Growing Resistance: The Rise and Fall of Another Mozambique Land Grab

By Timothy A. Wise

The rice fields of Xai-Xai, three hours up the coast from Maputo, are vast, coming into view as we descended onto the alluvial plain from the villages that dot the hills above. They stretch across the plains toward the Indian Ocean as far as the naked eye can see, in the flat green monochrome of a rice plantation. Mozambique was one of the leading targets of large-scale agricultural investment projects, widely denounced as “land-grabs” by critics. Community resistance had prevented most such projects in Mozambique, including ProSAVANA, the controversial Brazil-Japan initiative, which was slated to be the largest land grab in Africa. As I’d seen in the field, it seemed to grow not crops but only rumors, threats, government proclamations, and community resistance.

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No Blank Check for Development Banks

By Kevin P. Gallagher and Jörg Haas
Originally published at Project Syndicate
Global financial leaders convened in Washington, DC, last month for the annual spring meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund. This year, they asked the world’s taxpayers to grant the World Bank and other multilateral development banks (MDBs) more capital to fill global infrastructure gaps.

Increasing the capital – and optimizing the existing capital – of the world’s MDBs is of the utmost importance. But doing so makes sense only if that financing is used to move the world economy in a direction consistent with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

According to researchers at the Brookings Institution, the world needs to invest an additional $3 trillion per year in sustainable infrastructure in order to keep global warming below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels – the target enshrined in both the SDGs and the Paris agreement. Today, however, infrastructure contributes heavily to global warming, with about 70% of all greenhouse-gas emissions coming from its construction and operation.

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Do All Communities Have Equal Access to Energy Efficiency in Massachusetts?

By Liz Stanton

Massachusetts’s electric and gas providers’ draft plans to make energy efficiency measures available to consumers were released for public review on April 30, 2018. Massachusetts’ Green Communities Act, signed into law in 2008, requires electric and gas distributors to provide “all cost-effective” energy efficiency measures. That means any program, product, or policy—from insulation to LED lightbulbs to letters sent to consumers comparing their energy use to their neighbors’—must be provided to households and businesses, so long as it will cost the state less than the cost of the energy it saves. If it’s cost effective, distributors must make it available to their customers.

This far-reaching efficiency policy has led Massachusetts to rank first in the United States in energy efficiency for seven years running: a commendable achievement. However, Massachusetts state law places no obligation on the electric and gas distributors regarding how cost-effective energy savings are distributed across communities.

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Rethinking International Environmental Agreements

By Edward B. Barbier

In recent article in Science, How to pay for saving biodiversity”, my co-authors and I argue that it is time to rethink the global approach to saving the world’s remaining biodiversity and habitats.

Twenty-five years after establishing the Convention on Biological Diversity, the world is facing “biological annihilation”, according to a scientific study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year.  The problem is mainly due to lack of funding.  Governments and international organizations alone cannot fund the investments needed to reverse the decline in biological populations and habitats on land and in oceans.  For example, it will take around $100 billion a year to protect the earth’s broad range of animal and plant species, and current funding fluctuates around $4-10 billion annually.

In our article, we follow others’ lead and propose creating a new Global Agreement on Biodiversity (GAB) modeled after the 2015 Paris Climate Change Accord.  But instead of focusing on just governments as parties to the agreement, we argue that the corporations in industries that benefit from biodiversity should also formally join the GAB and contribute financially to it.

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China’s Embrace Of An Intellectual Property System Imposed On It By The United States

According to Peter Drahos, Professor of Law and Governance in the Law Department at the European University Institute in Florence, the two biggest scientific powers, the U.S. & China, need to rethink the world’s intellectual property-based innovation system to safeguard citizen interests or else this privatization of technology, an arms race mentality in science, will produce a dark, dystopian future none of us really want.  Drahos was interviewed by Lynn Fries of the Real News Network. Find the original TRNN post, which contains links to related stories, here.

China’s Bid To Assist Assad In Syrian Reconstruction Is About Security and Profit

By Sara Hsu

Even as the West favors airstrikes against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and steers clear of supporting the president in rebuilding Syria, China has stated that it is interested in reconstructing the war-torn nation, and Chinese firms are lining up to become part of the process. The reconstruction cost is expected to amount to $250 billion, according to the United Nations. China’s motivations are apolitical, and are not aimed at opposing the policies of Western nations. Rather, China is propelled by economic and security reasons to take part in rebuilding Syria.

Chinese firms interested in reconstruction include infrastructure construction companies such as China Energy Engineering Corporation and China Construction Fifth Engineering Division. In addition, a Syria Day Expo held in Beijing was attended last year by hundreds of Chinese infrastructure investment firms. At the First Trade Fair on Syrian Reconstruction Projects held last summer, officials pledged $2 billion for the reconstruction process. Chinese energy firms might have benefited as well, since before the Syrian war began, Syria’s main energy contracts were held with Western energy companies such as Shell and Total. However, Russia has been given exclusive rights to produce oil and gas in Syria.

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