and we know that you lied!

Blair: “In Iraq, we would have had a leader from the Sunni minority keeping out the Shia majority; in Syria, of course, we have the opposite — a Shia-backed leader from the minority keeping out a Sunni majority. The consequences of this would have been vast.”

Macedo: I find it troubling reading your scripts, which speaks more into your personality when you used the words “we would have had” or “we have the opposite.” These words speak into the attitude of control. It is always what we want and that is what we should see in distant countries.

Whether or not Shia or Sunni are at war against themselves is not ours to impose who “we” think can settle the scores. Everywhere we put our soldiers and politics, we see war, conflicts, instability, more violence and terror and also more refugees and internally displaced people.

Remember, that the peoples of the Middle East lived together for thousands of years before we even existed in the west. How did they managed to survive the total mayhem and chaos you are describing is surprising.

Blair: “Of the four nations in a state of trauma today in the region — Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya — only one has a government that is fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (with whatever difficulty), is doing so with full international support, has its leader recognized by both Saudi Arabia and Iran, and one who visits the White House. It is correct, as Fareed Zakaria’s documentary describes, that Iraq has been hugely expensive in lives lost and money spent. I understand completely the anger and anxiety this causes.”

Macedo: It is interesting that Blair figure that the mess he and Bush instituted brought no good to anyone not even the people of Iraq. Suicide bombings happens anytime today in Iraq. No one is safe! Not even a baby that is born today.

Iraq is like a melting pot that is at the brink of collapse to islamic extremists of all sorts. All because Blair and Bush decided that starting a decade of war would be the right thing to do to remove Saddam out of the picture. Saddam has being long dead and gone and still the situations in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East (which we assumed at the time of our invasion) would have turned to be good are even worst than ever before.

In the midst of all this are the innocent people killed and displaced because of the stupidity of two empty headed individuals. Yes, the war in Iraq is expensive, but more importantly and as a reminder, it resulted into the deaths of thousands of innocent souls that could have live even with Saddam still there.

I bet you on that one. So, don’t try to romanticize your evil feelings by suggesting that you “completely understand the anger and anxiety that are associated with the games you and Bush played on us and the lives of those killed in Iraq. You should be lucky that you and Bush have not being indicted for world crimes and crimes against humanity for the atrocities committed in Iraq based on lies!!

Blair: “But we do not yet know the cost of Syria or Libya. In both cases, we sought regime change. And in Libya we achieved it through military power. I make no criticisms of these decisions. I know better than most how hard they are.”

Macedo: Yes, I agree that you know “better” than most how hard they are because you didn’t push your head hard enough to thoroughly evaluate the issues before launching attacks in Iraq.

The west sought and pushed for regime change in both Libya and Syria. The initial perspectives were reform, but the languages you use from your palaces had an influence on the moment. The cost of war or regime change in Libya is clearly known and even my little son can articulate that to me – failure, madness, mayhem, more extremisms, and eventually a failed state with the lab full of democracy failures.

All amount to waste of time and resources as we continue to see Libya shredded like toilet paper between various terror and militia groups on one side of the leadership vacuum and a failed pro-western, supposingly democracy-induced government that is practically worthless and powerless.Right in the middle you have innocent souls hurt, killed and starving.

Rightly said that you can’t make criticisms of their mistakes to remove Gaddaffi with force and now Libya turns out to be just like Iraq – mayhem, upheavals, more terrors, and killings, while the people continue to suffer more than 10 times before and you sit and write crap.

Blair: “However, it is not immediately plain that policy on Libya and Syria has been more successful than Iraq. As for ISIS, it is true that it was formed after Hussein’s removal. But it is also true by 2009, al Qaeda and other jihadist groups were largely beaten in Iraq, and it was in Syria — after 2011 — where ISIS came to prominence and became the threat it is today.”

Macedo: There isn’t any policy in Libya and Syria. There wasn’t any! All there were was regime change at the favor of the west and not ideally for the people of those countries. We needed people we could control so that we get constant supply of their oil because for some reason the oil leaking down our elbows after the gulf war were running out so we needed more.

