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Green Imperialism and Dark Secrets of Green Energy #372

Is Green Energy really Green? Are we staring at a greater environmental disaster? And, is this an excuse for a continued imperial agenda? An analysis of Green.

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Windmills
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“He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine.” ― Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

A young monk was going home after a long journey.  He came to the bank of a wide river that had swollen because of rains.  As he was wondering how to cross it, he saw a great Zen master standing on the other bank of the river.

He yelled at the top of his voice "Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river”?

After a moment came the reply from the Zen master.

“My son, you are on the other side”

Sometimes, we need to gauge which side do we really need to be on.  We should not place ourselves in a situation where our answers are worse than the questions we face.

When wisdom fails and greed takes over, no matter what we touch, we will hurt ourselves.

With a vengeance.

For, greed is inherently a masochistic tendency.  We just don't realize it until it shows up at our door.

By then it is too late.


The European season of "India Shaming"

There has been a campaign since last year and a bit more to shame India, specifically in the European conferences or press questioning of Indian government functionaries.

And, this shaming has been acutely intense when the audience is India's External Affairs Minister, Dr. Jaishankar.

His replies have not really held back and he tends to give back as good as he gets.  He makes sure that Europe's record of Oil and specifically Gas imports from Russia is brought up.  That he (and other ministers) uses to underscore their hypocrisy.

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Is Dr. Jaishankar just defending India with this strong, though bang-on, response?

We will look at the context of these stances today.

European Hypocrisy and Imperialist Agendas

Hypocrisy is a skill and an art that can form the most effective scaffolding to further the imperialist agenda.

And, there are no "good guys" in this business.  

With Russia becoming a pariah for the Europeans when it comes to natural gas imports, they started turning to Norway.  

And Norway increased the gas prices while promising Europe an increase of 2 billion cubic meters of natural gas exports. (Source: Reuters)  As winter started, Norwegians began raking it in.  

But they are not as even-handed, fair, and just - as they posit themselves to be.  Specifically when it comes to some of the poorest countries in Africa.

So, Norway has been working with other Nordic and Baltic nations to put pressure on Africa's poorest countries from producing their own natural gas.

All in the name of Green and clean energy and COP26 and all the rest of that crap!

Along with seven other Nordic and Baltic countries, Norway has been lobbying the World Bank to stop all financing of natural gas projects in Africa and elsewhere as soon as 2025—and until then only in “exceptional circumstances,” as an unpublished statement by the group, seen by Foreign Policy, details. At COP26, 20 countries went even further, pledging to stop all funding for overseas fossil fuel projects beginning next year. Instead, the Nordic and Baltic countries suggest, the World Bank should finance clean energy solutions in the developing world “such as green hydrogen and smart micro-grid networks.” (Source: Foreign Policy)

Given this background, let us call the Norwegian tactics what they really are - Neo-Imperialism.

Source: Foreign Policy

Sounds rich coming from one of the world's "most fossil fuel-dependent rich countries"!  

Norway's oil and gas industry accounts for - 41 percent of exports, 14 percent of GDP, 14 percent of government revenues, and between 6 and 7 percent of employment.

See, it is not just Norway that wanted to use Africa for its Natural Gas needs.  So did Germany.

Germany is also trying to get natural gas in Africa. During a visit to Senegal at the end of May, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Berlin would support natural gas production in the country. According to one report, Senegal could then “contribute to replacing Russian gas.” Meanwhile, the G7 have officially approved their change of course from their COP26 pledge to funding gas production on the African continent.  The International Energy Agency (IEA) has also sparked resentment in Africa. Last year, the IEA declared that, in order to achieve global climate goals, it was urgently necessary to stop financing any projects to generate energy from fossil fuels. In June of this year, the agency, which is under strong U.S. influence, made a U-turn. It now claims that Africa will have to expand its gas production at a rapid pace in order to be able to deliver up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Europe by the end of the decade at the latest. (Source: "Green colonialism: Europe hunts for African natural gas, breaking climate promises" / People's World)

Let us dig deeper into this phenomenon that does not get enough press when it should.

