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Second High level China-Eurasia Conference Took Place at Yerevan State University

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Yerevan State University, Yerevan, Armenia— The Second edition of the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” Conference was held on November 1-2, 2019. The conference was organized by “‘China-Eurasia’ Council for Political and Strategic Research” and Yerevan State University.

Mrs. Lena Nazaryan, Vice President of the National Assembly of Armenia, in her opening speech, has stated that Armenia gives an importance for strengthening its cooperation with China. She also mentioned that agreement on trade and economic cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and the PRC will provide an added impetus to develop economic relations in both bilateral and multilateral levels.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PRC to Armenia Mr. Tian Erlong noted; “I am very pleased to attend the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia Conference” dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, which is organized by Yerevan State University and ‘China-Eurasia’ Council for Political and Strategic Research.” He added, that China and the World are experiencing unprecedented changes of the international pattern for the past 100 years. In response to various global issues and challenges and continuous improvement of global governance capabilities, China is willing to make efforts with countries all over the world, including the Eurasian region, adhering to the path of peaceful development, multilateralism, and to the strategy of mutual benefit, win-win and openness, against the hegemonism and power politics, to contribute in building a new type of international relations and community of human destiny.

In turn, Vice-Rector for International Cooperation and Public Relations of the Yerevan State University, Dr. Artur H. Israyelyan, said that deepening relations with China is one of the foreign policy priorities of Armenia. Yerevan aims to strengthen Armenia’s role in the Eurasian region by expanding relations also with China. He hoped that “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” Conference will help in this work.

Director of “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research and founder of the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” Conference, mentioned that during the conference, which was organized by Yerevan State University and “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research the geopolitical, economic and security changes taking place in the Eurasian continent would be discussed. He added that the main aim of the conference is to focus on China’s pivot towards Eurasian continent through its Belt and Road initiative, the US pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, EAEU and EU integration projects in Eurasia etc. He stated that the Asia-pacific region stood the main center of economic developments of the world, it is already fact and all states must think about their own political and economic involvement with this region and of course, China, as a young superpower has its very important role here.

The following panels of the Conference followed the opening ceremony:

The first panel was “China, Eurasia and the New World Order”, where Prof. Dr. Heinz Gärtner(International Institute for Peace and University of Vienna, Chair of the Advisory Committee for Strategy and Security Policy of the Scientific Commission at the Austrian Armed Forces, Austria) delivered keynote speech on“Eurasia between Multipolarity and Multilateralism”. Prof. Dr. Süha Atatüre (Head of the Department of International Relations, Istanbul Gedik University, Turkey) joined the conference with the help of video call. His keynote speech was about “The Globalization, Our World and China Today”.Dr. Zheng Yuntian (Deputy Director of the World Socialism Institute, Renmin University of China, PRC)during his keynote speech told about the importance of building a Community with a shared future for mankind and the new international vision of the Chinese development model.Dr. Mher D. Sahakyan (Director, “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research) introduced his research on China’s national security and Belt and Road Initiative.

The second panel was named “China and the Global Leadership”, where Dr. Anahit Parzyan (“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research) spoke about China’s cyber policy and introduced Beijing’s capabilities for Global cyber leadership. In turn, Dr. Sudhir Kumar Singh (University of Delhi, India) delivered a speech on challenges and opportunities between triangle relations of ASEAN-China. Alexander Korolev (Deputy Head, Eurasian Sector, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia) introduced his research, which was called “EAEU-China: Connecting Eurasia”.This panel was chaired by Prof. Dr. Heinz Gärtner.

The third panel was focused on China’s Belt and Road initiative and the world. This Russian language panel started witha keynote speech by Prof. Dr. Konstantin Kurylev (RUDN University, Russia), which was about the features of implementation and development prospects of the Belt and Road Initiative.Konstantin Tasits (Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Russia) continued the topic and spoke about China’s Policy in South Caucasus in the context of Belt and Road Initiative. Evelina Moravska (PhD Candidate, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland) introduced her research on China’s policy in the region of Caspian Sea.This panel was chaired by Dr. Artur H. Israyelyan.

