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Ted Turner Urges WTO Members To Use Biofuels To Break Doha Deadlock

Chairman United Nation Foundation and founder of the Cable News Network (CNN) Ted Turner listens to Professor Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate during his talk on "Democracy and its Critics" in New Delhi, 15 December 2005. The talk was organised by the United Nations Foundation, which was created by Ted Turner and it supports United Nation's projects around the world, Since its inception, the UN Foundation has awarded grants amounting to over USD 900 million. Photo courtesy of Manpreet Romana and AFP.
by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) Sep 25, 2006
US media mogul and billionaire philanthropist Ted Turner urged negotiators on Monday to use green energy as a means to revive stalled World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks on a deal to reform global commerce.

In a speech to a WTO symposium, Turner said that the WTO's 149 member states should take up his idea for relaunching the so-called Doha Round negotiations: boost production of biofuels, renewable sources of energy which can be made from agricultural produce including grain or crop waste.

The Doha Round talks were suspended in July amid a bitter EU-US rift on farm subsidies and tariffs as well as disputes between wealthy and developing nations over market concessions, particularly in farm trade.

"If we give up on Doha, we're giving up on fighting poverty," said Turner.

"The Doha Round is stalled because rich countries and poor countries are split on the question of agriculture subsidies. If agriculture were always going to be the same, then the question of subsidies would be a problem without a solution. But agriculture is changing.

"Farmers have always grown crops for food and fibre. Today, farmers can grow crops for food, fuel and fibre," Turner said.

"The global demand for biofuels is huge and rising. That's why I'm confident that in the near future, farmers' incomes will be assured, not by subsidies and tariffs, but by market forces.

"And that's why it makes so little sense to throw away the Doha Round over agricultural subsidies and tariffs. We shouldn't give up a great future to cling to the past."

The Doha Round talks were launched in the Qatari capital in 2001 and were supposed by 2004 to deliver a global agreement on reducing agricultural and industrial trade barriers, and on boosting development in poor nations.

But the negotiations dragged on without success until July's meltdown, and there has so far been little indication of when they could start again.

Using biofuels helps to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but also makes economic sense because developing countries are struggling to cope with high oil prices, said Turner.

"By investing in biofuels, developing countries can produce their own domestic transportation fuels, cut their energy costs, improve public health, create new jobs in the rural economy, and ultimately, build export markets," said Turner.

Turner, the founder of Cable News Network (CNN), was speaking in his capacity as head of the UN Foundation, which he created in 1998 with a one-billion-dollar donation to support global causes.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Troubled Sakhalin Energy Project Faces New Environmental Surveys
Moscow (AFP) Sep 25, 2006
Russia's natural resources ministry said Monday it had ordered a new round of environmental inspections at a giant Shell-led energy project that has already had its environmental permit revoked. The inspections will take place at worksites for Sakhalin-2, a 20-billion-dollar (15.8-billion-euro) oil and gas project off Russia's Pacific coast that has come under pressure from Russian authorities for alleged environmental violations and cost overruns.

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