Greenpeace activists last night blocked a cargo of dupleted uranium going from France to Russia.

© Pierre Gleizes

Fifteen Greenpeace activists last night blocked a train carrying depleted uranium from leaving Val-de-Mar in France, calling for a moratorium on the export of nuclear waste. An AFP story reported the activists chained themselves at 01.00 to the railway tracks at the rear- and front-end of the cargo leaving the Areva nuclear plant at Pierrelatte (Drôme). Axel Renaudin of Greenpeace said they aimed to stay in place for ten hours to delay the convoy, which was otherwise headed to join the Kaptain Kuroptev bound for Russia. The activists were in place for nearly four hours. Areva claims the waste is going to Russia for reprocessing, to be returned to France, but critics say it is actually just waste. Over the past 15 years, Areva and Urenco (another, Brussels-based nuclear company) have dumped 140,000 tons of waste in Russia. Greenpeace France also took action to block a nuclear waste convoy 16 February this year. Learn about the campaign here.

Investment in renewables

According to the New York Times the Export-Import Bank voted yesterday to ramp up financing for renewable energy and to impose new reviews of large fossil fuel projects as part of a broad new climate strategy. The move is part of a 2009 settlement resolving a lawsuit involving Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and several cities. The suit alleged that the agency -- which provides loans, guarantees and insurance to subsidize U.S. exports -- provided more than $32 billion to fossil fuel projects without considering the impacts of global warming under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). With a centerpiece $250 million loan guarantee program for renewable energy projects, the plan is the first of its kind among export credit agencies. However, there are concerns the policy contains loopholes, for example "high CO2 intensity" developments will be required to use "best appropriate technology" and those developed with, e.g. CCS, will not have to meet further requirements.

Climate negotiations update

Yesterday Ban Ki Moon officially announced the quality control assessment that will be conducted of the IPCC, to help restore faith in the UN's top climate science panel. Speaking in a press address, Ban explained that despite a few regrettable errors in the 3,000-plus scientific report, they had not in any way undermined the overall conclusions of the report. Further he added that new research is suggesting climate change is accelerating further, and emphasized the increasingly urgent need to take serious action to combat it.

According to AP (LA Times) China Wednesday urged greater commitments from the US on climate change, technical and financial support. China said its own efforts to reduce energy intensity have been hampered by its economic recovery in the latter part of last year, which brought growth in heavy energy-consuming industries. "So we hope the United States will do more. ... We hope the United States will not shift the responsibility for taking more active action to other countries," Chinese climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua said. AFP reported China's hunger for oil is set to drive global demand in the coming years as consumption in the industrialised countries may not regain pre-economic crisis levels, experts say. Some experts said that with the changing shape of globalisation, demand in the advanced economies may not recover to pre-crisis strengths. 'I doubt very much this is a period of taking off' in consumption in the industrialized world, said Edward Morse, head of commodities research at Credit Suisse.

Forty nations in deforestation conference

In Paris, AFP reported, Sarkozy is hosting a 40-nation day-long conference on deforestation which aims to formulate concrete plans for implementing controls to protect forests. World Bank representatives and lending nations are also attending the meeting. In Indonesia, Friends of the Earth have dismissed an offer from the Australian government of AUS$30 million through the REDD scheme - which, they say is an attempt to escape obligations to reduce Australian emissions, and will have little contribution to cutting deforestation in Indonesia.

Ban on tuna one step closer

AFP reported yesterday the EU has joined the US in supporting the ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna, which would begin next year in May, allowing only small artisanal fishing to continue. The ban comes in response to recommendations from the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, which has already moved to slash 2010's permissible global catch as the fish's numbers have become dangerously low. Environmental organizations including Greenpeace have also been supporting a ban. Japan - by far the largest consumer market for the fish - in opposition, has said it would make a reservation in the event the UN adopts the decision at the next UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which starts this Saturday in Qatar (13 - 25 March). Reservation states will continue to trade with other abstaining countries. The Mediterranean countries France, Spain and Italy, which account for half the world trade in bluefin tuna have supported the ban, and Italy has applied for EU aid to compensate its fishermen. Malta was the only EU country to object to the ban.

India and China in GE debates

In India, there is criticism in the news over the proposed GE regulatory bill which by creating a central agency responsible for regulation, opponents say, takes away the autonomous capacity of states to regulate GE. The legislation is particularly important because the greatest opposition to GE in government was expressed through a union of ten states banning it from their territory.

An expert on rural development in China has voiced criticism of GE as a future food strategy, saying that if foreign capital gets control of the food supply, China will face serious food security issues. Quoting the old phrase "he who controls the food supply shall control the world" Li Changping says GE seeds are more dangerous to China's national security than opium in the 19th century. Today, the West controls the seed market and has mastered the art of right pricing. And since farm product prices fluctuate easily, anyone with a 10 percent share of a product's market can cause a 50 percent hike or slump in its price. Apart from peddling GM seeds, Western countries have also set trade rules and international standards for agricultural products. They have refused to stop giving subsidies to their farmers in their bid to control countries' farm products, seeds and pricing mechanisms. That China's soybean industry is now controlled by American capital points to the success of Western countries' food "weaponization" strategy, Li said. He argues the best strategy should instead focus on collective ownership of rural land in the countryside, with collective management and the household system.