We pay little attention to the waves of the sea, yet they are the greatest unused source of renewable energy in the world. Meet ISWEC and Power Buoy, two interesting new technologies used to harness this energy. Learn more about the extraordinary power of waves in this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series, where we investigate interesting facts and trends about energy.
Ukraine is once again in a tough spot.
<p>Since 2014, Moscow has supported and armed separatist rebels inside Ukraine's Donbas region along the border with Russia in order to weaken Ukraine's government and thwart its plans to one day <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-president-signs-constitutional-amendment-on-nato-eu-membership/29779430.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">join NATO and the European Union</a>. Off-and-on fighting there, which began after Russian forces seized Crimea from Ukraine seven years ago, has killed about 14,000 people.</p><p>Earlier this week, in response to an ominous <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-crisis-kremlin-citizens/russia-says-it-could-be-forced-to-protect-its-citizens-in-east-ukraine-tass-idUSKBN2BV1S3" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">buildup of Russian troops</a> near the Ukrainian-Russian border, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/e7dc0f67-fd63-4c2b-bcc3-fdbe06c4672a" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">told</a> NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg that Ukrainian membership in "NATO is the only way to end the war in Donbas." He added that a NATO decision to give Ukraine a so-called <a href="https://www.unian.info/politics/ukraine-nato-alliance-names-conditions-for-receiving-map-lawmaker-11196308.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">membership action plan</a>, opening a long-term process toward membership, would provide "a real signal for Russia." That plan would require political, economic, security, and legal reforms to bring Ukraine into line with NATO standards.</p><p>Russian officials have dismissed Zelensky's government as "children playing with matches" and warned that a new Ukrainian military operation in the Donbas would trigger "the beginning of the end of Ukraine."</p><p>So… should NATO now give Ukraine a plan toward eventual membership in the alliance? There are good arguments for and against.</p><p><strong>Arguments for</strong></p><p><strong>Ukraine, an independent nation of 44 million people, has the right to decide for itself which allies to embrace and which clubs to join.</strong> The Russian government, which considers Ukraine a part of Russia's "<a href="https://carnegieendowment.org/2017/06/30/whose-rules-whose-sphere-russian-governance-and-influence-in-post-soviet-states-pub-71403" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">sphere of influence</a>," continues to undermine its territorial integrity to keep Ukraine in Russia's shadow. NATO should stand against this aggression by giving Kyiv the ultimate defense against Russian meddling.</p><p><strong>Recent history exposes the absurdity of arguments that NATO membership for Ukraine would provoke Russia.</strong> NATO restraint didn't prevent Russia from invading Crimea and stoking war in the Donbas, both of which created new problems for Europe. Russia has no respect for NATO restraint.</p><p><strong>By offering Ukraine a plan to join, the alliance would spur Ukraine to accelerate the reforms</strong> of its military, security services, politics, and economy that Europe and the US have wanted for a generation.</p><p><strong>Ukraine can strengthen NATO.</strong> Last year, the alliance granted Ukraine "<a href="https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_176327.htm" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">enhanced opportunities</a>" for deeper cooperation, and Ukraine has already contributed troops to support NATO operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo. The reforms demanded for full membership would make Ukraine an even more valuable ally.</p><p><strong>NATO promised.</strong> As Ukraine's foreign minister <a href="https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/why-is-ukraine-still-not-in-nato/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">noted</a> in February, NATO pledged in 2008 that Ukraine (and fellow former Soviet republic Georgia) will become NATO members one day and encouraged both countries to apply. How long must Ukraine wait to begin this process? Until Russia says it's OK?</p><p><strong>Arguments against</strong></p><p><strong><a href="https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_110496.htm" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Article 5</a> of NATO's founding treaty requires all member states to defend any fellow member that comes under attack.</strong> That's the cornerstone of the alliance. But a median of 50 percent of people in 16 NATO member countries states said last year that their country <a href="https://www.euractiv.com/section/defence-and-security/news/confidence-in-nato-sharply-declined-in-france-germany-us-says-study/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">should not</a> defend a fellow NATO ally against Russian attack. Just 38 percent said it should. If that many people won't support military action to help an existing alliance member, how many would back an armed defense of Ukraine? The leaders of NATO countries can't ignore that question.</p><p><strong>And that's a special problem for Ukraine, because Russia has <em>already</em> invaded.</strong> NATO members don't recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea, and they condemn Russian involvement in the Donbas. By admitting Ukraine as a member, isn't NATO on the hook for evicting Russian troops from those two regions?</p><p><strong>Initiating membership can make the current conflict worse.</strong> By itself, the membership action plan doesn't provide an Article 5 security guarantee. If NATO were to grant one to Ukraine, Russia would have every incentive to destabilize Ukraine much more dramatically than it already has in order to derail the membership process. That's the opposite of what NATO and Ukraine want.</p><p><strong>Fear of that scenario helps explain why there's no groundswell of support for NATO membership even in Ukraine.</strong> In November 2020, just <a href="https://www.unian.info/society/poll-ukrainian-speak-out-on-eu-nato-membership-prospects-11215232.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">41 percent</a> of Ukrainians said NATO membership is a good idea. (About 37 percent hoped Ukraine would remain non-aligned, while 13 percent supported partnership with Russia.) These results are broadly consistent with other recent surveys.</p><p><strong>The status quo isn't that bad for NATO or Ukraine.</strong> It isn't fear of NATO that prevents Vladimir Putin from ordering a full-on invasion of Ukraine. It's that large numbers of Russian troops would be killed, that occupation of Ukraine over many years would be hugely expensive, and that lasting support of the Russian people for that undertaking is far from certain.</p><p>So... strong arguments on both sides. <a href="mailto:email@example.com" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Tell us</a> what you think. </p>
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Hard Numbers: China fines Alibaba, India’s COVID surge, East African oil pipeline, Merkel succession race
April 12, 2021
2.8 billion: Chinese regulators fined e-commerce giant Alibaba a record $2.8 billion — about four percent of its 2019 revenue — for abusing its dominant market position and forcing merchants to operate exclusively on its platform. Alibaba founder Jack Ma has fallen out with Beijing in recent months after the billionaire publicly criticized China's regulators for stifling innovation in technology.
<p><strong>13.5 million:</strong> India has <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/12/coronavirus-india-becomes-second-worst-hit-country-as-covid-cases-surge.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">surpassed</a> Brazil to become the country with the second highest number of COVID infections. Only the US tops its number of 13.5 million infections. The news comes as millions of Indians <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-56713993" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">gather in huge crowds</a> to bathe in the Gangers river for Kumbh Mela, a Hindu festival that occurs every 12 years and is considered the world's largest religious gathering. Event organizers ignored pleas by health authorities to cancel the event.</p><p><strong>1,445:</strong> Tanzania and Uganda have <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-uganda-pipeline-tanzania/uganda-tanzania-oil-firms-sign-accords-to-build-35-billion-pipeline-idUSKBN2BY0CX" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">signed</a> an agreement to build a 1,433-kilometer (898 mile) pipeline to transport Ugandan oil to the Indian Ocean via the Tanzanian port of Tanga. The $3.5 billion project to construct the world's longest heated oil pipeline has been decried by environmentalists, who fear it will damage fragile ecosystems near Lake Victoria and the Serengeti.</p><strong>2:</strong> The current leaders of two German <em>länder</em> will <a href="https://apnews.com/article/angela-merkel-national-elections-elections-germany-europe-6eaa24991911bbfbb1b62f5771b24627" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">compete</a> to be the ruling CDU/CSU conservative coalition's candidate for chancellor in the September federal election. Bavaria and CSU chief Markus Söder is challenging Armin Laschet, governor of North Rhine-Westphalia — the country's most populous state — and recently elected president of <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/europe-minus-merkel" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_self">outgoing</a> Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party.
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Vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens before the rest of the world, has been effective for rich nations like the United States and Israel. But leaving behind so much of the global population isn't just a humanitarian issue. It could prolong the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization's Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, who argues that what the global vaccination effort most urgently lacks are doses, not dollars. In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, she calls for a large increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and suggests we may be seeing alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.
April 10, 2021
Listen: Soumya Swaminathan calls for a massive increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants, in a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast. Dr. Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, argues that vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens ahead of the rest of the world, will only prolong the pandemic because a virus does not stop at any national border. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and discusses when she thinks the world's children should get vaccinated. In addition, she suggests we may see alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.
India, the world's third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, is one of the countries worst affected by climate change. But it takes issue with those now asking it to clean up its act. Why, the Indians ask, should we give up our right to get rich by burning fossil fuels like you developed economies have done for generations?
That's precisely the message that India's energy minister had for the US and other wealthy nations at a recent Zoom summit after they pressured Delhi to set a future deadline for net zero emissions. For India, he explained, such targets are "pie in the sky" aspirations that do little to address the climate crisis the country faces right now.
