Friday, 23 June 2017

Arab states demand Qatar close al-Jazeera

Arab states demand Qatar close al-Jazeera


That is according to a list obtained by the vox from one of the countries involved in the dispute.Kuwait has given Qatar a list of demands from Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations that includes shutting down al-Jazeera and cutting diplomatic ties to Iran.

The document says Qatar has 10 days to comply with all demands.

The list says Qatar must immediately close Turkey's military base in Qatar and end military co-operation with the NATO member.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut ties to Qatar earlier in June over accusations the Persian Gulf country funds terrorism.

The US has been urging them to produce a list of demands and Kuwait is helping mediate.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

See below for George's recent Op-Ed on the fate of Brexit.

All best,

Olufemi Aduwo mnipr

Brexit in Reverse
Project Syndicate, June 19, 2017
By: George Soros

Economic reality is beginning to catch up with the false hopes of the general population. They believed the promises of the popular press that Brexit would not reduce their living standards, so they managed to maintain those standards by running up their household debts.
This worked for a while because household consumption stimulated the economy. But the moment of truth is fast approaching. As the latest figures published by the Bank of England show, wage growth is not keeping up with inflation, so that real incomes have begun to fall.
Once the experience of June is repeated in subsequent months, households will realize that their living standards are falling and they will have to adjust their spending habits. To make matters worse, they will also realize that they have become over-indebted and they will have to pay back their debts. This will reduce the household consumption that has sustained the economy even further. Moreover, the Bank of England has made the same mistake as the average household: it underestimated the impact of inflation and is now catching up by raising interest rates in a pro-cyclical manner.
We are fast approaching the tipping point that characterizes all unsustainable economic developments. In my theoretical writings, I refer to the tipping point as "reflexivity."
Economic reality is reinforced by political reality. The fact is that Brexit is a lose-lose proposition, harmful both to Britain and the European Union. It cannot be undone, but people can change their minds. Apparently, this is happening.
Theresa May's attempt to strengthen her negotiating position by holding a snap election has badly misfired: she lost her parliamentary majority. The primary cause of her defeat was her fatal misstep with the dementia tax that offended her core constituency, the elderly. But the increased participation of young people was also an important contributing factor. They voted for labor in protest, not because they wanted to join a trade union or support Jeremy Corbyn (although he gave an impressive performance). Their attitude to the single market is diametrically opposed to that of Theresa May. Young people are eager to find well-paying jobs, whether in Britain or elsewhere. In that respect, their interests correspond with the interests of the City of London, where some of those jobs are to be found.
If Theresa May wants to stay in power, she has to change her approach. There are signs she is prepared to do so. By approaching the negotiations starting on Monday in a conciliatory spirit, she could reach an agreement with the European Union on their agenda and agree to continue as a member of the single market for a long enough period to carry out all the legal work. This would be a great relief to the European Union because it would postpone the evil day when Britain's absence would create an enormous hole in the EU's budget. That would be a win-win arrangement.
Only by taking this path can she hope to persuade parliament to pass all the laws that need to be enacted. She may have to abandon her ill-considered alliance with the Ulster Unionists and side with the Tories of Scotland. She would also have to atone for the sins of the Tories in Kensington with regard to Grenfell Towers. She could then carry on leading a minority government, because nobody else would want to take her place. There are signs she is prepared to do so.
The divorce process would take at least five years to complete and during that time new elections would take place. If all went well, the two parties may want to remarry even before they have divorced.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Why China and California are trying to work on climate change without Trump

Why China and California are trying to work on climate change without Trump

California Governor Jerry Brown meets with Chinese Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang at the International Forum on Electric Vehicle Pilot Cities and Industrial Development in Beijing, China June 6, 2017.   REUTERS/Thomas Peter - RTX396ZD
California will work with China's science ministry to develop carbon capture and other clean energy technologies.
Image: REUTERS/vox
This article was created in collaboration withReutersUK

The state of California and China's Tsinghua University will establish a U.S.-China Climate Change Institute to cooperate on technology and research in the battle against global warming.

A decision by President Donald Trump last week to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate change accord raised concerns that joint initiatives by the world's two biggest emitters of climate warming greenhouse gases would come under threat.

