Lack of common policy delays use of clean fuel in East Africa

Lack of common standards for blending ethanol with petrol is limiting East Africa’s ability to use biofuels in reducing the carbon emissions from fossil fuels in the transport sector.

The growing demand for petroleum products among the East Africa Community (EAC) member countries has seen a rise in greenhouse gas emissions. However, these can be reduced through use of ethanol from sugar plantations and biodiesel from croton nuts, jatropha curcas plant and other feedstocks.

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan are yet to come up with common regional standards of blending ethanol with petrol. It also applies to the blending of biodiesel with fossil fuel diesel.

“These trends combined with the region’s dependence on fuel imports make it imperative for policy makers to encourage a shift to alternative transport fuels,” said Renewable Energy Policy Network for 21st Century.

Kenya in 2007, introduced a policy on blending ethanol with petrol and drafted a biodiesel licensing regulations under the Kenya 2008 Roadmap for Biofuels.

The regulations are yet to be approved. Last year, Uganda’s Cabinet approved Biofuels Blending Bill that calls for blending of 20 per cent biofuels. The Bill that proposes tax rebates and other incentives to potential investors is yet to go through parliament.

Tanzania also drafted a Liquid Biofuels Policy in 2010 but it is yet to be approved.

The region imported 8.2 million tonnes of refined oil products in 2014, an increase of 6 per cent from 2013. EAC’s petroleum imports are estimated to grow by over 8 per cent this year.

Traffic congestion in major cities and towns in the region makes vehicles key source of heightened urban pollution.

Agencies

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Forget the divestment diversion, Montgomery County

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Maryland’s largest locality, is a bastion of liberalism whose do-gooder instincts occasionally trump common sense. That’s the case with the proposal by County Council members who would mandate the sale of $65 million in oil, natural gas and coal company stocks held by employee pension funds.

The idea behind the divestiture scheme is to strike a symbolic blow against fossil fuel consumption, which the legislation’s sponsors rightly identify as the principal culprit behind climate change. A number of other left-leaning cities and localities around the country, notably San Francisco, have adopted similar steps, although Montgomery’s measure would go further than most by ordering divestment rather than suggesting it.

The problem with such symbolism is that it’s no more than a feel-good gesture — a hypocritical one — that would achieve no actual reduction in carbon consumption while imposing very real costs on the county’s pension fund, on which tens of thousands of retirees depend. The hypocrisy of selling off fossil fuel firm stocks — just $65 million out of pension funds worth $4.3 billion — is that Montgomery, like every other locality in the United States, would continue to consume fossil fuels for countless purposes: to run police cars, ambulances and fire engines, and to heat and cool county-owned buildings, to name just a few.

What’s more, selling stock in select individual companies, identified by a national movement called 350.org, would be an exercise in arbitrary investing. After all, the county’s pension funds would continue owning shares in index funds, private equity firms and other holdings that might include businesses whose profits stem directly or indirectly from the use of oil, gas and coal. Purifying an investment portfolio of such positions — and determining which positions merit divestment, and according to what criteria — would be a nearly eternal project.

That’s not a suitable project for a public pension fund, whose trustees have a fiduciary duty to maximize earnings for the benefit of tens of thousands of present and future retirees, not plunge into complex philosophical or scientific examinations of corporate fossil fuel consumption. (Were they to attempt it, they might find that some major fossil fuel firms are also undertaking major research and development projects in sustainable energy.)

The last time the county enacted a divestiture measure was in 2008, when council members unanimously ordered its pension fund managers to dump stocks tied to Sudan over its human rights outrages in Darfur. That modest step — a handful of equities in small firms were sold — resulted in some $230,000 in transaction fees. Divesting the funds of fossil fuel holdings would cost much more.

And why single out those companies when so many others do so much harm? Coca-Cola? A major contributor to obesity. Volkswagen? An emissions cheater. Pfizer? It deprives the U.S. Treasury of untold millions of dollars by relocating its legal domicile overseas. Blameless corporations are nice if you can find one, but who’s to judge which transgression merits divestiture?

The irony is that Montgomery is a leader among local governments in real, not symbolic, policies to reduce carbon consumption. Better stick to those and leave symbolism aside.

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Electricity minister attends Cairo meeting

07 : 48 PM – 28/10/2016

Cairo, Oct. 28 (BNA): Electricity and Water Affairs Minister Dr. Abdulhussain Mirza took part in the eighth session of the Arab Water Minister’s Council, held in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Ministers and senior officials concerned with water in Arab countries attended the meeting, and discussed, among other things, the Arab states’ roadmap for the advancement of the water sector, achieving sustainability, the Arab water security strategy and cooperation between GCC and Arab states.

Dr. Mirza, the council President, handed over the reigns to Sudan during the opening of the session, also addressed by Arab League Secretary General AboulGheit.

The meeting followed up on the implementation of sustainable development of water in the Arab world by 2030 and discussed the Framework Convention for shared resources between the Arab states plan. It discussed a regional initiative for the interdependence between water, energy and food sectors.

Participating countries presented their success stories in the management of water resources and partnership between the public and private sectors, as well as offers of international regional organizations working in the field of water resources management.

Participants also discussed plans for the World water Forum, to be held in Brazil in 2018.

Participants spoke about the areas of cooperation that keep pace with the challenges of water resources in Arab countries and witnessed the declaration of the winners of the Arab Water Council Award for the year 2016, which was shared between Dr. ShirinZahran and Dr. Khalid Khairuddin from the Institute of Climate Change for their research, Smart monitoring networks in the management of water resources.

Dr. Mirza later took part in the opening of the Arab Water Conference under Occupationat the headquarters of the Arab League, where the Secretary General and representatives from the United Nations, lawyers, jurists and specialists took part.

The minister was accompanied by Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) executive vice president of planning and projects Ibrahim Abdallah Kaabi and Director of the Minister’s Office Ahmed Bucheery.

WHQ

Number of readings : 578        Last updated : 07 : 48 PM – 28/10/2016

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