China Planning Hydropower on Key Tibet River: Global Times

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China plans to exploit the hydropower resources of a Tibetan section of a river that is a key source of water to Bangladesh and India, the Global Times reported.

China’s next five-year plan calls for developing hydropower on the Yarlung Tsangpo River, Yan Zhiyong, chairman of Power Construction Corp. of China, the state giant known as PowerChina, said at a conference on Thursday, the Global Times reported, citing a WeChat account of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China. The river eventually becomes the Brahmaputra and then the Meghna, which are important for irrigation and have religious significance in India and Bangladesh.

A hydropower station even larger than the Three Gorges Dam has long been mooted for the Yarlung Tsangpo, although analysts have been skeptical because of the cost of getting materials and workers to the site. Chinese officials were still researching the site’s feasibility, Bloomberg reported in July.

Exploiting the river’s hydropower resources could provide 300 billion kilowatt-hours of carbon-free electricity a year to China, Yan said, according to the report. That would be about 4% of the country’s total demand last year.

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CDC’s Call to Cancel Thanksgiving Came Just in Time


t’s a tough blow for Americans that the CDC has more or less urged us to cancel Thanksgiving this year, but good news for the world that the agency is back in the driver’s seat when it comes to public messaging on the pandemic.

Without the CDC’s grounding influence, advice about the pandemic has been divisive and confusing. The most popular news stories on social media are meant not to inform, but to generate outrage. That’s diverted far too much focus to joggers, beach-goers and protesters.

Contact tracing studies are showing the disease is being spread primarily by people gathering indoors in private settings — at weddings, baby showers, birthday parties and holiday dinners. When people are with family and friends, they feel comfortable gathering closer for longer, which makes disease transmission more likely.

It’s too bad the new Thanksgiving guidelines came so late, after many people made plans. But the change was necessary. In most parts of the U.S., the odds are higher than ever that someone at a Thanksgiving gathering unknowingly has the virus. And it’s only within the last couple of weeks that the situation has gotten this dire: New confirmed cases were 74,000 on November 1 and 187,000 on November 19.

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Iran ready to retake nuclear agreement


Tehran, Nov 20 (Prensa Latina) Iran is prepared to return to the provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, although it distrusts the United States, according to a report issued by the PressTV channel.

Based on statements by Said Khatibzadeh, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, the source pointed out that Iran’s return to fulfilling all its obligations depends only on the United States.

However, Khatibzadeh stated that it is not only trust, because within what was signed in the agrrement there are details of mutual mistrust; ‘the important thing will derive from the behavior of the next US government.’

Tehran and the 5 + 1 group (United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China plus Germany) signed the JCPOA in 2015, but the United States abandoned it in May 2018.

A year later Iran began to cut back on its commitments with announcements to the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA).

Thus it began enriching uranium to a higher purity, stored more heavy water and began operating more modern and efficient centrifuges, all of which exceeded what was established in the nuclear agreement.

These measures were a response to the inaction of the three European countries on the re-imposition of punitive measures taken by the United States against Iran.

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Volkswagen revs up electric, hybrid, and digital investment to €73bn


Car giant earmarks half its total investment spend for EVs, hybrid cars, AI and autonomous driving over the next five years

Volkswagen plans to increase its investment in electric, hybrid, and digital technologies to €73bn over the next five years, as the German car giant races to meet growing consumer demand and regulatory pressure to accelerate the shift away from fossil fuel cars.

The company on Friday said it has earmarked half of its €150bn total investment plan over the next five years for production and development of electric vehicles (EVs), hybrid vehicles, and digitisation, rising from its previous pledge of 40 per cent.

Around €35bn of the budget will go towards electromobility alone, it said, with €11bn earmarked for hybrid vehicles, and another €27bn towards digitisation, which includes the development of car software, AI, and autonomous driving technologies.

As part of the investment plan, VW is also increasing its focus on battery development. At its Salzgitter site in Germany, the firm plans to invest €1bn in “strategically important” battery technology, teaming up with Swedish firm Northvolt to build a cell production facility which it aims to have in operation by 2024, it said.

The move further bolsters VW’s EV strategy, which has seen the carmaker commit to launch around 70 all-electric car models by 2030, of which it said 20 are already in production. In addition, it plans to launch around 60 hybrid models by the end of the decade, of which just over half are already being manufactured.

Overall, the company said it aims to have produced around 26 million fully electric cars by 2030, and around seven million hybrids over the same period.

“Having set the course for a battery-electric future in the Volkswagen Group early on, we are now a global leader with our electric platforms and a broad range of electric vehicles,” said Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess. “In the coming years, it will be crucial to also reach a leading position in car software in order to meet people’s needs for individual, sustainable and fully connected mobility in the future. To that end, we have doubled our digitalisation spend.”

Volkswagen was the first automaker to commit to the Paris Agreement and has a long term goal in place to become ‘climate neutral’ by 2050, with the firm seeking to clean up its image after becoming mired in controversy for its role in the ‘dieselgate’ emissions test-fixing scandal in 2015.

Bernd Osterloh, chairman of the firm’s general works council, said VW’s investments “demonstrate that our Group walks the talk when it comes to transformation, electric mobility and digitalisation”.

“We will go fully on the offensive in the coming years,” he said. “Volkswagen is fully committed to climate-friendly, highly networked mobility.”

The move comes as reports suggest the UK is poised to become the latest country to announce plans for a 2030 ban on sales of new petrol and diesel internal combustion engine cars, bringing forward a previous phase out date of 2040. The move is also expected to see sales of new hybrid-electric cars end from 2035.

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Ikea to buy back used furniture in stand against ‘excessive consumption’ĺ


Swedish furniture giant will launch resale scheme on ‘Black Friday’ in late November, the day where retailers have historically encouraged a shopping frenzy by announcing a glut of deals and discounts

Ikea customers will soon be able to sell their flat pack furniture back to the company, after the retail giant announced a new ‘buy back’ scheme that will see it purchase old and unwanted Ikea items and resell them to shoppers at discounted rates.

The Swedish furniture giant said it will launch the sustainability initiative on ‘Black Friday’ – the discount day promoted annually by retail companies in late November – in a bid to help customers “take a stand against excessive consumption”.

Customers that sell dressers, chairs, cabinets, or bookshelves back to Ikea will receive a voucher that can be redeemed against fresh items.

Well-used items with several scratches will be eligible for a voucher worth 30 per cent of their original value, while unblemished items can be swapped for 50 per cent of their original value, Ikea said.

The discount card will not have an expiry date, in a bid to encourage customers to buy items only when necessary, according to the company.

A range of products are expected to be included in the scheme, including chairs and stools without upholstery, chests of drawers, small tables, bookcases and shelf units, and display storage and cabinets, the company said. The items will eventually be stocked in dedicated second-hand sections of Ikea stores, with anything unable to be resold recycled, it added.

“The Ikea vision has always been to create a better everyday life for the many people, which right now means making sustainable living easy and affordable for everyone,” she said. “Being circular is a good business opportunity as well as a responsibility, and the climate crisis requires us all to radically rethink our consumption habits.”

Ikea’s new initiative is the latest of a number of moves from retailers to appeal to an increasingly sustainability-focused clientele. In late August, luxury department store Selfridges announced that it was launching a raft of repair, resale and rental initiatives as part of plans to “change the way people shop”.

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