Rich states must not block poorer nations from developing their economies

Climate change and its effects may be grabbing all the headlines at the moment.  And it is a huge issue. So you can’t  blame the Caribbean’s Prime Ministers for focusing on that, even if there’s not much they can do about global warming, increased weather disturbance, sea-level rise and its consequences.

global warming
The difference between meeting 1.5C target as against 2C, from IPCC 2018

But they left followers in no doubt that climate change is only exacerbating other long-standing crises. Their closing statement after the 15-17 February 2023 meeting listed “debt, food and water insecurity, the digital divide, health pandemics and Anti Microbial Resistance, as well as threats to biodiversity”.

They added that they “recognized […] an urgent need to provide macro-economic security, resilience and sustainability for our countries”.

They also issued a separate statement on Haiti, where the breakdown of government and UN efforts to keep the peace has left country in the grip of violent gangs, with would-be refugees risking their lives to escape in small boats by sea.

caricom leaders
Caricom leaders in Nassau

‘None of us will be safe until we are all safe’

Philip Davis, the current Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister of The Bahamas, where “illegal” Haitian and now Cuban migrants are being made a political issue, declared: “None of us will be safe until we are all safe. None of us will develop sustainably or securely, if we leave our neighbours behind. None of us will truly prosper if our resources are forever taxed by the poverty and instability of those nearby. Going it alone will not work.”

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even turned up at the summit to pledge funds for action on “climate change and illicit trafficking in the Region, [including] the humanitarian and migration crises on the Haiti-Dominican Republic border”.

The real problem is failed development

You could say the real problem is failed development rather than climate change. Unrest among the victims of Africa’s collapsing economies, fundamentalism in parts of Asia, belligerent politics involving Europe and Latin America as well as Russia and China – all point to the chickens of global catastrophe coming home to roost at the UN after decades of flitting around the world depositing a golden egg here and there: the end of smallpox, primary health care through preventive medicine, early education, the European Union.

Some scientists, like TV celebrity and particle physicist Brian Cox, who has worked at CERN, believe the problem springs from failed development creating poverty that blocks each younger generation out of education, cheap food, interesting jobs and curiosity-driven lives – and all this comes from the lack of cheap energy to fuel their societies rather than global warming.

Rich nations control the technology

In climate change negotiations, the quarrels are between industrial nations that are now using their resources to reduce carbon emissions – lecturing others on doing likewise – and the developing nations that don’t see any way to improve the lives of their people without coal and oil (since the solar, hydro and wind alternatives are controlled by foreign companies, as are covid vaccines).

Human Universe at Science Den on YouTube

‘Nuclear fusion and commitment to science is the answer’

Cox’s answer, spelled out in a 2014 BBC television series that became a book and YouTube audiobook a year ago,  is nuclear fusion.

Others, too, agree it could provide “unlimited clean energy”.

We’re nowhere near it yet, but with regard to the required change in attitude among rich nations, Cox points to the U.S. moon exploration missions of the 1960s that made a clear commitment to funding that increases scientific knowledge.

Charles. M. Duke, April, 1972
Charles. M. Duke, now 87, 10th and youngest person to walk on the moon at the age of 36, features in Cox’s report.

‘Probably the most savvy investment in modern history’

Apollo “was probably the most savvy investment in modern history”, Cox says. It returned an estimated $7 to the economy for every one spent on the project. The UK, he adds, spends more on premier league footballers than it does on research into the physical sciences and engineering. In 2012 the U.S. spent 2.79% of its GDP and the UK 1.7% on increasing knowledge.

On a global scale, UNESCO reports that some 10 countries account for 80% of spending on R&D. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) put Switzerland at the top in 2020 (as it had been since 2011), with Sweden second ahead of the United States, while South Korea came into the top 5 for the first time.

R&D offers a 40x return on investment

Returns from R&D are estimated at approximately $40 for every dollar invested. ”Imagine what we could do if we took these figures seriously,” says Cox.

He knows how few people in political power are likely to take him seriously about nuclear fusion. He jokes that the waste products from nuclear fusion, helium, can be used to pump up balloons.

National Ignition Facility
National Ignition Facility

A Wright brothers moment

But there is progress. On 5 December 2022 hot nuclear fusion – the process that powers the sun – took a major step forward towards realization on Earth, though not widely noticed in the media.  In the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, one hour east of San Francisco, “for the first time, the world’s largest lasers forced atoms of hydrogen to fuse together in the same kind of energy producing reaction that fires the sun” (CBSNews reported, over a month later).

