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Uganda’s crude asset

Uganda

The problem is that most of the oil lies underneath land that for centuries belonged to the Bunyoro monarchy, one of Uganda’s oldest and most powerful tribal kingdoms. In the 1890s, the kingdom mounted one of the bloodiest rebellions in colonial east Africa. The uprising was ultimately crushed, but the surviving monarch insisted the British share any profits earned from Bunyoro’s mineral rich land. Two agreements were signed with the colonial government, in 1933 and 1955, guaranteeing the kingdom a cut of any mineral or oil related profits. Today, King Solomon Iguru insists that these treaties are still valid—unsurprisingly, the government does not agree and the kingdom is not mentioned in any of the revenue sharing agreements signed with the oil companies. The king’s private secretary, Yolamu Nsamba, has warned that if the government doesn’t give the monarchy a share of the oil revenue it “will be a breach of trust, and that would be very unfortunate.” The huge riots that gripped Kampala in mid September, which led to 14 deaths dead and 600 arrests, might be an indication of what “unfortunate” just might mean. Although this time the clash involved supporters of a different monarchy, it underlines the fact that, for many Ugandans, tribal allegiance continues to outweigh loyalty to the president or the so-called “national interest.”

Indeed, if Uganda’s oil programme does go ahead, the tribes will not be the only ones up in arms. As one might expect, the government’s decision to allow drilling in protected wildlife reserves has not gone down well with environmental groups.

But the question likely to cause most discord is what Uganda should do with the oil that sits waiting beneath its soil.

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Largest Offshore Wind Farm to Go Online

The world’s largest offshore wind farm is expected to go into operation on Thursday at a site 30 kilometers off the coast of Denmark.

The farm, called Horns Rev 2 and built by a Danish utility, Dong Energy, consists of 91 turbines made by Siemens, a German engineering company, spread over a 35-square kilometer area.

The farm is projected to generate 209 megawatts or enough electricity to supply 200,000 households for a year.

Anders Eldrup, the chief executive of Dong Energy, told Green Inc. in a telephone interview on Tuesday that the project was “historic.” He said that the offshore farm “will be for some time the biggest in the world.”

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Green Power Takes Root in the Chinese Desert

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As the United States takes its first steps toward mandating that power companies generate more electricity from renewable sources, China already has a similar requirement and is investing billions to remake itself into a green energy superpower.

Through a combination of carrots and sticks, Beijing is starting to change how this country generates energy. Although coal remains the biggest energy source and is almost certain to stay that way, the rise of renewable energy, especially wind power, is helping to slow China’s steep growth in emissions of global warming gases.

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The Dirty War Against Clean Coal

WHILE President Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal to reduce greenhouse gases has been the big topic of recent environmental debate, the White House has also been pushing a futuristic federal project to build a power plant that burns coal without any greenhouse gases. Sounds great, right? Except the idea is a rehash of a proposal that went bust the first time around.

More important, the technology already exists to make huge reductions in greenhouse emissions from coal, allowing power companies to begin cutting the carbon footprint of coal today. Instead, advanced-technology coal power sits on the shelf while regulators wait to see what happens with a project that may be just an expensive boondoggle.

The big project, a public-private partnership called FutureGen, was first announced by George W. Bush in 2003. Dreading facing up to the problem of greenhouse gases from electricity generation, the Bush White House suggested that decisions should wait while FutureGen developed a coal-fired power with no emissions. FutureGen’s administrators spent five years on studies, proposals and studies of studies, but never broke ground for a test installation.

Then, in a fit of integrity, the Department of Energy decided the project should be put in Illinois, a Democratic state — Midwestern coal is high in carbon, making this a logical choice — rather than in Republican Texas, which the White House preferred. The administration promptly canceled financing for FutureGen. But this month, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced he was reviving the project, hinting that the ultimate cost may run to billions of dollars.

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The story is far from simple and there is no right/wrong divide conveniently placed for the ‘simpleton’ mind to position itself. We should all learn to live with controversy and hard choices, some required reading on this: The Challenge of Copenhagen: Bridging the U.S.-China Divide (Orville Schell) and the other links within the e360.yale.edu site.