The World Today for November 25, 2022
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NEED TO KNOW
Reducing carbon emissions that cause climate change is possibly the struggle of our lifetime. Telling developing nations that they can’t use fossil fuels to grow their economies is unfair and unrealistic, however, as Time magazine explained. Developed nations in North America, Europe and elsewhere have used coal, oil and gas to dominate the globe over the past 200 years, for example. Carbon and economic growth go hand in hand.
So when world leaders recently met in Egypt at the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) and decided to subsidize poorer countries struggling with climate change-related issues, many hailed the agreement as a breakthrough, reported USA Today.
Others weren’t quite as sanguine. The goal is to cut emissions, they argued, not paper over the damage that emissions wreak with cash payments to poor nations.
“The loss and damage deal agreed is a positive step but it risks becoming a ‘fund for the end of the world’ if countries don’t move faster to slash emissions,” Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the climate lead for the World Wide Fund for Nature, told the New York Times. “We cannot afford to have another climate summit like this one.”
European diplomats were especially disappointed. They supported helping poorer nations with the effects of climate change – but they feared the deal was akin to dealing with the symptoms of a disease and not the root cause, Euronews reported. They wanted big cuts in emissions from China, India and other massive, growing economies but failed to secure them, a Guardian analysis explained.
Delegates to COP27 didn’t secure a deal to reduce emissions worldwide, phase out coal or cut other fossil fuels, Foreign Policy magazine wrote.
Meanwhile, analysts say that slow international progress to cut greenhouse gases is making it unlikely that the world will prevent global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial temperatures, Vox noted, the goal hammered out at prior climate conferences. More powerful storms, worse droughts, hotter summers, colder winters and other problems are expected to worsen.
Emissions must drop by 45 percent from current levels by 2030 in order to limit global warming at that level, the United Nations says. Investments in clean energy must triple to $4 trillion in the next seven years to hit that target, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Could the private sector generate the money necessary to hit those targets? That was the thinking in the past. But now, investors are pulling their money out of environmental, social and governance projects that aim to combat climate change, a Reuters analysis concluded.
Money can’t buy everything. At COP27, it bought goodwill, but little else.
THE WORLD, BRIEFLY
Malaysia’s king appointed anti-graft politician and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister Thursday, ending the political deadlock that had gripped the multi-ethnic country following weekend elections that produced the nation’s first hung parliament, CNBC reported.
Anwar’s appointment came after a meeting between state-level rulers and King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah just days after the inconclusive polls.
Anwar’s reformist Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition secured 82 seats but fell short of the 112-seat threshold needed to have a majority in parliament. Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s conservative alliance, Perikatan Nasional (PN), won 73 seats.
The former ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) emerged as the kingmaker with 30 seats.
Earlier this week, the monarch had given the leading parties until Tuesday to present their alliances to form a government and nominate their preferred prime minister. But the deadline passed with no results.
Anwar’s ascension became possible after the BN – which has governed Malaysia for decades – said it would not join a PN-led government, according to the Washington Post.
The appointment ended more than two decades of waiting for the former deputy prime minister, who has led the opposition for 20 years amid stints in prison and political coups. It also likely ended the long career of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, 97, previously a record holder as the world’s oldest national leader, who was running in the race.
Following his ascension, Anwar vowed to heal a racially-divided nation, fight corruption and revive the economy. He also plans to form a government that will include the BN and another political bloc to secure a 135-seat majority in the legislature, the Associated Press noted.
Even so, analysts said that the new prime minister will face steep obstacles in trying to unite the country’s divided electorate.
Kosovo and Serbia reached an agreement this week to end a long-running dispute over vehicle license plates, which had prompted fears over a potential ethnic conflict breaking out again in the Balkans, Al Jazeera reported Thursday.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, announced the agreement Wednesday following days of negotiations that nearly collapsed after Kosovan Prime Minister Albin Kurti refused to compromise with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
The relationship between the neighboring Balkan nations has remained tense after Kosovo – which is predominately ethnic Albanian – declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. Around 110 countries have recognized Kosovo’s independence – but Serbia, Russia, China and five EU countries have not.
The latest dispute began after Kosovo ordered the Serb minority in the country’s north to change their pre-1999 plates in use since when Kosovo was still part of Serbia. But many Serbs – who still consider themselves part of Serbia – have resisted.
The situation escalated earlier this month when hundreds of officials from the Serbian minority – including police officers, judges and prosecutors – resigned in protest.
Despite the intense protests, Kurti persisted in implementing the plan before declaring Tuesday that it would be delayed for two days due to pressure from the US.
Under the new agreement, Serbia will stop issuing license plates with markings indicating Kosovo’s cities, while Kosovo “will cease further actions related to (the) re-registration of vehicles,” according to Borrell.
