IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: THE CLIMATE CHANGE POLITICAL PRESSURE COOKER

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: THE CLIMATE CHANGE POLITICAL PRESSURE COOKER

The US government quietly released its latest deep dive report into the human and economic costs of climate change last week. Despite copious new detail on the dire consequences of global warming, there wasn't much in the legally-required, 1,600-page national climate assessment that we didn't already know: The world is getting warmer. It's due to human activity. The costs are already being felt, and the full economic, human, and ecological toll could be severe if nobody does anything about it.


The Trump administration's decision to publish the report on the Friday after the US Thanksgiving holiday did, however, lead some to speculate that it was trying to bury news it viewed as politically inconvenient. Asked about the report's dire conclusions, President Trump was unequivocal: "I don't believe it."

With all the talk about climate change, here's a look at where the most important players in the US climate debate stand after the recent midterm elections:

President Trump campaigned on a promise to bring coal jobs back to Pennsylvania and other key states. He also pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord early in his presidency, saying the landmark 2015 agreement, in which more than 190 countries agreed to set voluntary emissions caps to limit the rise in global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, was a bad deal for the US. With re-election looming in 2020, the president cares more about making good on his campaign promises than a global issue whose worst effects won't be felt for decades.

Congressional Democrats want to stick with the Paris accord and promote clean energy as a source of new jobs and economic growth. But they lack the votes to do much more than hold hearings and make noise. Nancy Pelosi, who's likely to be the next house speaker, has called for the creation of a new select committee on climate change, and some progressive Democrats are pushing a "Green New Deal." But an enlarged Republican Senate majority means there's little chance of climate legislation passing both houses of Congress anytime soon. Even if it did, President Trump would be unlikely to sign it.

Congressional Republicans have little reason to buck the president on this. Republican "Climate Moderates" are a dying breed: around 20 GOP members of the House who expressed an interest in taking government action to prevent climate change lost their seats in the November midterms – leaving behind only about two dozen, according to the Atlantic. Many of the Republicans who held onto their House seats are climate skeptics who won by tacking closer to the President. They have little reason to change course now.

Ordinary Americans: While a solid majority of Americans from both main political parties favor more use of wind and solar power, Republicans and Democrats are sharply divided on the specific problem of man-made climate change. One recent survey found that three-quarters of Democrats or Democratic-leaning voters agreed that global warming was due to human causes, compared with just 26 percent of their Republican counterparts.

As long as these partisan divides persist, scientific consensus will struggle to overcome political inertia when it comes to the US combating climate change.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

More Show less

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

More Show less

In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

More Show less

When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

More Show less

YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

More Show less

Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

More Show less

28: The UK and the EU have again failed to agree on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In a 28-page document, the British government had suggested further changes to trade rules that were already negotiated as part of the Brexit settlement, but Brussels was not having any of it.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal