Chapter 5 of Eni's Story of CO2 is left unwritten, as the world must decide how to move forward with the use of fossil fuels. Though doing nothing is not an option, using natural gas is. A safer alternative to fossil fuels that releases half as much CO2, natural gas can meet the world's energy needs as we wait for renewable technologies to advance and scale.
Learn more about the future of energy in the final episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.
Call it a counter-counter-revolution at the ballot box. One year after mass protests over election irregularities drove Bolivia's long-serving leftist populist President Evo Morales from office, his preferred candidate has won the presidency — possibly by a landslide.
But can the country's new leader, a soft-spoken economist named Luis Arce, move the country beyond the political trauma of the past year?
<p><strong>The back story. </strong>Morales, the first indigenous leader of majority-indigenous Bolivia, held power for 14 years, using the country's lucrative natural gas exports to <a href="https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.NAHC?locations=BO" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">lift millions out of poverty</a>. But his efforts to sidestep term limits dented his support. After charges of fraud in last fall's presidential vote <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/bolivia-the-morales-of-the-story" target="_self">prompted widespread unrest</a>, the military forced him out of office and into exile. Many on the left called it a coup and were outraged when right-winger Jeanine Áñez took over as an "interim" leader and moved quickly to overturn Morales policies, while riot police repeatedly <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/08/bolivia-violaciones-derechos-humanos-durante-crisis-postelectoral/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">clashed with</a> his supporters. Áñez flirted with a presidential run of her own, but she backed out in order to unify support behind the right's candidate, <a href="https://www.americasquarterly.org/article/bolivia-has-changed-since-2003-has-carlos-mesa/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">former President</a> Carlos Mesa. </p><p>On Sunday, Arce, the candidate of Morales' Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, won the election. While official results aren't out as of this writing, independent studies <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/19/bolivia-election-exit-polls-suggest-thumping-win-evo-morales-party-luis-arce" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">suggest</a> it was a walloping, driven by massive support for MAS in the countryside. Áñez has already <a href="https://twitter.com/JeanineAnez/status/1318048552191483904?s=20" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">publicly congratulated</a> Arce on the win, reducing the likelihood of protests or rejection of the results by Mesa's supporters. For the Morales camp, the result offers political vindication after a year of upheaval and uncertainty. </p><p><strong>Who is Luis Arce?</strong> As Morales' minister of finance and economy, the 57-year-old Arce was in the cockpit during the years when Bolivia's poverty rate dropped from two thirds of the population to less than 40 percent, and GDP soared.</p><p>But he's hardly Evo 2.0. Arce has none of the combative charisma of Morales, a highlander who grew up as a llama herder and once headed Bolivia's powerful coca growers union. A technocratic type from an urban middle-class family who studied economics in the UK, Arce's political style is basically "the polar opposite" of Morales, <a href="https://twitter.com/OliverStuenkel/status/1318136004520366081?s=20" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">according to</a> Oliver Stuenkel, a prominent regional analyst. </p><p><strong>The challenge ahead. </strong>"We will govern for all Bolivians," Arce <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIilgGUgW8o" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">said</a> Sunday, as he pledged to form a "unity government." It remains to be seen what that means, given that MAS has likely reinforced its strong control over Congress.<br/><br/>Regardless, to reunify a country deeply polarized along political, economic, and racial lines, Arce will need to craft a vision that appeals both to the predominantly rural, indigenous-dominated areas that are the MAS <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/07/world/americas/bolivia-roadblock-blockade.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">support base</a>, as well as to the urban centers that align with the political right.</p><p>He'll also have to shake the suspicion that he's a stalking horse for Morales. During his campaign, Arce was careful to distance himself from Morales, and MAS party leaders now say they think Morales' time has passed. But he remains an influential figure who merits close attention, particularly if Arce opens the way for him to return from exile in Argentina. </p><p><strong>The pandemic rages.</strong> Bolivia has suffered <a href="https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">one of the highest COVID-19 death rates</a> per 100,000 people in the world, in part because political uncertainty undermined the public health response. Meanwhile, the pandemic-driven collapse in global demand for commodities like natural gas and precious metals — which make up 80 percent of Bolivia's exports — has plunged the country into its <a href="https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/latin-america/economic-headache-awaits-victor-in-bolivian-election.phtml" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">worst economic crisis</a> in decades, threatening to reverse the progress that Morales and Arce made in reducing poverty. </p><strong>Bottom line:</strong> Arce's convincing victory shows that the left remains the dominant force in Bolivian politics. But after a year of trauma, can the mild-mannered successor to one of the region's most charismatic and visionary populists move Bolivia past its bitter polarization?