Another commentator on 11 April reported the industry is describing it as a “Wright brothers moment”, referring to the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft in 1903.

‘The end of fuel kleptocracies’

Virginia Heffernan proclaimed via the website Wired on 1 March, nearly three months afterwards, in a jokey piece that supports Cox: “Fusion will, of course, rescue the environment and decarbonize planet Earth in a cool afternoon.”

“It will also—don’t stop me now—render irrelevant all the dead-eyed petroleum kleptocracies and trade wars and real wars waged in their name. When energy can be produced anywhere, with common household ingredients, authoritarian states will no longer derive despotic authority by accidents of geography, but will, whoosh, become secular democracies, the better to share fusion-reactor tips and tricks in happy glasnost and savor the collective joy and peace of a burning, flooding planet restored to tranquil shades of green and blue.”

Jennifer Granholm
US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm made a statement you can find on the Livermore website: “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to supporting our world-class scientists — like the team at NIF [National Ignition Facility] — whose work will help us solve humanity’s most complex and pressing problems, like providing clean power to combat climate change and maintaining a nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing.” Note that weapons reference.

The ‘Never Ignition Facility’, joked sceptics

The CBS report itself preferred to feature some of the jokes about NIF in its 60 years and 200 attempts of failed efforts to ignite self-sustaining fusion with lasers. “Like a car with a weak battery, the atomic ‘engine’ would never turn over.” Kim Budil, the Livermore director, was asked about NIF’s nicknames: “the Not Ignition Facility, the Never Ignition Facility. More recently, the Near Ignition Facility.”

NIF target chamber
Target ignition chamber

50% gain

The ignition itself lasted less than a billionth of a second, but it proved NIF could ignite a fusion reaction that put out more energy than the lasers put in. From two units of energy put in, about three units of energy came out. 192 lasers delivered via tubes longer than a football field aimed at a can containing a peppercorn-sized nubbin of hydrogen.  A researcher pointed out: “We [had] to get to these incredible conditions; hotter, denser than the center of the sun. All that wallop vaporizes a target nearly too small to see.”

The target

Industry expects fusion to be powering the electricity grid in the next decade

The Wired story lambasted the U.S. Department of Energy for promoting the fusion ignition as somehow being a “support” for the government’s project to extend the lifespan of nuclear weapons. But on the industrial side at least 30 private fusion companies are at work and the Fusion Industry Association reports that 93% of companies believe fusion electricity will be on the grid by the 2030s, and 84% think it will demonstrate a low enough cost and high enough efficiency to be commercially viable by then.

ITER control building
ITER control building

This is The Way

France is the home to the other major experiment in fusion: a 35-nation international joint effort in magnetic fusion known as ITER (now described as Latin for “The Way”) at the 10th-century commune of St. Paul-lès-Durance near Aix-en-Provence.

ITER, originally the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, has the most expensive building ever constructed (maybe $25bn, though there are now competitors). It represents the largest scientific research collaboration in history, according to Wikipedia.

Despite all that spending money around, ITER’s home town itself is said to have only “a little shopping center”.

ITER regularly holds Open Days for visitors. The latest was on 1 April and next Open Doors Day is on 25 November, but you can only register in the week beforehand. An ITER International School, the 12th, will be held on 26-30 June 2023 at Aix-Marseille University in Aix-en-Provence. Registration is still open, as is signup for an International Conference on Magnet Technology co-sponsored by ITER in Aix-en-Provence on 10-15 September 2023.

Magnets vs laser

A WIRED posting that doesn’t think much of nuclear fusion’s economic appeal explains the difference between the two experimental projects: “Proposed reactors can be broadly grouped into two categories: One, known as tokamaks, use powerful magnets to produce plasma. (Fusing atoms takes a lot of heat, pressure, or both.) [That’s ITER] The other uses an approach called inertial confinement that aims to crush and energize a target by striking it with a laser, as in NIF’s ignition experiment, or high-speed projectiles.”

Reagan and Gorbachev
Reagan and Gorbachev, Geneva, 1985

Born in Geneva

ITER sprang out of the Geneva Superpower Summit of November 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev as General Secretary of the Soviet Union proposed developing fusion energy for peaceful purposes to US President Ronald Reagan, who in 1984 had called the Soviet Union ”the evil empire”.

