In the run up to Nigeria’s April elections the political lobbying, with the usual round of underhand payments for support, has Nigerians hoping for a fairer competition in the grab for power. The political process is being increasingly scrutinised by the average citizen — with record numbers of people registering to vote and self-formed citizens groups promising to monitor polling stations. Another type of power — electricity, or ‘light’ as most Nigerians call it — and the lack of it is one of the hot potato election issues on everyone’s lips.
Developing countries might want to prepare for a future where powerful governments compete for access to dwindling fossil-fuel supplies by taking a realistic look at what's already available.
Everyone agrees that developed countries need to undertake a radical transformation if they are to assume their responsibilities for mitigating climate change. But what consequences would this have for the global South? Will climate change mitigation in the North undermine economic development in developing countries, or provide them with new opportunities?
It was clear at the recent Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of the Mother Earth in Cochabamba that Latin America´s leftist leaders are taking strong positions on issues of environmental sustainability and respect for indigenous people. But is that rhetoric actually borne out by their domestic policies?
It’s one of the more ironic twists to the Deepwater Horizon tale. Just a few hours before the US Attorney General announced that a criminal investigation was to be brought against British Petroleum, Transoceana, and Halliburton for their roles in the Deepwater Horizon oil spillage, President Barack Obama met with his Peruvian counterpart, Alan Garcia.
So the ‘junk shot’ of golf balls and shredded tyres failed to plug the Deepwater Horizon gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. There was a strange circularity about BP’s idea of fixing this petroleum-fuelled nightmare by clogging it with petroleum-derived products.
Supporting development means providing energy. At current prices, the cheapest option for many countries is coal, even though burning it contributes heavily to climate change and local pollution. And that has left multilateral development banks with a dilemma: support the cheapest option to fund development, or push more expensive, yet more sustainable renewable alternatives? This dilemma reared its head recently, when the World Bank approved a US$3.75 billion for the Medupi coal power plant in South Africa.