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October 19, 2020
Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:
Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Yet another exciting week in the run-up to the US elections. Not the only thing going on, though, not at all. I mean, first of all, coronavirus continues to be by far the biggest story in the US, in Europe, as we have a major second wave, and indeed in many countries around the world. Also, we're seeing a lot more instability pop up. I mean, we've had every Sunday now for about three months massive unprecedented protests in Belarus. They're not slowing down at all. We see major demonstrations, including anti-royal demonstrations in Thailand, Pakistan. You've got significant instability right now, of course, we'd seen in Lebanon over the past months. Why is this all going on? Is this a GZERO phenomenon?
<p>I would say not quite, but it is related in the sense that the reason you have a leaderless world today, the reason you have a GZERO world is because increasingly, political architecture and institutions have been weakening and they aren't aligned with the geopolitical order. Similarly, the reason why you're seeing so much more instability these days is because a lot of people feel like their own domestic governance has not been fit for purpose, certainly in the United States and the big social movements and the growing divide between red and blue on the back of an unprecedented economic crisis and pandemic in modern times that is hitting not just everyone together, but really those economics are on the back of the working class and the middle-class, what people are increasingly calling a K-shaped recovery, where Bezos is now worth almost $200 billion, anyone in the knowledge economy is doing pretty well.</p><p>You can socially distance. You can work at home. Your jobs are doing fine. Your 401ks are fine. The markets are popping. But what if you don't have any of that access? What if you're not in a job like that? What if you don't have stocks in a portfolio? Well, then your life has gotten a lot harder and you're feeling that support for those that say they're going to do better for you doesn't really make your life any better. I thought it was really interesting that we had these big rallies in the last couple of days from President Trump and we'll see them again every day for the next couple of weeks where he's saying, if you elect Biden, he's going to listen to the scientists.</p><p>If you're a PhD, you say, "Well, okay, that's a good thing, right? We want the experts being listened to." But if you're someone for whom life has been getting worse for them decades now, not just in the last four years, but for a long time, you feel like you've been lied to. That's not just political leaders from one party or another. That's the media, that's the scientists, that's everyone out there with their so-called facts and great education who may be really smart and they may be really smug, but they're not helping you, and in that regard, the fact that President Trump can still have a 40% approval rating and say the sorts of things he's saying and respond the way he is responding to this coronavirus shows you how deeply the system has eroded.</p><p>Whether Trump wins or whether Biden wins coming up, these problems are not going away. They're much more structural, and I do get the sense that a lot of people in the foreign policy establishment in the United States and the foreign policy establishment in the US, both left and right, is largely anti-Trump and they see how much Trump is disliked outside the United States in many, most countries around the world, America first as an overt strategy and tagline doesn't surprise you that it's not going to work very well if you don't happen to be American.</p><p>But I think there is a broad belief that if we just get rid of Trump, if Biden comes in, then everyone's going to flop to the United States as a leader again. Number one, that's just not the case. I mean, the erosion of American leadership was happening well before Trump. The feeling that the United States was increasingly hypocritical in the way that it led, I mean, you think about the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, you think about Guantanamo, you think about failed promotion of democracy internationally at the same time that America's own democratic capabilities at home are increasingly seen by its own people as not fit for purpose, nevermind the way that the Canadians or the Germans or the Scandinavians or others who might look at the United States would increasingly see the United States is not such an effective model.</p><p>Well, you need to realize that it's not like everyone is just sort of gagging at the bit for anyone but Trump and now we're going to love the United States again. It's going to be much more fragmented. This GZERO world is not a product of Trump and it's going to persist beyond whether it's one or two Trump administrations. I guess, I've always thought that's more important. I mean, I do worry about the further acceleration of the erosion of American institutions happening under a president that doesn't care particularly for rule of law and doesn't really believe that in the strength of representative democracy or human rights, he's much more transactional his orientation. So certainly, I've seen that whether it's the executive or corruption in the civil service, or whether it's the effective functioning of the legislature in the US, all of those things have been eroding for some time, but they're eroding more quickly under the Trump administration.</p><p>But I mean, so too, is the media having its legitimacy erode in the last four years, and I would argue that's largely self-inflicted how they've chosen to respond to a very divided and commercially very enriching political landscape for them. How social media has chosen to ignore the importance of coexisting well with a civil society and fabric that supports it because they'd rather ensure that they can maximize eyeballs, advertising and revenue, and the business models are not particularly aligned.</p><p>So I think it's important for us to understand that these issues are much more structural than the election that we're going to have in the next couple of weeks. Also, because lots of other countries continue to experience these things challenges, and the next two years are still, irrespective of who's leading the United States, largely going to be defined by how humanity both collectively and the deeply fragmented are responding to this continued coronavirus. We now have caseload in many countries across Europe that is higher than it was during their first wave. Deaths are certainly going down. In the United States, deaths are going up from a month ago, but they're down from where they were in the early wave.