How China’s Economy Could Collapse

Published on Jan 26, 2016

The Archive

How Russia and China Are Planning to Counter US Economic Warfare

Posted originally in: 16/04/2016

There is no better example of ‘hybrid war’ that Washington’s economic and financial war against Moscow.


Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told a large group of people in the holy city of Mashhad on Sunday that “The Americans did not act on what they promised in the [Iranian] nuclear accord [the JCPOA]; they did not do what they should have done. According to Foreign Minister [Javad Zarif], they brought something on paper but prevented materialization of the objectives of the Islamic Republic of Iran through many diversionary ways.”

This statement during the Supreme Leader’s key Nowruz (New Year) address should be understood as a flashing amber light: it was no rhetorical flourish. And it was not a simple dig at America (as some may suppose). It was perhaps more of a gentle warning to the Iranian government to “take care” of the possible political consequences.

What is happening is significant: for whatever motive, the U.S. Treasury is busy emptying much of the JCPOA sanctions relief of any real substance (and their motive is something which deserves careful attention). The Supreme Leader also noted that Iran is experiencing difficulties in repatriating its formerly frozen, external funds.

U.S. Treasury officials, since “implementation” day, have been doing the rounds, warning European banks that the U.S. sanctions on Iran remain in place, and that European banks should not think, even for a second, of tapping the dollar or euro bond markets in order to finance trade with Iran, or to become involved with financing infrastructure projects in Iran.

Banks well understand the message: touch Iranian commerce and you will be whacked with a billion dollar fine – against which there is no appeal, no clear legal framework – and no argument countenanced.  The banks (understandably) are shying off. Not a single bank or financial lending institution turned up when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Paris to hold meetings with the local business élite.

The influential Keyhan Iranian newspaper wrote on March 14 on this matter that: “Speaking at the UN General Assembly session in September, Rouhani stated: ‘Today a new phase of relations has started in Iran’s relations with the world.’ He also stated in a live radio and television discussion with the people on 23 Tir: ‘The step-by-step implementation of this document could slowly remove the bricks of the wall of mistrust.’

Keyhan continues: “These remarks were made at a time when the Western side, headed by America, does not have any intention to remove or even shorten the wall of mistrust between itself and Iran. … Moreover, they are delaying the implementation of their JCPOA commitments. Lifting the sanctions has remained merely as a promise on a piece of paper, so much so that it has roused the protest of Iranian politicians.”

“The American side is promoting conditions in such a way that today even European banks and companies do not dare to establish financial relations with Iran – since all of them fear America’s reaction in the form of sanctions [imposed on those same banks]. Actually, the reason for the delay in the commencement of the European banks’ financial cooperation with the Iranian banks and the failure to facilitate banking and economic transactions, is because many of the American sanctions are still in place, and Iranian banks’ financial transactions are [still] facing restrictions. Moreover, given their continuing fear of the biting legislations and penalties for violations of the Americans’ old sanctions, European financial institutions are concerned about violating the American sanctions that continue to be in force …

“It is pointless to expect the US administration to cooperate with Iran given the comments of the US officials, including [National Security Advisor] Susan Rice, since the Americans’ comments and behaviour reveal their non-compliance with their obligations and speak of the absence of the US administration’s political will to implement even its minimum obligations.”

Here Keyhan is specifically referring to Susan Rice’s observation to Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic that, “The Iran deal was never primarily about trying to open a new era of relations between the US and Iran. The aim was very simply to make a dangerous country less dangerous. No one had any expectation that Iran would be a more benign actor.”

Keyhan continues: “Any action on the international scene calls for suitable and appropriate reaction. Therefore, we cannot expect a government like the US administration that seizes every single opportunity to restrict our county, to lift the sanctions. Rice’s recent comments are only a small part of the increasing anti-Iranian rhetoric of the American officials in recent months. These remarks should actually be regarded as a sign … that the dream of the JCPOA is nothing but wishful thinking and far from reality.” (Emphasis added).

The Supreme Leader’s nudge therefore was intended for the ears of the government: Do not build too much politically on this accord: beware its foundations may turn out to be built on sand.

‘Silver Bullet’ Worries

Recently U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew gave a talk at Carnegie, on the Evolution of Sanctions and Lessons for the Future, on which David Ignatius commented: “Economic sanctions have become the ‘silver bullet’ of American foreign policy over the past decade, because they’re cheaper and more effective in compelling adversaries than traditional military power. But Jack Lew warns of a ‘risk of overuse’ that could neuter the sanctions weapon and harm America. His caution against overuse comes as some Republican members of Congress are fighting to maintain U.S. sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program despite last year’s deal limiting that Iranian threat.”

So what is going on here? If Lew is warning against sanction overreach, why is it that it is precisely his department that is the one that is so assiduously undermining sanctions relief for Iran – “particularly since Lew’s larger point is that sanctions won’t work if countries don’t get the reward they were promised — in the removal of sanctions — once they accede to U.S. Demands”, in the paraphrase by Ignatius himself?

One reason for this apparent contradiction implicit in Lew’s remarks probably is China: Recall that when China’s stock markets were in freefall and hemorrhaging foreign exchange, as it sought to support the Yuan – China blamed the U.S. Fed (U.S. Reserve Bank) for its problems – and promptly was derided for making such an “outlandish” accusation.

Actually, what the Fed was then doing was stating its intent to raise interest rates (for the best of motives naturally!) – just as those, such as Goldman Sachs, have been advising. U.S. Corporate and bank profits are sliding badly, and in “times of financial depletion,” as the old adage goes, “bringing capital home becomes the priority” – and a strong dollar does exactly that.

But the Peoples’ Bank of China (PBOC) did a bit more than just whine about the Fed actions, it reacted:  It allowed the Yuan to weaken, which induced turmoil across a global financial world (already concerned about China’s economic slowing); then raised the Yuan value to squeeze out speculation, betting on further falls in the Yuan; then let it weaken again as the Fed comments started to slide in favor of interest rate hikes, and a strong dollar – until finally, as Zero Hedge has noted:

Zerohedge: And since Janet delivered, PBOC has strengthened the Yuan Fix by the most since 2005!!

Zerohedge: And since Janet delivered, PBOC has strengthened the Yuan Fix by the most since 2005!!

“It appeared the messaging from The People’s Bank Of China to The Fed was heard loud and understood. Having exercised its will to weaken the Yuan (implying turmoil is possible), Janet Yellen (Fed Chair) delivered the dovish goods [i.e. indicated that global conditions trumped the advice of the likes of Goldman Sachs to strengthen the dollar], and so China ‘allowed’ the Yuan to rally back. In a double-whammy for everyone involved, the biggest 3-day strengthening of the Yuan fix since 2005 also pushed the Yuan forwards, back to their richest relative to spot since Aug 2014 – once again showing their might against the dastardly speculative shorts.”

In short, the Ignatius’s “silver bullet” of foreign policy (the U.S. Treasury Wars against any potential competitor to U.S. political or financial hegemony) is facing a growing “hybrid” financial war, just as NATO has been complaining that it is having to adjust to “hybrid” conventional war – from the likes of Russia.

So, as the U.S. tries to expand its reach, for example by claiming legal jurisdiction over the Bank of China, and by blacklisting one of China’s largest telecom companies, thus forbidding any U.S. company from doing business with China’s ZTE, China is pushing back. It has just demonstrated convincingly that U.S. Treasury “silver bullets” can fall short.