For Libya, Ghaddafi had a long standing prize that we wanted to paid with dignity. Ghaddafi long echo that he was fighting not just against the “true” protestors, but against those of islamic extremism.We overlooked that and facilitated his quick surgical, with out any legitimate solution post-Ghaddafi and the end result today is a failed Libyan state run between several extremists groups including IS and others as well as militia in the mountains along the coastal plains and pseudo western-back regime.

Blair: “I accept some of the strictures about the planning in Iraq, which had centered on the consequences of humanitarian disaster post-invasion and what would happen to the institutions of the country or if Hussein used WMD. But, part of the reason why Iraq became very difficult was that we did not perceive the full scale of the underlying extremism and its attendant violence. Where this type of extremism operates, there is a limit to what planning can do. They need to be fought against.”

Macedo: I agree that you and Bush because of pool planning and a full assessment of the large-scale impacts of the war on ordinary Iraqis that you bear the full responsibility and not some of the responsibilities. Saddam did not use WMDs because he did not had one in the first place.

Given that you keep alluding to something that didn’t exist after the facts are now know uncovering the bunch of lies told to us, it seems like you have not fully agree with yourself on this moral responsibility.

The difficulties to fight extremisms should not limit our ability to infiltrate their intelligence to facilitate our quests to defeat them. Suggesting that the nature and manner of extremism and how they operates would limits our ability to defeat them precisely undermined our capacity to fight terror and also suggest that we are incompetent.

Blair: “Underlying all of this is something Western policy is not yet wanting to admit: There is a deep-rooted problem originating in the Middle East — the product of a toxic mix of abused religion and bad politics — that has given rise to an ideology based on radical Islamism and that is now a global challenge.”

Macedo: This is the crust of the problem and this is the very reason we should be very cautious not to see everything arising from the Middle East in the eyes of bullets. Diplomacy well played and planned could be used to work out most of all the issues we find chaotic today and most of those we sought to settle with guns. Overall, we can not impose our will and values on others and doing that exemplifies the characteristics of dictatorial regimes.

The people of the Middle East have eyes, ears, brains, etc like us and they know and understands what they want. Countries in the Middle East have battle extremism for decades and they know how to work out their problems with or without our bullets.

Blair: “Of course, some will say we should never have gone into Iraq because that gave the extremists an opportunity. But my point is that had we never removed Hussein, it is not at all clear that we would be in a better position today post-2011 — or that he would not have used the erosion of sanctions (and, back then, $100 a barrel oil) to go back to his old games. Not until the Middle East has gone through its painful transition to modernity will we be able to pass a full judgment on the effects of decision to go to war in 2003.”

Macedo: Tony, the decision to go to war in 2003 was wrong. It was the wrong war on the wrong time, place and people. Everything about going to Iraq was wrong. It is not in your power and control to decide how the people of a country or region live. You and Bush should be indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. You lie for the wrong reason and allow our ladies and gentlemen to died not mentioning the thousands of civilians who lost their lives and millions today displaced as refugees. There is nothing else that we need to wait for to determine how our involvements and roles in Iraq translate into promises we made. We failed because the war in Iraq was wrong and shouldn’t have happened in the first place. We Americans allow our leaders to go unpunished even when they lied. But those who lied and hurt others have their consciences to live with and Blair writing this post is just few steps aways to fully acknowledging that his role in the 2003 war in Iraq was wrong.

Blair: “But when I think of the hundreds of thousands of victims of Hussein — the bloodshed and instability his wars caused the region and his people — then, for all the mistakes that were made and for which those of us involved have always apologized, I think history will be more balanced in its judgment.”

Macedo: History is never balance because those things that constitute his-story are unbalance. Also, suggesting that your sins are equal to his sins makes you no different from the dictator you dethroned anyways. Tony, your closing statement is not as convincing that would be expected from a educated person like you. The war in Iraq was wrong and you must fully take responsibility for your actions.