But California has promised to step up cooperation, announcing on Tuesday it would work with China's science ministry to develop and commercialize know-how on carbon capture and storage and other clean energy technologies.

The new institute was unveiled at an event in Tsinghua with California governor Jerry Brown, who has been in Beijing this week to discuss deepening cooperation with China on climate and clean technology, after branding Trump's withdrawal from Paris as "insane".

The institute would focus not only on technological innovation, but also climate change policies and strategies, Yao Qiang, director of Tsinghua's Laboratory of Low Carbon Energy, told Reuters.

"In terms of sectors, it would happen in energy, for instance clean-coal tech which Tsinghua has in-depth research, transportation, architecture and renewable energy," he said.

Robert Weisenmiller, chairman of the California Energy Commission, said on Wednesday the state was working to bring together research institutions and establish joint incubator hubs with Chinese provinces, including Sichuan and Jiangsu.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

CCT Discharges Saraki, Throws Out Charges Against Him

CCT Discharges Saraki, Throws Out Charges Against Him

The Code of Conduct Tribunal sitting in Abuja has discharged and acquitted the Senate President Bukola Saraki on the alleged false assets declaration charges filed against him on the grounds that there was no prima facie case against the defendant.

Delivering a ruling on Saraki's no case submission, tribunal chairman Danladi Umar held that no reasonable tribunal would convict the defendant based on the evidence produced by the prosecution.

Saraki had in his no case submission urged the tribunal to dismiss the charges against him on the reason that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were based on hear say.

But Prosecution insisted that the Senate President has a case to answer and asked the tribunal chairman to order Saraki to open his defence.

Why North Has More Right To Ownership Of Oil Resources Than South-South- Dr Bugaje

Why North Has More Right To Ownership Of Oil Resources Than South-South- Dr Bugaje

One time governorship aspirant in Katsina state, Dr Usman Bugaje has advised the oil mineral producing states of Nigeria to stop claiming ownership of the oil resources in Nigeria in the interest of peace and progress of the country

Bugaje said the oil resources in the south-south states, indeed belong to Nigeria, stressing that the north, on a rational note, has more right to lay claims to the oil resources in any part of Nigeria, most especially on the continental shelf, considering its landmass and given extant laws, both the local and international.

Bugaje who Special Adviser on Political Matters to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar during the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo said it is more advisable for Nigeria in general to start looking beyond oil resources as a means of survival because the resources has started losing relevance and value world wide.

Speaking with Newspot Nigeria, the Katsina born politician said his earlier remarks on ownership of oil and gas resources in Nigeria widely circulated in the social media was misconstrued.

He said what he meant was that the constitution of Nigeria as well as the United Nations Conventions on Oil and Gas resources have made it clear that no particular community can claim ownership of oil resources, but the state.

Citing section 44 (3) of the Nigerian constitution, Second Schedue Legislative Power, the Exclusive Legislative List, 39 and the United Nations Convention to buttress his argument, Bugaje said in terms of landmass, the north should lay claims to ownership of oil resources in the south-south.

He said, "A key procedure is that the determination of the boundaries of countries in the sea is a measure of the landmass of the countries involved. A country with bigger landmass will have more mileage into the sea.

"It is in this context that we make the logical point that to the extent that over 78% of the landmass of Nigeria is the North, to that extent if any part of the country should lay claim to the exclusive ownership of the Natural resources in the sea, then the North has more rights to do so"

"Our national debates and constitutional conferences have been dominated by wealth ownership and sharing instead of wealth creation and development. Strange lexicons have emerged like the "oil producing States", which are not supported by our laws or our constitution. Our constitution has left us in no doubt that the only oil producing State is the Nigerian Sate itself.

"The regrettable centrality of oil and gas in our economy and absence of imagination and creativity in our political leadership has meant that this debate would drag on for some time. Below are some (not all) of the constitutional provisions and relevant laws should clarify and rest the matter.

Below is excerpts from Bugaje's Position On Oil Resources In Nigeria

Section 44(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended provides:

''Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, the entire property in and control of all minerals, mineral oils and natural gas in, under or upon any land in Nigeria or in, under or upon the territorial waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone of Nigeria shall vest in the Government of the Federation and shall be managed in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly''.

