It's February 14th today, better known as Saint Valentine's Day. Much like last year the Great British nation is currently being exhorted to #ShowTheLove for the environment. Here what David Cameron pledged exactly one year ago today:
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Regular readers will know that the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change begin in Durban, South Africa in less than a week. At the same time and place the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol will also take place. The question now is what if anything all these discussions will achieve apart from a modicum of global warming from all the hot air that will doubtless be emitted by the attendees?
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As the G20 leaders start their deliberations in Cannes today some more famous names have been putting their weight behind the campaign to introduce some kind of financial transaction tax. On Tuesday the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, joined Pope Benedict XVI in calling for the introduction of what he referred to in an article in the Financial Times as
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The next summit meeting of the leaders of the G20 nations takes place next week in Cannes, and the global financial crisis is top of the agenda. A variety of people from around the world are pressuring the G20 leaders to introduce a "tax on bankers". Such a tax has been discussed over the years under a variety of aliases, including "Tobin Tax" and "Financial Transaction Tax". However here in the UK currently the most popular euphemism for the idea is "Robin Hood Tax". Here's a video in which the team of Richard Curtis and Bill Nighy (of Love Actually fame) present their interpretation of the concept:
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According to Reuters today the United Nations' top humanitarian official thinks that:
Haiti needs a surge of foreign nurses and doctors to stem deaths from a raging cholera epidemic that an international aid operation is struggling to control. Around 1,000 trained nurses and at least 100 more doctors were urgently needed to control the epidemic.
The official statistics are now four days old, but according to those 1415 people have now died from cholera in Haiti, 98 of them under 5 years of age.
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This week's edition of The Economist magazine includes an article about Haiti entitled "Island in the sun", which begins by saying that:
It might seem callous in the aftermath of 230,000 deaths in January’s earthquake to talk about the opportunity offered by the rebuilding of Haiti. But merely restoring the most benighted country in the Americas to its previous misery would be culpable. Among the opportunities is to improve Haiti’s energy infrastructure.
Even the online version of the Economist's statistics on global economic activity don't include Haiti, so we need to look somewhere else to try and find out what they mean by the term "benighted country". The Thompson Reuters Foundation AlertNet site gives us an idea of how "benighted" Haiti actually is. It uses Gross National Income per capita as a measure of standard of living, and this is what it reveals. The standard of living in Haiti is so low you can barely make it out on the chart. For 2006, the most recent year for which full statistics are available, the numbers are as follows:
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This weeks European edition of Fortune Magazine contains interesting articles on the "Solar Gold Rush" in the Southwestern United States and the chequered history of the Tesla electric supercar.
Even more interesting, to me at least, was the fact that included inside the see through wrapping was a copy of "The Mini Rough Guide to Energy and our Planet", sponsored by big oil company Shell. The foreword is written by Jeremy Bentham, who used to be head of hydrogen at Shell, but now bears the title of "Chief Scenarios Developer". Jeremy outlines two possible scenarios Shell use in their strategic planning. In the first, codenamed "Scramble":
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