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The Upstream Journal

A magazine on social justice since 1975

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The Upstream Journal

Journal

Talking about climate change – but not about it’s biggest cause and who is responsible

In the World Bank report “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4C Warmer World Must be Avoided”(Nov. 2012), World Bank President Jim Yong Kim gave these comments on climate change:

“The lack of action on climate change not only risks putting prosperity out of reach of millions of people in the developing world, it threatens to roll back decades of sustainable development.

This report spells out what the world would be like if it warmed by 4 degrees Celsius, which is what scientists are nearly unanimously predicting by the end of the century, without serious policy changes.

The 4°C scenarios are devastating: the inundation of coastal cities; increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter; unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; increased frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems.”

Coal-fired power plants are the largest contributor to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, yet coal was not mentioned at all in that World Bank report. And it wasn’t mentioned in a Washington Post editorial by Kim in January on the World Bank’s role in climate change.

1,199 new coal-fired plants are being proposed worldwide, according to the World Resources Institute.* China and India together account for 76 percent of the proposed new coal power capacities. Among the largest developers of new coal-fired plants are the “Big Five” Chinese power companies, the world’s biggest coal-fired power producers. China consumes more coal than the next ten largest consumer nations combined.

Japan, the World Bank and the US provide more than half of the world’s public international finance of coal-fired power plants.
Japan 27 projects, $10.1 billion
World Bank 29 projects, $5.3 billion
United States 23 projects, $4.2 billion
Asian Development Bank 21 projects, $3.9 billion
Germany 12 projects, $3 billion
China 7 projects, $3.1 billion
European Investment Bank 9 projects, $2.5 billion
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development 9 projects, $869 million

Others public funders: Italy, Korea, United Kingdom, the African Development Bank, Italy, France, Norway, Spain, Canada, the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank, Switzerland and Netherlands. Total: $37 billion for 156 projects.
* Ailun, Yang, and Yiyun Cui. 2012. “Global Coal Risk Assessment: Data Analysis and Market Research”. WRI Working Paper. World Resources Institute, Washington DC. Available online at wri.org.

 

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  • 2012 / May
  • By sjcintern
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Journal

International environmental groups want the World Bank to “clean up its act” before it expands its role in climate finance

International environmental groups want the World Bank to “clean up its act” before it expands its role in climate finance

The World Bank is pushing for a leading role in climate finance, even though it has been unable to finalize its own energy strategy and continues to finance dirty energy projects, say the major environmental organizations Friends of the Earth (US), Sierra Club (US) and Oil Change International.

The groups want the World Bank to stop funding dirty energy projects, either directly or indirectly, and adopt “an energy strategy that promotes truly clean energy and energy access.”

They are concerned that the World Bank continues to push for a leadership role in climate finance through carbon offsetting schemes and investment funds, while its own energy strategy is still awaiting agreement. The Bank is engaged in carbon trading, the Climate Investment Funds, and the Green Climate Fund while continuing to disproportionately fund dirty energy projects within its core energy portfolio, with nearly half of energy lending – more than US$15 billion – going to fossil fuels in the last four years. Continue Reading

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Profile: Dimitri Roussopoulos & Lucia Kowaluk

“I am working towards, in large ways and in small ways, toward a society or a community in which people have their basic needs met, in which they know they can see the fruit of their labour, where they can have a community of friends and colleagues around them, and can live a life.”  Photo courtesy Dimitri Rousopoulos.

“I am working towards, in large ways and in small ways, toward a society or a community in which people have their basic needs met, in which they know they can see the fruit of their labour, where they can have a community of friends and colleagues around them, and can live a life.” Photo courtesy Dimitri Rousopoulos.

My first encounter with two activists who have transformed Montreal’s urban space was with a group of a few dozen environmental enthusiasts who have gathered in the backyard of the Montreal Urban Ecology Centre on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. The Centre was launching a guide on climbing plants as part of its continuing efforts to encourage citizens to make their urban space environmentally friendly.

It was also inaugurating an educational garden terrace dedicated to Lucia Kowaluk, long-time Montreal political and environmental activist and a founder of the Centre.

Lucia and her partner Dimitri Rousopoulos have engaged in community involvement and left-wing activism for more than half a century. They have campaigned for nuclear disarmament, faced down bulldozers to save the Milton-Parc neighbourhood, founded an alternative publishing house, established the largest cooperative housing project in North America, and set up the Montreal Urban Ecology Centre.

Now in their seventies, they have no intention of slowing down. “If you want to do this kind of work, you have to spend your whole life doing it,” Lucia said. Continue Reading

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Journal

“Clicktivism”

Avaaz supporters at a protest to protect the Amazon from clear-cut logging. More than 2 million people signed the Avaaz on-line campaign petition.   Photo: Avaaz

Avaaz supporters at a protest to protect the Amazon from clear-cut logging. More than 2 million people signed the Avaaz on-line campaign petition.
Photo: Avaaz


Avaaz, the online campaigning organization, leads the largest global movement on the web. Is online campaigning the future of activism?

In 2011 Indian activist Kisan Baburao (“Anna”) Hazare declared a fast unto death unless the Indian government agreed to allow civil society to draft a new anti-corruption law. 500,000 Indian citizens joined the Avaaz campaign supporting his call for reform in less than two days, and the Indian government agreed to Hazare’s demands. Continue Reading

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Microfinance a development model in crisis

“As she took out larger loans and built up her savings, Melvis was able to purchase some equipment and hire two additional staff. She now sells thirty cakes a week, and has her own street side shop.

