Latest Developments, November 28

In the latest news and analysis…

Beyond aid
The Center for Global Development’s Owen Barder argues that over the past decade, “there has been very little overall progress in the policies of rich countries which affect prospects in poor countries”:

“But people from developing countries are clear that development policy today must mean more than giving aid. With growing economic success, they want to benefit more from the resources and services which they supply to the world. They do not want aid as compensation for global trade rules which are stacked against them: they want the rules changed. They do not want merely to be compensated for the damage done to the environment by industrialised countries; they want the destruction of our shared planet to stop.

Aid agencies and campaigners make a powerful case for increases in aid, and for improving its quality. But many have neglected the other issues which developing countries are increasingly demanding must be addressed and which are likely to be at least as important. This paralysis in the face of a changing agenda should come as no surprise. All aid agencies have to spend their budget wisely and avoid waste (or worse). But working to improve the policies on fisheries, patents or tax is always discretionary, however important it might be. Nobody in the government department responsible for these policies will complain if the development ministry leaves them alone. The people who stand to lose are in developing countries: and they have no voice and no vote when these priorities are set.”

US exceptionalism
The Hill reports that US President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that will exempt US airlines from EU carbon fees:

“The White House had been under pressure from environmental groups to veto the bill. Those advocates want Obama to address climate change more forcefully in his second term, and said the emissions bill provided an opportunity to chart a new course.

‘However, there is a silver lining here — the administration has appointed high level representatives to pursue a global solution for aviation and climate,’ [the World Wildlife Fund’s Keya] Chatterjee said. ‘The White House now must endorse a global, market-based measure to rein in carbon pollution from aviation. If they do, we are optimistic that the U.S. can work with [International Civil Aviation Organization] to develop a package of policies that will reduce our share of global emissions.’ ”

Right to development
350.org’s Bill McKibben, the Environmental Rights Action’s Nnimmo Bassey and Focus on the Global South’s Pablo Solon call the COP 18 climate talks currently underway in Doha “the time to act for the future of humanity and Nature”:

“Rich countries who have poured most of the carbon into the atmosphere (especially the planet’s sole superpower) need to take the lead in emission reductions and the emerging economies have also to make commitments to reduce the exploitation of oil, coal and gas. The right to development should be understood as the obligation of the states to guarantee the basic needs of the population to enjoy a fulfilled and happy life, and not as a free ticket for a consumer and extractivist society that doesn’t take into account the limits of the planet and the wellbeing of all humans.”

Killer fashion
Al Jazeera provides a roundup of the global clothing lines who were customers of the Bangladeshi garment factory where a fire killed “at least 110 people” over the weekend:

“Survivors and witnesses told AFP that workers, most of them women, tried to escape the burning factory, which supplied clothes to international brands including Walmart, European chain C&A and the Hong Kong-based Li & Fung company.
Order books and clothing found at the site show the company was also making clothing for Disney Pixar, Sears and other Western brands.
The Associated Press news agency reports that blue and off-white shorts from ENYCE, the label now owned by Hip Hop mogul Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, were piled and stacked in cartons on the floor.”

Pipeline colonialism
A First Nations group in Canada’s westernmost province has issued a letter to “the illegitimate colonial governments of Canada and British Columbia, and to all parties involved in the proposed Pacific Trails Pipeline project” warning against attempts to bring a natural gas pipeline through their territory:

“Under Wet’suwet’en law, the people of these lands have an inalienable right to their traditional territories, and the right to defend it. Even by Canadian law, the Supreme Court Dalgamuukw case decision explicitly recognizes the authority of hereditary chiefs, not elected Indian Act bands or councils. As such, any further unauthorized incursion into traditional Wet’suwet’en territory will be considered an act of colonialism, and an act of aggression towards our sovereignty.”

Tackling offshoring
Global Witness’s Rosie Sharpe argues that the opacity of the global financial system is a major contributor to the perpetuation of poverty:

“Why don’t Congolese citizens know who bought the rights to six of their country’s best copper and cobalt mines? Because they were bought by anonymous firms registered in the British Virgin Islands. And, what’s more, these companies bought them at a snip – in some cases just a 20th of their estimated value – and then sold some of them on for much, much more. Someone pocketed a fortune, but hidden company ownership means neither we, nor Congolese citizens, can know who.

If we want to make poverty history, we have to make corruption history. And if we want to make corruption history, we have to make anonymous companies history. Global Witness has been calling for the names of the true, beneficial owners of companies and other corporate vehicles to be made public. Nominee directors and shareholders should have to declare themselves as such and say who they’re working for.”

Minimum tax
Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett makes the case for a minimum tax on America’s wealthiest people:

“I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that. A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultrarich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours. Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.”

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