China in Africa: Environmental Implications and the Law

IISH


Written by:  10.25.15


China’s rapid economic development over the last three decades has led to significant environmental pollution and some poor policy choices. With more than 1.3 billion people, China has the world’s largest population and has been the biggest energy consumer since 2010. As the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, China is also the highest emitter of carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming, although the United States remains the highest per capita emitter. China does understand, however belatedly, the seriousness of these challenges and is taking steps to address them.

A huge continent of 54 countries and several island nations, Africa has many climate and ecological zones; it is difficult to generalize about its environment. It now has 1.1 billion people and sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s most rapidly growing population. Africa is believed to be the continent most vulnerable to global climate change and the least able to adapt. Key environmental problems today in parts of the continent include deforestation, desertification, reduced soil productivity, pollution, and the depletion of fresh water sources. Africa has a history of periodic droughts, floods, and serious outbreaks of a wide variety of disease. While most African countries are paying more attention to environmental issues, the topic remains a relatively low policy priority.

Defining China’s Foreign Direct Investment

Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa is often confused with its aid projects, commercial deals, and implementation of contracts for African governments and other organizations. Most of the large infrastructure projects built in Africa by Chinese state-owned companies fall in the category of commercial deals or winning of contracts. Most of the financing for these contracts and investments comes from African governments, Chinese companies, and institutions such as the Export-Import Bank of China

It is not always clear what Chinese activities qualify as FDI in accordance with commonly used definitions. China has an official definition of inward FDI, which is different than the one used by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). China’s definition refers to investment in China by foreign enterprises and economic organizations or individuals to open solely foreign-funded enterprises. It also includes the running of Chinese-foreign equity joint ventures and participation in cooperative joint ventures or co-development of resources with any enterprises or economic organizations within China in the form of spot exchange, real object, or technology.

The OECD countries define FDI as having the goal of establishing a lasting interest by a resident enterprise in one economy (direct investor) in an enterprise that is resident in an economy other than that of the direct investor. This implies a long-term relationship between the direct investor and the direct investment enterprise and a significant degree of influence on the management of the enterprise. Direct or indirect ownership of 10 percent or more of the voting power of an enterprise resident in one economy by an investor resident in another economy constitutes such a relationship. China does not have an official definition for outward FDI.

Relative Concern about the Environment in Africa and China

It is useful to put the relative importance of environmental concerns in both Africa and China into perspective. Protection of the environment has never been a high priority for African governments. African leaders have traditionally been much more concerned about issues such as disease, poverty, civil conflict, ethnic violence, and religious extremism. While this remains the case, there is a growing awareness of the importance of good environmental practices and a concern that global warming will have especially negative implications for the continent.

A study by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project surveyed five of the greatest dangers in the world: religious and ethnic hatred, inequality, AIDS and other diseases, nuclear weapons, and pollution and the environment. The 44-country survey included nine African countries. All but one of the nine African countries ranked pollution and the environment as the least important of the five concerns. The situation for China is different. China was also part of the 44-country study. Of the five dangers surveyed, pollution and the environment ranked in first place.

The Environment and Chinese Companies Investing Overseas

Environmental concerns were not a significant part of China’s dialogue with Africa until recently. China took a disengaged approach to the environmental practices of Chinese companies operating overseas. In 2006, Chinese and African leaders agreed to intensify cooperation in environmental protection, to share experiences, and to boost sustainable development. In 2009, Chinese and African officials agreed to use FDI to bolster economic growth and sustainable development but did not address environmental practices of Chinese companies in Africa.

Today, China is encouraging its companies as they invest in Africa and elsewhere to follow better environmental practices. Chinese companies are making more frequent use of environmental impact assessments, sometimes even drawing on the expertise of Western companies that specialize in these studies. This development is not surprising in view of the growing concern about environmental problems in China and a deeper understanding by the government that it is not in China’s interest to export its bad practices overseas.

In 2013, China’s Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Environmental Protection issued voluntary guidelines that encourage companies investing overseas to follow local environmental laws, assess the environmental risks of their projects, minimize the impact on local heritage, manage waste, comply with international standards, and draft plans for handling emergencies. An official in China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection commented that “no side will win if the environment is neglected, and we have many lessons in this regard.”