<p><strong>High stakes.</strong> The impacts of climate change will be <a href="https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/06/19/india-climate-change-impacts" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">severe</a> for India. Parts of the country are set to become unbearably hot in the coming years. Torrential monsoon rains are becoming more frequent and unpredictable, as are droughts, which will hinder the agriculture's sector ability to feed 1.4 billion people and employ <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/the-graphic-truth-top-10-economies-reliance-on-agriculture" target="_self">nearly 60 percent</a> of the labor force. </p><p>Melting glaciers may alter the course of the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra rivers, making it harder for farmers to irrigate crops. And tens of millions of Indians live in low-lying areas that could be underwater in a couple of decades.</p><p><strong>Taking action.</strong> Faced with such grim prospects, India says it's doing its part to turn the tide. The country is one of the few currently <a href="https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/global-warming/india-only-g20-nation-on-track-to-meet-paris-pacts-2c-goal/articleshow/79292694.cms" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">on track</a> to meet its emissions reduction target in the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, and is <a href="https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/10/22/green-india-energy-climate/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">very close</a> to achieving its objective of using 40 percent of renewable energy sources by the end of the decade.</p><p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been internally recognized for driving India to become a global <a href="https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/speeches/2018-10-03/champion-earth-award-narendra-modi-india-remarks" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">climate champion</a>. His government has spurred massive public and private investment in clean energy, especially solar, where India is now a major player due to <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/06/india-is-now-producing-the-world-s-cheapest-solar-power/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">ultra-low prices</a>. But that's not the entire story.</p><p><strong>Coal remains king.</strong> India still <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/india-coal-energy-solar-power-renewables-change/a-54688107" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">burns a lot of coal</a>. In fact, coal powers about half of the country's electricity generation. As the Indian economy grows, so will demand for coal — and the air in megacities like Delhi and Mumbai will get even more <a href="https://www.indiatoday.in/india-today-insight/story/in-a-graphic-delhi-s-toxic-air-1735337-2020-10-26" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">toxic</a>.</p><p>And it's not just coal. Eliminating dirty household fossil fuels for cooking, heating and lighting would <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190502100943.htm" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">fix India's air pollution problem</a> without any changes to industrial or vehicle emissions. But an attempt by the government to force hundreds of millions of low-income Indians to use more expensive green alternatives would likely be met with the same <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/farm-to-negotiating-table-in-india" target="_self">fierce resistance</a> that farmers have shown to Modi's new laws to make the agriculture sector more business-friendly.</p><p><strong>To drastically cut emissions, India needs cash.</strong> Delhi believes that rich nations should spend less on going "net zero" themselves and more on helping developing countries realize their climate action plans with less stringent requirements. Why, the Indians ask again, should wealthy nations demand that we <em>all</em> go green but only <em>we</em> stay poor, when <em>you</em> still get most of the <a href="https://www.climatechangenews.com/2020/10/20/oxfam-rich-countries-not-delivering-100bn-climate-finance-promise/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">available climate finance money</a>, and yet it is <em>we</em> who will suffer the most?</p>For India, it's high time to <a href="https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/beyond-zero-sum-the-hindu-editorial-calling-rich-countries-to-commit-technology-and-funds-towards-net-zero-carbon-emissions/article34275014.ece" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">shift the burden</a> of paying for climate action to those who caused Earth to warm in the first place. But will that argument convince rich countries to divert funds intended to reach their own targets so India won't have to choose between economic growth or saving the environment? We may find out in a couple of weeks at Joe Biden's <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/26/president-biden-invites-40-world-leaders-to-leaders-summit-on-climate/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Earth Day Summit</a>.
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April 09, 2021
The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are nearly a year away, but discussion of a potential boycott is already stoking tensions on both sides of the US-China relationship. Officials in Washington and other Western capitals are coming under mounting pressure from activists to respond to human rights abuses in China. An increasingly assertive Beijing, meanwhile, vigorously rejects any foreign criticism of what it regards as internal issues.
The last time the US boycotted an Olympics was in 1980, when it withdrew from the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Four years later, the Soviet Union repaid in kind by skipping the Games in Los Angeles. Would the US and its allies do something like that again? And how might China respond? Eurasia Group analysts Neil Thomas and Allison Sherlock explain the drivers of the boycott movement and its possible fallout.