The ITER agreement was officially signed in Paris on 21 November 2006. ITER – which has Russia, China, India and Korea as well as the European Union as its members – describes itself as “conceived in Geneva, born in Reykjavik and baptized in Vienna”.

As of today, ITER’s First Plasma power-on at the 42-ha site is scheduled for December 2025 with production currently planned for 2035.

Not an energy project

Members deliver very little monetary contribution to the project, ITER notes. “Instead, nine-tenths of contributions [are] delivered to the ITER Organization in the form of completed components, systems or buildings.” Outside Europe, which contributes 45.6% of the costs, the other six members cover 9.1% each. It currently employs 3,500 people at St.Paul-lès-Durance and “thousands” elsewhere on commission. However, its aim is not to covert the heat into energy.

platform view north
ITER viewed from the north

Where fusion will be particularly appealing

A new study by Princeton University researchers, published on 16 March 2023, suggests that the capital costs of alternatives to nuclear fusion in the U.S. will have to be less than half that of fusion to survive. Integrating energy storage into a fusion reactor could increase its value by up to $1K per kilowatt, the study found. Fusion could also be particularly attractive to the heavily populated and commercially developed northeast region of the U.S. where the solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower potential is less.

Meanwhile, Cox has pointed out the U.S. spends 10 times more on pet grooming than nuclear fusion.

Not the end of the oil industry

What happens to the oil industry? One fusion business leader, Chris Martin, chairman of Tokamak Energy, told CNBC on 23 March 2023, in the wake of IPCC’s Sixth Report calling for the world to move away from fossil fuels to stop global warming from topping 1.5C, that fusion will not put the petroleum industry out of business: “we still need [petrochemicals], medicines, we need the plastics. It’s a waste to burn oil to make petrochemicals”.

Pacific and Caribbean islands disproportionately hit by climate change

This is not to minimize the crises caused by climate change. In the aftermath of IPCC’s 6th report, AOSIS Chair Ambassador Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr. Pa’olelei Luteru pointed out: “The women, men, and children of the Pacific and Caribbean islands are disproportionately affected by climate change… Between 2010 and 2020, deaths from floods, droughts and storms were 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions. While our people are being displaced from their homes and climate commitments go unmet, the fossil fuel industry is enjoying billions in profits. There can be no excuses for this continued lack of action.”

Resources less for development

AOSIS observed that coping with the impacts of climate change will reduce the availability of financial resources for development, and subsequently impede national economic growth.

Dorian, Bshamas, NASA
Dorian over the Bahamas, as seen by NASA.

Climate change responsible for half The Bahamas’ debt

Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis says 50% of his nation’s debt can be directly linked to climate change. Dorian loss and damage in 2019 was $3.4bn, mainly on Grand Bahama and nearby Abaco islands (eating into an estimated 1.9% and 7% of GDP). It was the costliest disaster in Bahamian history. Just a few years before, other hurricanes struck The Bahamas: Matthew in 2016 ($750m estimated damage) and Joaquin in 2015 ($600m).

IPCC 6 report ‘watered down’

But, according to the news tracker world-energy, corporate interests shackled the latest IPCC Climate Report to water down or remove references to the environmental costs of burning fossil fuels and consuming meat, as well as adding language that bolsters support for controversial technologies that capture carbon dioxide from smokestacks or remove it from the air.

Sixth IPCC Assessment Report

What the Acceleration Agenda demands

UN Secretary General António Guterres used the launch of IPCC 6 to promote an “Acceleration Agenda”, though his declaration that “humanity is on thin ice — and that ice is melting fast” got most of the attention:

His Accelaration Agenda includes:

  • No new coal, the phasing out of coal by 2030 in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and 2040 in all other countries.
  • Shipping, aviation, steel, cement, aluminium, agriculture — every sector must be aligned with net-zero by 2050, with clear plans including interim targets to get there.
  • At the same time, we need to seize the opportunity to invest in credible innovations that can contribute to reaching our global targets.
  • We also need to invest in credible innovations that can contribute to reaching our global targets.
  • We must speed-up efforts to deliver climate justice to those on the frontlines of many crises — none of them they caused.
  • Promote reforms to ensure multilateral development banks provide more grants and concessional loans and fully mobilize private finance.
  • Replenish the Green Climate Fund this year and developing a road map to double adaptation finance before 2025.
  • Protect everyone with early warning systems against natural disasters in four years.
  • Implement the new loss and damage fund this year.
greenhouse gas emissions

China’s place in the equation

A major question mark hangs over the performance of China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. But its current projections show emissions will peak by 2025 rather than 2030, despite increased coal and gas use in the wake of a crisis in domestic energy security and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

China also leads the world in solar panel manufacture. The website Solar Power Nerd reported Chinese companies are the top 5 on its list. By 2022 it was the most profitable market for solar energy with cities where solar energy is already cheaper than grid electricity.

