Geopolitics

Europe needs urgent action on climate change
Geopolitics

Europe needs urgent action on climate change

It has already been stated by several members of the German government, the most recent by the Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer. Furthermore, the European Union again sounds the alarm on the emergency linked to climate change, after the devastating floods that have already caused over 100 victims and thousands missing in northern Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.

The president of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at a press conference in Dublin, said that science tells us that we see more extreme weather phenomena with climate change, which last longer. The intensity and duration of these events are a clear indication “of the fact that they are favored by global warming.

Words that want to highlight again what should be the way forward for all European states, that of a massive energy transition that limits pollution and, consequently, global warming at the root of the current climate crisis. These “horrific events show that action is urgent,” said the head of the Berlaymont Building, adding that she had “activated the mechanisms to help the Member States” affected by the floods.

French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter that “my thoughts go out to the victims of the rains that hit Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands hard. France stands in solidarity in this test. Our support is already deployed in Belgium. It will be sent wherever it is useful”.

The toll of the disaster in Germany is dramatic, first of all in human lives: at least 141 victims and a thousand injured. In Belgium, too, there are 28 deaths and 103 people, of whom there is no news after the catastrophe caused by the rain. Bulletins constantly updated: these numbers, it is warned, will rise again. In the landscape devastated by the unstoppable force of water and mud, the material damage, priceless for now, is enormous.

Floods destroyed houses, shops, cars, and entire communities shocked, in their villages transfigured within hours. “Your fate rips our hearts out of our chests,” said the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, interpreting the country’s general dismay for too many fellow citizens who, in this flood of unprecedented magnitude, did not survive. In Germany, 23,000 people mobilized in the flood regions and firefighters, police, and the TechnischeHilfswerk. In addition, the army intervened with 900 soldiers and their tanks to face the disaster. All the rescuers engaged in the operations are struggling tirelessly to help the population.

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US to sanction Chinese officials over Hong Kong
Geopolitics

US to sanction Chinese officials over Hong Kong

The United States is planning to impose sanctions on a number of Chinese officials due to the Chinese crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong.

The US has also issued a warning to international businesses operating there about the progressively worsening conditions over there.

As per media reports, the financial sanctions would target about seven officials from China’s Hong Kong liaison office – the platform which projects Beijing’s influence into the Chinese territory.

US government has voiced concerns about the repercussions on international companies of Hong Kong’s national security law.

Critics say Beijing brought in that law last year to expedite a crackdown on pro-democracy activists and free press.

US President Joe Biden, at a news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said,

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“The situation in Hong Kong is continually deteriorating. And the Chinese government is not keeping the commitment that it made to how it would administer Hong Kong, and so it is more of an advisory as to what can happen in Hong Kong. It’s as simple as that and as complicated as that.”

The statement, certain to anger Beijing, marks the Biden administration’s latest effort to show the Chinese government of being accountable for what the US calls an erosion of rule of law in Hong Kong – the former British colony that reverted to Chinese control in 1997.

The White House is also reviewing a possible executive order on immigration from Hong Kong. This, however, as per Reuters, is still not certain to be implemented.

Beijing has, on the other hand, snubbed the US by refusing to grant Wendy Sherman – deputy secretary of state – a chance to meet her counterpart during a proposed visit to China. This would have been the first top-level engagement since bitter talks in Alaska.

The US has now halted plans for Sherman to travel to Tianjin following China’s refusal.

US-China Cold War triggers divergent regional response
Geopolitics

US-China Cold War triggers divergent regional response

The US-China rivalry has resulted in multidimensional paradigm shifts in international relations. The ongoing tussle between the two major powers has intensified across trade, technology, scientific, culture, defence and global diplomacy among other horizons. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic from China’s Wuhan city in late 2019 further changed the dynamics of strategic competition and geopolitical trends to further define a new global order.

It is important to note that the cold war has resulted in the rise of China across several regions. While Southeast Asia has been the hotbed for the US-China rivalry, other regions including Russia and Europe have also felt the vibrations of the policy shift.

Beijing has been expanding its influence on other regions to tackle American allies. In response, Washington has been closely monitoring the dynamics and risks related to the expansion of China’s influence across spheres.

For Europe, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the mistrust on China’s assertive regional strategy. With its own stakes in the rivalry, the European Union and its member states appear to be developing strategies to ensure the continuity of multilateral partnership with China as well as competition.

