BanUnited Nations boss Ban Ki-moon and his top deputies gathered in secret last year to chart the future course of humanity through “sustainable development,” a controversial concept the UN equates with “saving the planet” in what would ultimately entail a radical and complete transformation of human civilization. But even though the erection of a global so-called “green-economy” regime is a top UN priority, leaked minutes of the meeting revealed that the term itself remains undefined.

U.S. regulators on Thursday authorized plans to construct the nation’s first nuclear power plant in three decades, despite concerns stemming from Japan’s 2011 earthquake that led to a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant last March. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted 4-1 to grant Atlanta-based Southern Company a license to begin operating two new reactors at its existing Vogtle plant in Georgia, which will cost about $14 billion and are expected to enter service as early as 2016 and 2017.

The Chinese government announced on Monday that it would prohibit its airlines from paying a controversial “carbon tax” on flights to and from Europe imposed by the European Union, putting the continental regime in a tough bind as it seeks assistance from Beijing to tackle the region’s spiraling debt crisis. Unspecified retaliatory measures will be taken if the EU persists, according to Chinese officials, who say the taxes violate international treaties.

RioThis June's United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UN CSD) in Rio de Janeiro will largely sidestep discussions of climate-change theories as leaders perceive the subject to be too controversial, according to summit insiders seeking ambitious and wide-ranging agreements on the world’s future. What is being touted as the biggest political gathering of the year will instead focus on framing UN “green” goals in terms of economic prosperity and environmental necessity.

Ener1 Inc., which owns an electric car battery-maker that reaped a $118-million grant from the Obama administration, filed for bankruptcy protection Thursday. The New York-based company claimed defaults on its bond debt were spurred by rising competition from China and other countries. Ener1 listed $73.9 million in assets and $90.5 million in debt as of December 31 in Chapter 11 papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.