UNDP Recognizes Recent Kazakhstan Growth
On Monday, a UNDP global report regional presentation was held in Astana at the Kazakh Foreign Ministry. The UNDP is a global development network that advocates giving people a better life through knowledge, experience, and resources. Its main focuses center around poverty alleviation, democratic governance, crisis prevention and recovery, and more.

During the presentation of the report, Adam Oliver, the director of the Bratislava regional center of the UNDP (United Nations Development Program), stated that Kazakhstan is ahead in human development in comparison to other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries and Europe. Oliver went on to add that Kazakhstan is a “transforming country” because it supports other neighboring countries’ economies as well as their own.

Amie Gaye, the chairperson of the UNDP Human Development Department suggested that Kazakhstan has shown “excellent results [in human development] during the last ten years and ranked 17th among 122 countries.” In addition, she also claims that the country is ahead of others in terms of the ratio between education and income levels. Hence, in 2012, it placed 69th out of 187 countries.

Leen Abdallah 
Source: Azer News

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), a European non-profit, recently published a report entitled “The Unpaid Health Bill,” which elucidated the costs that coal-fire plants impart on citizens’ health. The study concluded that burning coal contributes to over $50 billion in lost resources annually, partially due to the over four million sick days required as a result of coal-fire plants. Even more shockingly, there are over 18,000 premature European deaths each year which can be attributed to this dirty form of energy.

HEAL’s Executive Director, Genon Jensen, urged that these findings “be taken into account when determining energy policy,” especially in consideration of the increasing levels of coal use in Europe. Her organization’s goals are to cease all production of coal-fire plants, and to completely end European use of coal by 2040.

Part of the reason alternative, cleaner energy sources seem so expensive when compared to conventional fossil fuels is because of an economic concept called “externalities,” which are essentially “side effects.” The costs associated with using coal go far beyond extracting the material and burning it; there are negative externalities such as the pollution of the atmosphere, which affects everyone breathing the air. If coal companies were forced to pay for all the costs of their business, they would be charged for the carbon they put into the air, in order to offset the costs everyone else has to bear. The positive externalities of renewable energy sources, like a reduction in medical costs and benefits to wildlife, can often go unrewarded. If governments recognized the amount they could save by switching to clean energy, and used part of those savings to subsidize the installation of such energy sources, then there could be an economically feasible plan for abandoning fossil fuels forever.

Jake Simon

Source: DW