Zerohedge: Crushing shorts as Yuan forwards collapse back to their ‘richest’ relative to spot since Aug 2014

Zerohedge: Crushing shorts as Yuan forwards collapse back to their ‘richest’ relative to spot since Aug 2014

This, we think, may have been Lew’s point — one directed, possibly, at Congress, which has become truly passionate about its new-found “neutron bomb” (as a former Treasury official described its geo-financial warfare).

In respect to Russia, this is important: Russia and America seem to be edging towards some sort of “grand bargain” over Syria (and possibly Ukraine too), which is likely to involve the Europeans lifting, in mid-2016, their sanctions imposed on Russia. But again, the U.S. is likely nonetheless to maintain its own sanctions (or even add to them, as some in the U.S. Congress are arguing).

Source of three graphs: Zero Hedge

Source of three graphs: Zero Hedge

So, if Russia, like Iran and China become disenchanted with promises of U.S. sanctions relaxation – then, as the Keyhan author noted, a suitable and appropriate (i.e. adverse) reaction, will ensue.

Boomerang Effect

What the Fed and Lew seem to have assimilated is that the U.S. and European economies are now so vulnerable and volatile that China and Russia can, as it were, whack-back at America – especially where China and Russia co-ordinate strategically. Yellen specifically signaled “weakening world growth” and “less confidence in the renormalization process” as reasons for the Fed backtrack.

Ironically, David Ignatius in his article gives the game away: Lew is not going soft, saying that the US needs to use its tools more prudently; far from it. His point is different, and Ignatius exposes it inadvertently:

“U.S. power flows from our unmatched military might, yes. But in a deeper way, it’s a product of the dominance of the U.S. economy. Anything that expands the reach of U.S. markets — such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership in trade, for example — adds to the arsenal of U.S. power. Conversely, U.S. power is limited by measures that drive business away from America, or allow other nations to build a rival financial architecture that’s less encumbered by a smorgasbord of sanctions.”

This latter point precisely is what is frightening Lew and Ignatius. The tables are turning: in fact, the U.S. and Europe may be becoming more vulnerable to retaliation (e.g. Europe, with Russia’s retaliatory sanctions on European agricultural products) than China and Russia are, to unilateral Treasury or Fed warfare.

This is the new hybrid war (and not the hot air issuing from NATO). Lew and Ignatius know that a parallel “architecture” is under construction, and that Congress’ addiction to new sanctions is just speeding it into place.

So, why then is the U.S. Treasury so zealous in undermining the effectiveness of JCPOA’s agreed lifting of sanctions? Well, probably because Iran has less leverage over the global financial system than either China or Russia. But also perhaps, because “Iran sanctions” are (erroneously) viewed by U.S. leaders as the Treasury’s “jewel in its crown” of geo-financial success.

What may be missing from this hubristic interpretation, however, is the understanding that Iran’s experience will not be lost on the others, nor on the SCO when it convenes its next meetings on how to combat Western “color revolution” operations (with Iran likely joining that organization as a member, rather than an observer, this summer).

Source: Russia Insider

Brasil: Império do Caos ataca novamente

Publicado originalmente em: 26/04/2016


Pouco depois de a moção pró-impeachment contra a presidenta Dilma Rousseff ser aprovada no Congresso do Brasil, por deputados que resolvi chamar de hienas da Guerra Híbrida, o presidente-coroado Michel “Até tu, Brutus?!” Temer, um dos articuladores do golpe, mandou um de seus senadores a Washington como garoto-de-recados especial, para dar notícias sobre o golpe em andamento. O senador em questão não cumpria missão oficial da Comissão de Relações Exteriores do Senado do Brasil.

Michel “Até tu, Brutus?!” Temer assustou-se com a reação da mídia global, a qual está vendo cada dia mais vê claramente que o golpe que ele está fazendo é o que é (golpe) – aliado de Brutus-2, presidente notoriamente corrupto da Câmara de Deputados do Brasil, Eduardo Cunha.

A missão do tal senador era lançar uma ofensiva de Propaganda/Relações Públicas para desconstruir a narrativa que insiste que golpe é golpe, e a qual, segundo Brutus-1 estaria “desmoralizando instituições brasileiras”.

Nonsense. O senador office-boy foi mandado dizer ao Departamento de Estado dos EUA que tudo por aqui está andando conforme a encomenda.

Em Washington, o senador office-boy resmungou que “explicaremos que o Brasil não é uma república de bananas”. Ora… Não era. Mas graças às hienas da Guerra Híbrida, é.

Quando se tem um homem que administra 11 contas bancárias ilegais na Suíça; cujo nome aparece listado nos Panama Papers, que já está sendo investigado pela Suprema Corte… e que, mesmo assim, continua a comandar o destino político de toda a nação, sim, sim, aí está uma república de bananas.

Quando você tem um juiz de paróquia, provinciano, que ameaça pôr na prisão o ex-presidente Lula, por ser proprietário de um apartamento modesto onde vive e por visitar um sítio modesto de amigos, mas, ao mesmo tempo, não cuida de investigar o Brutus-2, e juiz provinciano que opera irmanado àqueles pomposos juízes da pomposa Corte Suprema paroquial provinciana… sim, aí está uma república de bananas.

Comparem agora a reação-zero de Washington, e a reação de Moscou. O Ministério de Relações Exteriores da Rússia, mediante a irrepreensível porta-voz Maria Zakharova, chamou a atenção do mundo para a parceira crucial que liga todos os países BRICS, e as posições comuns que Brasil e Rússia têm defendido juntos dentro do G20. E Moscou deixou claro que os problemas do Brasil têm de ser resolvidos “no quadro constitucional legal e sem qualquer interferência externa”.

Todo mundo sabe o que significa “interferência externa”.

Dominação de Pleno Espectro Rearmada

Estou acompanhando o golpe em andamento no Brasil, com especial atenção à Guerra Híbrida movida/apoiada pelos EUA para destruir “o projeto neodesenvolvimentista para a América Latina – que unia pelo menos parte das elites locais, investia no desenvolvimento de mercados internos, em associação com as classes trabalhadoras”. O objetivo chave da Guerra Híbrida no caso do golpe no Brasil é instalar uma restauração neoliberal.

Obviamente, o alvo chave tinha de ser o Brasil, estado membro dos BRICS e sétima maior economia do mundo.

Falcões imperiais [ver também “Preocupações com a ‘Bala de Prata’ nem tão eficaz”, in Rússia e China, 2016: Como planejam  enfrentar a guerra econômica dos EUA], já estão indo diretamente ao ponto, quando listam as armas e objetivos da Guerra Híbrida, que o Pentágono definiu em 2002 como “Doutrina da Dominação de Pleno Espectro”: “O poder dos EUA vem de nossa superior força militar, sim. Qualquer coisa que expanda o alcance dos mercados dos EUA – como a Parceria Trans-Pacífico no comércio, por exemplo – acrescenta-se ao arsenal do poder dos EUA. Mas em sentido mais profundo, o poder dos EUA é produto da dominação da economia dos EUA sobre o mundo”.

