10 December 2018   Leave a comment

A heated debate has erupted at the UN conference on climate change (COP24) taking place in Poland.  The delegates were asked to “welcome” the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that was issued two months ago that gave the world about 12 years to limit greenhouse gases if temperatures were to be kept below 2°C.  Four countries–Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the US–have been pushing hard to change the word from “welcome” to “note”.  The change may seem minor, but it would ease the pressure on various governments to take more effective action to limit greenhouse gases–the resolution would fall short of being an endorsement of the IPCC findings.  There are still five days left in the conference, so we shall see if the majority of countries will stand up to these four countries.



British Prime Minister May has cancelled the vote on Brexit which was scheduled for tomorrow saying that “If we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow, the deal would be defeated by a significant margin.”  There does not appear to be a Plan B and the whole Brexit scheme has been forced into limbo (although a decision has to be technically made by 29 March 2019).  But the agreement forged between May and the European Commission had virtually no support:

“Opposition has hardened against the withdrawal agreement. The hard Brexiteers — those who want a clean break from the EU — see this document as potentially trapping the UK in a dependent relationship with the bloc indefinitely. Those who are pro-Europe, or ultimately want to Remain, view the deal as weakening the UK and leaving it in a much worse position economically and politically.”

There are many issues complicating a deal, but the main one seems to be over whether an agreement can be reached over the border between the Republic of Ireland (which is a member of the European Union) and Northern Ireland (which is part of Great Britain and would be outside the EU if a Brexit occurs).  No one wants to see a “hard” border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland–the recent agreements between the two sides eliminating the border was purchased with a great deal of blood and political capital.  No one has any idea what happens next:  May resigns?  A new referendum?  An abrupt Brexit with no agreement?



China’s Belt and Road Initiative is incredibly ambitious, conjuring up the economic dynamism that the original Silk Road created in Eurasia.  The original plans were drawn up when China’s economy was in high gear and when infrastructural financing in Eurasia was very small.  The first phase of the Initiative is coming to a close and both China and the recipients of China’s aid are rethinking the whole enterprise.   China’s economy is slowing down and less money is available given the high levels of government debt in China.  And the recipients have soured on some of the terms of China’s aid, some of which was offered regardless of the ability to repay the loans.  It remains to be seen if the Initiative will remain as robust in the future.

The Belt and Road Initiative Projects

Posted December 10, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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