Second Schedule, Legislative Powers, Part 1, Exclusive Legislative List, 39.

"Mines and minerals, including oil fields, oil mining, geological surveys and natural gas."

The provisions of the Petroleum Act CAP 350 LFN 2004 also provides:

Section 1 (1) ''The entire ownership of control of all petroleum in, under or upon any lands to which this section applies shall be vested in the State".

Section 1(2) ''This section applies to all land (including land covered by water) which

(a) is in Nigeria

(b) is under the territorial waters in Nigeria

(c) forms part of the continental shelf

Thus the ownership and control of resources is vested in the Federal Government of Nigeria.


Where oil and gas fields are located in the offshore as a great majority of our oil and gas fields are today the matter should be even easier. Not only because no one lives in the sea but also because the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea UNCLOS has made it very clear.

Under the UNCLOS, every sovereign state is entitled to and Exclusive Economic Zone EEZ of 200 nautical miles into the ocean. Section x article 57, says "

  1. Article 57, UNCLOS – This limits the area of the EEZ of a state/coastal state from 200 nautical miles from the breath of its territorial waters.
    Article 74(4) – It states that where there is a special agreement between two states as what constitutes the total size of their exclusive economic zones, their agreements would apply. This means that notwithstanding the limitation of 200 nautical miles as stipulated in Article 57, the EEZ can vary according to the size of the state in question if it is an agreement with adjacent, opposite or neighboring state to specially designate its EEZ.



Article 2

Legal status of the territorial sea, of the air space over the territorial sea and of its bed and subsoil

  1. The sovereignty of a coastal State extends, beyond its land territory and internal waters and, in the case of an archipelagic State, its archipelagic waters, to an adjacent belt of sea, described as the territorial sea.
  2. This sovereignty extends to the air space over the territorial sea as well as to its bed and subsoil.
  3. The sovereignty over the territorial sea is exercised subject to this Convention and to other rules of international law.



Article 3

Breadth of the territorial sea

Every State has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles, measured from baselines determined in accordance with this Convention.

Article 4

Outer limit of the territorial sea

The outer limit of the territorial sea is the line every point of which is at a distance from the nearest point of the baseline equal to the breadth of the territorial sea.

Article 5

Normal baseline

Except where otherwise provided in this Convention, the normal baseline for measuring the breadth of the territorial sea is the low-water line along the coast as marked on large-scale charts officially recognized by the coastal State.

Article 6


In the case of islands situated on atolls or of islands having fringing reefs, the baseline for measuring the breadth of the territorial sea is the seaward low-water line of the reef, as shown by the appropriate symbol on charts officially recognized by the coastal State.

Article 74

Delimitation of the exclusive economic zone between States with opposite or adjacent coasts

  1. The delimitation of the exclusive economic zone between States with opposite or adjacent coasts shall be effected by agreement on the basis of international law, as referred to in Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, in order to achieve an equitable solution.
  2. If no agreement can be reached within a reasonable period of time, the States concerned shall resort to the procedures provided for in Part XV.



Article 76

Definition of the continental shelf

  1. The continental shelf of a coastal State comprises the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas that extend beyond its territorial sea throughout the natural prolongation of its land territory to the outer edge of the continental margin, or to a distance of 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured where the outer edge of the continental margin does not extend up to that distance.
  2. The continental shelf of a coastal State shall not extend beyond the limits provided for in paragraphs 4 to 6.
  3. The continental margin comprises the submerged prolongation of the land mass of the coastal State, and consists of the seabed and subsoil of the shelf, the slope and the rise. It does not include the deep ocean floor with its oceanic ridges or the subsoil thereof.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

A Little-Known Climate Fund Is Suddenly In The Spotlight

A Little-Known Climate Fund Is Suddenly In The Spotlight

Wind turbines provide energy in Egypt's Sinai Desert. Helping developing countries harness energy from the wind is one of the Green Climate Fund's goals.

Anton Petrus/Getty Images

The Green Climate Fund has been thrust into the spotlight of late.