On the other hand, Russia has shown a more neutral and indifferent approach towards the cold war between the two countries. Considering Washington’s tough stance on Russia in the wake of human rights violations in Crimea among other factors, Moscow’s rapprochement with Beijing has grown stronger in recent years. The two countries have expressed cooperation in key areas including economy and security issues. With rising tensions between the US and China, Russian experts have also pointed out that ties between Moscow and Beijing are likely to strengthen.

Meanwhile, Moscow is working on becoming a third “power balancer” with the aim of leading those countries which have shown a pragmatic approach towards the US-China rivalry. Even if the two power decides to bring an end to their cold war, the rivalry is expected to continue to influence geopolitics and international relations among regions. Since the Sino-American competition is far from over, the need of the hour is for world governments to manage the competition to promote peaceful coexistence amid prevailing mutual challenges.

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Hacker attacks, Biden asks Putin to stop Russian cybercriminals
Geopolitics

Hacker attacks, Biden asks Putin to stop Russian cybercriminals

We will take all necessary measures to defend the American people and the critical infrastructures of the United States from this continuing threat ». Joe Biden raises his voice. And in an hour-long phone call that came after yet another hacker attack conducted by the Ravil group, the American president warns his counterpart Vladimir Putin: “You must act and destroy who from your country carry out cyberattacks against us.”

Also, because the ransomware-type offensive – that is, aimed at obtaining a ransom in cryptocurrencies to “free” blocked data – conducted against the American company Kaseya is just yet another assault on small and medium-sized enterprises in the country: and comes later those made in May by the same group against JBS, the most prominent American meat supplier, forced to pay 11 million dollars to get back its access keys. And then the one against the technology supplier to the Republican National Committee. And of course, the most severe attack, also carried out in May, by another criminal group against the operator of the largest gas pipeline in the United States, Colonial Pipeline, which left several American states dry for several days.

A phone call between the Russian and the Americans arrived a few weeks after the Geneva bilateral agreement, where the two leaders met face to face for the first time. Biden had already asked Putin to take action against cyber pirates. An act considered by analysts as a signal to understand what the Russians intend to do in other areas, from human rights to Ukraine.

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According to White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, the interview went well: “President Biden is optimistic and expects short-term action.” On the other hand, the two also commented on a topic touched upon during the Swiss meeting, finding themselves in agreement. They praised the joint work of their respective teams after the US-Russia summit, which led to the unanimous renewal of the Security Council of the UN for humanitarian aid to Syria. Yes, because the UN Security Council just yesterday extended the mechanism for distributing humanitarian assistance in the rebel-controlled areas of Syria through the Bab al Hawa crossing in the north of Italy by another six months (renewable by another six). Country, as confirmed yesterday by the American ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

A resolution resulting from a compromise between two competing drafts, the one presented by Ireland and Norway and the other proposed by Russia, and drafted, in fact, with the contribution of the United States. “What happened is certainly an important moment in the history of relations between Washington and Moscow and shows what we can do with the Russians if we work with them diplomatically on common goals,” said Thomas-Greenfield.

The Kremlin itself spoke of positive dialogue: “According to Putin, there is a willingness on the Russian side to repress cyber-type criminal demonstrations jointly. Given the scale and seriousness of the challenges, the interaction between our two countries should be constant, professional and not politicized “. Also, for this reason, President Biden said: “We absolutely must communicate regularly when we think that something is happening.” But, unfortunately, the red line is active again. Gross of new attacks, we will understand in the coming weeks if there is an agreement.

Economic and geopolitical issues in the South China Sea
Geopolitics

Economic and geopolitical issues in the South China Sea

A powder keg that could explode at any moment: this is how the experts see the South China Sea, one of the hottest theatres of the 21st century. On whose waters a fundamental part of the geostrategic competition between the United States and China is played, and the will to power of various rising Nations insist.

Trade routes to be conquered, alliances to be safeguarded, and old historical issues to solve are intertwined in a single thorny knot. There are many actors involved in this dispute, starting with the ASEAN countries (Association of Southeast Asian Nations): Brunei, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam. To these, we must then add, as mentioned, China and the United States, with Beijing trying to expand its influence on what it considers its “backyard” and Washington, on the contrary, trying to block the rise of the Dragon while maintaining its Asian outposts. Impossible to please everyone. Also, because, as anticipated, when we talk about the South China Sea, at least three different aspects overlap each other. The first issue concerns the historical disputes between the regional countries.

