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.

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Even with innovations in fintech and digital payments, roadblocks related to basic infrastructure like electricity and internet connectivity still prevent many migrant workers from being able to transfer money to their families back home with a truly digital end-to-end flow. While more workers can send money digitally today, the majority of people still receive funds in cash. Read more about why public-private partnerships are key to advancing the future of global money movement and why it matters from experts at the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute.

The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

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Ian Bremmer is joined on GZERO World by artificial intelligence scientists Kai-fu Lee, who recently wrote about how AI will change the world over the next two decades, precisely to talk about AI's future. After this week's Facebook debacle, how can we align interest to regulate AI-driven algorithms? Will AI steal all our jobs? And what should we do to learn from AI to improve our lives before it gets smarter than us?

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Is a robot coming for your job? Kai-fu Lee explains AI

US elections officials have always persuaded losing candidates that they've, ahem, lost. Now it's worse because there's a new paradigm, according to former DHS and Election Assistance Commission official Matt Masterson, policy fellow with the Stanford Internet Observatory. Candidates that won't accept defeat regardless of the margin or evidence of fraud, he says, are undermining trust in the system — and election officials are ill-equipped to deal with this problem.

Matt Masterson made these remarks during a live Global Stage event, Infodemic: defending democracy from disinformation. Watch the full event here: https://www.gzeromedia.com/global-stage/virtual-events/disinformation-is-a-big-problem-what-can-we-do-about-it

Who's most responsible for spreading misinformation online? For Ginny Badanes, senior director for Democracy Forward at Microsoft, the problem starts with those who create it, yet ultimately governments, companies and individuals all share the burden. And she's more interested in what we can do to respond.

Ginny Badanes spoke at a live Global Stage event, Infodemic: defending democracy from disinformation. Watch the full event here: https://www.gzeromedia.com/global-stage/virtual-events/disinformation-is-a-big-problem-what-can-we-do-about-it

Some of the worst sectarian clashes since Lebanon's 15-year civil war (1975-1990) broke out in Beirut this week between supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, and Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. Shiite protesters were rallying against the state probe into the Beirut port blast, which occurred last year. They say authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. In this video, watch Ian Bremmer's conversation with Lebanese journalist and author Kim Ghattas on GZW talking about the future of Lebanese politics and sectarianism in the county after the after the blast. It was originally published on August 19, 2020.

In Lebanon, "a majority (are) united in wanting a different future, a future that is non-sectarian, that is non-corrupt, that provides prosperity, justice, dignity for people," journalist Kim Ghattas told Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

In this interview, Ghattas discusses the opportunity that could arise from the tragedy of the Beirut explosion which killed 200 and injured thousands more. The Lebanese are "fed up" with the militant group Hezbollah, she tells Bremmer, and want to strive for a government that better resembles the diversity and cosmopolitan nature of its citizens.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Lebanon Post-Blast: Rage in the Streets of Beirut.

Some of the worst sectarian clashes since Lebanon's 15-year civil war (1975-1990) broke out in Beirut this week between supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, and Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. Shiite protesters were rallying against the state probe into the Beirut port blast, which occurred last year. They say authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. Below is our original piece on the Beirut port explosions published on August 5, 2020.


The twin explosions at Beirut's port on Tuesday were so powerful that the aftershocks reverberated as far as the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, 150 miles away. The specter of fire and smoke was such that many suggested on social media that Beirut had experienced a nuclear blast.

In the days ahead, more details will come to light about why a deadly cache of materials was haphazardly stashed at a port warehouse, and why Lebanon's government failed to secure the site. So, what comes next for crisis-ridden Lebanon?

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What does it actually mean to cut $1 trillion from the Democrats' $3.5 trillion social spending bill?

President Biden has proposed one of the most ambitious expansions of federal spending in recent memory. If he gets everything he wants, it would probably be the largest expansion of government since the Great Society, but he's not going to get everything he wants. Democrats have basically said they cannot do all $3.5 trillion in spending. They're probably going to end up around $2 trillion. So what gets cut? Well, we don't know yet. There's kind of two ways to go about this. They could either cut the number of programs that have been proposed, doing fewer things with more money on a permanent basis, or they could try to do more things, each program getting less money and potentially doing them on a temporary basis. So, a future Congress would have to extend it. What does this mean for you? Well, a lot of the money in here is designed to go directly to families, either in the form of cash payments, through the tax code, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, or subsidies for things like child care, early childhood education, and community college. And if you cut these things back, it means less money is going to go out the door to the American people. It also means less tax increases to finance it. So the implications of what's being proposed could actually end up being a big deal for a lot of Americans who would qualify for benefits under these new programs.

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