</p><p>Science is responding more effectively to the crisis, but we are nowhere close to out of this and we won't be until we have a vastly more effective and broader testing regime, until we have much better political leadership and until we have vaccines that are distributed and across the world in sufficient amounts with education that people are going to take them. we're talking about still another couple of years where that's defining the way that the global political environment and economic environment actually works, and in that regard, I think irrespective of how this us election turns out, you're still going to be in this period of extraordinary crisis of headlines on a daily basis, whip-sawing you from issue to issue.</p><p>Yes, if Trump is gone, Twitter will drive you a little less crazy and there won't be as many headlines driven by it. But the country I think is going to be every bit as divided, in fact, in many ways more so in part because the election will be seen as illegitimate by many, and in part more importantly, because the economic impact of this crisis is going to be so much harder for people.</p><p>Final thing I would say is that in 2020, the healthcare response to coronavirus has been radically mixed and differentiated around the world. Some have done very well in response on the healthcare side. We know who those countries are. It's Japan, it's South Korea, it's Germany, it's Canada, it's others. Some have done a poor job on the healthcare side, frankly, including our own United States, the United Kingdom and many others, Brazil. But economically, almost every major economy in the world has done a really good job in the first year of this crisis, responding to it. All the central bank governors, almost all the ministers of finance, the US Secretary of Treasury, almost all the major legislatures in the world have responded adequately or more than adequately to the nature of the economic crisis.</p><p>In 2021, the primary issue is not going to be the healthcare fallout. That will be better, in part because we've learned a lot. The death rate is going to go down, in part because the effectiveness is going to be better. You'll have more treatments, you'll start to have vaccine, all those things, but the economic impact is going to be much worse and I fear the economic response is going to be much more differentiated and haphazard, and that is one of the reasons why we need to pay a lot more attention to coronavirus in 2021, even as there's going to be such fatigue from talking about and dealing with the pandemic, but most human beings around the world are still going to be experiencing it and that's that bottom of the K.</p><p>Keep in mind that the one thing the K-shape recovery really doesn't teach you is that when you hear about a K, you think, "Well, both legs of the K are actually equivalent." Not true. That top of the K only reflects about 10% of the population in the advanced industrial economies. The bottom of the K is pretty much everybody else. Going to have to address that in a serious way in the next year. Thanks everyone. Be safe. Avoid people. Talk to you soon.</p>
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October 19, 2020
Build that wall... in Greece: The Greek government has finalized plans to build a wall along part of its eastern border with Turkey to prevent migrants from staging mass crossings to reach European Union territory. The move follows a March standoff between Athens and Ankara when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared he was "opening" the border because Turkey could no longer cope with so many migrants fleeing Syria. Since then, migrant flows via Turkey to the EU have declined dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic and tougher policing, but Greeks and Turks (as always) remain at odds over what to do with the migrants: Greece wants Turkey to do more to stop migrants crossing, while Turkey says Greece is sending back migrants who arrive at Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. As the two sides continue to bicker over this issue — and over energy rights in the Eastern Mediterranean — the only thing that's clear is that Greece won't demand that Turkey pay for the wall.
<p><strong>China's economic recovery: </strong>As most of the rest of the world grapples with a pandemic-fueled recession, the country where COVID-19 began is doing quite well. China's GDP <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/19/china-economy-q3-gdp-2020.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">grew</a> 4.9 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period in 2019. That's <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/business-54594877" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">slightly less than expected</a> but still an impressive feat for a country whose economy <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/16/business/china-coronavirus-economy.html%5C" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">contracted</a> by a whopping 6.8 percent during the first quarter as China shut down the entire city of Wuhan and halted most economic activity to contain the coronavirus. Can Chinese consumers sustain the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/china-economy-recovery-covid/2020/10/19/d574d08c-1204-11eb-a258-614acf2b906d_story.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">economic recovery</a> — until now largely driven by a massive government stimulus program for state-controlled firms and online shopping — by spending more on brick-and-mortar retail and services? In the longer term, we're watching to see how the world's second largest economy will deal with long-term declining demand for its products in many of its major export markets.</p><strong>A secret meeting in Damascus:</strong> The <em>Wall Street Journal</em> has <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/top-white-house-official-flew-to-syria-for-talks-to-free-u-s-hostages-11603058616?mod=hp_lead_pos1" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">reported</a> that Kash Patel, the Trump administration's top counterterrorism official, recently traveled to Syria for secret talks with an unidentified official representing the Bashar al-Assad government. If true, it's the first known meeting between a senior US official and the Assad regime since the start of Syria's civil war a decade ago. The US <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/07/world/middleeast/violence-in-syria-continues-after-diplomacy-fails.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">halted</a> diplomatic relations with Syria in 2012 in response to Assad's brutal crackdown on Syrian protesters and civilians. Patel's reported goal in Damascus was to win the release of some or all of (at least) six Americans held hostage by Assad's government. Trump's supporters will say this effort is a reminder that the president will talk with anyone to advance US interests, while his critics will call it a cynical last-minute attempt to boost his re-election chances. But we're watching this story, not to judge its political motivations or implications, but to see whether these talks can reunite hostages with their families.
