CLIMATE CHANGE IS CHANGING POLITICS

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.

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

Viktor Orbán, Hungary's far-right populist prime minister, likes to shock people. It's part of his political appeal. Orbán has proudly proclaimed that he is an "illiberal" leader" creating a frenzy in Brussels because Hungary is a member of the European Union.

It's been over a decade since the 58-year old whom some have dubbed "the Trump before Trump" became prime minister. In that time he has, critics say, hollowed out Hungary's governing institutions and eroded the state's democratic characteristics.

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Why do (most) world leaders drink together? It can get them to agree on stuff they wouldn't while sober. Booze "helps people get cooperation off the ground, especially in situations where cooperation is challenging," says University of British Colombia professor Edward Slingerland. Alcohol, he explains, allows you to "see commonalities rather than just pursuing your own interest," which may put teetotaler politicians — like Donald Trump — at a disadvantage. Watch his interview on the next episode of GZERO World. Check local listings to watch on US public television.

In countries with access to COVID vaccines, the main challenge now is to convince those hesitant about the jab to roll up their sleeves, and this has become even more urgent given the spread of the more contagious delta variant. So, where are there more vaccine skeptics, and how do they compare to total COVID deaths per million in each nation? We take a look at a group of large economies where jabs are available, yet (in some cases) not everyone wants one.

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

QR codes are everywhere. Are they also tracking my personal data?

Well, a QR code is like a complex barcode that may be on a printed ad or product package for you to scan and access more information. For example, to look at a menu without health risk or for two-factor verification of a bank payment. And now also as an integral part of covid and vaccine registration. QR codes can lead to tracking metadata or personal data. And when your phone scans and takes you to a website, certainly the tracking starts there. Now, one big trap is that people may not distinguish one kind of use of QR codes from another and that they cannot be aware of the risks of sharing their data.

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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky bits of color from a Games like no other…

Today we've got— the best freakout celebrations!

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Tanzania reverses course on COVID: Just four months ago, the Tanzanian government was completely denying the existence of the pandemic. Then-President John Magufuli insisted Tanzania was COVID-free thanks to peoples' prayers, and refused to try to get vaccines. But Magufuli died suddenly in March — perhaps of COVID. His successor, current President Samia Suluhu, has acknowledged the presence of the virus in Tanzania, and although she was initially lukewarm on mask-wearing and vaccines, Suluhu has recently changed her tune, first joining the global COVAX facility and now getting vaccinated herself to kick off the country's inoculation drive. Well done Tanzania, because if there's one thing we've all learned over the past 18 months, it's that nowhere — not even North Korea, whatever Pyongyang says — is safe from the coronavirus.

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16: A new study tracking Earth's "vital signs" has found that 16 out of 31 indicators of planetary health are getting worse due to climate change. Last year's pandemic-induced shutdown did little to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, stop the oceans from warming, or slow the shrinking of polar ice caps.

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How booze helps get diplomacy done

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