Green Colonialism is also Green Grabbing

Green Colonialism, where the wealthy European countries keep using fossil fuels with impunity while lecturing other, poorer, countries in the "Global South" to get off it to slow down their growth and stop the alleviation of their populations from abject poverty, is an everyday reality now.

This dark underbelly of geopolitical maneuvering is not an assumption anymore.  It is a reality.  Whether we wake up to this reality or not is our choice.

However, the critical thing will be what we do with this realization.  Meaningless activism and over-the-top shrill noise will further discredit the serious efforts to challenge this neo-colonial enterprise.

So, let us clearly understand it - even when wealthier countries continue to utilize fossil fuels, including African natural gas, the U.S., Britain, and other European nations have committed to stop providing public funding for new fossil fuel projects by the end of this year, specifically those in the developing countries.

Magatte Wade of Senegal, the Director of the African Center for Prosperity, asks Europeans, "What's the difference between 'you Germans' who, when you need fossil fuels and you realize you still need it, you're going for it. Yet you're telling we the Africans, we can't do it. Is it because I'm black? Is it because we're idiots? Is it because we're inferior? We want to become prosperous nations. We want to become prosperous people, but for that to happen, access to reliable and affordable energy is central, is key." (Source: Green Colonialism: Forcing Wind and Solar on Developing Nations Hurts the Poor / CBN)

This Green Colonialism has been by another name in recent times.  It is called "Green Grabbing".

Some countries, the rich ones, call upon "green credentials" and the need for the poorer countries to affirm them to work on the appropriation of land and resources.

All in the name of Green.

And they buy up large tracts of land in the name of "food security", "efficient farming", and "saving forests".

If not these, then the buzzwords like biodiversity conservation, biocarbon sequestration, biofuels, ecosystem services, ecotourism or ‘offsets’ are used as ploys.

Green grabbing builds on well-known histories of colonial and neo-colonial resource alienation in the name of the environment – whether for parks, forest reserves or to halt assumed destructive local practices. Yet it involves novel forms of valuation, commodification and markets for pieces and aspects of nature, and an extraordinary new range of actors and alliances – as pension funds and venture capitalists, commodity traders and consultants, GIS service providers and business entrepreneurs, ecotourism companies and the military, green activists and anxious consumers among others find once-unlikely common interests. (Source: "Green Grabbing: a new appropriation of nature?" by James Fairhead, Melissa Leach & Ian Scoones / Journal or Peasant Studies)

Poor countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are at the rough end of this aggression.

Those who fight for the rights of the indigenous people are targeted brutally.

Here is a sober reminder of this "under-the-wraps" Colonial enterprise that is under as we speak:

Since the COP 21 Paris Agreement in 2015, 1,005 environmental and land rights defenders have been murdered! (per an international non-profit Global Witness)

This included Berta Cáceres.  Berta was the winner of the Goldman prize for environmental defenders.

“The Cop is a big business, a continuation of colonialism where people come not to listen to us, but to make money from our land and natural resources,” said Ita Mendoza, 46, an indigenous land defender from the Mixteca region of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, attending Cop for the first time. “What benefits does the Cop bring when more than a thousand people fighting to keep the planet alive have been killed [since Paris]?”  Mendoza is part of the Futuros Indígenas (Indigenous Futures) collective from Mexico, who spent months crowdfunding to be able to attend Cop26 so their communities’ struggles and vision for protecting the planet might be heard. (Source: A continuation of colonialism’: indigenous activists say their voices are missing at Cop26' / The Guardian)

One glaring example of land appropriation was seen in Morocco.  The land grab there was backed by a World Bank report itself!

Source: Middle East Eye

The Bolivian President, Luis Alberto Arce Catacora (who is also an ex-Banker and an Economist), called out the "New Carbon Colonialism".