Mas fato é que a economia norte-americana já está longe de dominar o mundo. O que hoje realmente preocupa são as forças que orientam “os negócios para longe dos EUA, ou permitem que outras nações construam arquitetura financeira rival e menos vulnerável a sanções, mesmo que a uma montanha delas”.

“Arquitetura financeira rival” é perfeita tradução de “BRICS”. E nem “uma montanha de sanções” bastaram para fazer o Irã curvar-se e pedir penico ao Tio Sam; Teerã continuará a praticar uma “economia de resistência”. Não por acaso, dois dos países BRICS – Rússia e China – além do Irã, aparecem entre as cinco principais ameaças existenciais listadas pelo Pentágono, além das bombas atômicas da Coreia do Norte e, em último lugar na lista, “terrorismo“.

Guerra Fria 2.0 é essencialmente Rússia e China – mas o Brasil também é ator chave. Edward Snowden revelou como a espionagem contra o Brasil, pela Agência de Segurança Nacional centrava-se na Petrobrás, cuja tecnologia proprietária foi responsável pela maior descoberta de petróleo, ao nascer do século 21: os depósitos do pré-sal em águas do Brasil. O Big Oil norte-americano está excluído da exploração dessa riqueza.

E “Big EUA Oil excluído é anátema – e exige mobilização imediata das técnicas e táticas de Guerra Híbrida reunidas na [doutrina] de Dominação de Pleno Espectro.

As elites comprador brasileiras correram a se oferecer para jogar o jogo. Já há mais de dois anos analistas de JP Morgan oferecem seminários aos guerrilheiros da macroeconomia neoliberal, ensinando táticas e golpes para desestabilizar o governo Rousseff.

Lobbies da indústria, comércio, banking e agronegócio ostensivamente se puseram na defesa do impeachment, que representaria, na avaliação deles, o fim do experimento social-democrata dos governos Lula-Dilma.

Assim sendo, não surpreende que o presidente herdeiro coroado Michel “Até tu, Brutus?!” Temer tenha acordo tão amplo com o Big Capital – incluindo juros ilimitados sobre a dívida pública (muito acima da norma internacional); a relação entre dívida e PIB, que terá de subir; mais empréstimos caros; e o corolário, cortes na atenção pública à saúde e à educação dos brasileiros.

No que tenha a ver com Washington, não há dúvidas e é questão fechada para os Democratas e Republicanos: absolutamente não se admite que haja poder regional autônomo no Atlântico Sul abençoado por riqueza ecológica única do mundo (pensem na Floresta Amazônica, toda aquela água, que se soma ao aquífero Guarani) e, como se isso fosse pouca coisa, ainda muito intimamente conectado aos BRICS-chave, Rússia e China, que já têm sua própria parceria estratégica.

O fator pré-sal é a cereja nesse bolo tropical. Absolutamente de modo algum, não e não, o Big Oil dos EUA não permitirá que a Petrobrás tenha o monopólio para explorar aquele petróleo todo. E, sendo necessário, afinal de contas, a 4ª Frota dos EUA já está posicionada no Atlântico Sul.

Um BRICS derrubado, ainda faltam dois

A “guerra ao terô [“terror”, no sotaque de Bush] declarada pelo regime Cheney distraiu a atenção do Empire of Chaos por tempo demais. Agora, finalmente, está em andamento uma ofensiva do caos global contra os BRICs – coordenada em todo o planeta.

Do Sudoeste da Ásia ao Sul da Ásia, o sonho da Guerra Híbrida será criar alguma espécie de caos iraquiano para substituir os governos de Arábia Saudita, Irã, Paquistão e Egito – e o Império “Liderar pela Retaguarda” do Caos está fazendo o possível na Síria, onde ainda nada conseguiu, por mais que a “dinastia Assad”, ao longo de décadas, tenha sido aliada “secreta” dos EUA.

Os Masters of the Universe que controlam o cordame que move Obama, eterno office-boy deles, resolveu que seria chegada a hora de apunhalar a Casa de Saud pelas costas – o que não chega a ser, afinal, má ideia – por causa do Irã. O pensamento desejante dominante ‘ensinava’ que seria fácil pôr o gás natural iraniano na Europa, em lugar do gás natural russo, o que derrubaria a economia russa. Absolutamente não funcionou.

Mas ainda há outra possibilidade: o gás natural do Qatar, pelo gasoduto que atravessa Arábia Saudita e Síria, também poderia substituir o gás natural russo vendido à Europa. Esse é hoje o principal objetivo da CIA na Síria – o instrumento não importa: Daech, falso Califato, vale tudo, porque nada disso é coisa alguma além de propaganda.

A CIA também está gostando de ver a Arábia Saudita destruir a economia russa com aquela guerra dos preços do petróleo – e não querem que os sauditas parem; por isso mantêm secretas as tais famosas 28 páginas sobre os sauditas nos eventos de 11/9.

A CIA também andou tentando feito doida atrair Moscou para dentro de uma armadilha síria como no Afeganistão dos anos 1980s; e, como fizeram com o golpe em Kiev, a ponto de ordenar que militares turcos, sempre agentes dos EUA, derrubassem um jato Su-24 russo. “Problema” é que o Kremlin não mordeu a maçã envenenada.

Nos idos anos 1980s, o mix de Casa de Saud inundando mercados com seu petróleo, agindo com toda a gangue do petrodólar do CCG para derrubar o preço até $7 por barril em 1985, plus a operação “O Afeganistão É O Vietnã”, terminou por levar a URSS à bancarrota. Pode-se dizer que toda a ação foi brilhante – na concepção e na execução: uma Guerra Híbrida plus Vietnã. Agora, com a coisa de “liderar pela retaguarda” do Dr. Zbig “Grande Tabuleiro de Xadrez” – mentor de sua política exterior – Obama está tentando repetir o mesmo truque.

Mas epa! Temos um problema. A liderança em Pequim, já preocupada com ajustes no modelo chinês de desenvolvimento, viu claramente os esforços do Império do Caos para Dividir e Governar (e Ocupar) o mundo inteiro. Se a Rússia caísse, a China seria o alvo seguinte.

Ainda praticamente ontem, em 2010, a inteligência dos EUA via a China como sua principal ameaça militar, e pôs-se a andar na direção do Império do Meio, com o tal “pivô para a Ásia”. Mas de repente a CIA deu-se conta de que Moscou gastara um trilhão de dólares para saltar por cima de duas gerações de atraso em matéria de mísseis de defesa e de ataque – para nem falar dos submarinos – as armas de eleição para a 3ª Guerra Mundial.

E foi aí que a Rússia pulou para o trono de principal ameaça. Analisando atentamente o tabuleiro de xadrez, a liderança em Pequim imediatamente acelerou a aliança com Rússia e BRICS como força alternativa – o que gerou terremoto de proporções absolutamente devastadoras em Washington.

Agora, Pequim já fez a reengenharia dos BRICS para operarem como estrutura alternativa séria de poder – com FMI próprio, com sistema SWIFT de compensações internacionais próprio e com seu próprio Banco Mundial.