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Three years ago, long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19, a different kind of virus spread around the world: a piece of malicious software code launched by a nation state. It paralyzed computer networks in hundreds of countries, disrupted global shipping, forced pharmaceutical factories to shut down, and inflicted an estimated $10 billion of economic damage.
On the physical battlefield, a widely accepted set of rules, backed by international law, governs conduct, with the aim of protecting soldiers and civilians. Establishing common rules or guardrails is much harder in cyberspace, where borders can't be easily defined and the tools and tactics of combat are always changing. But it has never been more urgent.
<p> Against this chaotic cyber backdrop, how can governments protect critical healthcare infrastructure and medical research as they mobilize in response to Covid-19? How can citizens and companies work together to prevent the smartphones and computers they rely on for work, education, and staying connected from being hijacked and used to carry out malicious cyberattacks? </p><p> The UN has been working for over a decade to establish basic principles, or "norms" in the parlance of international diplomacy, for cyber security. But this problem can't be solved by any one government or group of governments on their own. In recent years, as threats have multiplied, global companies, cyber security researchers, and NGOs have taken a seat at the table. Establishing norms and boundaries around acceptable behavior doesn't mean just modernizing the existing architecture of international governance. It involves rethinking it to account for a 21st century in which life, business, and diplomacy are digitized and the lines between them increasingly blurred. </p><p> <strong>What's the UN doing about it?</strong> </p><p> The United Nations has been facilitating discussions on cyber norms since 2004. Discussions at the UN are currently following two tracks. One track, known as the Group of Governmental Experts, consists of representatives from 25 member states. This group has a mandate to study norms, rules and principles of responsible behavior for states in the cyber realm; and to undertake confidence-building and capacity-building measures. Another track, known as the Open-Ended Working Group, is open to any UN member state, as well as the business community, academia, and civil society.</p><p> <strong>How are others trying to help?</strong> </p><p> In recent years, businesses and nonprofits have intensified their efforts to raise awareness, analyze cyberattacks, develop norms, share best practices, and increase pressure on governments to act. Governments are critical players by deciding how and when to use state cyber capabilities, but the private sector bears actual responsibility for securing and defending the networks that people rely on for their livelihoods and essential services. </p><p> In May, the <a href="https://cyberpeaceinstitute.org/" target="_blank">CyberPeace Institute</a> — an independent initiative dedicated to enhancing the stability of cyberspace backed by Microsoft, Mastercard, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and other corporate and non-profit sponsors — called on world governments to take "immediate and decisive action" to stop cyberattacks against hospitals, medical research facilities, and international public health organizations. </p><p> <strong>What's needed next?</strong> </p><p> To achieve lasting stability in cyber space, governments must decide that it's in their own interest to accept limits on how they deploy offensive cyber capabilities in pursuit of political and strategic goals. To achieve this, governments, international organizations, companies, NGOs, and ordinary citizens all will have to work together to raise awareness of the risks that malicious exploitation of the internet poses for people's lives and livelihoods. </p><p> This is a complex challenge that can't be solved by any one group acting alone. International dialogue is just the first step. Eventually, widely agreed norms have the potential to evolve into laws and treaties, but before that can happen, all of the groups with a stake in the outcome need to: </p><ol class="ee-ol"> <li><em>Build confidence:</em> The lack of trust between governments, and between governments and industry, is a big barrier to cooperation. Exchanging information, including establishing hotlines between governments, is one way to build trust.</li> <li><em>Build capacity:</em> Companies and governments that have already implemented tough cybersecurity measures can improve security for everyone by sharing best practices. Countries can also work together, including through international venues such as the UN, to strengthen their capacity to conduct cyber diplomacy.</li> </ol><p> <strong>How can I get involved?</strong> </p><p> Cyber security is a rare field of international diplomacy in which ordinary citizens can make a real difference. It starts with protecting yourself, your family, and your workplace from common cyber threats. Easy-to-use security features like strong passwords, virtual private networks, and two-factor authentication, which requires a user to enter a code or use a hardware fob in addition to their password when logging in, can help protect sensitive accounts and data. Learning about how hackers can try to manipulate people into voluntarily giving up their passwords or downloading malicious code onto their computers via deceptive emails or phone calls can improve not just your personal security, but the resilience of the entire internet against cyber threats. </p>
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