The root of the ongoing territorial disputes dates back to 1947. At the time, the Chinese nationalists of the Kuomintang made a map of the South China Sea, drawing 11 dashed lines, that is, the claims of China. Too bad that these also included the waters located between Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines. A few years later, Mao’s Communists came to power. In the 1970s, then Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai erased two dashed lines, reducing them to nine. Small problem: those traits were too vague, not to mention that China’s neighbors disagreed. However, as long as the Dragon was in a weak state, the matter remained open. Since the Asian giant has tightened its muscles, Beijing has returned to claim its territorial area.

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In 2013, the Philippines filed an appeal with the Permanent Tribunal of Arbitration in The Hague, which, in 2016, declared the infamous nine-stroke line a violation of international rights. Last but not least, China has signed the Convention on the Law of the Sea, which sets the exclusive economic zone of a country in the delimited space within 200 miles from its coasts. Therefore, the islands claimed by China would not belong to Beijing. Which, for its part, considers the Hague verdict to be waste paper.

The second question regarding the South China Sea is geopolitical. Each country involved in the dispute has a thousand reasons to exploit local waters fully. In addition, it is necessary to consider the essential balance required of ASEAN members, in part rivals of China and part very close trading partners.

It is no coincidence that in November 2020, a mega trade agreement was signed, which, alone, is worth 30% of world GDP. That is the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP). This partnership includes members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. That is the most significant free trade agreement globally, and every actor involved is looking to capitalize on exclusive benefits.

The RCEP covers an area that is worth a third of global economic activity. The agreement unites pro-Western Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea in a single system, with Western Pacific countries such as Australia and New Zealand, with the 10 ASEAN countries of Southeast Asia, with China. Of course, each of them also has other affiliations from previous trials, including the CPTPP, which crowned a prosecution initiated by Obama (TPP), later quashed by Trump, but ultimately completed by all others except the US. Or like the New Supply Chain Pact that unites others. But it remains to be seen whether these systems will stay now that the general systemic framework has been formed.

At the same time, it is also likely that if commercial interest tends to unite these regional players, the geopolitical balance will lead many of them to counter-insure with closer military defensive collaboration with the US. For this reason, it isn’t easy to imagine that there will be a substantial integration between the RCEP and the New Silk Road with Chinese traction. Given that the two projects travel on a parallel track but on which convergences of various kinds are difficult, thanks to the more excellent geostrategic posture of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Nord Stream 2, the geopolitics of gas pipelines
Geopolitics

Nord Stream 2, the geopolitics of gas pipelines

The Biden-Putin summit in Geneva was an epochal event, capable of marking the turning point with the Trump era and re-establishing relations between the U.S. and Russia. There have been talking of many issues, from cybersecurity to nuclear. “A positive encounter,” according to Joe Biden. Vladimir Putin called it “productive.” During the summit, at least to see the official press releases. However, there was no mention of what happened a few days ago: Biden decided to spare Nord Stream AG from sanctions, the leading company involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2, a company with headquarters in Switzerland but owned by the Russian company Gazprom, which builds the second arm of the pipeline that crosses the Baltic. Just under 60 kilometers to complete the doubling of the Nord Stream, which from the Russian terminal of Vyborg, on the border with Finland, goes to the German one of Greifswald, in the country’s north-east. The doubling of the trans-Baltic gas pipeline will bring about 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia to Germany, bypassing the Visegrad countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary – V4).

That gas supplies Germany and Eastern Europe directly, continuing down, potentially as far as Italy. That is yet another energy dominance project. Together with the Turk Stream, operational since the beginning of the year, the Nord Stream 2 will flood the Old Continent with Russian gas, in line with the current objectives of the “energy transition.”

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According to the American news site Axios, Biden’s brake is precisely due to the desire not to clash with Berlin over its energy policy, trying to safeguard the space for mediation. Germany has strategically linked itself to Russia, unlike France, which has never given up on atomic energy. For Berlin, natural gas is now indispensable. The decision to decommission all coal-fired plants by 2038 has focused entirely on a mix of renewables and gas. But Nord Stream 2 said the new head of U.S. foreign policy Antony Blinken represents “a bad agreement for Germany, Ukraine, and all our partners in Central and Eastern Europe.” Therefore, it would be a Russian geopolitical project destined to split Europe and weaken the energy security of the Old Continent.

