In developing a carbon-credit program to reduce greenhouse gases, the UN has created what has been called “an incredibly perverse subsidy.” Because the program awards 11,000 credits (historically worth between $100,000 and $440,000) for destroying one ton of HFC-23, a gas released while manufacturing a widely used coolant, companies, mainly in China and India, are producing this coolant just to earn money for destroying it. Of course they are selling the coolant as well, at a very attractive low price due to its oversupply, and this gas contributes to global warming and depletes the ozone layer. The companies have grown rich and powerful enough to fight any much needed change to the system. A program intended to help the environment has had precisely the opposite effect. And the story gets worse. In Nathkuva, India, one major company churning out this coolant, Gujurat Flourochemicals Limited faces four lawsuits contending that the company is breaking local pollution laws where its factory is located, contaminating air, soil and groundwater and ultimately causing the devaluation of agricultural products and even birth defects. Yet another irony: the growth of this company has greatly benefited from the carbon credit program, one of whose goals was to help third-world communities that were promoting sustainable industry.
An appeals court in Kabul upheld the 10-year prison sentences of three Afghans convicted of locking away and abusing their 13-year-old in-law, a girl who had been bought from her step brother. While justice has prevailed in this instance, it is widely felt that this case is the exception that proves the rule that rights for Afghan women are tenuous at best, especially as the West loses focus on Afghanistan with the withdrawal of NATO troops and less international money is fed into the Afghan economy. One group determined to remedy the situation is the Kabul- and New York-based women’s human rights organization Women For Afghan Women.
Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, a former leader in the Muslim Brotherhood, is being accused of employing the same sort of media censorship as in the authoritarian state of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak. Not only has he preserved the former ministry in charge of media regulation and installed a Brotherhood member as chief, but authorities have also suspended a satellite TV channel featuring a program whose host opposes the president while regularly censoring newspaper columnists for criticizing the Brotherhood.
Good news from East Africa, where a deal has been struck on the oil pipeline fees South Sudan will pay Sudan. The situation is peculiar: South Sudan possesses the bulk of the crude oil found in the area, but Sudan controls the oil pipelines needed for exporting the oil. After decades of guerrilla war, landlocked South Sudan seceded from Sudan, creating the oil export conundrum. After months of gridlock over the issue, at times perilously close to devolving into violence, negotiations in Addis Ababa and pressure from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have resulted in a resolution. However, considering the history of the two sides, the conflict should not be considered over until money and oil begin to flow.