In Professor Cox’s key indicator for future prosperity, i.e. research, China is also a world leader. The Australian Strategy Policy Institute (ASPI) reported in February 2023 that China leads research and production in 37 out of 44 technologies that ASPI is tracking.  This covers “crucial technology fields” such as defence, space, robotics, energy, the environment, biotechnology, artificial intelligence (AI), advanced materials and key quantum technology areas.

Justin Trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

What Canada can teach China

The Bahamas summit indicates China could pick up some tips on international relations from Canada. In his address to the Summit, Trudeau noted that Prime Minister Davis studied in Canada (it’s a favourite university choice for students on Bahamian scholarships), and remarked that many Caribbeans have family in Canada. 

The Bahamas is such a popular wintering spot for Canadian snowbirds that Grand Bahama locals joke that Freeport is a Canadian city in the cold season. A major Canadian bank has outlets on the main islands. The Bahamas is the second-largest of Canada’s merchandise trading partners from the Caribbean Community.

Funding, trade waiver + help for migrants

At the Summit, Trudeau announced a $44.8m new funding promise from Canada to tackle the climate crisis in the Caribbean, as well as seeking a renewal of its waiver from the World Trade Organization (WTO) so that goods from the Caribbean can enter Canada duty-free.  

In addition, he announced a $10m gift to the International Office on Migration for protection of women and children on the Haiti-Dominican Republic border as well as their places of origin, plus an additional $12.3m in humanitarian assistance for Haiti, and $1.8m to help target illicit drug trafficking and strengthen border+maritime security in the Caribbean, providing Royal Canadian Navy vessels for surveillance off the Haitian coast.

Baha Mar, Providence Island, host of the Caribbean summit (Photo: wikimedia Adog104)

Troubled waters on land

Though the Summit took place in a Chinese-owned hotel complex on the outskirts of Nassau, and Grand Bahama’s lucrative container port and Lucaya Resort area belong to the Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison Holdings (formerly Hutchison Whampoa) in a partnership with the privately owned Grand Bahama Port Authority, the China-Bahamas relationship has been frequently troubled.

A trial is scheduled for 1-16 August on a $2.25 bn lawsuit against the Chinese state-backed China Construction America (CCA) by the Bahamian former developer alleging “massive fraud” in the 2015 bankruptcy of the project later sold to the Hong Kong conglomerate Chow Tai Fook Enterprises. Most of the workers were Chinese rather than Bahamian but hundreds left from December 2014 though the deadline for completion was 27 March 2015.

On Grand Bahama the Container Port gave 20 employees notice at the end of December, citing a loss of 30% in business over previous months, and reversed the decision only after the Prime Minister intervened.

The Chinese “threat”: investment

Right-wing U.S. sites have made great play of the “threat” of China’s Bahamian influence so close to Florida.  The Bahamian developer suing the Hong Kong Baha Mar construction firm has accused the company of hidden payments of officials to secure privileges, but much of the news has been about development such as contracts for China to build two large drydocks to expand Grand Bahama Shipyard in 2024.

Freeport Harbour, Grand Bahama

Over the past 10 years, China has given The Bahamas a $30 million grant to build the national stadium, issued preferential loans to build a $3 billion port in Grand Bahama and $40 million to build a port off Abaco. The Export-Import Bank of China issued $54 million in loans for extensive road works on New Providence and $3 billion to build Baha Mar. China State Construction Engineering Corporation even purchased the British Colonial Hilton hotel to carry out a $250 million construction project.

Bahamians want more innovative support

Rather than considering Chinese funding a threat, Bahamians I talked to think Chinese investors tend to be much more cautious than they would like in supporting projects that could kickstart new development on the islands.

A plan to use a huge, luxurious warehouse on Grand Bahama as a contact centre for China to display its goods to potential distributors in the United States and the rest of the hemisphere has languished for years and, post covid-19, the site is up for sale again.