Nunca subestime a fúria de um Império do Caos enganado. Isso é o que se vê em ação contra os BRICS; Brasil sitiado, desastre na África do Sul, fragilidade na Índia, China e Rússia progressivamente cercadas. Variações de Guerra Híbrida da Ucrânia ao Brasil, pressão crescente na Ásia Central, o barril de pólvora em que foi convertido o “Siriaque”, tudo aponta para uma ofensiva coordenada do Espectro da Plena Dominação para quebrar os BRICS, a parceria estratégica Rússia-China, até quebrar as Novas Rotas da Seda que unem toda a Eurásia.

Guerras do preço do petróleo, colapso do rublo, fluxo gigante de refugiados para a União Europeia (causado pelo Sultão Erdogan “errático”), a Operação Gládio do século 21 remistura tudo, distrai as massas com inimigos imaginários, enquanto simulacros de terroristas do tipo Daesh são manipulados como sofisticadas táticas diversionistas.

Parece tão brilhante, coisa mesmo ‘de mestre’, na concepção e na execução, tão impressionantemente bem narrada, em sentido de ficção televisiva/cinematográfica. Mas que ninguém se engane: vai ter volta.*****

Fonte: Strategic Culture

Guerra Híbrida, de Palmyra ao Panamá

Os Panama Papers, dissecados até o osso, revelaram-se, como já escrevi, essencialmente, como operação de infoguerra iniciada pela Agência de Segurança Nacional dos EUA (ing. US-NSA) – que convenientemente mira contra os “inimigos” do ‘ocidente’ no sul global (como os países BRICS) e variados peões descartáveis.

Publicado originalmente em: 07/04/2016


No estágio atual, os Panama Papers estão servindo como arma de operação de guerra psicológica (ing. psyops) apresentados como ‘vazamento ativista’, saído diretamente do manual de Guerra Híbrida.

Os incansáveis agentes ‘especialistas’ da mídia-empresa dominante estão tendo muito trabalho para apresentar o ‘vazamento’ monstro como “jornalismo responsável”, sempre sem tocar em nenhuma das graves questões que já apareceram, sobre como o tal ‘vazamento’ teria sido ‘vazado’; como teriam sido seletivamente editados 2,6 terabytes de dados, incluindo 5 milhões de emails; como foram obtidos sem encriptação; como é possível que, de toda essa massa de dados sobre a qual teriam trabalhado mais de 400 jornalistas por mais de um ano, não tenha havido nenhum ‘vazamento’ do ‘vazamento’; e sobre como a informação estaria sendo seletivamente distribuída hoje.

Guardiões do sempre citado “jornalismo responsável” andam divulgando que o material teria vindo de um mosqueteiro digital, um “tocador de corneta para alertar os cidadãos. Não necessariamente. O vazamento já disparou uma guerra de credibilidade entre WikiLeaks e os recentes ‘vazadores’ midiáticos – a ONG de Washington, mantida por fundações norte-americanas, conhecida como ICIJ.

A tese sobre a Agência de Segurança Nacional dos EUA baseia-se no fato de que essa US-NSA é especializada em invadir praticamente qualquer banco de dados e/ou arquivo em qualquer ponto do mundo, para roubar “segredos” e, na sequência, usar os dados assim obtidos para seletivamente destruir/chantagear/proteger quadros seus e/ou “inimigos”, conforme mandem os interesses do governo dos EUA. Acrescente-se a isso o que Ramon Fonseca, sócio fundador de Mossack Fonseca, tem dito: “Já descartamos a possibilidade de trabalho interno. Fomos assaltados e roubados por hackers.”

Resposta a “ameaças estratégicas”

Os Panama Papers funcionam tanto como ataque de precisão quanto como uma “mensagem” para muitos atores: eles que se mantenham em formação, porque, se não, pagarão caro; afinal, o vazamento/hackeamento revela uma rede de conexões entre várias dúzias de empresas, indivíduos e políticos em todo o Sul Global que têm aparecido como superestrelas/astros, ou aspirantes ao posto, das listas negras das sanções impostas pelos EUA.

O foco obsessivo da mídia-empresa dominante – que só tem olhos para os inimigos e/ou “ameaças estratégicas” do ponto de vista do Excepcionalistão – também gera muitas suspeitas. Em “Forças poderosas por trás dos Panama Papers” lê-se o que o sempre alerta governo em Pequim tem a dizer sobre o assunto.

Os Panama Papers também surgem em momento perfeitamente adequado para encaixarem-se numa massiva ofensiva comercial dos norte-americanos. Podem-se ler os tais vazamentos como uma espécie de lembrete do violento poder da ’empresa’ TPP-TTIP: se você não se une ao nosso movimento a favor de um único comércio mundial controlado pelos EUA, jogamos merda sobre você

Claro que é saudável poder dar pelo menos uma olhadela nas imundas entranhas do capitalismo de cassino super-turbinado, também conhecido como “sistema financeiro global”, onde grandes bancos e um exército de tubarões das finanças permitem que empresas ‘secretas’ estacionem ilegalmente o dinheiro que recebem da/para a corrupção.

Paralelamente, também é esclarecedor observar como todas as transações de dinheiro eletrônico são agora completamente rastreáveis. Os Panama Papers estão vindo à tona apenas alguns meses antes que um obscuro tratado global de compartilhamento de informação seja implementado. Se os tubarões financeiros globais conseguirão burlar o acordo é questão ainda em aberto. O detalhe crucialmente importante é que o Panamá não é signatário daquele tratado.

Do lado crucialmente decisivo dos tubarões financeiros, mais de metade das empresas listadas no vazamento/hackeamento massivo são registradas no Reino Unido – ou em “dependências da Coroa”. Podem degustar o doce aroma da vingança: a mídia-empresa norte-americana vinga-se, ao delatar expor ao mundo o que, de fato, é praticamente todo o Império Britânico da Evasão de Impostos.

Não há quem não saiba que a City de Londres opera amplamente como uma gangue de lavagem de dinheiro de categoria mundial. Mas podem esquecer, porque os guardiões do “jornalismo responsável” britânico jamais ‘investigarão’ coisa alguma relacionada ao ‘fenômeno’. Muito mais fácil e popular é ‘noticiar’ que Putin é culpado por associação, em vez de investigar para saber como aconteceu de o pai de David Cameron, ter preferido guardar a fortuna da família (a herança que o primeiro-ministro um dia receberá) bem longe do coletor de impostos.

Ou como o presidente daquela entidade falhada amiga da OTAN, Petro Poroshenko, enfia sua fortuna, não na Ucrânia sem leis e ingovernável, mas nas “protegidas” Ilhas Virgem. E esqueçam, porque absolutamente ninguém investigará o ex-chefe de gabinete do ex-primeiro-ministro de Israel Ariel Sharon, Dov Weisglass, cujo nome, como o do pai de Cameron e de Poroshenko, realmente aparece citado nos Panama Papers.

O mais importante: que ninguém espere por Cayman Papers ou quaisquer Virgin Island Papers – os papers realmente quentes –, tão cedo. A elite real jamais deixará que aconteça.

Panamá ‘editado’

E depois tem o ângulo do Excepcionalistão. Até Bloomberg, há três meses, já denunciou formalmente à opinião pública que o maior paraíso fiscal do mundo é hoje os EUA – completado com Rothschild-in-Reno, notório provedor de serviços de paraíso fiscal. Diferente do Panamá, o que acontece em Reno fica em Reno – e não estamos falando de noitadas selvagens de lap-dancing, nas profundas do deserto de Nevada.