Source: "Bolivia denounces "carbon colonialism" at COP26" / Yahoo News

No matter how you see it - we are looking at an exploitative regime being set up by the Western - European - nations while taking away the natural resources from poor countries and shutting them out of the developed world.

India - the Voice of the Global South

Now, look at all this in the context of India taking on the G20 presidency.  

India has said that it wants to be the leader of the "Global South" and wants the region to have a voice as well.  And to this, India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on December 1 that India would be the “voice of the Global South.

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Just for context, Global North comprises nations like - the US, Canada, Russia, and Australia. Global South comprises countries in Asia, Africa and South America.

On January 12-13 January 2023, a virtual summit of developing countries called "Voice of the Global South Summit" was held.

As the report on this summit suggests, one topic was the “first world’s” view of expediting climate change goals at the cost of development."  This is significant in the view of what many countries of the Global South are saying about the whole Climate Change battle that the Western countries are fighting at COP conclaves.

The Government’s summit for developing nations, called the “Voice of the Global South Summit”, as its first big leadership-level G20 event, is an extremely important signal. It is also a departure from New Delhi’s looking towards the “high-table” of global leadership, involving its relationship with the UNSC P5 and G-7 (the most developed economies), to focusing on a more just view of the world and how the developing world is being affected by global inequities. In his opening remarks at the virtual summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi explained the reasons for the shift: how “challenges of the COVID pandemic, rising prices of fuel, fertilizer and foodgrains, and increasing geopolitical tensions have impacted our development efforts”. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar too spoke of India’s need to envision a common future with the Global South and acknowledge India’s “common past” with the Global South, many of whom have suffered colonialism. Over 10 different sessions, India and representatives of 125 countries, of the 134 that make up the G-77, agreed that the key issues include the fragmentation of the international landscape, shortages in grain exports, oil and gas, and fertilizer as a result of the Ukraine war, and terrorism. Of note was Mr. Modi’s push for “human centred” globalisation countering the “first world’s” view of expediting climate change goals at the cost of development, ensuring immigration and work mobility for skilled populations of the global south, and resilient renewable energy access. The summit appears to mark a reset in India’s foreign policy outlook in its year as G20 president: one which has made the Government reclaim the true meaning of non-alignment, in the wake of the Ukraine war where it refused to take sides. (Source: "Leading from the front: On Voice of the Global South Summit and G20 presidency" / The Hindu)

The One-World Order that many of the rich countries and oligarchs (like Soros and Gates) want to foist on the Global South needs to be countered and challenged.

The only way it can happen is when the impacted countries are collectively given a platform to raise their voices while having a leader who can effectively and credibly bat for them within the comity of nations.

That is where the Indian PM Narendra Modi and the Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar come in!

Their job was clearly cut out - to gain the trust of the Global South countries.

This group with India as its leader - has a voice that matters.  For the good of their own people.

So with this context, how do you see the stands taken by Dr. Jaishankar against the bullying by European anchors and journalists?

Dr. Jaishankar was making a case for India being the nation that can lead the fight to the colonialists' camp and stand up to its bullying head-on!

Standing up takes some courage and strength from the nation which you represent.

At this moment in history, India - with its incorruptible government and great growth despite COVID and global recession - is well poised to play hardball with the West.

And it is this strength - of the economy, leadership, geopolitical comparatives, industrial and technological transformations - that India brings to the table.

Let us get some reality check here on how things are changing within the global economic landscape.

These 4 charts tell a startling tale of where the future is headed.  And therefore, how the geopolitical permutations will need to be reset.  It is from a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers titled "The World in 2050"

Source: "The World in 2050" / PricewaterhouseCoopers

Granted that things are not the same now as they were even last year say with respect to China.  But then, so is the case with Europe.  So, even though the timelines within these clusters may differ, the direction will not.

