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.
New front in Ethiopian war? In the days since a sudden — and now short-lived — ceasefire paused eight months of civil war in Ethiopia, Tigrayan forces have been re-establishing control over territory that they lost to Ethiopian government troops during the conflict. But that's already raising fears of another war. Why? Well, Tigray People's Liberation Front fighters are moving (back) into areas of Tigray that are claimed by the neighboring Amhara state — in a long-running border dispute of their own. That has prompted Amharan nationalists to call on their local ethnic militias to mobilize for war against the Tigrayans. This is merely the latest challenge to face PM Abiy Ahmed, who earlier this month won controversial nationwide elections, but continues to struggle to contain resurgent ethnic and regional strife in the country.
Taliban border moves: The Taliban claim to have won a big prize in their 20-year quest to regain full control of Afghanistan: the strategic border crossing linking the Afghan town of Spin Boldak with the Pakistani city of Chaman. It's the second busiest transit point between the two countries, and connects Pakistan's ports to Kandahar, Afghanistan's second largest city and former Taliban stronghold. The move will enable the Taliban to choke off supplies for the Afghan government — which right now barely controls any territory outside of major cities — and to bring in scores of Taliban fighters hosted by Baluchi militants across the border in Pakistan. If the Taliban maintain the pace of their military campaign, they could take Kabul and rule the entire country before the last US troops leave.
What's We're Listening To
A popul- hic! A populist's stom- hic! Stomach! Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has been hospitalized, reportedly to figure out a chronic case of... hiccups. The controversial rightwing populist had health scares before, including COVID, and the state of his innards has been a source of outward concern at least since he was badly stabbed during a 2018 campaign stop. As Bolsonaro faces fresh allegations of corruption and a daunting path to re-election in 2022, we are watching, and listening, closely for more — hic! — news.