<p><strong>Why is momentum building for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics?</strong></p><p>As Western countries' relations with Beijing grow more fraught, public opinion is increasingly focused on China's human rights abuses and authoritarian politics. Human rights and pro-democracy campaigners focus on the erosion of political freedoms in Hong Kong, threats to self-rule in Taiwan, and above all, Beijing's repression of the Uighurs in Xinjiang, which some Western governments<a href="https://2017-2021.state.gov/determination-of-the-secretary-of-state-on-atrocities-in-xinjiang/index.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> have classified as genocide</a>. Calls from activists to boycott what they label the "Genocide Games" will grow as the Opening Ceremony approaches next February, increasing the reputational risk for governments and companies that participate. This February, over 180 human rights groups published an open letter that urged all governments to refrain from sending political representatives to the Games — a so-called diplomatic boycott.</p><p><strong>How has the situation changed since the last Chinese Olympics?</strong></p><p>Back in 2008 there were calls to boycott the Beijing Summer Olympics because of religious persecution in Tibet and Beijing's support for a violent regime in Sudan. They mostly failed. A few politicians, notably German leader Angela Merkel, decided not to attend the Games, though more than 80 national leaders, including US president George W. Bush, still showed up.</p><p>But Western attitudes toward China have worsened considerably since 2008. Under Xi Jinping, who came to power in late 2012, China has become more authoritarian at home and more assertive abroad. Political crackdowns, human rights abuses, and aggressive "wolf warrior" diplomacy — with its politicized insults and economic threats directed at foreign countries and officials — are hardening attitudes toward China in Western governments, media, and publics.</p><p><strong>What would a boycott look like, and how would China respond?</strong></p><p>The experience of missing the 1980 Moscow Games — which hurt the careers of a generation of US athletes — soured the US National Olympic Committee on the idea of athletic boycotts. Most National Olympic Committees around the world agree. Given that these bodies must approve any athletic boycott, their stance makes a diplomatic response the more likely option. This path would see the US and other Western countries refuse to send high-level politicians or diplomats to the Opening Ceremony and other events. President Joe Biden, for one, will find it politically difficult to endorse the Games after supporting a genocide designation for Beijing's actions in Xinjiang.</p><p>Western activists and consumers are also pressuring corporations to withdraw from Olympic sponsorship deals. These firms are in a tough position. On the one hand, they risk reputational damage in the West by supporting a Games linked to Beijing's politics. On the other hand, any political statement against the Games by a corporation (or by a corporation's home country government) would trigger an even more vigorous (and likely state-approved) consumer backlash in China, jeopardizing commercial opportunities in the world's largest market.</p><p><strong>What countries would be likely to participate in a boycott?</strong></p><p>The most likely participants are the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, and several other western European countries, all of which say the protection of human rights is a key foreign policy objective and whose relations with China have deteriorated in recent years. Consequently, their governments face political pressure to punish Beijing for its conduct in Xinjiang and elsewhere. If a boycott goes ahead, these countries will seek to move as a group to raise the costs of retaliation for Beijing. US partners in the Indo-Pacific — such as Japan, South Korea, and India — are less likely to participate in a boycott because of their deeper economic ties with China and trickier security dynamics as close neighbors of China. Tokyo and New Delhi both contest territory with Beijing, while Seoul wants Chinese cooperation in dealing with North Korea.</p><p><strong>What are individual athletes likely to do?</strong></p><p>Athletes will be a wildcard in boycott dynamics. Human rights advocates are urging them to protest through social media, t-shirt slogans, or media interviews. Canadian athletes are the most likely to rally behind these calls, so long as two of their countrymen — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — languish in Chinese prisons for what are widely viewed as political reasons.</p><p><strong>Doesn't the Olympic Charter forbid political protests?</strong></p><p>Yes, but governments or sponsors that penalize athletes for speaking out would face a severe consumer and political backlash in the West. The US National Olympic Committee, for its part, says it won't punish athletes who "advocate for racial and social justice." Beijing will likely go to great lengths to control public events to avoid any potential embarrassment but will struggle to stamp out activism, particularly on social media, which it can control only within its own borders.</p><p><em>Neil Thomas is Adviser, China and <a href="https://www.eurasiagroup.net/people/asherlock" target="_blank">Allison Sherlock</a> is Associate, China at Eurasia Group.</em></p>
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April 08, 2021
In two weeks, US President Joe Biden will be hosting an online "climate summit" to mark Earth Day. He'll ask China and India to sign up to America's ambitious new plan to slow down climate change. Will they go for it? China is the world's largest polluter, but Beijing is rolling out solar and wind power as fast as it's burning coal. India, meanwhile, is loathe to pick up the slack for rich countries that polluted their way to wealth and now want everyone else to agree to emissions cuts. No matter what happens, any successful plan to reduce global emissions will require buy-in from these three nations which, along with the European Union, account for almost 60 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions nowadays. Here's a look at emissions by the world's top polluters compared to everyone else over the last two decades.
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