The government-affiliated China Chamber of Commerce for Minerals, Metals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters announced in 2014 guidelines to regulate overseas mining investments and operations. They encourage Chinese companies that invest overseas to pay careful attention to labor issues, environmental protection, supply chain due diligence, and human rights concerns. While it is too soon to judge the impact of these guidelines, initial reactions have been positive.

Chinese state-owned and private companies are also demonstrating greater interest in protection of the environment. The United Nations Global Compact is a voluntary corporate responsibility initiative that commits businesses to align their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption. Principle Seven urges businesses to support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges. Principle Eight asks signatories to undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility such as self-regulation, fostering dialogue with employees and the public, and adopting appropriate codes of conduct. Principle Nine says businesses should encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies such as those that use materials more efficiently and cleanly.

More than 13,000 corporations and other stakeholders from about 170 countries have signed the Global Compact. As of 2015, 272 Chinese private and state-owned businesses, non-governmental organizations, and business associations were signatories. They include small, medium, and large companies; most are private but a number of the large state-owned companies with operations in Africa are also signatories. These member companies represent a modest percentage of the several thousand Chinese companies operating in Africa. It is also one thing to sign the Compact and another to implement its guidelines. In fact, little is required of signatories. Chinese companies, as is the case for companies in other countries, have demonstrated a mixed response to the Compact.

In 2012, the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (SINOPEC), which has been active in Africa, issued what was announced as the first white paper on environmental protection by a Chinese enterprise. SINOPEC committed to providing sufficient funds for environmental protection and agreed to adhere to clean production, to raise resource efficiency and develop green energy, and to improve emergency response systems aimed at preventing environmental risk. SINOPEC also underscored its commitment to the Global Compact.

Chinese companies most resistant to improved environmental practices in Africa are the small private companies and the medium-sized ones affiliated with Chinese provincial and municipal administrations. China’s largest companies are primarily owned by the central government. Together with state-owned banks, they control more than half of the revenue of China’s 500 largest companies. Companies owned by Chinese provinces control about a quarter of the revenue. These distinctions are important for a Western audience where the overwhelming majority of companies investing in Africa come from the private sector.

Chinese Environmental Practice and Law

A basic understanding of China’s environmental practice and law is necessary as Beijing’s domestic policies eventually tend to be reflected in its approach elsewhere, including Africa. There has been a recent focus in China on the need to confront environmental challenges. In 2008, China upgraded the State Environmental Protection Administration to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and placed it under the control of the State Council, which is the approximate equivalent to the American cabinet.

In 2012, the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China adopted “ecological civilization” as one of the five pillars driving policy. China’s National People’s Congress approved ten environmental laws and 30 resource protection laws. Local people’s congresses and governments adopted more than 700 local environmental rules and regulations and the departments of the State Council issued hundreds of environmental regulations. China’s first environmental non-governmental organization appeared in 1994. By the end of 2012, almost 8,000 environmental non-governmental organizations had registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development is a high-level, advisory body authorized by the Chinese government. The Council argues that transformative change concerning environmental protection is underway in China although desired results will not be achieved until there are additional tools, capacity, and financing. So far, the emphasis has been on controlling basic air, water, and soil pollution. While progress is being made on some problems, new ones emerge such as wider ground water pollution and more complex air pollution.

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Photo Credit: Chinese construction site, Ethiopia. (SarahTz/Flickr)

The National People’s Congress adopted in 1989 the comprehensive Environmental Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China. Article 1 states that the law is intended to protect and improve the environment by “preventing and controlling pollution and other public hazards, safeguarding human health, and facilitating the development of socialist modernization.” Article 2 defines environment broadly as “the total body of all natural elements and artificially transformed natural elements affecting human existence and development, which includes the atmosphere, water, seas, land, minerals, forests, grasslands, wildlife, natural and human remains, nature reserves, historic sites and scenic spots, and urban and rural areas.”

Article 6 says that “all units and individuals shall have the obligation to protect the environment and shall have the right to report on or file charges against units or individuals that cause pollution or damage the environment.” While Article 9 gives the State Council responsibility for establishing national standards for environmental quality, Article 16 assigns responsibility to the local people’s governments to take measures to improve the quality of the environment for areas under their jurisdiction. According to Article 35, violators of the law shall “be warned or fined by the competent department of environmental protection administration or another department invested by law with power to conduct environmental supervision and management for” a specified list of infractions.

