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By- Jamie Dettmer
How politically realistic are the climate action goals that European governments are setting in lockstep with the United States?
Some analysts are warning that the rich can afford the necessary changes, but the burdensome costs of a green transition for middle-class and poorer voters could trigger a backlash and prompt electoral reversals.
Others worry European governments have still not fleshed out in practical terms how to meet their ambitious climate action and emissions reduction goals and that a failure to deliver solutions, as happened after the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, risks undermining an emerging public consensus about the danger of climate change and a recognition action is required.
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“If you create a deadline that is unrealistic, which we will not be able to actually achieve, you put it completely beyond the bounds of possibility — that doesn’t mean you can’t have a high bar, you should be aiming for a high bar — but it can’t be unrealistic,” Jamie Clarke, executive director of the British charity Climate Outreach, cautioned British lawmakers recently.
Previous climate conferences have been followed by plummeting public interest in the environment after political leaders failed to live up to the expectations they set, he told a parliamentary panel.
Clarke was testifying in the wake of last month’s U.S.-hosted virtual two-day climate change summit, which coincided with Earth Day. Dozens of leaders reiterated their pledges to tackle climate change, including China, which said it would phase out coal-powered electricity generation starting in 2025. President Joe Biden promised to cut U.S. emissions in half by the end of the decade.
Britain’s Boris Johnson said his country planned to achieve a 78 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2035, compared with 1990 levels, the most ambitious climate target announced by any country in the world.
More spending on renewable energy
Biden focused his comments on the contribution that innovation can make to help countries meet their climate goals. He announced the United States would revive participation in an initiative among dozens of nations and investors to increase spending on renewable energy research, development, and deployment.
Biden acknowledged that the challenges of reducing planet-warming emissions would be met by “working people” but emphasized that as the world transitions to clean energy, “we must ensure workers who have thrived in yesterday’s and today’s industries have as bright a tomorrow in the new industries as well as in the places where they live.”
Biden has been stressing the potential energy transition has to create new jobs.
And experts say there has been an extraordinary reduction in the likely costs of tackling climate change. “Climate action is becoming more affordable across the board,” according to Gernot Wagner, a professor at New York University and co-author of the book “Climate Shock.”
In a commentary this week for Project Syndicate, an online platform of opinion, Wagner says climate action is becoming less expensive. He cites solar panels. “The costs of solar photovoltaic [PV) panels have plummeted by over 85 percent in under a decade, and by well over 99 percent since the first panels found their way onto people’s roofs in the early 1980s,” he says.
Climate action and political dilemma
Nonetheless, for Western governments, climate action poses a massive political dilemma.
If they impose green tax hikes and the costly measures on transportation, home heating, power generation, and lifestyles that scientists say are needed to lower emissions and to shift economies away from dependency on fossil fuels, governments risk prompting a backlash, largely from middle-class and lower-income workers, as well as pensioners who can ill afford to bear the expense.
But if governments move too slowly, they risk a strong reaction from climate activists and their supporters, who are often affluent.
Reconciling those who demand fast-track climate-friendly measures and those who want to move slowly isn’t going to be easy — as France’s Yellow Vest protests in 2018 and 2019 made abundantly clear, say analysts.
The European Union is negotiating on how to translate its planned 55 percent reduction in greenhouse gases into legislation that will work for all 27 member states, all of which have different economic and domestic political interests and different levels of energy development.
European trade unions have welcomed EU climate goals but they warn that climate-action measures need to be implemented alongside an equally ambitious social transition plan to mitigate costs for ordinary families, according to Judith Kirton-Darling, deputy general secretary of IndustriALL Europe, an international trade union federation.
Costly green transition
The likely cost to living standards is undeniable. In Britain, commentators are questioning how the government will transition towards climate-friendly home heating.
Nearly a third of Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions are produced by residential central heating and Johnson’s government has announced plans to phase out the sale of natural gas boilers for newly-built homes by 2025 and for all homes by the mid-2030s.
Eighty-five percent of British homes are heated by natural gas, which produced greenhouse gases, and transitioning to hydrogen boilers or more likely electric heat pumps will be costly. Natural gas-fired home furnace costs around $1,400 but heat pumps are far more expensive, costing over $20,000. Who will bear the cost — the consumer or the government?
Action on climate change involves “policies that will hit people in the pocket,” says economics commentator Jeremy Warner, a columnist for Britain’s Daily Telegraph. Tough choices loom, he says, and there will be costs to people’s pockets and costs to established livelihoods made obsolete by the transition from one age to the next.