Borrell added that he will invite both parties to discuss an EU plan in the next few days aimed at normalizing relations between the two nations.
Too Many Cooks
Uganda will send around 1,000 troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to aid Congolese troops against an ongoing rebel offensive in the country’s east, Agence France-Presse reported.
The soldiers are part of a joint regional force deployed by the East African Community (EAC) to quell violence in the eastern regions.
Troops from Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, and South Sudan are expected to join the EAC regional force. However, its intended total size is unknown.
In recent months, the DRC’s North Kivu province has become a battlefield between government troops and rebels of the M23 group, a largely Congolese Tutsi militia.
The M23 rose to prominence in 2012, when it took the regional capital of Goma before being forced out and going to ground. It resurfaced late last year, saying, among other things, that the DRC had failed to implement its vow to incorporate the group’s fighters into the army.
The fighting has reignited regional tensions, with the DRC accusing neighboring Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels.
The Rwandan government has denied supporting the rebel group, countering that the DRC’s government is colluding with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda – a former Rwandan Hutu rebel group established in Congo after the 1994 genocide of mainly Tutsis in Rwanda.
This week, Ukrainian energy infrastructure has come to the brink of collapse, the Washington Post reported, as Russia continued its pummeling with airstrikes around the country. Russia has pushed Ukraine towards a humanitarian crisis this winter, with millions of people potentially facing life-threatening circumstances without electricity, heat, or running water after six weeks of intensive bombing of the country’s energy infrastructure, the Washington Post added.
Also this week:
- After a setback the day before to efforts led by the US and Ukraine’s other allies to reduce the flow of money fueling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European Union diplomats were due to try again on Thursday to agree on the final details of a strategy to help limit Russia’s oil revenues, the New York Times reported. Meanwhile, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism for its invasion and operations in Ukraine, the Associated Press added.
- Russia has discreetly signed an agreement with Iran to begin producing hundreds of unmanned, armed aircraft on Russian soil, after weeks of savaging Ukrainian cities with Iranian-made drones, according to new evidence reviewed by the US and other Western security services, the Washington Post reported.
- The Ukrainian parliament’s human rights commissioner denied this week that Ukrainian forces had slain Russian prisoners of war, claiming that Ukrainian soldiers were defending themselves against Russians who pretended to surrender, Agence France-Presse noted. The denial comes after videos circulating on Russian social media purportedly showed the bodies of Russian servicemen murdered after surrendering to Ukrainian troops. The allegations prompted Washington’s envoy for war crimes to announce that the US is monitoring accusations of Ukrainian forces summarily executing Russian troops, and that all parties should face consequences if they commit violations during the conflict.
- Finnish border guard officials said the construction of a lengthy barbed-wire fence along Finland’s border with Russia will begin early next year, according to Euronews. The announcement comes amid worries in the Nordic nation about the shifting security landscape in Europe. The first 1.8 miles of the barrier will be built by the summer of 2023 at a crossing site in the eastern town of Imatra. It will eventually stretch for more than 120 miles.
- The Russian parliament approved a bill Thursday that broadens the restriction on “LGBT propaganda” and limits the “demonstration” of LGBT behavior, making any display of an LGBT lifestyle nearly impossible, Reuters noted. Under the new rule, any action or information considered an attempt to promote homosexuality – whether in public, online, or in films, books, or advertising – could result in a hefty punishment.
- Banksy, the famous British street artist, displayed his latest artwork in Ukraine, ending weeks of debate about whether he had visited the nation, according to the New York Post.
Beyond the Dust
Astronomers recently detected a massive extragalactic structure hiding in an uncharted region of space that has been obscured by the Milky Way galaxy, Futurism reported.
Known as the “zone of avoidance,” the region is considered a blank spot in our map of the universe, making up between 10 and 20 percent of the night sky. The area is well-hidden because of the stars and dust surrounding the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.
Previous attempts using visible-light telescopes to peer through the zone haven’t been successful.
But, scientists have had more success unraveling its secrets using telescopes that can detect infrared radiation – a sort of light that is invisible to the human eye but powerful enough to shine through dense clouds of gas and dust, according to Live Science.
In their paper, researchers explained that they used the European Southern Observatory’s VVV survey to examine the infrared light that makes it past the Milky Way’s obstructive bulge.
Their discoveries revealed that the extragalactic structure appeared to be a massive cluster of galaxies bound together by a common center of gravity.
Located roughly three billion light-years from Earth, this cluster is comprised of at least 58 galaxies bundled together in a tiny plot of the zone of avoidance.
The team explained that further investigation is needed to determine the exact size of the cluster, as such clusters can sometimes consist of thousands of galaxies bunched together.
Even so, the mere detection of this massive object suggests that the zone of avoidance may not be as impenetrable as previously thought.
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