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What We’re Watching: EU goes green, Ethiopians at war, Taliban gains, Bolsonaro’s hiccups

Europe's green moonshot: The EU is going big on climate policy. On Wednesday the European Commission, the bloc's political cupola, committed to reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. These plans are the most ambitious of any large country or union on Earth: recent pledges by the US and China, the number one and number two polluters, are both more modest. The EU's proposals include new carbon trading schemes, investments in green tech, boosts for electric vehicles, and financial support to help lower-income communities adopt clean technologies. But as always, the EU's best-laid plans will still need to run through the wringer of 27 member states, each with their own agendas and constituencies. We, and the planet, are watching to see what things look like on the other side of that.

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Is Ethiopia’s Tigray region really on the road to peace?

For eight months, one of the world's most gruesome civil wars has raged in the East African nation of Ethiopia, pitting the national government against militant leaders in the ethnically-distinct region of Tigray. But earlier this week it looked like the conflict had suddenly stopped after an unexpected ceasefire offer from the government. Will the truce hold, and what's at stake for the country and the wider region? Let's take a look.

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After Iranian election, revival of nuclear deal with US is a safe bet

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

With Iran's hardline president-elect, is reviving the nuclear deal still possible?

It's not just possible, it's probably one of the safest geopolitical bets around the world today, because not only the Iranian president-elect, but also the supreme leader, who really runs the country, all in favor of going back to the deal as it was enforced under the Obama-Biden administration. They will make more money off of that. They're not going to expand it. They're going to be limited. They don't even want to expand the timeline, never mind include other issues like support for proxies in the region, terrorist organizations, ballistic missile development, all of that. But I'd be really surprised that by the end of the year, by the end of the third quarter, we don't see the Iranians back in the Iranian nuclear deal.

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Can Ethiopia hold elections in the middle of a civil war?

In 2019, Ethiopia's fresh Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accepted a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in brokering a peace treaty with neighbor and longtime foe Eritrea. At the time, Abiy was hailed by the Western media as a reformist who was steering Ethiopia, long dominated by ethnic strife and dictatorial rule, into a new democratic era.

But barely two years later, Abiy stands accused of overseeing a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the northern Tigray region, putting the country on the brink of civil war.

It's against this backdrop that Ethiopians will head to the polls on June 21 for a parliamentary election now regarded as a referendum on Abiy's leadership. But will the vote be free and fair, and will the outcome actually reflect the will of the people? Most analysts say the answer is a resounding "no" on both fronts.

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What We're Watching: Chile's new constitution, Bibi hangs on in Israel, Ethiopia's violent vote

Who will write Chile's new constitution? Nineteen months after Chileans flocked to the streets to protest rising inequality, the country's constitution, which dates from the 17-year dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, is finally set to be rewritten. And this weekend, Chileans will vote to elect the 155 representatives who are responsible for doing that. The constitutional convention group, which will include dedicated seats for indigenous community representatives and must be at least 50 percent female, will likely include right- and left-leaning representatives who will need to find common ground on revising the neoliberal, free market economic model that has long been the law of the land in Chile. Indeed, privatization of education and healthcare helped Chile become one of the most prosperous states in the region — and also one of the most unequal. Meanwhile, codification of women's rights, a flashpoint issue in Latin America, will also be on the table. The representatives will have nine months to rewrite the document, which will then need to be approved in another referendum.

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Xi Jinping's WEF speech on China's global leadership falls flat; Italy PM resigns over stimulus

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

What did you think of Xi Jinping's speech at the virtual World Economic Forum?

Well, his last speech at the real World Economic Forum in Davos, I remember being there four years ago, and given that Trump had just been elected, Xi Jinping gives this big, "We want to stand up and be leaders while the Americans are doing America first." And generally speaking, was probably the most important speech of the week. People liked it. This is a pretty different environment, not so much because Trump has gone, but rather because support and belief in Xi Jinping is pretty low. I will say one thing that was generally well responded to was the call not to enter into a new Cold War. Anybody in the business community generally supports that. There's so much integration and interdependence between the US and the Chinese economies that when Xi Jinping says, "We need to find ways to continue to work together," I mean, this is the pro-globalization audience he's speaking to. They generally agree. But otherwise, the message fell pretty flat. So, the idea that China is going to be globally useful on issues of leadership, especially when it comes to anything that might threaten Beijing's sovereignty, they check global norms at the door. And a few examples of that, when Xi called for support for the rules-based international order, that's in obvious contrast with China's violation of the one country, two systems framework in Hong Kong. And they said, "Well, that's a domestic issue." Well, actually that's not what your agreement was with the British handover. And just because you're more powerful doesn't mean that norm doesn't matter anymore.

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Will these world leaders keep their resolutions?

Let's be honest, who knows if 2021 will really be a better year than 2020.

On the one hand, you might say, "how could next year possibly be worse than this one?" On the other, 2020 has taught us that things can always — always — get worse.

But either way, YOU can always be a better YOU, and world leaders are, in principle, no different. Here's a look at the pledges that several world leaders are already making for the new year.

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Ethiopia at war with itself

Ethnic tensions between Ethiopia's federal government and nationalist forces in the northern Tigray region have erupted into a full-blown armed conflict. Are we on the brink of yet another civil war that could upend the Horn of Africa?

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