“In their newfound enthusiasm for all things green, the politicians would be wise to bear this in mind and design mitigating policies accordingly,” he adds. (VOA/KB)
Special Powers For The Armed Forces Act Of 1958 is an act to allow personnel of the armed forces in the states of *[Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura] to be granted certain special powers in troubled regions.
In protest, Nagaland has decided to put the Hornbill Festival on hold. Furthermore, the SIT investigating the event has been given a month to finish its inquiry.
The Nagaland administration has decided to petition the Home Ministry to abolish the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the wake of the killing of 14 people by security forces (AFSPA). On Tuesday, the decision was made during a cabinet meeting presided by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.
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The Special Inquiry Team (SIT) that has been formed to investigate the event, would conclude its investigation within a month, according to the meeting. In response to the innocent fatalities, the government has decided to cancel the current Hornbill Festival. The venue's stalls will stay open, and the tourist bureau will stage a brief closing ceremony.
The 10-day Hornbill Festival, the state's major tourist event, was set to culminate on December 10 at Naga Heritage Village in Kisama, near the state capital. The day's event at the location had been cancelled by the state authorities on Monday.
Following the deaths in Mon district, several tribes from eastern Nagaland and other areas of the state halted all activity at their respective Morungs.
Security forces were in the middle of an ambush when the vehicle approached the location and tried to flee when signaled to stop by the forces. It being suspected of carrying insurgents, the security forces opened fire. Later on it came into light it was a case of mistaken identity and they were civilians who worked as coal mine workers and were coming home in a car. Out of the eight individuals in the vehicle, six died instantly. This sparked additional violence in the region, which resulted in the deaths of eight more individuals (seven on Saturday and one on Sunday) and one security personnel.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah expressed remorse to Parliament on Monday, saying that on December 4 evening, "a squad of 21 para-commandos of the Indian Army planned an ambush" for terrorists in Mon area, but that it "turned out to be a case of mistaken identification." "The Government of India offers its profound condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives," he continued.
The officer in-charge of the Tizit police station in Mon district filed a suo-motu FIR on Sunday alleging that the security forces' "intention" was "to murder and hurt people."
On December 4, the coal mine laborers who were from Oting village had been returning home from Tiru in a Bolero when, "on reaching Longkhao, between Upper Tiru and Oting villages, security forces blankly open fired at the vehicle without any provocation, resulting in the death of many Oting villagers and seriously injuring many others," according to a FIR filed by Ubi Posehu Kezo, the officer in charge of the Tizit police station.
According to the FIR, there was no police guide present at the time of the event, and security personnel did not "submit a demand to the police station to supply police guide for their operation." As a result, it is clear that the security forces' goal is to kill and hurt people."
The Army has expressed great remorse for the occurrence and has convened a Court of Inquiry into it.Unsplash
Also read: World-Famous Hornbill Festival From Nagaland
The Army has expressed great remorse for the occurrence and has convened a Court of Inquiry into it. "The reason for the tragic loss of lives is being probed at the highest level by a Court of Inquiry, and necessary action will be taken in accordance with the law," it stated.
Rio had joined a rising chorus of demands for the repeal of AFSPA, which provides security personnel exceptional powers in "disturbed regions," when attending the funeral of the 14 people in Mon town on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Konyak Union (KU), Nagaland's main tribal organisation, declared a day-long bandh in the Mon district on Tuesday to condemn the deaths, and a seven-day mourning period began the next day.
The KU has advised security troops to refrain from patrolling the Konyak region during the seven-day mourning period, warning that if they do not, they would be held accountable for "any unpleasant occurrence that may occur."
In a letter sent on Monday, the union asked President Ramnath Kovind to form a Special Investigation Team (SIT) "also comprising two members of the Eastern Nagaland People's Organisation (ENPO) in it" to identify the Army personnel involved in the incident and make public the actions taken against them within 30 days.
It asked that the 27 Assam Rifles leave Mon immediately for failing to safeguard residents, as well as the removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from the whole Northeast.
"On Tuesday, we declared a day-long bandh in Mon district. It is proceeding in a calm manner. We've also declared a seven-day mourning period beginning on Wednesday," Howing Konyak, head of the Konyak Union, told PTI.
(Keywords: Hornbill festival, Nagaland, AFSPA)
Samsung Electronics on Tuesday replaced all three CEOs in a surprise move that, the company said, was intended to enhance competitiveness and promote future growth.
Han Jong-hee was promoted to vice chairman and CEO and will be in charge of the newly created SET division, which merged the consumer electronics and IT and mobile communications divisions, previously led by Kim Hyun-suk and Koh Dong-jin, respectively.