As China’s environmental challenges have become more serious, there has been growing interest in the use of the court system to deal with polluters. Traditional environmental litigation includes tort cases that seek compensation for harm caused by environmental pollution and “administrative failure to act” cases brought by local citizens against polluters, property developers, and others. The rights of individuals and other bodies to take environmental complaints to court are contained in Article 6 of the Environmental Protection Law cited above and Article 124 of the General Principles of Civil Law, which states that “any person who pollutes the environment and causes damage to others in violation of state provisions for environmental protection and the prevention of pollution shall bear civil liability in accordance with the law.”

The primary criminal law provision in the event of “major environmental pollution accidents” has historically been Article 338 of the Chinese Criminal Law, which allows for a maximum criminal sentence of seven years. In egregious cases involving fires, explosions, and the breaching of dikes, Article 115 allows for life imprisonment or even the death sentence.

There is increasing support to establish an environmental public interest litigation system, which allows any citizen, social organization, and state organ to bring a lawsuit in a state judicial organ for the sake of the public interest. A related recent development, especially since 2007, has been the rapid growth of environmental courts in China following a pollution crisis in parts of the country. More than 130 environmental courts developed between 2007 and 2013. They include environmental divisions within Intermediate People’s Court and environmental divisions or separate tribunals at the basic court level. They also include environmental panels and environmental courts, which usually allow judges to work onsite at agency offices. China’s move into environmental public interest litigation and the creation of environmental courts has been a significant legal and judicial development.

One study of the environmental courts suggests that economic growth in China has trumped environmental concerns. The courts demonstrate responsiveness to environmental concerns while sometimes aiding or at least not obstructing economic development and social stability by local officials. One expert concluded that “China’s environmental courts are not a step toward judicial empowerment, as they might appear at first glance, but an effort to shore up state capacity through an institution designed to coordinate and act as a backstop for government agencies.” The courts are part of a broader effort to encourage environmental protection as a policy priority. Judges do not necessarily see neutrality as part of their job. The courts also fit into a tradition of socialist courts as consciousness-raising institutions and serve to support social control.

In 2015, China began to implement its updated 1989 Environmental Protection Law (EPL), which suggests that China has become more serious about improving environmental quality. The most significant additions and provisions to the EPL include (1) more serious consequences for violating China’s environmental laws, (2) expanding the scope of projects subjected to environmental impact assessments, and (3) allowing nongovernmental organizations to take legal action against polluters in the public interest. Article 58 allows nongovernmental organizations to file claims in the People’s Court if they (1) are registered with the civil affairs department at or above the municipal level and (2) have been focused on environment-related public interest activities for five consecutive years or more. Only about 300 nongovernmental organizations meet both of these requirements.

China’s environmental legislation is strong on paper, but its implementation tends to be weak. Much depends on the efforts of local governments, which have considerable autonomy, and other state agencies. Policies implemented at the provincial and municipal level are often determined by apathy and lack of oversight. Some large state-owned companies have adopted a series of rigorous environmental protection standards. At the same time, Chinese enterprises still appear to be 15-20 years behind their Western counterparts when it comes to the adoption of modern social and environmental approaches to their outward FDI. China has made steady progress on environmental legislation but still has an unsatisfactory enforcement system. In particular, there are inadequate sanctions for those who damage the environment and too few incentives for those who protect it.

African Environmental Practice and Law

With 54 countries in Africa, it is impossible except at the most basic level to generalize about African environmental practice and law. The 1963 Charter of the Organization of African Unity contained no reference to environmental protection. The African Convention of Nature and Natural Resources adopted in 1968 in Algiers was the first Africa-wide effort to deal with environmental issues. In 1985, African governments established the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment to promote regional cooperation in addressing environmental concerns. This Conference is now the main policy-making forum for discussing Africa’s environmental problems. In 2003, the African Union replaced the Organization of African Unity and adopted the comprehensive Revised African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. It makes a strong commitment to poverty reduction and socio-economic development. Once it comes into force, it will replace the 1968 Algiers Convention for those African states that ratified it.