President Trump singled it out for scorn in his Rose Garden remarks last week announcing his decision to pull the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. Along with that move, Trump noted, he is ending further U.S. contributions to the "so-called Green Climate Fund — nice name."

Advocates for the environment have countered with op-eds in defense of the fund. Even comedian John Oliver jumped into the fray. In his Sunday night HBO show, Oliver offered a point-by-point rebuttal of numerous incorrect statements that Trump made about the fund, including the erroneous claim that the GCF, which is funded through voluntary contributions, would "likely obligate the United States to commit potentially tens of billions of dollars."

Yet it seems a fair guess that most people remain hazy on what the Green Climate Fund actually is — not the least because the GCF is so green in the other sense of that word: It's only just getting off the ground.

So herewith we present seven facts you might not know about GCF and its mission:

1) The GCF was created to exclusively serve low- and middle-income countries.

Specifically, its mandate is to help developing countries reduce their emissions — so as to prevent further climate change — and adapt to the effects of climate change already occurring as a result of worldwide emissions. This includes supportingprojects to build sea walls on the island nation of Tuvalu, create an early warning network to alert farmers in Malawi to floods and other disasters, launch energy companies that will provide rural people in East Africa with solar power, and encourage investment in renewal energy companies in Argentina.

Five years older, to be precise. The GCF was formally created at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico. That said, setting up an international organization of the GCF's scope and size takes time. So it wasn't until 2013 that the GCF was in a position to hold its first round of fundraising.

Forty-three countries pledged a total of $10.3 billion to get the ball rolling for the first several years — though no exact time period was specified for how long that money is supposed to last. So far, the GCF has committed $2.2 billion to 43 projects.

3) A lot of the money for the Green Climate Fund is supposed to come from rich countries ...

The GCF was created as a vehicle to carry out one of the major commitments made by developed countries at the 2010 Cancun meeting: By 2020, they promised to "mobilize" $100 billion every year for climate change efforts in developing countries.

4) ... but mostly this is about bringing in private funding.

"Mobilize — that's the key word here," says Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, a former deputy assistant secretary for energy and environment at the U.S. Treasury in the Obama administration. The term was specifically chosen to underscore the understanding that only a portion of the $100 billion per year would come directly from rich country governments. The plan is to motivate mostly private sources of capital — for example, for-profit corporations — to invest in efforts that help poor countries deal with climate change.

The GCF is designed to do this in a range of ways, says Martinez-Diaz, who is now global director of the Sustainable Finance Center at the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank. For example, if a private company is leery of investing in climate projects because of political and financial risks, the GCF will offer it loans, loan guarantees, or other forms of insurance.

5) The GCF has what one green researcher calls a "special sauce" that similar organizations lack.

Martinez-Diaz notes that the GCF was never meant to be the only channel for "mobilizing" the $100 billion per year that rich countries promised would flow annually to poor countries by 2020. "Not even as an intermediary or pass-through," he says. "It was meant to be one of several financing mechanisms." Other examples include multilateral development banks like the World Bank.

But the GCF has a lot more flexibility in how it can spend its money, notes Jessica Brown of the Climate Policy Initiative, a research center that advises policymakers on green strategies. The World Bank, for example, mainly gives out loans, which, by definition, must be paid back by recipient countries. The bank can only give outright grants to a small subset of extremely poor nations. And it can't generally be a direct co-investor in a for-profit enterprise. The GCF faces no such constraints.

In contrast to development banks and rich country governments, the GCF also has a governing structure that gives developed countries a say over which projects get approved. The GCF was set up within the umbrella of the United Nations system expressly for this purpose. And its governing board is equally divided between representatives of developed and developing countries — winning valuable "buy-in" from the recipient countries, says Brown, a former international climate finance negotiator at the U.S. State Department.

These two features are "the special sauce that GCF can offer," says Brown.

6) Trump's decision to end further U.S. funding deals the organization a blow — but doesn't necessarily kneecap it.

Of the $10.3 billion that donor countries pledged to the GCF during that initial fundraising round back in 2013, the U.S. promised $3 billion. Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. has already handed over $1 billion in two installments of $500 million. The last one was disbursed in January, just before Obama left office. (The money is paid out of a general State Department fund over which the president has broad discretion).