Acrescente aí uma sumarenta fonte com conexões no estado ‘profundo’ a falar de “só 441 norte-americanos” (todos ainda misteriosos), cujos nomes estariam no vazamento/hackeamento: “O escritório em Nevada de Mossack Fonseca recebeu informação prévia, da Agência de Segurança Nacional dos EUA, no sentido de que alertasse o Panamá para que apagasse todos os registros em Nevada. A Agência de Segurança Nacional dos

EUA é mecanismo de controle político. Nada tem a ver com terrorismo, e nem saberia onde olhar, a menos que fosse orientada por insiders estilo “Operação Gladio”.

A guerra que o governo dos EUA faz contra os paraísos fiscais também é, é claro, seletiva. A Suíça tem sido alvo preferencial. Agora, o Panamá. Considerada a tese da Agência de Segurança Nacional dos EUA, é absolutamente claro que bilionários norte-americanos e empresas norte-americanas chaves foram, todos e todas, ‘apagadas(os)’ do ‘vazamento/hackeamento’.

O padrão ouro para que os Panama Papers não se tornem descartáveis como vazamento ‘seletivo’ plus ‘Operação psicológica’ de guerra híbrida, seria, por exemplo, se HSBC, Coutts (subsidiária de RBS) e UBS – e profundamente conectada com Mossack Fonseca — forem investigados a fundo. Se Vitol, corretor de petróleo, ligado ao governante do Azerbaijão Ilham Aliyev e cujo nome aparece nos Panama Papers, vier a ser investigado. Se as imundas conexões entre o Big Oil e o Big Banking ocidental forem expostas.

Mas é claro que todos os comerciantes de armas, barões da droga, oligarcas corruptos e conhecidos sonegadores de impostos continuam a colher recompensas dos próprios crimes, sem que nada e ninguém os perturbe – desde que saibam jogar o jogo do cassino capitalista super turbinado.

Por que agora?

Os Panama Papers tem muito a ver com timing. Por que agora? Afinal essa montanha de informações passou por escrutínio, sob sigilo total, durante mais de um ano.

Os Panama Papers encaixam-se perfeitamente na Guerra Híbrida. Assim como a operação Car Wash no Brasil – que é desdobramento da espionagem da Agência de Segurança Nacional dos EUA, contra a Petrobras –, os Panama Papers podem ser vistos como lava-caminhões-monstros, mirada contra o sul global em geral, e contra os BRICS em particular. 

Não por acaso, imediatamente depois de os vazamentos/hackeamentos terem aparecido, o El Supremo do Pentágono Ash Carter, falando no Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) em Washington– vizinho do ICIJ– insistiu mais uma vez que o Pentágono precisava ser mais “ágil” na luta contra os cinco desafios estratégicos dos EUA, que ele listou na seguinte ordem: “Rússia, China, Coreia do Norte, Irã e terrorismo.”

Observem a predominância, em matéria de ameaça, de Rússia, China e Irã – nodos chaves da integração da Eurásia, e todos pesadamente ‘apontados’ nos Panama Papers, sobretudo culpados ‘por associação’.   

O timing da distribuição do vazamento/hackeamento com certeza tem a ver com Palmyra. A recente libertação de Palmyra – que por 3 mil anos é a porta do Sudoeste Asiático para quem venha do ocidente e porta rumo ao Mediterrâneo para quem venha do oriente – foi plano geoestratégico tão brilhantemente concebido e executado, que deixou boquiabertos muitos no Pentágono.

O Daech havia convertido Palmyra numa base chave para ataque total contra Damasco – controlando a única estrada que leva à capital síria.

Assim sendo, só uma contraofensiva meticulosamente coordenada – mais de 20 mil homens, do Exército Árabe Sírio (EAS) a milícias locais, forças especiais do Hezbollah, pasdaran iranianos (inclusive muitos afegãos treinados pelo Irã) e os Spetsnaz russos – conseguiria arrancar de lá os terroristas.

Generais sírios disseram claramente que a Europa (“invadida” por refugiados “libertados” pelo sultão Erdogan da Turquia) sempre preferiu apoiar uns tais “rebeldes moderados” inexistentes – ficção gerada em Washington –, armados pela Turquia e Arábia Saudita. Agora, os europeus têm de encarar o revide, em solo europeu. 

O Exército Árabe Sírio, entrementes, defendeu Damasco; uma Síria unificada e secular e – como os generais sírios destacam com justo orgulho – defendeu também a própria Europa. O trabalho deles não parará em Palmyra. Os objetivos seguintes, para os próximos meses, são Deir ez-Zour, e depois o assalto final a Raqqa, ‘capital’ do falso ‘Califato’.

Assim sendo, que papel teria cabido ao Excepcionalistão – terra da “guerra ao terô” [orig. “war on terra”: era o modo, transliterado, como Bush pronunciava “war on terror” (NTs)] – nessa missão épica?

Nenhum. Nada. Não é acaso que o terrorismo apareça no último lugar na lista de “ameaças estratégicas” do Pentágono. É mais como a ficção que revela a realidade, como na última cena da temporada em curso de House of Cards: “Nós fazemos o terror”.

No caso do Daech, Washington realmente “fez o terror”, no sentido que fez acontecer o terror; o florescimento do falso ‘Califato’ foi decisão premeditada do governo dos EUA. E agora a Rússia fez voar pelos ares – aos olhos do mundo – o autorretrato narcísico do governo dos EUA no qual se traveste como indiscutível campeão da “guerra ao terror”.

Ai! Essa doeu. E em seguida vem a hoje já famosa visita do secretário de estado dos EUA John Kerry a Moscou, há duas semanas, para falar com o presidente Putin.

Pode ter sido parte de uma “grande barganha” na Síria (não, não, nada vazou do que os dois realmente discutiram). E pode ter sido uma retirada tática, com Kerry já tendo reconhecido que a Rússia “venceu” na Síria, mas a OTAN – como o Pentágono – manterá a pressão nas fronteiras ocidentais da Rússia. E a Guerra Híbrida recomeçou quase imediatamente depois, com os Panama Papers.

Nós reinamos sobre mundo uno monolítico

Um “Califato” falso jamais será ameaça estratégica ao Excepcionalistão; mas a integração da Eurásia, sim, é, com certeza.

Não surpreende que o governo dos EUA em Washington esteja alarmado. A Síria já provocou dois desenvolvimentos chaves:

1) a coordenação de alto nível entre Moscou, Damasco, Teerã e Bagdá – mediante o centro de informação unificada de Bagdá –, é já uma antecâmara de como a Organização de Cooperação de Xangai (OCX) [ing. Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)] pode, no futuro, intervir em qualquer ponto de conflito, como antípoda perfeito da OTAN: trabalhando para erradicar o caos, em vez de o fomentar com o dito “imperialismo humanitário”; e

2) é também uma antecâmara, em termos de cooperação entre estados, de como as Novas Rotas da Seda podem avançar pela Eurásia, integrando cada vez mais China e Rússia com o centro e o sudoeste da Ásia.

Quanto ao governo dos EUA em Washington, as prioridades não mudam. Em primeiro lugar, impedir Rússia e a União Europeia de estabelecerem qualquer parceria bilateral, estratégica/comercial/de negócios que aprofunde a integração da Eurásia.