And, that is why it is imperative that someone who has a leadership position in the group of the largest economies also happens to be the most trusted leader of the rest of the pack of nations because as a nation India understands their aspirations and empathizes with their struggles.  Something that the perennially colonial powers just don't get.

Now back to Green energy and its dark world.

Who owns the 'Green' world?

The surreptitious battles that the rich countries are fighting in the name of Green energy that is merely a proxy for their imperialist agendas may still have had some argument if the planet was being saved in reality.

The fact is that even that is not the case.

The cells in Electric Vehicles, the wind turbine magnets, and solar cells - all need rare metals for production.

What are these and how do the companies procure them?

Also called rare earth metals, they comprise seventeen chemical elements — 15 lanthanides (anthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium), scandium and yttrium.  Despite the name, rare earth elements are found abundantly in the Earth's crust. They are widely dispersed and found in low concentrations that are not economically exploitable. Extraction and mining of rare earth metals involves similar land-use exploitation, environmental damage and ecological burden as any other mining operation. They are mined using extremely energy-intensive processes, spewing carbon emissions into the atmosphere and toxins into the ground.  Many of these metals, which include mercury, barium, lead, chromium and cadmium, are extremely damaging to the health of several ecosystems, including humans. (Source: DowntoEarth)

Just to bring it home.  Tellurium is the essential Rare Earth Element (REE) used for thin and cheaper solar panels.  It makes up a mere 0.0000001 percent of the earth’s crust!

It is scarcer than gold.

Availability aside, new technologies are placing increasing reliance on such elements.  Around 2000, smartphones would use say two dozen such elements.  Today's smartphones, however, use around 60 of these REEs.

These elements are so intricately intertwined within the phones that it is virtually impossible to separate them out even if one were to envisage a recycling initiative.

However, some companies like Brussels-based Umicore are trying.  Umicore recycles 350,000 tons of e-waste annually at its Hoboken plant. (Source: "A Scarcity of Rare Metals Is Hindering Green Technologies" / Yale Environment)

Who leads the materials needed in the race to dominate the Green energy space?

The answer is shocking in a way.

The data show that China has become the main player in the refining and consumption of goods needing critical minerals, just as the United States is in fossil fuel–based energy, with its success in recent years in tapping natural gas through fracking. (Source: Peterson Institute for International Economics)

The dominance by China of the entire REE supply chain is staggering.

As of today, China accounts for 63 percent of the world’s rare earth mining, 85 percent of rare earth processing, and 92 percent of rare earth magnet production. Rare earth alloys and magnets that China controls are critical components in missiles, firearms, radars and stealth aircraft. (Source: "China Dominates the Rare Earths Market. This U.S. Mine Is Trying to Change That." / Politico)
China owns 63% of REE mining, 85% of REE processing, and 92% of rare earth magnet production.

In September 2o22, the US woke up to the impact of this when the US had to suspend the deliveries of F-35 for a month.  Why?  Because a magnet used in the fighter plane's turbomachine that was made of cobalt and samarium alloy could not be made because these two materials came only from China and the new defense federal acquisition regulation that the Biden government brought in that required contractors to disclose any work in China on certain military contracts, had stopped the acquisition of these two materials as well! (Source: "Pentagon suspends F-35 deliveries after discovering materials from China"/ Politico)

This alloy was critical to the fighter jet's production because it stops the transmission of sensitive information that could put the plane at risk.

Other countries are trying to work through this Chinese domination nightmare.  The US, for example, has a rare metals mine in California’s Clark Mountain Range called the Mountain Pass mine.

This mine can supply 17 mineral groups to make the magnets used in EVs and Virginia-class attack submarines.

This mine alone could provide around 15 percent of the world’s production of REEs.

This Californian mine and other new discoveries notwithstanding, the fact is that REE supply chains are strongly interconnected.  It is not until one of the pieces goes missing that the world realizes the significance of its global connections.  For example, when Russia attacked Ukraine, the facilities that produced three "Noble gases" (no morality here, just a chemical property!) - krypton, xenon, and neon - had to be shut down.  These gases are critical for producing certain kinds of chips.