Paradise Cove, Grand Bahama
Bahama tourism, Paradise Cove, Grand Bahama. Its message: Another day in Paradise: swim with the turtles.

No U.S. ideas except tourism for The Bahamas?

Two former White House advisors have suggested the US should invest in  the Bahamas “to thwart China”, noting the Asian powerhouse’s investments, loans and gifts, but their proposals have just been to rebuild tourism, which is already recovering fast in the first quarter of 2023. Bahamians have been seeking investors desperately to find new industries and opportunities to reduce their dependence on unreliable cruiseship tourism for the country’s prosperity.

Perhaps the US should take inspiration from both Canada and China in its efforts to make friends and influence people of the Caribbean Community. I’m sure most readers know that, though a member, The Bahamas is in the Atlantic.

The Partnership Issue

The 17 SDGs

On the UN’s site about Sustainable Development Goals, April 2023 has partnerships (Goal 17) as its theme. There’s some cheer-up news: “In 2021, official development assistance (ODA) rose by 8.5 % compared to 2020, to an all-time high of $185.9 billion. International investment in SDG-related sectors in developing countries increased by 70 per cent in 2021, due to renewable-energy and energy-efficiency projects.”

But it comes along with some chilling figures as well: “The share of total SDG investment that went to least developed countries decreased from 19 per cent in 2020 to 15 per cent in 2021.”

Taking stock of the scale of the crisis

The UN Secretary-General’s recommendations on 17 February 2023 for the Group of rich countries (G20), when the Nassau summit was winding up, makes clear the scale of the crisis:

  • Tackle the high cost of debt and rising risks of debt distress, including by converting short-term, high interest borrowing into long-term debt at lower interest rates;
  • Massively scale up affordable long-term financing for development, especially through public development banks, including multilateral development banks, and by aligning all financing flows with the SDGs; and
  • Expand contingency financing to countries in need.

July sees the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and September the SDG Summit and High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development. Maybe these will answer the Caribbean leaders’ complaints.

SDG Investment Fair

SDG Investment Fair

Perhaps a better immediate indicator of real progress rather than political promises might be results from the SDG Investment Fair scheduled for 18-20 April in New York (though nothing was posted about its achievements nearly a month later). Announcing its 8th edition, ECOSOC boasted of “US$11 billion worth of projects in infrastructure, green energy, and agribusiness” so far with 22 countries showcased. This year it was Honduras and Suriname , two sick economies that have lately seemed on the same road as Haiti’s. We’ll have to see whether this “one-stop shop for brokering investments and knowledge” about development produces anything worth recording.

mining minerals in DRC
Mining minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: Mongabay

Trade and climate change regulation

The World Economic Forum, that global thinktank of major industrial executives, politicians and academics, is also studying climate change and trade as part of its Strategic Intelligence Programme. It asked five of its network’s experts for their assessment of the impact on trade from the European Union and U.S. green subsidies regulations. Some of their remarks:

Risk of slowing green transition

Kimberley Botwright, Head, Sustainable Trade, WEF: The US has pursued local content requirements as part of the support mechanisms for clean technologies in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The EU has set a political target of 40% local production for net-zero technologies by 2030. These measures may drive market shifts, but also risk slowing the green transition. Meanwhile, fossil fuel subsidies hit record levels in 2022, according to the International Energy Agency. International cooperation is greatly needed to establish criteria that recognise “good” subsidies, supporting global priorities, but limit trade distortions and phase down harmful subsidies.

Critical minerals in big demand, but Africa loses out

Chido Munyati, Head of Regional Agenda, Africa: The green subsidies introduced by the US and EU will result in a significant increase in demand for critical minerals. More specifically, the International Energy Agency forecasts that 40 times more lithium, and around 20-25 times more graphite, cobalt and nickel will be needed to meet the requirements for clean energy technologies by 2040. Africa holds 30% of the world’s mineral reserves, and a high concentration of the minerals critical to renewable and low-carbon technologies.

However, these subsidies, will likely undermine the region’s efforts to move up the value chain, for example, to produce EV batteries. Africa is already at significant disadvantage when it comes to manufacturing, with higher costs for capital, and these subsidies could make it prohibitively expensive to manufacture clean technology components in Africa.

Moreover, a provision of the Inflation Reduction Act requires that at least 40% of the critical minerals in batteries are extracted or processed in the United States or a country with a US free-trade agreement. The United States does not have a free trade agreement in force with any individual Africa country.

