Global Governance

China Drives Nuclear Expansion in Argentina, but with Strings Attached

Two new nuclear power plants, to cost 14 billion dollars, will give a new impetus to Argentina’s relation with atomic energy, which began over 60 years ago. President Mauricio Macri made the announcement from China, the country that is to finance 85 per cent of the works.But besides the fact that social movements quickly started to organise against the plants, the project appears to face a major hurdle.The Chinese government has set a condition: it threatens to pull out of the plans for the nuclear plants and from the rest of its investments in Argentina if the contract signed for the construction of two gigantic hydroelectric power plants in Argentina’s southernmost wilderness region, Patagonia, does not move forward. The plans are currently on hold, pending a Supreme Court decision.Together with Brazil and Mexico, Argentina is one of the three Latin American countries that have developed nuclear energy.The National Commission for Atomic Energy was founded in 1950 by then president Juan Domingo Perón (1946-1955 and 1973-1974) and the country inaugurated its first nuclear plant, Atucha I, in 1974. The development of nuclear energy was halted after the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, by then-president Raúl Alfonsín (1983-1989), but it was resumed during the administration of Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007).According to the announcement Macri made during his visit to Beijing in May, construction of Atucha III, with a capacity of 745 MW, is to begin in January 2018, 100 km from the capital, in the town of Lima, within the province of Buenos Aires.Atucha I and II, two of Argentina’s three nuclear power plants, are located in that area, while the third, known as Embalse, is in the central province of Córdoba.Construction of a fifth nuclear plant, with a capacity of 1,150 MW, would begin in 2020 in an as-yet unannounced spot in the province of Río Negro, north of Patagonia.Currently, nuclear energy represents four per cent of Argentina’s electric power, while thermal plants fired by natural gas and oil account for 64 per cent and hydroelectric power plants represent 30 per cent, according to the Energy Ministry. Other renewable sources only amount to two per cent, although the government is seeking to expand them.Besides diversifying the energy mix, the projected nuclear and hydroelectric plants are part of an ambitious strategy that Argentina set in motion several years ago: to strengthen economic ties with China, which would buy more food from Argentina and boost investment here.During his May 14-17 visit to China, Macri was enthusiastic about the role that the Asian giant could play in this South American country.“China is an absolutely strategic partner. This will be the beginning of a wonderful era between our countries. There must be few countries in the world that complement each other than Argentina and China,” said Macri in Beijing, speaking to businesspeople from both countries.[caption id="attachment_151075" align="aligncenter" width="630"]Centre for Studies in State Policies and Society, told IPS that “Argentina can benefit from its relations with China if it is clear with regard to its interests. It must insist on complementarity and not let China flood our local market with their products.“Adaro praised the decision to invest in nuclear energy since it is “important to diversify the energy mix“ and because the construction of nuclear plants “also generates investments and jobs in other sectors of the economy.“However, there is a thorn in the side of relations between China and Argentina regarding the nuclear issue: the project of the hydroelectric plants. These two giant plants with a projected capacity of 1,290 MW are to be built at a cost of nearly five billion dollar, on the Santa Cruz River, which emerges in the spectacular Glaciers National Park in the southern region of Patagonia, and flows into the Atlantic Ocean.In December, when the works seemed about to get underway, the Supreme Court suspended construction of the dams, in response to a lawsuit filed by two environmental organisations.The three Chinese state banks financing the two projects then said they would invoke a cross-default clause included in the contract for the dams, which said they would cancel the rest of their investments if the dams were not built.To build the two plants, three Chinese and one Argentine companies formed a consortium, but after winning the tender in 2013, construction has not yet begun.Under pressure from China, the government released the results of a new environmental impact study on Jun. 15 and now plans to convene a public hearing to discuss it, so that Argentina’s highest court will authorise the beginning of the works.Added to opposition to the dams by environmentalists is their rejection of the nuclear plants. In the last few weeks, activists from Río Negro have held meetings in different parts of the province, demanding a referendum to allow the public to vote on the plant to be installed there.They have even generated an unusual conflict with the neighbouring province of Chubut, where the regional parliament unanimously approved a statement against the nuclear plants. The governor of Río Negro, Alberto Weretilnek, asked the people of Chubut to “stop meddling.““Argentina must start a serious debate about what these plants mean, at a time when the world is abandoning this kind of energy. We need to know, among other things, how the uranium that is needed as fuel is going to be obtained,“ the director of the Environment and Natural Resources Foundation, Andrés Nápòli, told IPS.Argentina now imports the uranium used in the country’s nuclear plants, but environmentalists are worried that local production, which was abandoned more than 20 years ago, will restart.

Any Way to Help Slow Down Climate Change… Individually?

It is no secret that the biggest responsible for climate change is greed. The greed of the world’s largest private corporations, which blindly seek unlimited high financial benefits. And the greed of those politicians who are also blindly keen about holding their temporary power at any cost, thus not daring to challenge big business. Ordinary people can meanwhile help slow down such a hellish race.

Global Devaluation of Work Drives Up Unemployment in Brazil

In addition to driving up the number of unemployed people to 14.2 million, the severe recession of the last two years led Brazil to join the global trend of flexibilisation of labour laws in order to further reduce labour costs.

