CLIMATE CHANGE IS CHANGING POLITICS

This week, diplomats from around the world have gathered in the southern Polish city of Katowice in an effort to put the 2015 Paris climate accord into practice.


Even as high-level efforts to stave off environmental catastrophe rumble on, climate change is already re-shaping domestic politics in countries around the world. Here are three recent examples.

Smoke on the horizon in France: The yellow vest riots that have gripped France in recent days started as a protest against President Emmanuel Macron's plans to hike taxes on fuel. Mr. Macron billed the taxes as a part of a broader effort to reduce France's carbon footprint. Middle-class voters view them as another hit to their pocketbook during an already tough time economically. Committing to reduce emissions is one thing; getting buy-in from the public, particularly from working-class voters who are disproportionately affected by higher energy prices, will be much harder.

A Green New Deal in the US: There's one way to make the green revolution more palatable to the masses: make it about jobs. Spying an opportunity, a group of incoming House Democrats are pushing for a bipartisan committee to draft legislation that would move the US to 100 percent renewable energy in a decade and create new employment opportunities along the way. Similar proposals have been pooh-poohed as unrealistic in the past, given the massive investments that would be required. But the surprising momentum behind this latest push means support for a Green New Deal could well become a litmus test for Democratic presidential contenders in 2020.

A lot of hot air in Brazil? Brazil's president-elect Jair Bolsonaro is taking the opposite tack. The right-wing firebrand recently withdrew an offer for Brazil to host the next round of global climate talks in 2019, saying "environmental politics can't muddle with Brazil's development." Like President Trump, he has also threatened to withdraw from the Paris accord. That could just be bluster – in part because Brazil's Congress might try to stop him, but also because the move may do less for him politically than simply restraining local environmental regulators' ability to impose fines on big agricultural businesses – a key base of his political support.

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

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Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

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It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.