“As she took out larger loans and built up her savings, Melvis was able to purchase some equipment and hire two additional staff. She now sells thirty cakes a week, and has her own street side shop.” Photo courtesy Opportunity International

Brady Josephson, national director of Opportunity International Canada, a charity providing financial services to the poor in developing countries, is eager to talk about how microfinance can succeed.

“Melvis is an unbelievable baker, amazing, who was selling, on average, eight cakes a week before she joined Opportunity. She had a great talent, but spent so much time collecting ingredients, baking without proper tools and having to do the entire cake herself she was unable to grow her business. Continue Reading

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Without a country Burma’s Rohingya people

Under Myanmar’s 1982 citizenship law, Rohingya children - both registered and unregistered - are stateless and face limited access to food and health care. Many are prevented from attending school and used for forced labour, contributing to a Rohingya illiteracy rate of 80 percent. More than 60 percent of children aged between five and 17 have never enrolled in school.  Photo: Digital Media

Under Myanmar’s 1982 citizenship law, Rohingya children – both registered and unregistered – are stateless and face limited access to food and health care. Many are prevented from attending school and used for forced labour, contributing to a Rohingya illiteracy rate of 80 percent. More than 60 percent of children aged between five and 17 have never enrolled in school. Photo: Digital Media

On August 8th, 1988 thousands of Burmese poured into the streets calling for democracy. Soldiers opened fire at the unarmed golden-robed Buddhist monks, students, professionals, women, and children. The shooting didn’t stop for ten days, but the people kept flooding the streets in protest. As many as 10,000 people were killed, thousands more were arrested, and many were tortured.

Nur Hashim Salim, co-founder of the Canadian Burmese Rohingya Organization (CBRO), was one of the protestors. A high school student at the time, he feared for his life especially because he belongs to the Rohingya ethnic minority, a marginalized Muslim community in the north-western part of the country. Denied citizenship rights and persecuted by the military, he went into hiding. His parents were detained and tortured for weeks to reveal his location, and so he fled to Bangladesh to save his life. Continue Reading

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The Trafficking in North Korean women

North Korean Women

Many North Korean women in China live with local men in de facto marriages, Some trafficked into marriage or prostitution. Even if they have lived there for years, they are not entitled to legal residence and face the risk of arrest and repatriation. Many children of unrecognized marriages are forced to live without a legal identity or access to elementary education. (Human Rights Watch 2012) The North Korean woman in this photo is anonymous. Photo: Joseph Ferris.

Mi-Ran Kim says she defected from North Korea to China for the first time when she was thirty-six. Driven by hunger, she crossed the border without the help of a smuggling broker, but was caught and sold to an older man. Refusing to live in a forced marriage, she returned to North Korea.

When Kim escaped again, she was forcibly repatriated to North Korea and sent to a Bowibu prison, a political gulag, where she was beaten, violated and tortured. “While my hands were tied behind my back, they kicked my sides and my breasts,” she said. “I couldn’t even feel the pain because I was losing my mind.” Continue Reading

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Working for a better world

How young people can prepare for a life in international development
Finding your way into international justice

Political science undergraduate students like me often choose international development as a part of their studies. With a secondary degree a growing necessity, law school is often seen as the most logical continuation of our field of studies, especially if we are interested in international justice.

But there are other options. A career in international justice may combine political science and development studies in a legal setting, but you don’t necessarily need a law degree.
Two experts I spoke with agreed that that there is more than one path to working in international justice. John Cerone, a professor of law and visiting scholar to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), talked about his decision to get a law degree. Continue Reading

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Journal

New energy strategy may be an improvement, but will it be enough?

The World Bank is preparing a new energy sector strategy that it says will respond to the need to increase energy access for the poor while supporting the shift towards environmentally-sustainable development. To provide large energy supplies, the Bank continues to invest in oil, coal and fossil fuel-powered plants that have large environmental impacts, so its energy strategy is a concern for environmentalist groups.
Environmentalist NGOs note progressive steps in the latest draft, but are concerned with several aspects:
– the lack of clear screening procedures and requirements for projects to promote decentralized and environmentally sustainable projects,
– the lack of a clear definition of “clean energy,”
– the promotion of hydropower without appropriate guidelines.
Continue Reading

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Charities say lack of CIDA support and delays in funding are damaging international development efforts

25% of organizations say people are suffering and dying as programs scale back or close

Almost half of the 113 organizations that responded to a survey by the Canadian Council for International Cooperation say that delays and accompanying lack of project financing are slowing down or stopping project work in developing countries. 25% of those surveyed say that people are suffering or dying because urgently needed community development and health initiatives are not being provided.

42% say they have to restructure other programs, alter their overall budget, or draw on financial reserves to continue operating.

35% of organizations say funding delays have meant layoffs, delays in hiring, low morale, and employees quitting due to organizational uncertainty because of delays in getting CIDA funding commitments.
Almost 60% of organizations say their projects are being scaled back, shut down, or losing momentum and continuity, and 30% say that their international partners are in limbo while they wait for a decision from CIDA. Continue Reading

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