The fourth panel was dedicated to China’s policy in Western Balkans, during which Prof. Dr. Boris Vukićević (Vice-Rector, University of Montenegro, Montenegro) introduced China’s policy in the Western Balkans as anew player in the strategic game.The panel was chaired by Dr. Zheng Yuntian.

The second day of the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” conference started with the “China and Eurasia” panel.

Dr. Yu Tao (University of Western Australia, Australia) introduced his research on religions and China’s diplomatic endeavors in Eurasia (1979-2019). In turn, Yeghia Tashjian from American University of Beirut, Lebanon, dedicated his speech to China’s policy on Iranian nuclear issue and China’s Energy Security.Dr. Larisa Smirnova shared her thoughts about some differences between Russian and Chinese understanding of the meaning of “developing” and “developed” states during this panel.This panel was chaired by Dr. Varuzhan Geghamyan (Assistant Professor, Yerevan State University/ Director, ARDI Institute, Armenia). During this panel speakers, chair and attendees discussed alsothe meaning of “Eurasia” term from the different schools’ perspectives.

The next panel was called “China, Policy, Subcultures and Information”. This Russian language panel started with a keynote speech byDr. Hovhannes Sargsyan (Head, Department of Political Science, Russian-Armenian University, Armenia). His paper was dedicated to cultural and civilizational foundations of Chinese strategic culture. In turn, Dr. Nadezhda Kotelnikova (Volgograd State Pedagogical University, Russia) delivered speech on Chinese city subcultures in the context of urban communication studies. The next speaker was Michal Marek (PhD Candidate, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland). He introduced his research on factors and events that shape the image of China in the Polish information space.Dr. Anton Evstratov (Russian-Armenian University, Armenia) spoke about China’s policy in the Central Asia. Andranik Hovhannisyan’s (Russian-Armenian University, Armenia) paper was titled “Russia and China ‘A New Big Game’ in the Central Asia”.Ruzanna Airapetova (PhD Student, Russian-Armenian University, Armenia) delivered a speech on public diplomacy of China and Armenia.This panel was chaired by Dr. Hovhannes Sargsyan.

The seven panel was dedicated to China’s role in Shanghai Cooperation organization and its relations with NATO. During this panel Slobodan Popovic (PhD Candidate, University of Belgrade, Serbia) spoke about geopolitical role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization within the Belt and Road Initiative.Dr. Anna Zalinyan (Public Administration Academy of RA, Armenia) introduced her research on NATO-China Council relationship in political-military dimensions.Dr. Saren Abgaryan (Shanghai Jiatong University, PRC) changed the direction of the panel and introduced the new Foreign investment law of China from the viewpoint of foreign companies in China.The aforementioned panel was chaired by Dr. Anahit Parzyan.In the last panel thanks to technologies, by the help of video call Giulia Sciorati (University of Trento) raised and answered to the following question:“Is the Belt and Road Initiative under Siege?” In turn, Elisa Gambino (PhD Candidate, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) introduced her research on Chinese participation in Kenyan Transport Infrastructure Projects.

During the conference an exhibition titled “Beautiful China” was also organized by the support of Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Armenia. Speakers also visited the history museum of Yerevan State University.

Among honorable guests of the conference were senior councilor of the Embassy of Russian Federation in Armenia, Mr. Aleksander Ananev, Councilor of the PRC Embassy in Armenia Mr. Zhou Hongyou, Councilor of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Armenia Miss. Asel Isimova, Ambassador Dr. Arman Navasardyan, Dr. Robert Ghazaryan (Vice Director, IOS, NAS), attachéof the Embassy of Russian Federation in Armenia, Mr. Dmitri Demkin  and other diplomats and scholars.

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Environment

Norwegian scientists finally find good news from Norilsk Nickel

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The state of the environment in the border areas is the main topic of the «Pasvikseminaret 2021», organized by the public administrator in Troms county and Finnmark in cooperation with the municipality of Sør-Varanger municipality.