The two heads of state also discussed the situation in Ukraine. In a note, the association committee of E.U. and Ukrainian parliamentarians, at the end of an informal discussion, said: “We are deeply concerned about the resumption of construction work on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, we consider it a geopolitical project, not commercial, aimed at expanding the geostrategic influence of Russia on Europe ». The text continues by asking the E.U. leadership to review its cooperation with Russia, immediately stopping the pipeline’s construction. But now, it is only a question of diplomacy. The Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Aleksandr Novak, said that the pipeline’s structure would be completed by the end of 2021. That was also stated by Rainer Seele, CEO of the Austrian oil and gas company Omv, on the sidelines of the works of the International Economic Forum of St. Petersburg. On June 3, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met Jan Hecker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign policy adviser in Washington, to discuss Nord Stream 2 and what it would imply for Germany. Ukraine. On June 12, during the works of the G7 in Cornwall in the United Kingdom, Merkel herself had an interview with Joe Biden, and the two also talked about Nord Stream and Ukraine. The German Chancellor believes that the two countries are “on the right track” and reiterated the importance of Ukraine in the transit of gas from Russia to Europe.

At the end of the project, Vladimir Putin’s Russia will have an increasing weight on the international stage. If Nord Stream 2 sees the light, in a few months, Moscow will have collected its third success after the start of Turk Stream and the start of supplies to China of the pipeline called Power of Siberia. The American president has preferred, for now, to take the path of forgiveness or somewhat of prudence. But the message is clear, especially for the G7 partners: U.S. diplomacy is back.

Protect science from anti-Chinese geopolitics
Geopolitics

Protect science from anti-Chinese geopolitics

The west is attacking Beijing for many reasons: the spread of the coronavirus, the condemnation for the lack of respect for human rights, the economic threat, the mystery of the origin of the virus, the challenges on the climate. For one reason or another, China today is an imposing Leviathan with whom to flirt economically and be cornered, politically, in a schizophrenic circle-bot spiral. However, net of political stances, isolating China now seems counterproductive as welcoming it into the international system.

In recent years, scientific research has been one of those sectors that have suffered most from idiosyncrasy towards Beijing. In the long run, geopolitical tensions have reduced global scientific collaboration precisely when it has become most necessary. The Covid-19 pandemic has provided dramatic demonstrations of the value of cooperation in scientific research. Moreover, it has shown that this is an exclusively positive-sum game: problems such as climate change, environmental degradation, and infectious diseases cannot be addressed entirely without a comprehensive approach.

The magazine Nature, which reports research that has analysed the trends of scientific collaboration over the past twenty years, has sounded the alarm about the closure to China. An analysis of more than 10 million articles tracked by Web of Science found that international co-authors’ numbers increased from 10.7% to 21.3% between 2000 and 2015. In that year, about 200 countries were represented in the collaborative literature. However, the complicated relations between Western powers and China and the pandemic outbreak marked a setback for this trend.

In 2018, for example, the FBI accused China of exploiting the world of research and development in the United States for illegal purposes. A flood of investigations followed by the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies identified hundreds of federally funded scientists suspected of breaking the rules on disclosure of foreign ties. A real witch hunt then gave way to a series of sensational releases and a series of accusations of guilt. Scientific xenophobia has not only affected the United States: Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and India have also increased their control over international research relationships in the interest of protecting national security, with China widely regarded as the public enemy. n.1. These setbacks not only concern cooperation between scientists: the flow of students from one country to another, the salt of post-modernity, also seems to slow down: visa policies and administrative burdens in hosting Chinese scientists complicate for political reasons, discouraging mixed teams from seeking collaborations in Asia.

Further analysis shows zero growth between 2019 and 2020 in US-China co-authored publications in the Nature Index, which tracks authors’ affiliations in 82 natural science journals selected by reputation. On the contrary, in the previous four years, the growth was more than 10% per year. In the same period, publications by researchers in China and Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan have increased individually. An analysis of the scientific and engineering articles in the Scopus database also shows that if the international collaboration on Covid-19 research in the first five months of last year was above the average of the previous five years on non-Covid-19 research. 19, the proportion of China’s collaborations with the United States was lower than in the previous five years. A subsequent study also shows that collaborations between China and the United States in research on SARS-CoV2 have declined as the pandemic progresses: Washington’s lack of confidence, on the one hand, and Beijing’s reluctance, on the other, help to explain the data.

After the initial shock of the first months of the global pandemic, international research collaboration shows unique patterns concerning coronavirus research in the pre-COVID era. The hardest-hit nations tend to produce the most coronavirus articles, with production closely linked to infection rate. Covid-19 research has fewer nations and smaller teams than pre-Covid research, a trend that intensified during the pandemic. The United States remains the single most significant contributor to the production of global publications, but contrary to the early months of the pandemic, China’s contribution declines as cases fall.

