Reducing carbon emissions is good for the planet and good for your lungs, but there's one group of countries that might not be so keen on green: those that rely heavily on oil and gas exports to run their economies. As the rest of the world gets closer to "Net Zero" in the coming decades, these petrostates will be in big trouble unless they diversify their economies — fast. So, how vulnerable are the world's top oil and gas producers to a low-carbon future? We look at how the treasuries of the 20 most hydrocarbon-dependent nations will fare over the next two decades under what the Carbon Tracker Initiative refers to as a scenario in which global demand for oil and gas will be much lower than today.
The US passed a grim milestone this week, surpassing 500,000 deaths from COVID-19, the highest total death toll in the world. COVID has now outpaced other killer diseases like cancer and heart disease to become the leading US cause of death. As a result, life expectancy in pandemic-ravaged America dropped by a year to 77.8 in the first half of 2020 — the largest dip since World War II. But there is some good news on the horizon: COVID hospitalizations and deaths are falling fast while the vaccine rollout picks up steam. To contextualize the scope of the crisis in America, we compare the average number of daily deaths from COVID over the past year to deaths from heart disease and cancer during the same period.
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While multiple Western countries ramp up coronavirus vaccinations with the Pfizer and Moderna jabs, Vladimir Putin's Sputnik V gamble is now paying off as developing nations increasingly turn to Russia's cheaper yet equally effective vaccine to inoculate their populations. Sputnik V — one of only three jabs which is more than 90 percent effective against severe COVID cases — has already been approved for use in almost 30 countries, most of them longtime Russian allies but also a host of other nations — like for instance Hungary or Mexico — that aim to hedge their bets if supplies of other jabs dry up. If the trend continues, can Russia win the global vaccine race against the West and China? We take a look at where Sputnik V has been approved for use or domestic production, and how many doses will be distributed and manufactured in each country.
The strength of global democracy was tested by the coronavirus in 2020 — and COVID mostly won. The Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Democracy Index fell last year by an average 0.07 points, the biggest drop since the annual ranking was first compiled in 2006. Government-imposed restrictions on individual freedoms and civil liberties due to the pandemic are partly responsible for the decline, and this is true for a majority of countries regardless of how well they managed the pandemic. We take a look at how democracy performed in 2020 in the 10 countries that handled the pandemic best and in the 10 with the worst responses, as measured by the Lowy Institute.
The exodus of Venezuelan nationals is currently the world's second largest refugee crisis, exceeded only by the one in Syria. Of the close to 5 million Venezuelans currently living outside their country, more than 80 percent are located throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, with the lion's share hosted by neighboring Colombia. How might Colombian President Iván Duque's move to grant all of them temporary legal status affect other nations' policies towards Venezuelan migrants and refugees? We take a look at which other Latin American countries have sizable populations of Venezuelans at the moment.