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COP26: What to expect

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and a happy COP26 kickoff day. That's in Glasgow. We've got a bunch of Eurasia Group folks there. I am not. I'm here in New York and of course wouldn't you know, it's the first day that it's pretty cold out and so I actually got the winter gear out. It feels a little bit perverse given the climate issues that we're talking about and thought I'd talk a little bit about where we're going.

Look, it's interesting, first of all, because the COP26 summit is right after the G-20. The G-20 didn't get much attention this time around. Also, because there wasn't an awful lot of news being made. I mean, the big announcements are coordination on the economic side. It is about an alternate minimum tax, which was been driven by the United States and the Europeans. We had movement towards that the last OECD summit and full agreement this time around at the G-20. Also, there is breakthrough on aluminum and steel tariffs that would have led to tit for tat, from the Europeans against American exports, a bunch of luxury goods. Nobody needs any of that. Both sides taking a step away from the brink, improvement in terms of globalization and movement of goods and less costs being born by consumers. And at a time when we're hitting inflation. And when there are all sorts of supply chain difficulties and shutdowns, no leaders really want to focus on a bigger fight.

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What We’re Watching: Biden in Europe, Gulf states vs Lebanon, elections in Nicaragua, South Africa & Virginia

Biden's Euro trip. President Joe Biden is on a crucial Euro trip. It began in Rome at the G-20 Summit, where his idea for a global minimum tax rate was broadly endorsed by the group. Biden also visited Pope Francis at the Vatican — a get-together that produced decidedly less scary photos than when his predecessor held a papal visit — and met with France's President Emmanuel Macron to try to smooth over strained relations after the AUKUS debacle, which he now says had been "clumsy." The US president had another face-to-face with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, just a week after Ankara threatened to expel the US ambassador. But there's a domestic component at play too: Biden was hoping to have passed two infrastructure bills, which include money for climate change, before he attended the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, which kicked off on Sunday. Failure to close the deal on Capitol Hill would deal Biden's credibility a heavy blow just at the moment he wants to reinforce the US commitment to climate change reduction goals at this week's summit and to claim, yet again, that America is indeed back! But Democrats continue to wrangle over both what's in the bills and how to pay for them. Meanwhile, only a third of Americans now say that the US is headed in the right direction. Biden was hoping to have the wind at his back as he sailed into Europe. Instead, he is facing a strong political headwind.

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What We're Watching: Biden on tour

Biden's Euro trip. President Joe Biden is on a crucial Euro trip. It began in Rome at the G-20 Summit, where his idea for a global minimum tax rate was broadly endorsed by the group. Biden also visited Pope Francis at the Vatican – a get-together that produced decidedly less scary photos than when his predecessor held a papal visit – and met with France's President Emmanuel Macron to try to smooth over strained relations after the AUKUS debacle, which he now says had been "clumsy." The US president also had a face-to-face with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, just a week after Ankara threatened to expel the US ambassador. But there's a domestic component at play too: Biden was hoping to have passed two infrastructure bills, which include money for climate change, before he attended the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, which kicked off this weekend. Failure to close the deal on Capitol Hill would deal Biden's credibility a heavy blow just at the moment he wants to reinforce the US commitment to climate change reduction goals at this week's summit and to claim, yet again, that America is indeed back! But Democrats continue to wrangle over both what's in the bills and how to pay for them. Meanwhile, only a third of Americans now say that the US is headed in the right direction. Biden was hoping to have the wind at his back as he sailed into Europe. Instead, he is facing a strong political headwind.

G-20 summit to focus on COVID-19 as Eastern Europe faces a new surge

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What is happening with COVID in Europe?

Well, primarily the east of Europe is a worrying situation. Russia has substantially more than a thousand deaths every day. And Bulgaria, Romania, difficulty for the Baltic states at the moment are surging infection rates. Vaccination rates must improve. It's primarily a problem, of course, in Russia, where people don't have trust in the vaccine and trust in the records.

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UN environment chief: G-20 can practically fix climate on its own

How can we go from "fine words" to "fine deeds" at the upcoming COP26 climate summit in Glasgow? For Inger Andersen, head of the UN Environment Program, it's actually quite simple. The world's top 20 economies, she says, are responsible for over three-quarters of global carbon emissions, so if they "make the requisite shifts, frankly we are out of the climate crisis." Watch her interview with Ian Bremmer on the upcoming episode of GZERO World.

What you need to know about this weekend’s G-20 meeting

On 30-31 October, the world's top leaders will gather in Rome for this year's G-20 Summit. After the pandemic forced them to meet last year by videoconference, the heads of state will once again be attending in person, allowing for the type of parallel, one-on-one meetings that have proven more productive in the past. Still, many critics of the G-20 have come to see the forum as a talk shop, a place where a lot is said but nothing really happens. Will this year be any different, given the long list of challenges the world faces, from COVID to climate change? We talked with Eurasia Group expert Charles Dunst to set the stage and find out where things are going.

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What We’re Watching: Erdogan picks 10 fights, Sudanese coup, Bosnia on the brink, Chilean right-winger surging, G-20 split on climate, Colombia nabs top narco

Turkey's Erdogan ups the ante with the West: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared diplomats from 10 Western countries "persona non-grata" after the group — which includes the US, France, and Germany — called on Ankara to release Osman Kavala, a Parisian-born Turkish businessman who's been held in jail since 2017 but hasn't been charged with a crime. Erdogan says that Kavala was involved in an attempted coup against the government in 2016. This latest move is a sign of Turkey's authoritarian drift in recent years, which has seen Erdogan's government increasingly crack down on opposition members as well as journalists. It also reflects Turkey's increasingly fraught relations with the West: things got particularly bad between Washington and Ankara after Turkey purchased missile defense systems from the Russians in 2019. The Council of Europe (the continent's leading human rights organization) had previously warned that Ankara has until November to release Kavala or it would impose "infringements," though it's unclear what those would be.

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What We're Watching: G-20 split on climate

G-20 members split on climate ahead of COP26: Just before the COP26 climate summit kicks off in Glasgow on October 31, the leaders of the world's top 20 economies will meet in Rome to discuss climate change, soaring energy prices, and post-pandemic recovery. But the G-20 remains divided between Western countries – like the US and the EU – demanding firm commitments from all member countries on cutting carbon dioxide emissions, and top polluters like China, India, and Russia who say that ask is unreasonable given that many Western nations have benefited from fossil fuel use for decades. Of these three outspoken nations, only India's PM Narendra Modi will travel to Rome, which makes it unlikely that any meaningful progress will be made ahead of the landmark summit in the UK. Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden is in a tough spot: ahead of a trip to Europe this week, he was hoping to have secured billions of dollars in new climate funding from Congress, but his ambitious plans remain stuck due to divisions within his own party. More broadly, if no consensus is reached in Rome, it'll raise the stakes even more for Glasgow — and the planet can't wait any longer for politicians to make up their minds.

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