A Guerra Híbrida mais hardcore na Ucrânia continua a ser o meio mais garantido de impedir que qualquer tipo de integração consiga avançar, assim como a OTAN a distribuir suas ‘patrulhas’ a partir das bases implantadas em estados vassalos da Europa Ocidental.

O objetivo chave geral é impedir a integração da Eurásia, por todos os meios. Quanto a Wall Street, o que importa é construir um fluxo mundial unitário, de mundo uno, de capital norte-americano, que beneficie o sistema de capitalismo de cassino superturbinado controlado pelos EUA – e não a Eurásia. Comparado ao Grande Quadro, o Panamá pode eventualmente deixar uns poucos mortos de beira de estrada. Não bastarão. Preparem-se para o grande arrasto. Para os insaciáveis devoradores de gasolina, caminhões-monstro da Guerra Híbrida, a estrada avança.

Fonte: The Sputnik News

Is China A Neocolonial Power In Africa? – Analysis

Publicado originalmente em 26 de abril de 2016.

China-bashing has predictably reemerged as a familiar theme in the current 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, with the frontrunners of both parties attacking China for having committed a myriad of alleged outrages against U.S. interests.1 Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, is of special interest, as she had prominently accused China of engaging in neocolonialism in Africa during her 2011 visit to Zambia in her position at the time as U.S. Secretary of State.2 The Chinese have not forgotten this slight, and the state-owned Xinhua news agency recently published an opinion piece critiquing Clinton’s accusation of China’s alleged neocolonialism, concluding that:

Accusing China of being a neo-colonialist in Africa puts the biased West in an absurd scenario where the robber acts like the cop.”3

As I recounted last year, China has indeed been very active with its various economic projects in Africa. To briefly recap: “Recent examples of such projects include China Railway Group’s Light Railway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the first phase of which was recently completed; China Railway Construction Corporation’s Abuja-Kaduna railway in Nigeria, which was completed in December 2014, and which is the first phase of a larger railway modernization project connecting Lagos with Kano; and the Lobito-Luau railway in Angola, also built by China Railway Construction Corporation, which will eventually be connected to the Angola-Zambia and the Tanzania-Zambia railways. Likewise, Chinese engineering firms … are constructing airports across the continent, including airports in Angola, Comoros, Djibouti, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, and Togo. Apart from the transportation sector, Chinese companies are also involved in Africa’s energy sector, including hydropower dams in Ethiopia and Uganda; biogas development in Guinea, Sudan and Tunisia; and solar and wind power plants in Ethiopia, Morocco, and South Africa. Other economic sectors Chinese companies are actively involved with in Africa include agriculture, construction, healthcare, mining, and industrial manufacturing. A recent count estimates over 2,000 Chinese companies are engaged across almost every country on the African continent.”4

Does this intense level of economic engagement count as neocolonialism? Gordon observes that the relationship of neocolonialism is one of “political-economic domination” such that “there is no viable cultural, economic, or military opposition to the hegemonic weight of the current ‘world order.’” The world order today is Euro-American, and its hegemony was won through not just the collapse of the Soviet Union and its socialist satellites at the end of the Cold War, but also the “years of successful political, economic, and military destabilization of Third World sites of resistance.”5 Such efforts at destabilization continue in our contemporary era, as can be seen in the 2011 Western intervention against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, which in turn led to the strengthening of African jihadi groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram, and which in turn has led the U.S. to establish a network of secret military bases across the African continent to fight its War on Terror.6

Mason reminds us of Hu Jintao’s 2006 pledge to double China’s development aid to Africa, and of the subsequent surge in Chinese investment in infrastructure construction on the continent. Indeed, Chinese aid is more attractive for African governments compared to that offered by the West as it famously comes without the preconditions for political or economic reforms usually imposed by Western donors.7 Memories of the painful experience during the 1980s across Africa of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) and the World Bank’s structural adjustment policies looms over the Nigerian government’s recent decision to seek infrastructure loans from the Chinese government rather than the IMF.8 Such memories echo Sartre’s warning that neocolonial efforts to emphasize the economic benefits accruing from colonial reforms are in fact intended to disguise the reality of political domination.9 Indeed, development aid from China has allowed developing countries such as Cambodia to avoid having to adjust their political and economic orders to satisfy the demands of Western donors.10

Mason suggests that the increased Chinese emigration to Africa that has accompanied the increase in Sino-African economic engagement mirrors the “white settlement and rule in Africa” that occurred during the colonial era, and focuses in particular on the economic impact of Chinese merchants in Africa, who “sell goods made in China,” as well as that of their African counterparts who travel to markets in Guangzhou and elsewhere in China to purchase goods for sale back in African markets.11 This influx of cheap goods from China has been known to “drive out traditional suppliers” and “undermine the local economy.”12 Dixon notes that the removal of trade barriers following Nigeria’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 1995 led to a flood of imported goods from China, and this in turn led to mass closures of local factories that were unable to compete with the cheaper Chinese products. The resulting deindustrialization of northern Nigeria laid the economic conditions for the rise of the Boko Haram insurgency which still afflicts the region today.13 However, this by no means represents the inevitable outcome of local industries in Africa confronting global competition. Brautigam cites examples of local African entrepreneurs in countries like Kenya, Lesotho, and Madagascar who were able to successfully compete against Chinese and other foreign imports, in some cases thanks to the human resource development and technology transfer provided by Chinese industrial investment in their countries.14

A related claim that is commonly presented in the media about China’s alleged neocolonial exploitation of Africa is that China and its firms have been engaged in a massive land grab on the continent. In Brautigam’s calculation, if all these media reports were accurate, Chinese companies would own 6 million hectares, or 1% of Africa’s total arable land. However, the actual figure is closer to just 240,000 hectares. As she explains: “Discouraged by poor infrastructure, political instability, and the sober realization that profits were likely to prove more elusive than hoped, Chinese firms came, explored, and then often went elsewhere—most often to countries in China’s border regions: Russia, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia.”15

The small actual size of Chinese-owned farmland in Africa also disconfirms related accusations of China’s alleged neocolonial plot to transform Africa into a farm to feed the hungry masses back home in China. Recent trade data shows that China is currently importing most of its food commodities like maize and soybeans from major non-African agricultural exporters like the U.S. and Brazil. Indeed, the development of Africa’s food producers into major global food exporters will require significant investment in agricultural modernization, which means the countries concerned will have to do more to attract much-needed investment from international agricultural firms like those of China.16

With regard to journalists and researchers repeating false claims about China’s agricultural activities in Africa, similar examples can be found in reports of Chinese loans to African states. A 2011 report from Fitch Ratings calculated that loans issued to Sub-Saharan African states between 2001-10 from the Export-Import Bank of China amounted to 67.2 billion USD, “overtaking World Bank lending of USD54.7bn to Africa for the same period.”17 This claim would subsequently be repeated elsewhere. Mason, for example, repeats the claim that Chinese aid to Africa exceeded that of the World Bank.18 The suggestion that China has been inundating Africa with cheap money has various implications, including the neocolonial image of China purchasing influence from impoverished African governments. However, the Fitch claim is wrong. A recent study of Chinese loans to Africa from Johns Hopkins University’s China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) shows that a more accurate estimate of Chinese loans to Africa during 2001-10 would be 30.5 billion USD, or less than half of Fitch’s estimate. Indeed, China’s growing pledges of development aid, including concessional loans, should be differentiated from the loans that are actually agreed upon and accepted, especially since a “growing number of countries … have suspended or canceled Chinese offers of credit lines.”19 As the authors of the CARI report recount of their analysis:

“Of the 1,223 reports of Chinese loan financing that we analyzed, only 56% actually materialized and are being used. The rest turned out to be mistakes, hopes, rumors, cancelled, or real loans—but not from China.”20

Looking beyond Africa, this trend of misreporting China’s global activities is most glaringly seen in alarmist reports of China’s alleged attempts to subvert the existing Euro-American world order by creating a parallel constellation of international institutions.21 In the case of the new international financial institutions (IFIs) set up by China, including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the New Development Bank (NDB) set up by China with its BRICS partners, China has always asserted that these are intended to supplement rather than replace the existing constellation of IFIs.22 Indeed, the modest nature of the first projects to be funded by the AIIB and the NDB confirms that this is the case.23 Beyond the shores of Africa, China is also not exhibiting the behavior of an aspirational neocolonial power.

Fonte: Eurasia Review

Why Did Russia’s Pivot to Asia Fail?

Publicado originalmente em 24 de abril de 2016.

On the surface, the concept of a Russian pivot to Asia made sense, particularly greater cooperation between Moscow and Beijing. But, as a pair of fellows from the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin and a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center made clear in separate articles published this month, Russia’s Asia pivot has failed so far to bring benefits to Moscow.

Two years after the Kremlin’s rift with the West, Moscow’s hopes that a new business relationship with Asia would make up for Russia’s losses have not materialized,” Alexander Gabuev of the Carnegie Moscow Center begins his analysis of Russia’s pivot to “nowhere.”

Thomas S. Eder and Mikko Huotari began their recent Foreign Affairs article by remarking, “Ever since Europe imposed sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has held high hopes of countering them by strengthening its alliance with China on energy, defense, and agricultural trade and investments.”

What’s at the core of this failure? One place to look is at the motivation for increasing cooperation in both Moscow and Beijing. Russia’s deteriorating relations (and trade) with Europe precipitated a search elsewhere for partners. For this reason, the $400 billion gas deal signed in May 2014 drew headlines. But the devil, as always, was in the details: Russia would be getting less money per cubic meter of gas than when it sold to western Europe and in the past two years the construction dates have been pushed further into the future.

Russia needs China, but China has options.

Gabuev makes this case in reference to Russia’s seeming inability to work with Asian financial institutions, citing Russia’s only big success with Chinese banks as a $2 billion loan to Gazprom. Beyond that, little was forthcoming:

The reasons are obvious. It turns out that even the Big Four Chinese banks have been complying with Western sanctions, although Beijing officially condemns the sanctions. Given the choice between the opportunity to increase their presence in Russia’s high-risk market (previously small and now even more shriveled with GDP in constant decline) and the potential to strengthen their positions in the huge and stable markets of the United States and the EU, Chinese banks are opting for the latter. A “strategic partnership” does not rule out financial judiciousness.

In the energy realm, Eder and Huotari point to the fact that Russia is but one of many hydrocarbon suppliers for China, “including Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, Turkmenistan, and perhaps, soon, Iran—that are helping China diversify its energy sources…”

And in some cases, like that of Turkmenistan, Russia’s losses have been China’s gains. Over the past few years, trade of Turkmen gas to Russia (for resale to Europe) has dried up. In January, Gazprom announced it would stop buying from Turkmenistan altogether after the trade had already plummeted from a high of 40 billion cubic meters of gas in 2008 to 4 bcm in 2015. Meanwhile, Turkmenistan shifted exports to China. In the first three months of 2016 alone, Turkmenistan supplied China with 10.6 bcm of gas–a 33 percent increase over the same period in 2015. The Central Asia-China pipeline already has three operational lines and a fourth is under construction which will increase capacity to 85 bcm per year.

In essence,” Eder and Huotari write, “rather than playing Europe by engaging with China, Russia is getting played by China.”

For sake of argument, consider how Russia’s Asia pivot has differed from the United States’ pivot (excuse me, rebalance) to Asia. As Shannon Tiezzi and I argued in a recent article for FiveThirtyEight, one of core aspects of the U.S. pivot was simply showing up in Asia. Much of the United States’ increased involvement in the region focused on participating in multilateral forums which many Asian powers prioritize as venues to build consensus and conduct diplomacy. At the same time, bilateral interactions with China have also received increased attention.

Russia’s Asia pivot has focused primarily in China, to the exclusion of other powers. Gabuev comments that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to skip last year’s East Asia Summit and the APEC summit was a “blunder”:

Putin is famous for disliking multilateral events and only attending them for the sake of one-on-one meetings. But Putin’s snub of APEC, where symbolic gestures are fundamental to policy and international relations, was interpreted to mean only one thing: Russia was not pivoting to Asia, it was pivoting to becoming China’s junior partner.

In the end, Russia’s pivot to Asia will continue to underperform as long as the Russian economy is withered and its relations with Europe tense. That said, the two share a number of strategic interests and the failure of this pivot doesn’t necessarily undermine the political sympathy Beijing has for Moscow.

Fonte: The Diplomat

Is it possible to reduce CO2 emissions and grow the global economy?

Publicado Originalmente: 14/04/2016

The statistic is startling. In the past two years, the global economy has grown by 6.5 percent, but carbon dioxide emissions from energy generation and transport have not grown at all, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported last month. CO2 emissions in Europe, the United States, and — most stunningly — China have been falling. What is going on?

These numbers raise a key question of huge importance if nations are to avoid the worst effects of climate change: Is the world on a path toward “decoupling” economic activity from carbon dioxide emissions?

Put another way: Is the idea of a future of “green growth,” with prosperity rising and emissions falling, real? Or as some fear, is it a dangerous myth?

When the United Nations holds an official signing ceremony for the Paris climate agreement on April 22, the hope is this high-profile event will ensure political momentum for meeting the Paris pledge to halt global warming at “well below” two degrees Celsius. But even climate scientists elated by the Paris agreement agree that, even with political will, the task will be extremely tough. Many are unsure whether to be optimists, keen to show the job can be done, or pessimists, determined to ensure nobody thinks it will be easy.

In its analysis last month, the IEA, a body linked with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), reported that global CO2 emissions from energy-related activities have not risen since 2013, staying at 32.1 billion tons even as the global economy grew.

This surprising “decoupling” of emissions from economic activity was led by the two largest emitters, China and the U.S., which both registered declines in emissions of about 1.5 percent.

The IEA finding followed a similar conclusion about global emissions from an international team of climate scientists, headed by Corinne le Quere of the University of East Anglia in England, reported during the Paris climate conference last December.

A good part of the decoupling, both studies agree, is attributable to China. Its turnaround has been “quite remarkable,” says Fergus Green, an analyst of China’s energy policy at the London School of Economics. The country’s coal use grew annually by more than 8 percent between 2000 and 2013, and that growth was the biggest single cause of rising global CO2 emissions. As recently as 2011, China got 80 percent of its electricity from coal.

But growing concern about killer smogs has triggered new controls that mean many coal-burning power plants in China have now been mothballed. Coal burning fell by 3 percent in 2015, by which time the percentage of China’s electricity produced by coal had fallen to 70 percent, according to the IEA.

Chinese emissions from oil and gas burning continue to grow, Green says. But that is more than counterbalanced by a combination of declining use of coal and reductions in energy demand from structural changes in the Chinese economy, with energy-guzzling heavy industries like cement and steel production both now declining.

Per head of population, Chinese emissions exceed those of Europe, even though average income is less than a half that of citizens of the European Union. But China seems set on the road to climate redemption. In Paris, Beijing pledged to peak emissions by 2030. In fact, it may already have done so, says Green. And even if not, he foresees only small increases from now on.

China is following a road already taken by more economically developed nations. The carbon intensity of high-income OECD countries has more than halved since 1970, meaning half as much CO2 is now emitted for every dollar of GDP.

Lately, things have gone further. U.S. emissions have been falling for more than half a decade now, as coal burning is replaced by fracked natural gas and wind power. The United States has become 28 percent richer, but 6 percent cleaner since 2000, says Nate Aden of the World Resources Institute, who reported that, since 2000, 21 countries — all in Europe, except the U.S. and Uzbekistan — have reduced their carbon emissions while growing GDP.

Britain, for instance, grew its economy by 27 percent while cutting emissions by 20 percent between 2000 and 2014.

Part of this national decoupling is a result of advanced economies offshoring heavy industry to places like China, says Aden, with most of the “decouplers” having reduced the industrial share of their economic activity. But this is a minor element, he believes. These 21 nations show an average emissions reduction of 15 percent, but cuts in the industrial share of GDP are just 3 percent.

That said, clearly not all countries are decoupling. Emissions continue to rise in much of Asia and the Middle East. From Turkey to India, enthusiasm for coal remains strong. India has plans to double its already large coal production, which the Delhi government justifies by pointing out that its per-capita emissions remain only one-tenth of those of the U.S. But optimists note that, despite the bluster, India also has big plans for expanding solar energy production.

It is far from clear, says the University of East Anglia’s le Quere, that the world has yet reached peak emissions of CO2 from energy sources — still less that this translates into a peak in greenhouse gas emissions overall. But with the three largest emitters — China, the U.S., and the European Union — all showing evidence of decoupling, the signs are suddenly rather encouraging.

The first hint that decoupling was under way came four years ago, when a report from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC) found that in 2012,CO2 emissions rose just 1.1 percent globally, while GDP rose 3.5 percent. Greet Janssens-Maenhout of the JRC says now: “There has been continuous and increasing decoupling over the past four years.”

There is no modern precedent. Global CO2 emissions growth briefly faltered in the early 1980s, in 1992, and again in 2009; but in each case this was due to a decline in economic activity.

The biggest cause of decoupling is the dramatic growth of renewable energy. Last year, more than twice as much money was put into new capacity for renewables such as solar and wind power than into new power stations burning fossil fuels, according to a new analysis by the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. For the first time, the majority of this investment was in developing countries, with China responsible for 36 percent of the total.

The reason has as much to do with price as climate policies. The cost of photovoltaic equipment, much of it manufactured in China, has fallen by 80 percent in the past decade. As a result, auctions for solar power in Texashave recently seen prices as low as 4 cents per kilowatt hour, which is below the price of most coal-generated energy.

Renewables still only deliver about 10 percent of the total electricity generated worldwide. Even so, Ulf Moslener, a coauthor of the Frankfurt report, said recent investment in green energy has cut annual CO2 emissions from all energy sources, including transport, by about 1.5 billion tons, or 5 percent, from where they would otherwise be.

The growth of renewables is being accompanied by a sharp decline in coal burning, not only in China, but in the U.S. and elsewhere. Canadian climate blogger Kyla Mandel recently noted that a quarter of European Union countries no longer burn any coal for power generation.

This process is being amplified by a flight of capital, as investors fear that expensive coal mines and coal-burning power plants may become “stranded assets,” with no markets, as renewables ramp up and limits on CO2 emissions begin to bite. The coal industry has been hit hard, with the largest U.S. coal company, Peabody Energy, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection just this week.

This concern is likely to spread to other fossil fuels, says British energy analyst and former Greenpeace science director Jeremy Leggett. Current low oil prices may encourage oil burning and could postpone the market penetration of, for instance, electric cars. But low prices also discourage investment in new oil fields. As Leggett put it in a recent blog: “Most fossil fuel companies face a future in which they might not have the capital to expand even if they still want to.”

But there are countervailing trends. The IEA’s emissions audit does not cover all CO2 emissions. Deforestation for the past half century has been a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, although that too now appears to be declining. More worrying — because they are still increasing fast but were left out of the Paris agreement — are emissions from international aviation and shipping.

Expansion plans for the aviation industry could lead to emissions from this source tripling by 2040, says Annie Petsonk of the Environmental Defense Fund. Once these are taken into account, “the decoupling claimed for many nations disappears altogether,” says Kevin Anderson of the University of Manchester in England.

The aviation industry may reach agreement later this year on plans to offset its emissions by investing in United Nations schemes for forest conservation.

But some environmentalists are concerned that the industry will simply be funding projects already promised by governments as part of their plans to meet their Paris pledges. If so, there will be no additional benefit to the planet.

There are growing concerns too about trends for some other greenhouse gases — in particular, the second most-important man-made planet warmer, methane, the main constituent of natural gas. When burned, natural gas produces energy with fewer CO2 emissions than coal. But if distribution systems leak significant amounts of gas, the warming effect of that methane could negate the benefit of switching off coal.

“Methane numbers may undermine the basic thesis [of decoupling],” says climate activist Bill McKibben, who recently wrote in The Nation that U.S. emissions of methane — “CO2’s nasty little brother” — have increased by more than 30 percent. In the article, McKibben pinpointed leakage from fracking as the likely cause.

This is a damaging failure of regulation, but at least it is fixable, at relatively low cost, according to studies by the United Nations Environment Programme. And while methane is a potent greenhouse gas, its lifetime in the atmosphere is roughly a decade, so we won’t be living with the consequences for nearly as long as those from CO2 emissions.

Even if global emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases can be curbed, however, this won’t fix climate change, say critics of the decoupling narrative. The big problem is that warming is driven not by annual emissions but by the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And while methane may disappear relatively quickly, CO2 hangs around for centuries.

Last year, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time. According to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, keeping global warming below two degrees probably requires keeping this figure below about 450 ppm. That means emitting in total no more than about 800 billion tons of CO2 from all sources — or less than 20 years worth at current rates. In practice, emissions have to be brought down to zero by mid-century.

“Set against the small and rapidly dwindling carbon [emissions] budgets associated with the Paris Agreement… the tentative signs of decoupling are of little relevance,” says Anderson, of Manchester University, an avowed pessimist. “The concept of green growth is very misleading.”

Others are more optimistic. Even if decoupling cannot limit warming to two degrees, it could deliver three or four degrees, after which the world might find ways to draw down CO2 from the atmosphere. But all agree the bottom line is that, as le Quere puts it, “we need to bring emissions down to zero. The faster we decrease the emissions, the less risk we take.”

Decoupling is real, but it is just the start.

FONTE: The Guardian