Archive for the ‘Energy & Environment’ Category

25
Nov

Pragmatism in Climate Policy

Written on November 25, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Energy & Environment, Op Ed

BERLIN – The diplomatic effort to forge an international agreement to mitigate climate change is undergoing a fundamental shift. The top-down approach that has guided the effort since 1992 is slowly being replaced by a bottom-up model. Rather than attempting to craft an accord based on legally binding restrictions on greenhouse-gas emissions, the new approach relies on voluntary commitments by individual countries to rein in their contributions to climate change.

This is, in one sense, an admission of failure; such an approach is unlikely to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2° Celsius, the target set by the United Nations in 2010. But given the slow pace of progress so far, small pragmatic steps by individual countries may be far more productive than attempts to strike a grand bargain that remains forever out of reach.

International negotiators have made significant progress over the last five years, but they are still far away from an agreement that would meet the 2°C target. As a result, diplomats, fearing that another failed attempt to reach a global accord could discredit the entire negotiating process, have rescaled their ambitions.

In particular, efforts to set strict limits on emissions are quietly being dropped. The focus is no longer on what is environmentally desirable or on the measures needed to keep climate change in check; rather, it is on what is politically feasible – the possibilities and constraints of the negotiating process, especially with a view to securing broad participation. Given the slow pace of progress since the first UN climate-change summit in 1995, any agreement that involves all members of the Framework Convention on Climate Change will be hailed as a historic success.


Read more at https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/paris-climate-change-pragmatic-approach-by-oliver-geden-2015-11#qmyccVSGWWwqvypt.99

Nov. 23rd; Oliver Geden
Oliver Geden is head of the European Union research division at Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

 

27
Jul

EL CHACO, Ecuador — Where the Andean foothills dip into the Amazon jungle, nearly 1,000 Chinese engineers and workers have been pouring concrete for a dam and a 15-mile underground tunnel. The $2.2 billion project will feed river water to eight giant Chinese turbines designed to produce enough electricity to light more than a third of Ecuador.

Near the port of Manta on the Pacific Ocean, Chinese banks are in talks to lend $7 billion for the construction of an oil refinery, which could make Ecuador a global player in gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products.

Across the country in villages and towns, Chinese money is going to build roads, highways, bridges, hospitals, even a network of surveillance cameras stretching to the Galápagos Islands. State-owned Chinese banks have already put nearly $11 billion into the country, and the Ecuadorean government is asking for more.

Ecuador, with just 16 million people, has little presence on the global stage. But China’s rapidly expanding footprint here speaks volumes about the changing world order, as Beijing surges forward and Washington gradually loses ground.

While China has been important to the world economy for decades, the country is now wielding its financial heft with the confidence and purpose of a global superpower. With the center of financial gravity shifting, China is aggressively asserting its economic clout to win diplomatic allies, invest its vast wealth, promote its currency and secure much-needed natural resources.

It represents a new phase in China’s evolution. As the country’s wealth has swelled and its needs have evolved, President Xi Jinping and the rest of the leadership have pushed to extend China’s reach on a global scale.

China’s currency, the renminbi, is expected to be anointed soon as a global reserve currency, putting it in an elite category with the dollar, the euro, the pound and the yen. China’s state-owned development bank has surpassed the World Bank in international lending. And its effort to create an internationally funded institution to finance transportation and other infrastructure has drawn the support of 57 countries, including several of the United States’ closest allies, despite opposition from the Obama administration.

Even the current stock market slump is unlikely to shake the country’s resolve. China has nearly $4 trillion in foreign currency reserves, which it is determined to invest overseas to earn a profit and exert its influence.

China’s growing economic power coincides with an increasingly assertive foreign policy. It is building aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and stealth jets. In a contested sea, China is turning reefs and atolls near the southern Philippines into artificial islands, with at least one airstrip able to handle the largest military planes. The United States has challenged the move, conducting surveillance flights in the area and discussing plans to send warships. Read more…

22
Jul

On Thursday 16 July, Miguel Arias Cañete , EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action, was Keynote Speaker at the annual dinner of the IE Managerial Board Room Executive Program at IE Business School. Diego de Alcazar, President of IE Business School, Eduardo Serra, Former Minister of Defense and Member of the IE International Advisory Board, Santiago Iñiguez, Dean of IE Business School and President of IE University, Arantza de Areilza, Dean of IE School of International Relations and a number of key CEOs and Managing Directors of Spanish multinationals attended the event.

RDR_1319 RDR_1341RDR_1307 RDR_1289

 

14
Jul

The historic deal between Iran and world powers reportedly reached on July 14 in Vienna has paved the way for international sanctions against Tehran to be lifted in exchange for limits on its nuclear activities. While the six powers have said the deal will slow Tehran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon, the accord could also have other far-reaching ramifications linked to Iran’s possible reintegration into the global community.

From potentially stoking a Middle East arms race, to enabling political reforms in Iran, to undercutting Russia’s energy might by freeing up massive oil and gas supplies, here are some possible implications of the agreement.

‘Destabilizing’ Factor?

The prospect of a prospering Iran has sparked concern among skeptics of the nuclear deal — and even some U.S. officials who back it — that Tehran could use this financial windfall to destabilize the already volatile Middle East.Sanctions relief could allow Iran to repatriate more than $100 billion in oil revenues currently frozen overseas , and some experts estimate that sanctions relief could help Iran’s $420 billion economy grow by 5 percent to 8 percent annually.

“We are, of course, aware and concerned that, despite the massive domestic spending needs facing Iran, some of the resulting sanctions relief could be used by Iran to fund destabilizing actions,” The Daily Beast quoted a U.S. State Department official as saying in a July 8 report. 

However, Mohsen Milani, the executive director of the Center for Strategic & Diplomatic Studies at the University of South Florida, told RFE/RL that the deal could be a “transformative event” in the Middle East because it opens the door to better ties between Iran and the West, which could reduce tension in the region.

Richard Nephew, who served as the State Department’s principal deputy coordinator for sanctions policy and as director for Iran at the National Security Council, argues that fears that Iran will use money from sanctions relief to bankroll its regional ambitions are overblown.

“Iran’s domestic economic needs are real, as is [President Hassan Rohani’s] imperative to deliver on the promises that got him elected,” Nephew wrote earlier this month. “To ensure the stability of their government, Iran’s leaders must tend to the problems at home and make the investments necessary to sustain their future. Supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other regional actors is an important, but secondary, objective.” 

Shifting Alliances

The U.S. push for the nuclear deal with Iran has also raised fears among Sunni-dominated Arab states that Washington, their traditional guarantor, is essentially stepping back to allow Shi’ite Iran free rein in the region. Amid these concerns, Gulf Arab states are increasingly talking about diversifying their international alliances.

“[U.S. President Barack] Obama is going to be remembered as the U.S. president who restored relations with Iran. But he may also be remembered as the U.S. president who lost his traditional allies in the region,” Sami al-Faraj, a Kuwaiti security adviser to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), told Reuters in June. Read more…

Written by By Carl Schreck and Golnaz Esfandiari

Published on July 14th in http://www.rferl.org/

11
Dec

Waya Quiviger, Executive Director of the Master in International Relations, interviews Josep Borrell, former President of the European Parliament, on the role of the European Parliament throughout the crisis, the agenda of the new European Commission, and Europe’s energy challenges. 

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