Scientific collaboration is presumably the most excellent teaching of the pandemic. In just a year and a half, a historically infinitesimal time, thanks to the international research community, we know what causes the disease. We have developed and distributed vaccines in record time. We have a better understanding of how to manage the disease, with many therapies on the way. The pandemic is not the only complex global crisis; the climate emergency, the loss of biodiversity, food security, future global health crises will require interdisciplinary and intersectoral approaches. Scientific cooperation in these fields must remain the most significant possible humanitarian corridor for global well-being together with data sharing. Shared data is precious, despite the need to pay attention to not exploit it either for profit or other unethical purposes.

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Cooperating with a country of a thousand contradictions like China is risky and can prove to be a double-edged sword for “freedom” as the West understand it today. However, as Noberto Bobbio argued in 1988 in Tolerance and Truth, “better a freedom in danger but expanding than a protected freedom that closes in on itself.”

Immigration and NGOs, the geopolitics of the Mediterranean
Geopolitics

Immigration and NGOs, the geopolitics of the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean Sea represents a natural strategic and economic extension for the European Continent, but also, and above all, a cultural frontier.

Europe, considered as an open space both from a human and from a political point of view and based on an important factor such as security, produces at the same time an effect of closure towards the countries on the southern shore, raising a wall that divides two worlds.

Since 2017, the flow of migrants to European coasts has been steadily declining and the number of immigrants is significantly lower than in previous years. With the decrease in landings, attention and interest in the phenomenon has decreased, especially after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which for months has attracted everyone’s attention.

Nevertheless, migratory flows cannot be considered a “problem” of the past, indeed in the first half of last year we have witnessed an increase in numbers – albeit still limited – compared to recent years: according to the Ministry of the Interior, from the 1st January to 21 July 2020, the migrants landed on the Italian coasts were 9,885 compared to 3,365 referring to the same period last year.

Migration between the two shores of the Mediterranean is a structural factor, therefore both individual states and the EU cannot afford to neglect this phenomenon, but should take action for a sustainable solution that has effects not only in the short term.

The response of the European Union in the aftermath of the crisis following the Arab Springs in 2011 was that of a new strategy that was able to relaunch collaboration with the countries of the southern shore of the Mediterranean, and that would inaugurate a new dialogue on issues such as South-North security and immigration.

Conditionality was the element that was the basis of all the agreements of that period, where the EU offered advantages in certain sectors in exchange for stricter control over the movements of irregular migrants and those groups considered marginal. What we witnessed was a sort of “management from the outside” of security policies and the control of borders and migratory routes.

The externalization of borders can be considered a set of legal, cultural, but also military and economic choices, implemented outside their territory by state subjects, single countries, or supra-state ones, as in the case of the European Union, which have a specific objective: in the case of the migration issue, it is to prevent or at least hinder the entry of migrants into their territory as much as possible.

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About the control and management of immigration, the individual States intervene to strengthen their borders, reproducing them in new forms and delocalizing them beyond the official demarcation paths, i.e. redistributing a series of events in space such as visa requirements, controls on the high seas, cross-border cooperation, sanctions against NGOs, etc.

The choice of Europe to adopt an attitude aimed at considering the migratory phenomenon mainly in terms of security brings out the limits that this policy of controlling and containing the phenomenon carries with it, especially if we take into consideration the issue of human rights.

The process of externalization of borders is not a novelty in recent years but it is a regular and dated phenomenon. The issues that concern the Europeans most, however, start in 2015 with the Migration Agenda and then cross a complex path that sees among the main stages: the Valletta summit (2015); the Turkey-EU agreement (2016); the Malta Declaration of the member states of the European Council (2017); the agreements between Italy and Libya, and several other initiatives on the code of conduct to be followed for NGOs that carry out search and rescue activities at the sea.

Among the main actors involved in the Mediterranean, albeit implementing with different objectives and methods, we meet individual states, EU members and non-EU members; European agencies, the International Organization for Migration (IOM); the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The role of UNHCR and IOM becomes central in the implementation of policies aimed at preventing the entry of migrants into the territory of a state. If the Italian government and the EU are accused of financing the Libyan authorities, despite the many doubts that weigh on them, and with these funds delegate them to carry out illegitimate acts, both Rome and Brussels make continuous reference to the role carried out by the two supranational bodies.

From the point of view of the Member States and Europe, the two organizations should promote the raising of the quality standards of the immigration detention centers (IDC) in the Libyan territory and assist with those subjects blocked in the attempt to cross and brought back. Wrong conception and bankruptcy results if we look at the impact that humanitarian interventions have on the treatment to which migrants are subjected.