The purpose of the annual Pasvik seminar is to provide the local population and local politicians all information about the environmental situation in the border area Norway – Russia. Program focused on pollution from the Nickel Plant and monitoring of the environment in the border area.

The activities of Norilsk Nickel have been the main focus of the workshop for many years.

For the first time in many years, Norwegian scientists have found only positive news from Russia.

Tore Flatlandsmo Berglen, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Atmospheric Research (NILU), noted a significant improvement in air quality in the border area. Berglen remembered the 70-80s of the last century, when one of the divisions of Norilsk Nickel “Pechenganikel” annually emitted 400 thousand tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, in the 90s this figure dropped to 100 thousand tons. After the closure plant in Nikel in December 2020, the content of sulfur dioxide and heavy metals in the atmosphere at the border between Norway and the Murmansk region meets all international requirements.

“And I know that these emissions from the Kola MMC will continue to decline. Compared to 2015, this figure will be 85 percent. This is very positive news. Air quality issues are being addressed in the right direction. We have been talking about this for many years and finally the problem has been resolved, emissions significantly reduced. This is the most excellent presentation I have ever make! ” – said Tore Berglen.

Earlier it was reported that Russia’s Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium, closed its smelter in the city of Nickel in northern Russia at the end of 2020. Kola is a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel on the Kola Peninsula with mines, processing plants and pellets in Zapolyarny, as well as metallurgical plants in Monchegorsk and a plant in Nikel, which closed at the end of December 2020.

The Norwegian environmentalists who participated in the workshop also noticed positive changes.

“The smelter is closed and Norilsk Nickel is working hard to become a ‘green’ metallurgical company – it reduces emissions, uses advanced technology and cooperates with Pasvik nature reserve which is our good partner in Russia. Today, a lot of interesting things are happening in the border areas. We have many common interests and there is a certain key to ensuring that everything works out for us – this is good coordination, cooperation, a large knowledge base,” said the representative of the environmental center NIBIO Svanhovd.

Other studies examining water resources, fish, berries, also prove that nature in the border area is recovering. All this testifies to the work of ecologists who care about the environment.

“We see examples of what has already been done. And this allows us to plan with confidence our future joint work, projects,” says senior adviser representative Anne Fløgstad Smeland at the county governor in Finnmark.

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Energy News

World Adds Record New Renewable Energy Capacity in 2020

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Global renewable energy capacity additions in 2020 beat earlier estimates and all previous records despite the economic slowdown that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data released today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) the world added more than 260 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity last year, exceeding expansion in 2019 by close to 50 per cent.

IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 shows that renewable energy’s share of all new generating capacity rose considerably for the second year in a row. More than 80 per cent of all new electricity capacity added last year was renewable, with solar and wind accounting for 91 per cent of new renewables.

Renewables’ rising share of the total is partly attributable to net decommissioning of fossil fuel power generation in Europe, North America and for the first time across Eurasia (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russian Federation and Turkey). Total fossil fuel additions fell to 60 GW in 2020 from 64 GW the previous year highlighting a continued downward trend of fossil fuel expansion.

“These numbers tell a remarkable story of resilience and hope. Despite the challenges and the uncertainty of 2020, renewable energy emerged as a source of undeniable optimism for a better, more equitable, resilient, clean and just future,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “The great reset offered a moment of reflection and chance to align our trajectory with the path to inclusive prosperity, and there are signs we are grasping it.

“Despite the difficult period, as we predicted, 2020 marks the start of the decade of renewables,” continued Mr. La Camera. “Costs are falling, clean tech markets are growing and never before have the benefits of the energy transition been so clear. This trend is unstoppable, but as the review of our World Energy Transitions Outlook highlights, there is a huge amount to be done. Our 1.5 degree outlook shows significant planned energy investments must be redirected to support the transition if we are to achieve 2050 goals. In this critical decade of action, the international community must look to this trend as a source of inspiration to go further,” he concluded.

The 10.3 per cent rise in installed capacity represents expansion that beats long-term trends of more modest growth year on year. At the end of 2020, global renewable generation capacity amounted to 2 799 GW with hydropower still accounting for the largest share (1 211 GW) although solar and wind are catching up fast. The two variable sources of renewables dominated capacity expansion in 2020 with 127 GW and 111 GW of new installations for solar and wind respectively.

