What We're Watching: Tanzania's new leader, big global economic  recovery (for some), more bloodshed in Darfur

Tanzania's new President Samia Suluhu Hassan takes oath of office following the death of her predecessor John Pombe Magufuli at State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania March 19, 2021

Tanzania's U-turn on COVID, press freedom: Tanzania's new President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced on Tuesday that she'll appoint a committee to determine whether the country should start responding to the pandemic, though she stopped short of implementing any sweeping changes. While it's late in the game more than a year since the pandemic was declared, it's still a big deal considering that her late predecessor John Magufuli, who she served under as deputy for six years, was a COVID denier who shunned masks and vaccines, refused to implement pandemic-related restrictions, and declared Tanzania virus-free thanks to prayers from its citizens. (Magufuli died last month, officially from heart complications but it's widely suspected he contracted COVID-19). Hassan, who has been criticized for embracing her former boss' authoritarian tendencies at times, also plans to lift Magufuli's bans on critical media outlets, another major shift for a nation where journalists are often prosecuted over social media posts critical of the government, and citizens are regularly denied access to independent sources of information. We're watching to see if Hassan delivers on her promise of change for Tanzania.


Global economy set to rebound big: The global economy is set to grow by 6 percent this year, the IMF now says, representing the biggest output surge since the 1970s. Much of this anticipated growth is attributed to big government stimulus packages pumped into developed economies like the US, the EU and Japan in recent months. In the United States, the world's largest economy, many economists estimate that the recently passed $1.9 trillion relief package will spur economic expansion by a whopping 6.4 percent in 2021, with the US set to join China as the only two economies to achieve GDP growth exceeding pre-pandemic levels. But the economic recovery will be vastly uneven. In some emerging market economies where governments don't have the means to pump huge amounts of cash into the economy, and a lack of travel has decimated tourism-reliant communities, the post-COVID economic rebound could take much longer, the IMF says. This trend is compounded by sluggish vaccine rollouts in many places because of vaccine hoarding by wealthy countries. Still, there is no hard-and-fast rule: In large economies where the virus continues to spread like wildfire, like in Brazil, the economy continues to teeter.

State of emergency in West Darfur: Last fall, a peace treaty was signed between Sudan's transitional civilian-military government and some Darfur rebel groups, raising hopes of a new peaceful era after decades of bloodshed in Sudan. Then, the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission announced it would withdraw from West Darfur (the Sudanese enclave that borders Chad) after 13 years of occupation. But in recent months, violence has continued unabated there, prompting the Sudanese government to declare a state of emergency. Over the past few days, at least 50 people were killed in violent clashes between ethnic groups, with projectiles hitting a UN compound and a hospital. Disagreements between Arabs and non-Arab herders over farming rights and water access, coupled with other ethnic tensions and easy access to cheap weapons, have created a combustible situation in conflict-ridden Darfur. Since 2003, when Sudan's then-President Omar al-Bashir waged a deadly crackdown to quash an ethnic revolt, some 300,000 people have been killed and millions displaced. As violence surges, hopes of a long-sought peace diminish.

A sector that's rapidly expanding, domotics - domus (home) plus robotics - are smart houses that manage temperature and lighting to minimize wasted electricity. For example, smart thermostats sense your presence and set the temperature according to your needs, saving 20% a year on heating bills. Watch this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series to learn how domotics save money and increase a home's value.

Even if the US, Europe, China, and India reduce carbon emissions at the rate they've promised, much climate damage has already been done. That shouldn't stop these and other countries from doing all they can to meet their net-zero emissions targets, but they also better start preparing for a world of people on the move.

Climate change will displace an unprecedented number of people in coming years, creating not just a series of humanitarian crises in many parts of the world, but lasting political, economic, and social upheaval as those of us who live on higher ground try to find a sustainable place for these climate refugees to live.

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Listen: In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer, Pulitzer Prize-winning climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert assesses the current state of the climate crisis and answers a simple question: how screwed are we? And as the climate continues to warm at a record pace, she unpacks some of the more extreme climate solutions that some increasingly desperate nations are starting to consider. Such measures may sound like stuff of science fiction (see: injecting sulfur particles into the atmosphere or shooting millions of tiny orbital mirrors into outer space) as times become more desperate, their appeal is growing. Can we fix the planet the same way we broke it?

China is making its neighbors nervous these days. Chinese fighter jets are screaming into Taiwan's airspace. Hundreds of armed Chinese "fishing boats" are plying the disputed waters of the South China Sea. And Beijing is slashing imports from some trading partners because of disputes over political issues.

To push back against this increasingly aggressive behavior, regional powers Japan, India, and Australia, together with the US, are boosting cooperation via a 17-year-old grouping called the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or simply "The Quad." But how effectively can these four countries really work together to counter China? Eurasia Group's Peter Mumford discusses the Quad's future.

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Want to tackle climate change? If so you'll have to reach out to China, which is currently responsible for over a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions. Beijing will certainly take your call, as climate is a huge priority for President Xi Jinping.

Xi has promised that China will go "net zero" — meaning its carbon emissions will be offset by equal amounts of either natural or tech-driven carbon capture — by 2060. Is a decade later than most of the top 10 polluting countries fast enough for the rest of the world? It is for the Chinese, who want to help but have their own ideas about how.

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When will it be safe for the world's children to be vaccinated against COVID-19? The World Health Organization's chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, says that vaccines are being tested in children down to the age of six or even lower, and promises that data on children will be shared as soon as it's available. She also notes that there are not enough studies on transmission in schools, and the WHO has advised governments to prioritize schools "over other things like shopping malls or cinema halls or pubs." Dr. Swaminathan spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview on GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting April 9. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Over the past half century, climate change has had an immense impact on the farmers who produce the food we eat. A new study by Cornell University shows that global warming has knocked 21 percent off of global agriculture productivity growth since 1965, equivalent to seven years of normal growth if humans had not polluted the planet. But not all countries have been affected in the same say. Farmers in warmer parts of the world have been hit hard as conditions grow more arid, but sub-polar regions in Canada or Siberia are now actually better for agriculture because they are not as cold as they used to be. Here we take a look at how climate has affected farming productivity growth around the world.

On Tuesday, a major US intelligence report said the top threat to America right now is China. A day later, John Kerry, the Biden administration's "climate czar," got on a plane to... China.

Such is the drama of ties between the world's two largest economies these days.

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Can "the Quad" constrain China?

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