Trump's decision not to provide the remaining $2 billion effectively cuts the GCF's total expected funding by about 20 percent — hardly peanuts. And various analysts say the loss of U.S. engagement in the day-to-day running of the fund could have less tangible but no less impactful downsides because the U.S. government has particular expertise when it comes to keeping multinational organizations accountable and effective.

But while Trump claimed in his speech that he had "terminated" the GCF, Melanie Nakagawa, a former deputy assistant secretary for energy transformation at the U.S. Department of State under Obama, notes that the $1 billion that the U.S. did provide "is already in the system. The check is in and it is already having an impact."

The GCF estimates that the 43 projects for which it has started to disburse funds will impact a total of 128 million people. And it still has more than $6 billion left to disburse. During the initial fundraising round in 2013, the GCF agreed not to start its next round until it had allocated 60 percent of the money it had raised in the first. Though no timeline was set, many people expected this would take four to five years.

Now that the GCF will have less money, that date will presumably come sooner — some say as soon as 2018, notes Brown, though she thinks it will be longer than that.

And Nakagawa says it's entirely possible that by the time the GCF is in need of its next cash infusion, it could find better favor from the U.S. "Four years from now, another administration could decide to put the money in," she says.

7) The world is still a long way from "mobilizing" $100 billion in annual spending on climate change challenges in developing countries.

Back when world leaders agreed to the $100 billion goal, it wasn't actually clear how much the developed world was currently spending. "The only really good data we have is starting in 2014," says Martinez-Diaz. That's from a 2015 analysis by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and Climate Policy Initiative. And it's not very promising: It finds that the public and private sectors combined spent about $62 billion.

Carbon Dioxide Set an All-Time Monthly High

Carbon Dioxide Set an All-Time Monthly High

With May in the books, it's official: carbon dioxide set an all-time monthly record. It's a sobering annual reminder that humans are pushing the climate into a state unseen in millions of years.

Carbon dioxide peaked at 409.65 parts per million for the year, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It's not a surprise that it happened. Carbon dioxide levels at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii peak in May every year.

Carbon dioxide levels reached a new monthly peak in May.

The news comes one day after President Trump announced his plan to pull out of the world's main climate agreement, juxtaposing the severity of the problem with an administration that has shown little to no interest in addressing it.

While plants growing in the northern hemisphere will draw a few parts per million of the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere over summer, make no mistake, human pollution is pushing atmospheric carbon dioxide ever higher. Mauna Loa Observatory crossed the 410 ppm threshold for the first time in recorded history in April. The May average is almost exactly what UK Met Office scientists predicted it would be in their first carbon dioxide forecast.

The reading from May is well above the 407.7 ppm reading from May 2016. And it's far above the 317.5 ppm on record for May 1958, the first May measurement on record for Mauna Loa, the gold standard for carbon dioxide measurements. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide stood at roughly 280 ppm.

The new carbon dioxide high water mark follows a report released last week showing that last year, the world saw its second-biggest annual leap in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It's second only to 2015, a year in which El NiƱo helped boost levels. Both years saw jumps that were roughly double the increase seen in 1979 when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration started keeping the index.

The rise in carbon dioxide is tipping the climate into a volatile state, one in which Arctic sea ice is scraping the bottom of the barrel, oceans are rising and causing flooding even on sunny days, and the earth has warmed 1.8°F above pre-industrial levels. As carbon dioxide levels continue to increase, those impacts will only become more pronounced.

An animation showing how carbon dioxide moves around the planet.
Credit: NASA

There's a finite amount of climate pollution that humans can emit before we blow past the world's main climate goal of 2°C. If emissions continue on their current trajectory, we'll create an atmosphere unseen on this planet in 50 million years. Back then, the earth was 18°F warmer and the Arctic was more like the tropics with palms on the shores and crocodiles prowling the shallows.

The U.S. pulling out of the Paris Agreement will likely make it harder for the world to meet a goal of staying below 2°C of warming. But some U.S. states and cities are already planning to pick up the slack created by the federal government, and there's also evidence global carbon dioxide emissions have plateaued.

Even if they have peaked, emissions still need to get down to zero to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Until then, each passing year will see a new carbon dioxide high.