NI 480 - The great green energy grab - March, 2015

NI 480 - March, 2015

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The great green energy grab

A note from the editor

Danny Chivers

‘Corporate renewables vs people’s power’

We must demand something better.

Last week, a fuel poverty activist told me this story. She’d been invited as the token campaigner to a corporate energy event, and was chatting to a rep from the notorious price-hiking frack-happy utility company British Gas. She decided to ask him a cheeky question: ‘What will you do if we get our way? If the world switches away from fossil fuels, to better insulation and renewable energy? What happens to your company then?’

The utility rep replied: ‘Well, I guess we’ll just move into insulation and renewable energy.’

This suggestion filled her – and me – with dread. It’s easy to get caught up in the urgency of climate change, and assume that we just need more renewable energy, and it doesn’t matter exactly what it is or who provides it. This magazine explores why, and how, we must demand something better: an energy system controlled by people, not by corporations, providing genuinely clean energy to everyone who needs it.

Continuing the environmental theme, our Argument this month provocatively asks: if you care about climate change, should you have children? And Gavin Evans considers the ugly return of racism into science and academia.

Danny Chivers for the New Internationalist co-operative.

The big story

The London Array, off Britain’s east coast, currently the world’s biggest offshore wind farm.  Jointly owned by E-ON, DONG Energy, UAE-based Masdar and Canadian investment fund La Caisse.

The London Array, off Britain’s east coast, currently the world’s biggest offshore wind farm. Jointly owned by E-ON, DONG Energy, UAE-based Masdar and Canadian investment fund La Caisse.

Photo: London Array Limited

Whose renewable future?

Is big business poised to capture the renewables revolution? Danny Chivers draws up the battle lines.

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In January this year, the energy researcher Jeremy Leggett made a bold claim. He told the Guardian newspaper that we should expect a major oil firm to turn its back on fossil fuels soon and shift to renewable energy. ‘One of the oil companies will break ranks,’ he said, ‘and this time it is going to stick.’1

Leggett points to the collapsed oil price, the falling costs of renewable-energy generation and potential...


Renewable energy - the facts

How much energy, how it's used and what we really need.

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Under the sun: Children shelter beneath a solar panel in Dharnai village.

From best to worst: renewable energy around the world

Inspiring examples of democratic, renewable energy – and also how not to do it.

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Take action on renewables

Some ideas and starting points on how you can help build a cleaner, fairer energy future.

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The Ivanpah solar concentrating power station in California. Coming soon to the Sahara?

Desertec: the renewable energy grab?

Desert solar plants planned for North Africa are just another exploitative resource grab, argues Hamza Hamouchene.

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A clear view: Sign on the site of a proposed windfarm in Herefordshire, England.

Why the war on wind?

Surveys tell us that the public love wind power, so why do certain countries see such fierce campaigns against it? Helle Abelvik-Lawson investigates.

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Pujarini Sen works for Greenpeace India, which helped to set up a community renewables project in Dharnai, India.

Power to the people?

Community micro-grids, government-controlled energy, or both? Three experts thrash out the options.

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Despite her experiences in Singapore, Aneda is determined to work abroad again. ‘I want to go to Taiwan,’ she says.

Too great a toll

Dreaming of a better future, some 700,000 Indonesians each year join the ranks of migrant workers abroad. But many face exploitation, abuse and deception at the hands of their employers. Michael Malay travelled to the West Javan province of Indramayu to talk to some of those who have returned.

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Pseudo-science: in Nazi Germany head-measuring to test for ‘Aryan qualities’ was part of a wider, devastating eugenics policy.

Race science rears its ugly head

Racism disguised as academic research must be robustly challenged, argues Gavin Evans.

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Praise, blame and all points in between? Your feedback published in the March 2015 magazine.

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Letter from Bangui: Celebrations in the city

The charming city is coming back to life, but only for some.

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Open Window - Weapon

Osvaldo Gutierrez Gomez from Cuba with ‘Weapon’.

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Narendra Modi

Worldbeater... Narendra Modi

The self-aggrandizing Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

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Southern Exposure: Gaza

Highlighting the work of artists and photographers from the Majority World.

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Yasmina Khadra

And finally... Yasmina Khadra

Algerian author Mohammed Moulessehoul tells Graeme Green why he writes under his wife's name of Yasmina Khadra.

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Film, Book & Music Reviews

Mixed media: Music

Mixed media: Music

War Is a Wound, Peace Is a Scar, by Hanoi Masters; Convoque seu Buda by Criolo.

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Mixed media: Film

Mixed media: Film

Dreamcatcher, directed by Kim Longinotto; Love is All, directed by Kim Longinotto; Still Alice, directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland.

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Mixed media: Books

Mixed media: Books

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera; The Radical Imagination by Max Haiven and Alex Khasnabish; Sex in China by Elaine Jeffreys with Haiqing Yu; Dear Leader by Jang Jin-sung.

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