Subsidies can have unintended consequences in natural ecosystems

Jack Hurd, Executive Director, Tropical Forest Alliance: We should embrace the types of subsidies that create and sustain jobs, conserve and restore nature and combat climate change. Subsidies that target regenerative agriculture, sustainable fisheries, reforestation and the greening of supply chains are examples of the types of investments that we should be encouraging. 

However, some subsidies can also have unintended consequences on natural ecosystems, particularly in developing economies. For example, accelerating demand for key components in electric vehicle batteries, such as nickel and copper, has the potential to create challenges in resource-rich countries. In such cases the anticipated growth in mining may conflict with other national objectives such as slowing and halting deforestation.

China under enormous pressure

Shouqing Zhu, Head, China Climate Action: The protectionism-associated green subsidies will have a profound impact on global trade rules. Not all economies can afford to subsidise their green sectors, and competition for green subsidies could widen the gap between the North and the Global South. China will face enormous pressure in green technology development as a result of these subsidies. Although China is dominant in the international market in terms of photovoltaic (PV) production and exports, it still lags behind in some key technologies, like green hydrogen storage and transport. 

US has violated local-content rules for first time

Boris Brkovic, Clean Technology Acceleration Lead, First Movers Coalition: The IRA could position the United States as a leader in the low-carbon economy. However, this legislation also includes trade-distortive subsidies, such as local-content requirements, which prohibited under World Trade Organization rules. This marks the first time the US has violated local-content requirement rules.

The EU Green Deal Industrial Plan [is] an effort to secure the competitiveness of Europe as a manufacturing hub and ward off an exodus of companies from the EU to the US.

It is possible, and there are early indications, that these subsidies could lead to a reduction in “green” foreign direct investment in developing and emerging economies.

Which was Brian Cox’s point nearly 10 years ago.

Links US scientists repeat fusion ignition breakthrough for 2nd time. 6 August 2023. (LINK)

Brian Cox on nuclear fusion. Human Universe audiobook (LINK) at 07:01:00.

Terry Babcock. Greta Thunberg’s “The Climate Book” (LINK) 17 April 2023: ” We now have a book that marshals the evidence and knowledge of over 100 diverse experts. The Climate Book, with its encyclopedic nature and ready accessibility, is a remarkable contribution to climate literature—and an urgent must-read.”

Our IPCC news monitor at (LINK).

David Darby. Why Brian Cox is wrong about nuclear fusion. 11 November 2014. (LINK): Nothing he said changes my account of its promises for economic development.

UNCTAD. UNCTAD calls for a bold international economic agenda to avert another lost decade for developing countries. 12 April 2023. (LINK):

UNCTAD finds that 81 developing countries (excluding China) lost $241 billion in international reserves in 2022, an average decline of 7%, with over 20 countries experiencing a drop of over 10% and in many cases exhausting their recent addition of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). Meanwhile, borrowing costs, measured through sovereign bond yields, increased from 5.3% to 8.5% for 68 emerging markets. 39 countries paid more to their external public creditors than what they received in new loans.

Mongabay. Will clean-energy minerals provoke a shift in how mining is done in Africa? 30 March 2023 (LINK)

Professor Dorothée Baumann-Pauly, Director of the Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights at Geneva University’s School for Economics and Management and research director at the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights. Why Cobalt Mining in the DRC Needs Urgent Attention. U.S. Council on Foreign Relations (LINK):

“Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) cannot simply be shut down […] It is a lifeline for millions of Congolese who live in extreme poverty. Cutting ASM out of the cobalt supply chain is neither feasible, due to the interwoven nature of the cobalt supply chain, nor desirable from a development perspective. Instead, companies committed to setting up responsible cobalt sourcing practices need to take responsibility for addressing the human rights violations that taint the DRC’s ASM sector.

“Some companies have started experimenting with so-called ASM formalization projects, which regulate mining methods and working conditions. […] Most importantly, companies need to work with key stakeholders to establish a common ASM standard for mine safety and child labor and ensure ASM cobalt is sourced responsibly.”

wef  white paper

See also: Making Mining Safe and Fair: Artisanal Cobalt Extraction in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A downloadable World Economic Forum White Paper. 15 September 2020. (LINK)

Peter Hulm is Deputy Editor of Global Insights Magazine.

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