Peacekeeping Budgets Equal Less Than Two Days of Military Spending

Peacekeeping Budgets Equal Less Than Two Days of Military Spending

Michael Renner | Mar 31, 2014

The approved budget for United Nations peacekeeping operations from July 2013 to June 2014 runs to $7.83 billion—$390 million higher than in the previous year.1 (See Figure 1.) This is the third-highest budget since the record $8.26 billion spent in 2009–10.2 Despite some relatively minor fluctuations in the last seven years, peacekeeping budgets are much more stable now than in the 1990s, when a rapid rise in spending was followed by an abrupt decline.

 Peacekeeping Figure 1

Since peacekeeping was invented in the years following World War II, the United Nations has spent a cumulative $124 billion on these missions—an amount that pales in comparison to even a single year of world military expenditures, which stood at $1,753 billion in 2012.3 The world’s armies could not operate for even two days on the current annual peacekeeping budget.

Compared with the early days of peacekeeping—when missions were largely limited to monitoring and maintaining peace along well-defined ceasefire lines—today’s missions are highly complex. Some attempt peace enforcement (suppressing the use of violence by combatants), and some are charged with disarming and reintegrating former fighters. Others involve a broad array of civilian tasks, such as assistance in elections and other political processes, institution building, reform of judicial systems, and training for police forces, as well as other steps to foster and consolidate peace.


Biofuel Production Declines

Biofuel Production Declines

Tom Prugh | Mar 31, 2014

In 2012, the combined global production of ethanol and biodiesel fell for the first time since 2000, down 0.4 percent from the figure in 2011.1 (See Figure 1.) Global ethanol production declined slightly for the second year in a row, to 83.1 billion liters, while biodiesel output rose fractionally, from 22.4 billion liters in 2011 to 22.5 billion liters in 2012.2 Biodiesel now accounts for over 20 percent of global biofuel production.3

 Biofuel Figure 1

Biofuels are a subset of bio-energy, which is energy derived from biomass (plant and animal matter) and which can range from manually gathered fuelwood and animal dung to industrially processed forms such as ethanol and biodiesel. Biomass can be used directly for heat, turned into biogas to produce electricity, or processed into liquid forms suitable as alternatives or supplements to fossil fuels for transport.4 Bio-energy is regionally or locally important in many places around the world; traditional biomass is still used for cooking by 38 percent of the people in the world, for example, while in parts of Africa and Asia more than 90 percent of the populace relies on it.5 In China and elsewhere in Asia, roughly 48 million biogas plants were built as of 2012 to support rural electrification.6


Biofuels for transport, essentially ethanol and biodiesel, account for about 0.8 percent of global energy use, 8 percent of global primary energy derived from biomass, 3.4 percent of global road transport fuels, and 2.5 percent of all transport fuels.7 Ethanol is mainly derived from corn and sugarcane, while biodiesel comes from fats and vegetable oils.

Agricultural Subsidies Remain a Staple in the Industrial World

Agricultural Subsidies Remain a Staple in the Industrial World

Grant Potter | Feb 28, 2014

In 2012, the most recent year with data, agricultural subsidies totaled an estimated $486 billion in the top 21 food-producing countries in the world.1 These countries—the members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and seven other countries (Brazil, China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Russia, South Africa, and Ukraine)—are responsible for almost 80 percent of global agricultural value added in the world.2 OECD countries alone spent $258.6 billion in subsidies to support farming in their respective countries in 2012.3

OECD subsidies grew rapidly between 2001 and 2004, rising from $216 billion to over $280 billion.4 Since then, the dollar amount received by OECD farmers has stayed roughly static at between $240 billion and $280 billion.5 (See Figure 1.) But from 2001 to 2012 the amount spent on these subsidies as a percentage of the total value of agriculture produced in the OECD declined steadily from 32 percent to 19 percent.6 This means that for every dollar’s worth of agriculture earned by OECD farms in 2012, 19¢ came from some kind of government subsidy policy.7

Agricultural Subsidies Figure 1

Agricultural subsidies are not equally distributed around the globe. In fact, Asia spends more than the rest of the world combined.8(See Figure 2.) China pays farmers an unparalleled $165 billion.9 Significant subsidies are also provided by Japan ($65 billion), Indonesia ($28 billion), and South Korea ($20 billion).10 Europe also contributes a great deal to agricultural subsidies due in large part to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union (EU).  At over $50 billion, CAP subsidies accounted for roughly 44 percent of the entire budget of the EU in 2011.11 And this figure does not even include EU price supports, in which governments keep domestic crop prices artificially high to give farmers a further incentive at the expense of the consumer. Including these price supports, the EU spent over $106 billion on agricultural subsidies in total.12 North America provides almost $45 billion in subsidies, with the United States spending just over $30 billion and Canada and Mexico spending $7.5 billion and $7 billion respectively.13 Of the countries studied by the OECD, 94 percent of subsidies were spent by Asia, Europe, and North America—leaving only 6 percent for the rest of the world.14

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