China and the United States of America were the two outstanding growth markets from 2020. China, already the world’s largest market for renewables added 136 GW last year with the bulk coming from 72 GW of wind and 49 GW of solar.  The United States of America installed 29 GW of renewables last year, nearly 80 per cent more than in 2019, including 15 GW of solar and around 14 GW of wind. Africa continued to expand steadily with an increase of 2.6 GW, slightly more than in 2019, while Oceania remained the fastest growing region (+18.4%), although its share of global capacity is small and almost all expansion occurred in Australia.

Highlights by technology:

Hydropower: Growth in hydro recovered in 2020, with the commissioning of several large projects delayed in 2019. China added 12 GW of capacity, followed by Turkey with 2.5 GW.

Wind energy: Wind expansion almost doubled in 2020 compared to 2019 (111 GW compared to 58 GW last year). China added 72 GW of new capacity, followed by the United States of America (14 GW). Ten other countries increased wind capacity by more than 1 GW in 2020. Offshore wind increased to reach around 5% of total wind capacity in 2020.

Solar energy: Total solar capacity has now reached about the same level as wind capacity thanks largely to expansion in Asia (78 GW) in 2020. Major capacity increases in China (49 GW) and Viet Nam (11 GW). Japan also added over 5 GW and India and Republic of Korea both expanded solar capacity by more than 4 GW. The United States of America added 15 GW.

Bioenergy: Net capacity expansion fell by half in 2020 (2.5 GW compared to 6.4 GW in 2019). Bioenergy capacity in China expanded by over 2 GW. Europe the only other region with significant expansion in 2020, adding 1.2 GW of bioenergy capacity, a similar to 2019.

Geothermal energy: Very little capacity added in 2020. Turkey increased capacity by 99 MW and small expansions occurred in New Zealand, the United States of America and Italy.

Off-grid electricity: Off-grid capacity grew by 365 MW in 2020 (2%) to reach 10.6 GW. Solar expanded by 250 MW to reach 4.3 GW and hydro remained almost unchanged at about 1.8 GW.

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Environment

New project to help 30 developing countries tackle marine litter scourge

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Litter is removed from a beach in Watamu in Kenya. UNEP/Duncan Moore

A UN-backed initiative aims to turn the tide on marine litter, in line with the global development goal on conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources. 

The GloLitter Partnerships Project will support  30 developing countries in preventing and reducing marine litter from the maritime transport and fisheries sectors, which includes plastic litter such as lost or discarded fishing gear. 

The project was launched on Thursday by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), with initial funding from Norway. 

Protecting oceans and livelihoods 

“Plastic litter has a devastating impact on marine life and human health”, said Manuel Barange, FAO’s Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture.  “This initiative is an important step in tackling the issue and will help protect the ocean ecosystem as well as the livelihoods of those who depend on it.” 

Protecting the marine environment is the objective of Sustainable Development Goal 14, part of the 2030 Agenda to create a more just and equitable future for all people and the planet. 

The GloLitter project will help countries apply best practices for the prevention and reduction of marine plastic litter, in an effort to safeguard the world’s coastal and marine resources. 

Actions will include encouraging fishing gear to be marked so that it can be traced if lost or discarded at sea. Another focus will be on the availability and adequacy of port reception facilities and their connection to national waste management systems.  

“Marine litter is a scourge on the oceans and on the planet”, said Jose Matheickal, Head of the IMO’s Department for Partnerships and Projects. “I am delighted that we have more than 30 countries committed to this initiative and working with IMO and FAO to address this issue.” 

Five regions represented 

The nations taking part in the GloLitter project are in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific. 

They will also receive technical assistance and training, as well as guidance documents and other tools to help enforce existing regulations. 

The project will promote compliance with relevant international instruments, including the Voluntary Guidelines for the Marking of Fishing Gear, and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which contains regulations against discharging plastics into the sea.

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