COPENHAGEN – In 2009, when Copenhagen hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference, I was there as a member of parliament, and I had the feeling that I was witnessing a world-changing event. For years, negotiators had been working toward an ambitious, binding agreement to limit greenhouse-gas emissions, and the world’s attention was directed toward Denmark. Unfortunately, the global financial crisis and national special interests colluded to derail a comprehensive deal.
BERLIN – It’s been 30 years since the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations launched the Tropical Forestry Action Plan, the first global intergovernmental initiative to halt forest loss. Since then, deforestation has continued unabated, and the latest international effort to stop it – an initiative known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) – looks no more likely to be effective. Far from protecting the world’s forests, the most notable outcome of these two agreements has been, ironically, the production of reams of expensive consultancy reports.
WASHINGTON, DC – Over the next few weeks, the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are likely to put in place notably different policies. The Fed is set to raise interest rates for the first time in almost ten years. Meanwhile, the ECB is expected to introduce additional unconventional measures to drive rates in the opposite direction, even if that means putting further downward pressure on some government bonds that are already trading at negative nominal yields.
WASHINGTON, DC – At least since the fall of 2008, leading economies’ officials have agreed – in principle – that something must be done about financial firms that are “too big to fail.”
ISLAMABAD – It is a painful irony of climate change that those least responsible for the problem are often the most exposed to its ravages. And if any country can claim to be the victim of this climate injustice, it is Pakistan.
KUALA LUMPUR – Financial regulators are generally known for taking a measured and cautious approach to change. But in the developing world, that reputation is being turned upside down.
RIYADH – Inviting Iran to the next round of talks on the Syria crisis in Vienna, Austria – an invitation that was reiterated last week – has far-reaching implications. In fact, Iran’s current government is attempting to overthrow a balance of power that has endured for some 1,400 years – and Saudi Arabia, as the cradle of the Muslim world, will not allow it.
WASHINGTON, DC – For those on the frontline of the battle against malaria, news of the development of a vaccine against the parasite is an exciting development. In 2013, the disease was responsible for 584,000 deaths, nearly 90% of them in Sub-Saharan Africa; some 78% of its victims are children under the age of five.
HO CHI MINH CITY – Since December 2013, China has added more than 1,200 hectares to islands in the South China Sea. The geopolitical implications of these land reclamation efforts are well documented: The majority of the activity has taken place on the Spratly Islands, an archipelago in the waters between Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines, all of which – along with China, Taiwan, and Brunei – have competing claims to the region.
STONY BROOK – Whenever I hear about Islamic State militants bulldozing archaeological treasures and smashing sculptures and statues, I think about the assault on the scientific process being carried out by US politicians.