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An expert in TV research and development, Han played a key role in bringing the company's TV business to the top position. Samsung said he is expected to "strengthen the synergies among the different businesses in the SET division and help drive new businesses and technologies." The device solutions (DS) division will be led by Kyung Kye-hyun, who has been Samsung Electro-Mechanics CEO.
Kyung is a semiconductor design expert, having previously led the company's flash product and technology team. Samsung said he is expected to "help maintain the company's semiconductor leadership and lead innovation in the components business."
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Kim Ki-nam, vice chairman and head of the DS division, was named chairman of Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, reports Yonhap news agency.
The tech giant said in a statement the new appointments were made "for the next phase of the company's future growth and to strengthen its business competitiveness."
The reshuffle came as a surprise as it had been widely expected that the tech giant would keep its current division heads to ensure a stable management environment amid fierce global competition and potential risks associated with the ongoing trial of Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong over his role in controversial merger and accounting fraud allegations.
Lee did not get promoted to chairman of Samsung Electronics -- the crown jewel of Samsung Group. Unsplash
The three CEOs had been considered successful in leading the company to post stellar performances since 2018 and were endorsed to keep their posts during the annual shareholders meeting in Suwon, south of Seoul, in March.
But Lee, the de facto leader of the country's biggest conglomerate, Samsung Group, has hinted at making a sizable change to the company to "create a better Samsung." He also warned of the "harsh reality of the market" amid the global supply crunch and chip shortages.
The management reshuffle came a week after the company overhauled its position system and abolished the seniority-based top-down approach to nurture young talent and create a more flexible corporate culture. It scrapped mandatory years of working at certain positions, a precondition for possible promotion, and incorporated ranks to make the company structure more simplified and nimble.
Lee did not get promoted to chairman of Samsung Electronics -- the crown jewel of Samsung Group. He assumed the vice chairman position in December 2012. The chairman position has been left vacant since his father, Lee Kun-hee, died in October last year. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : Samsung, company, competitiveness, growth, technology, reshuffle, successful, chairman.)
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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russia's President Vladimir Putin met in New Delhi on Monday and discussed regional and global developments, including the post-pandemic global economic recovery, and the situation in Afghanistan.
Accompanied by a high-level delegation, Putin visited New Delhi for the 21st India-Russia annual summit. He extended an invitation to Modi to visit Russia for the 22nd India-Russia Annual Summit in 2022.
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The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the sustained progress in the 'Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership' between both countries despite the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic. They welcomed the holding of the first meeting of the 2+2 Dialogue of Foreign and Defence Ministers and the meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation in New Delhi.
Also Read : Journalism in Putin's Russia
The leaders underscored the need for greater economic cooperation and in this context, emphasised on new drivers of growth for long-term, predictable, and sustained economic cooperation. They appreciated the success story of mutual investments and looked forward to greater investments in each others' countries.
The role of connectivity through the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and the proposed Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor figured in the discussions. The two leaders looked forward to greater inter-regional cooperation between various regions of Russia, in particular with the Russian Far East, with India's states.
Putin congratulated Modi for India's ongoing non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council. | Wikimedia
They appreciated the ongoing bilateral cooperation in the fight against the Covid pandemic, including humanitarian assistance extended by both countries to each other in critical times of need.
The leaders discussed regional and global developments, including the post-pandemic global economic recovery, and the situation in Afghanistan. They agreed that both countries share common perspectives and concerns on Afghanistan and appreciated the bilateral roadmap charted out at the NSA level for consultation and cooperation on Afghanistan.
They noted that both sides shared common positions on many international issues and agreed to further strengthen cooperation at multilateral fora, including at the UN Security Council.
Putin congratulated Modi for India's ongoing non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council and the successful Presidency of BRICS in 2021, while Prime Minister Modi congratulated Russia for its ongoing chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
In a joint statement, the two sides stressed that partnership for peace, progress and prosperity aptly covers the state and prospects of bilateral ties.
Coinciding with the visit, several government-to-government agreements and MoUs, as well as those between commercial and other organisations of both countries, were signed in different sectors such as trade, energy, science and technology, intellectual property, outer space, geological exploration, cultural exchange, education, and others.
This is a reflection of the multifaceted nature of our bilateral partnership, the statement said. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : India, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, President, New Delhi, regional, global, developments, Afghanistan, challenges, pandemic, defence, economic, cooperation, connectivity, humanitarian, partnership, trade, education.)