“Black Soils” – Excessive Use of Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury…

Soils are polluted due mostly to human activities that leave excess chemicals in soils used to grow food, the United Nations reports.

The World Is Burning

Record high temperatures are gripping much of the globe and more hot weather are to come. This implies more drought, more food insecurity, more famine and more massive human displacements.

Children Now More Than Half of the 65 Million Displaced

Around 20 people are newly displaced every minute of the day, according to a new report.In its annual Global Trends report, the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR has recorded unprecedented and concerning levels of displacement around the world.

The World Society Needs to Express Greater Solidarity for Refugees Worldwide

The world is heading into troubled waters as we are witnessing an unprecedented movement of people – refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons (IDPs) alike – fleeing from misery, poverty and conflicts. The refugee crisis that has swept across Europe and the Middle East is becoming the 21st century’s most protracted crisis with no immediate solution in sight. The world has not witnessed a more complex movement of people since the end of the Second World War; thousands of human beings undertake perilous and treacherous journeys in hope for a better and a safer future. Many of them perish during these hazardous journeys.

New Inhumane Record: One Person Displaced Every Three Second

Nearly 66 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes last year, the United Nation refugee agency has reported.

Asia-Pacific: Farming Rice and Fish Together to Reduce Poverty

Rice is a major food commodity and staple food for many, and adding fish to flooded rice paddies has been a farming tradition practiced in a number of Asian countries for many centuries—even for more than 1000 years in some Chinese areas, the United Nations reports.

UN Work Stoppage in Geneva Halts Human Rights Meeting

As UN staffers in Geneva threaten a strike, protesting a proposed salary cut of over 7.5 percent, a token two-hour “work stoppage” last week forced the Human Rights Council to suspend its meeting.

Africa: Drought and Jobless, Hopeless Youth, Fertile Grounds for Extremism

Ignoring the plight of jobless young people in sub-Saharan Africa is a recipe for political instability and global insecurity, warned a high-level symposium of Africa’s interior, environment and foreign affairs ministers in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Latin America’s Rural Exodus Undermines Food Security

In Latin America and the Caribbean, which account for 12 per cent of the planet’s arable land, and one-third of its fresh water reserves, a number of factors contribute to soil degradation and to a rural exodus that compromises food security in a not-so-unlikely future.

BRICS to Lead World’s Efforts to Eradicate Hunger, Poverty by 2030

With the clock ticking toward the 2030 deadline for meeting the international goals to eradicate hunger and poverty, five of the world's most important emerging economies are well positioned to take a leading role in helping to achieve these objectives, according to the United Nations.

Drought Pushes 1 in 3 Somalis to a Hunger Knife-Edge

Another famine in former European colonies in Africa and another time in its Eastern region, with Ethiopia and Somalia among the major victims of drought and made-made climate disasters mainly caused by US and European multinational business.

New Alert: Refugee Numbers Outpace Resettlement Spots

Against the backdrop of increasing refugee numbers around the globe, fuelled by crisis and insecurity, and an ever-widening gap in places to resettle them, the top United Nations official dealing with refugee issues has called on governments to “step up” and deliver places for refugees in line with the commitments they have made.

Mideast: Drought to Turn People into Eternal Migrants, Prey to Extremism?

Worldwide, land degradation, severe droughts and advancing desertification are set to force populations to flee their homes and migrate. In the specific case of the Middle East and North of Africa (MENA), such an obliged choice implies the additional risk to turn peoples into easy prey to extremist, terrorist groups.

Child Labor in the Arab Region Does Not Belong to the 21st Century

Today marks the 2017 World Day against Child Labor to reaffirm the goal to eliminate all forms of child labor. This year’s annual theme highlights a subject that is often neglected, namely the importance of addressing child labor in conflict areas and in disaster settings.

Heavy Toll of Disrupted Farming, Higher Prices and Displaced Livelihoods

Large agricultural harvests in some regions of the world are buoying global food supply conditions, but protracted fighting and unrest are increasing the ranks of the displaced and hungry elsewhere, according to a United Nations new report.

This Is the Nation of 170 Million Enslaved Children

Globally over 1.5 billion people live in countries that are affected by conflict, violence and fragility. Meantime, around 200 million people are affected by disasters every year—a third of them are children. And a significant proportion of the 168 million children engaged in child labour live in areas affected by conflict and disaster. These are the facts. Up to you to reflect on the immediate future of humankind.

Inside UAE’s Quest to Reducing Food Waste

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is working on taking strides forward on climate change mitigation that are reflected by the establishment of the federal ministry of climate change, it's commitment to develop a national climate change plan, and its ratification to the Paris Agreement in 2015, which pledged not to just keep warming 'well below 2C', but also to 'pursue efforts' to limit warming to 1.5C by 2018.

More Plastic than Fish or How Politicians Help Ocean Destruction

World’s oceans are dangerously exposed to at least three major threats: climate change; the sharp degradation of marine biodiversity, and politicians. These simply encourage the destruction of oceans by subsidising over-fishing and turning a blind eye on illegal captures. See what happens.

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