Source: "Russia's attack on Ukraine halts half of world's neon output for chips" / Reuters

We are looking at a whole new world in front of us.  Countries that matter in this new world of "Green" realize the significance of what we are confronted with.  

Source: Get ready for difficult times, China's Xi warns during trade war / Reuters

With all these geopolitical machinations going on, does green energy really give us something that great?

Let us find out.

How Green is Green energy?

Does all this work to get the rare metals really help us bring down the environmental impact of "development"?

Apparently not.

We provide evidence that an increase by 1% of green energy production causes a depletion of REEs reserves by 0.18% and increases GHG emissions in the exploitation phase by 0.90%. Our results demonstrate that between 2010 and 2020, the use of permanent magnets has resulted cumulatively in 32 billion tonnes CO2-equivalent of GHG emissions globally. It shows that new approaches to decarbonization are still needed, in order to ensure sustainability of the process. The finding highlights a need to design and implement various measures intended to increase REEs reuse, recycling (currently below 1%), limit their dematerialization, increase substitution and develop new elimination technologies. (Source: "Global environmental cost of using rare earth elements in green energy technologies" / Science Direct)

The REEs are so tough to extract, that there aren't many options to do it better.  Let us have another look.

Source: "Not So “Green” Technology: The Complicated Legacy of Rare Earth Mining" / Harvard International Review

We are looking at a technology and processes involved that are extremely damaging to this planet.

Here is a peek at the damage that solar panels can bring to the soil and water around them.

Source: The Environmental Disaster of Solar Energy / American Experiment

So, the question that we need to ask ourselves is - why are we really going green?

Meanwhile here is the pretend side of things.

Faux Greenies

The Green movement is also characterized by another phenomenon that is designed to take advantage of this new bandwagon - Greenwashing.

Greenwashing is when an organization spends more time and money on marketing itself as environmentally friendly than on actually minimizing its environmental impact. It’s a deceitful marketing gimmick intended to mislead consumers who prefer to buy goods and services from environmentally conscious brands. (Source: BusinessNewsDaily)

This practice of hoodwinking consumers in the name of environment-friendliness or "Green products" comes in many forms.

Nowadays, greenwashing is taken to mean two main things. It can be when companies - usually mega corporations and sometimes politicians - try to hide or cover up their less-than-stellar environmental records with a grand, public gesture towards green causes. In an age of social media, these big PR campaigns are often criticised and scrutinised pretty quickly - as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos found out earlier this year.  But the other type of greenwashing can be a bit harder to spot and is far more insidious. This is where companies and brands use words like ‘green’, ‘sustainable’, ‘eco-friendly’, or ‘vegan’ simply as a marketing ploy, without any deep interrogation over what those terms actually mean. And crucially - without any accountability for their actions. (Source: "What is greenwashing and why is it a problem?" / Euronews)

The advertising and marketing side of things are unscrupulous minds surely but not as lethal as the ones who are actually involved in the Green energy world.

Green energy - the solution is worse than the problem

If the world had to come out of the disaster that the fossil fuels spell for the planet, then the even greater disaster that the so-called Green Energy brings with it will be catastrophic!

We are not solving any real problem with these changes.  We are multiplying them exponentially!

The Colonial and imperialist forces will do what they do best - exploit.  The crooked geopolitical strategists will keep finding ways to own supply chains and tamper them to suit their interests.  Companies will keep focusing on profits to rob the environment of any good that may still be left.

We the people, however, will pay the consequences.

It is time to wake up.

Video Corner:  The Indian Economic Values

If there is one thought leader on economics that one must follow, it is Shri Gurumurthy.  He is a director of the Indian Central Bank - the Reserve Bank and also a guide for the ruling BJP party.

These thoughts, ideas, and insights are rare and extremely profound.  I promise you that this 42-odd minutes video will be one of the best things you would have watched this week.

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