The 2003 Revised Convention will be an improvement only if its provisions are adequately financed, effective institutional mechanisms are put in place, and there is a strong non-compliance mechanism. The African Court of Justice and Human Rights, which will have jurisdiction over matters concerning the Convention, has not yet been ratified. So far, only eight countries have ratified the Revised Convention; it will not enter into force until it has been ratified by 15 African countries. This fact and the subsequent lack of discussion about the Revised Convention in African Union meetings suggest a continuing lack of priority that African governments give to environmental protection. African leaders understand the link between natural resources and economic development. They must now demonstrate that protection of the environment is not a competing interest for scarce financial resources, but a complementary one.

The approach of individual African countries towards protection of the environment varies enormously. Some countries have impressive legislation in place while others are lagging behind. Even in the case of countries with a relatively strong commitment to the environment and reasonably good legislation, however, there are serious shortfalls in funding and human capacity to implement programs to protect the environment.

In 1997, Ethiopia approved its first comprehensive environmental policy and subsequently put in place strategies and laws designed to support sustainable development. Ethiopia has implemented a wide range of legal, policy, and institutional frameworks on the environment, water, forests, climate change, and biodiversity. Ethiopia has also signed a number of international environmental agreements. While Ethiopia takes environmental issues more seriously than most African countries, there continue to be problems because of inadequate implementation and enforcement. Pollution monitoring, reporting, and verification of abatement measures have been weak. The key constraint is lack of human capacity.

Mali has relatively well developed environmental legislation and was in the process of establishing a political and institutional framework for improving the environment and dealing with climate change. In 2010, it established the National Agency for Environmental and Sustainable Development, which had responsibility for implementation of environmental policy and integrating responses across the bureaucracy. Mali has a strategy for a green economy and climate change. A coup and government crisis in 2012 resulted in a 90 percent reduction in the budget of the environmental department of the Ministry of Environment and Sanitation. There is also a low regard for environmental legislation and weak human capacity in the government for improving the environment. Progress is dependent on international financing, better legal frameworks, and strengthened human capacity.

Zambia’s body of environmental law is contained in more than 33 pieces of legislation; it is fragmented with responsibilities assigned to at least ten line ministries. The 1997 Environmental Impact Assessment regulations require assessments for all investments that have a major impact on the environment and require adequate environmental mitigation measures. The Ministry of Tourism, Environment, and Natural Resources and the Environmental Council of Zambia have a comprehensive environmental mandate. In practice, however, environmental management is largely dependent on the interest and competence of line ministries, which do not give it a priority. The environmental institutions are not strongly linked to development planning, finance, and sector institutions, and are politically weak and lack human capacity. They also face severe funding constraints; environmental issues are heavily dependent on international funding. As a result, Zambia largely fails to manage sustainably its environment and natural resources.

Most African states have weak bureaucracies. While their environmental laws are sometimes impressive, implementation is usually lacking. In most African countries, the environmental laws and standards are much lower than accepted international norms. African governments have signed large numbers of treaties and agreements but have largely failed to articulate coherent solutions to their environmental problems. Because of the weakness of African institutions to monitor and enforce environmental protection measures, it will be primarily up to individual Chinese companies to assume responsibility for sound environmental practices.

Chinese FDI and Economic Sector Impacts

As is the case for most FDI in Africa, Chinese investment is concentrated in sectors of the economy that are especially vulnerable to environmental concerns. While major Western companies developed most of Africa’s oil and gas resources and continue to be the most important players, Chinese companies have joined the sector. Oil companies from China, the West, and elsewhere have been criticized for their environmental practices.

Chinese companies have also invested heavily in mining projects throughout much of Africa. Because these projects usually require large initial investments in technology, equipment, and infrastructure, China’s state-owned companies tend to dominate in this sector. The mines are sometimes located in ecologically fragile areas where there is a higher risk of environmental degradation. They also generate greenhouse gases, solid and liquid waste, including hazardous products such as cyanide and mercury. Chinese companies often negotiate mining concessions without competitive bidding and in the absence of environmental assessments. African governments contribute to the problem by not insisting on environmental impact statements and not enforcing existing environmental regulations. In recent years, Chinese companies have given more attention to mitigating harmful environmental impacts.

