Blair offers Africa pain relief from debt and ‘unfair’ trade

first_imgDave Timms from the World Development Movement said that the report may contain little fresh thinking. He noted that a previous commission chaired by late German chancellor Willy Brandt recommended in 1980 that all rich countries should reach the 0.7% goal by 1985 and a 1% goal by 2000. “There seems to be a ratcheting down of ambitions,” said Timms. [email protected] The British government has decided to make Africa and climate change the two principal themes of its stints heading both the EU and the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised countries this year. As part of those efforts, Blair is to announce the findings of the 17-member Commission for Africa, which he chaired. The report urges rich countries to:l Rally behind a British proposal for an ‘international finance facility’, under which aid pledges would be used as collateral for bonds on the capital markets, with the resulting money used to double development assistance; l increase funding for health systems in Africa by €7.5 billion next year and provide the €2.4bn for work planned by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria;l immediately scrap all “trade-distorting” subsidies for cotton and sugar, as these endanger the livelihoods of small African growers; and,l finance the cancellation of all debts owed to multilateral bodies like the World Bank, diverting the savings into health and education.The report describes corruption as a “systemic problem affecting many African countries”. Civil wars are recognised as a barrier to progress too, with donors called on to provide half the budget – €150 million in 2004-07 – of the African Union’s peacekeeping fund.A source involved in the Commission for Africa said it was trying to find common ground between those who believed greater assistance should go to conflict prevention and resolution in Africa and those who felt the bulk of aid should be for health and education. “Unless we address conflict and security issues we will not get very far,” the source added. “But we also have to address the root cause of conflict – the lack of economic growth and lack of development.”The report is to argue that rich countries meet the target set by the UN in 1970 to devote at least 0.7% of their gross domestic production to development aid. So far Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are the only EU states to have exceeded that goal.last_img read more

Efficiency Vermont and Burlington Electric launch 3rd round of funding for nonprofits

first_imgVermont Business Magazine For a third year, Efficiency Vermont and Burlington Electric Department are launching a grant program for non-profit organizations to help low-income Vermonters reduce their energy bills. The grant program was first launched in January 2014 and has proven successful over the past two years – delivering measurable energy savings and receiving positive feedback from program participants.In 2016, more than 170 megawatt hours of energy were saved under the grant program – or enough energy to power 22 Vermont homes for one year. In addition, the participating organizations conducted 750 home energy visits, which involved replacing inefficient light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs, installing energy-saving, low-flow water devices and advanced power strips, and identifying other opportunities to reduce energy use, such as replacing inefficient refrigerators and implementing weatherization projects.   “These energy visits mean so much to the elders we serve,” said Karen Budde, Volunteer Coordinator for the Northeast Kingdom Council on Aging. “They often live alone in big farm houses. So knowing that they can keep their lights on at a low cost and move through their home safely so they do not fall is very important.”“Our goals with continuing this grant program are to reach more low-income Vermonters and to help reduce their energy burden,” said Liz Gamache, Director of Efficiency Vermont. “By partnering with Vermont non-profits, we’re able to expand our impact and ensure that homes in their communities are more affordable, comfortable, and safe.”“Burlington Electric has long been in the business of making a difference for Burlington’s energy future, and that difference includes helping all members of our community improve their energy efficiency to save money and protect our environment for future generations,” said Neale Lunderville, General Manager of Burlington Electric Department. “We’re glad to partner once again with Efficiency Vermont to provide these grants to serve those in our community who need an extra boost to meet their electric needs.”Efficiency Vermont and Burlington Electric Department expect to award up to 10 non-profit organizations with grants ranging from $10,000 to $30,000. Interested organizations are invited to submit proposals specifying ways they would use the funding to help their constituents save energy. Proposals are due by March 17, 2017, for more information, please visit is external) or contact Paul Markowitz at pmarkowit[email protected](link sends e-mail).Efficiency Vermont was created by the Vermont Legislature to help all Vermonters reduce energy costs, strengthen the economy, and protect Vermont’s environment. For more information, contact Efficiency Vermont at 888-921-5990 or visit is external).Burlington Electric Department has been serving its customers with safe and reliable power since 1905. Burlington Electric is a recognized national leader in green energy with the recent milestone achievement of sourcing 100 percent of its power from renewable generation.. With a focus on low and stable rates and a commitment to energy efficiency, Burlington Electric’s 20,000 customers use less power today than they did in 1989. For more information about Burlington Electric, visit is external).Source: BED 3.2.2017last_img read more