Covid-19, Delta variant advances fast from one continent to another
Geopolitics

Covid-19, Delta variant advances fast from one continent to another

The Delta variant of the coronavirus is advancing fast from one continent to another and scares the world. First identified in late 2020 in India, it is gaining ground worldwide. It is making its way in Europe especially through Great Britain, where it is the most widespread mutation, present in 95% of cases and driving the explosion of infections in recent days. Fortunately, few victims are recorded, thanks to the high percentage of vaccinated people (84% with a dose, over 61% with a booster).

Its race in Russia, where the vaccination campaign is proceeding slowly, is decidedly more lethal. The former Indian variant is responsible for the new, disturbing spike in infections in recent days in super-immunized Israel that puts the masks back on and in Australia, with Sydney dusting off the curfew. According to the WHO, Delta is present in at least 80 countries. To better photograph his race – warn from Geneva – at least 5% of positive cases should be sequenced, while most countries are far from this figure. The first studies indicate that the protection of vaccines with this variant would lower, yes, but slightly.

The streets of Sydney, Australia’s largest city with 5 million inhabitants, are once again empty, as in the worst period of the pandemic. The lockdown that started yesterday will last two weeks. “With a contagious variant like the Delta, a short block does not work,” clarified the regional premier, who fears a potentially high number of infections in the coming days. Frustration widespread among citizens, displaced by the sharp turnaround. Australia, behind in the vaccination campaign, is immunized only 4.7% of the population.

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In the last week, there has been a sharp increase in new cases, about eighty, after a period of calm. In this situation, neighboring New Zealand has decided to take action and has suspended the so-called “bubble” that allows travel without quarantine with Australia.

The Delta variant of Covid-19 is leading the new wave in Russia, which exploded in mid-June with records of infections and victims. Of particular concern is the situation in St. Petersburg, which yesterday recorded 107 deaths, never so many since the start of the pandemic. The virus is rampant in the city that hosts the European football championships, including the quarter-final on Friday 2 July.

Finland has already seen an increase in cases after the return of at least two thousand Finnish fans, who traveled to the Russian city to follow two matches of the national team. That the situation is dramatic in the country that first announced the vaccine is partly explained by the widespread skepticism among the people: only 19.5 million inhabitants out of 146 have received at least one dose, one in six citizens Moscow. And the prospects for the future are not rosy. 60% of Russians have no plans to get vaccinated.

Climate change, a law to achieve climate neutrality in Europe by 2050
Geopolitics

Climate change, a law to achieve climate neutrality in Europe by 2050

With 442 votes in favor, 203 against, and 51 abstentions, the plenary of the European Parliament today approved the new EU climate law, raising the target to 2030 of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 40% to 55% compared to 1990, an agreement which should be formally approved shortly by the Council, and then published in the Official Journal. The long-term target remains fixed at 2050 when the Old Continent will have to be climate-neutral and then “aim for negative emissions”. In other words, by the middle of the century the net emissions of greenhouse gases will have to be zero, that is to say, be reduced so that the European ecosystems can completely absorb them, and then improve again.

The Commission will present a proposal for a 2040 target no later than six months after the first global review in 2023 under the Paris Agreement, publishing the maximum amount of greenhouse gas emissions that the EU can emit until 2050 without putting climate commitments in jeopardy: this so-called “greenhouse gas balance” will be one of the criteria for defining the revised EU target for 2040. By 30 September 2023, and every five years thereafter, the Commission will also assess collective progress made from all EU countries, as well as the consistency of national measures, towards the goal of climate neutrality.

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In addition, in order to ensure objective feedback on the matter, a European Scientific Advisory Committee on Climate Change will be set up to monitor progress and assess whether European policy is consistent with these objectives. “I am proud that we finally have a law on climate,” comments Swedish MEP and rapporteur Jytte Guteland. “We have confirmed a target of reducing net emissions of at least 55%, closer to 57% (taking into account the contribution offered by the of CO2 linked to land use, as in the case of forestry, ed) by 2030 according to our agreement with the Commission. I would have preferred to go even further, but this is a good science-based agreement that will make a big difference.” Guteland added.  The EU must now cut emissions over the next decade, more than it did in the previous three decades combined. According to the MP, Sweden has goals that can inspire other countries to take a step forward.An enthusiasm that is not shared by the group of the Greens, however, as the low ambition of the climate law would in fact break the promises of the Paris Agreement.

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