China is the largest importer of Africa’s tropical wood, receiving more than three-quarters of its timber exports, most of it in the form of raw logs until African governments began to prohibit this practice. While most of this activity constitutes trade, some of it involves FDI by Chinese logging and timber trading companies. Poor forest governance in Africa has resulted in serious unsustainable or illegal harvesting. This has led to the loss of biodiversity and the abuse of forest communities’ rights.

Chinese companies have a tendency to violate local forest practice laws together with African counterparts and even some European companies. The illegal practices include abuse of permits and concession licenses, bribery, operating without management plans, under-reporting export volume, smuggling raw logs, and harvesting and transporting undesignated species. The greatest threat to the environment is the unsustainability of Africa’s hardwood timber if these practices by both Chinese and non-Chinese companies continue. African government officials were often complicit in the illegal activities.

The government of China is sensitive to the criticism its companies have encountered in the forestry sector and has made progress in countering illegal logging. In 2009, the State Forestry Administration and Ministry of Commerce issued voluntary guidelines which encourage Chinese companies to manage, utilize, and protect overseas forests in order to play a positive role in sustainable development of global forest resources.

The environmental issue for which China has attracted the most criticism is the importation of products taken from African endangered species, especially elephant ivory and rhino horn. China is the world’s largest importer of illegal ivory. The poaching of African elephants has reached the point that it threatens the long-term viability of the species. While most of this activity falls in the category of illegal trade involving African suppliers and Chinese merchants living in both Africa and China, some of it has indirect links to Chinese FDI.

Conclusion

Chinese environmental law, policy, lending institutions, and companies investing in Africa are playing catchup. China’s Export Import Bank adopted voluntary environmental guidelines in 2004 and made them public in 2007. They state that projects that are harmful to the environment or do not obtain environmental approval will not be funded. If there are unacceptable environmental impacts during project implementation, the Export Import Bank requires immediate remedial action or will discontinue financial support.

The government of China has become more sensitive to criticism of overseas investment by Chinese companies and has made a concerted effort to improve environmental guidelines and encourage their implementation. It also encourages Chinese companies to apply Chinese laws and standards in their overseas operations. Large state-owned companies have generally been more responsive than medium and small companies, especially those in the private sector. So far, all of the guidelines that apply to Chinese companies operating overseas are voluntary. Unless China makes them mandatory and attaches penalties to infractions, they will not likely change the behavior of many companies.

It is important to acknowledge the difficulty of enforcing environmental guidelines on Chinese companies operating in Africa, especially when the press in China and many African countries is carefully controlled by the government and environmental advocacy organizations are weak. One area where Chinese companies have consistently performed poorly, although some are improving, is a relative lack of transparency in the handling of sensitive environmental issues. The United States has had considerable success, for example, in stemming bribery overseas by enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977. China could develop similar legislation for environmental standards.

Many African countries attach a low priority to environmental protection, have understaffed environmental bureaucracies, and have even worse records for countering corruption than does China. Numerous African officials are also reluctant to call out Chinese companies that engage in unacceptable environmental practices because they do not want to jeopardize Chinese investment or good relations with the government of China. This situation does not provide an incentive for companies that are focused on making a quick profit to engage in responsible but more expensive environmental practices, especially where there are many African nationals who are prepared to accept the lower standards. It will often be up to the Chinese company to take the initiative.

In the final analysis, it is in the interest of both China and the African countries to pursue sound environmental practices and sustainable development. In addition, Africa’s development partners, including the United States, could improve the environmental situation by building the human capacity in African countries to monitor and regulate the environment.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published at International Policy Digest and was retrieved on 10/28/2015 and posted here at INDESEEM for educational and information purposes only. The views, opinions and thoughts expressed in this article remains those of the author. Please cite the original and this source accordingly.


 

 

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