What We're Watching: Deadly Explosion in Mexico

Deadly unintended consequences in Mexico – Earlier this month, we wrote that Mexico's new president was off to a rough start following some early policy missteps. In particular, we noted the temporary pipeline shutdown Lopez Obrador had ordered to combat gasoline theft that had triggered a severe gasoline shortage in several of Mexico's states. The unintended consequences of that mistake turned deadly last week when a pipeline exploded as hundreds of people in one town in Central Mexico tried to collect gasoline gushing from a pipeline leak. The death toll has risen to 94. We're watching closely to see how AMLO deals with the political fallout.


Huawei Yesterday, the US Department of Justice confirmed that it planned to pursue extradition of the Chinese tech giant's CFO Meng Wanzhou from Canada, where she was arrested last month at the request of US authorities. China warned that moving forward with Meng's extradition would be a "serious mistake." President Trump might prefer to cut her loose to avoid a major escalation in relations as trade negotiations continue with Beijing, but he also faces political pressure from hawks in Congress who want the administration to get tough on Huawei. It's not just the trade talks that hang in the balance – China has detained two Canadian citizens in apparent retaliation for Meng's arrest and recently sentenced a third to death in a drug smuggling case. We'll be watching how this saga unfolds ahead of a January 30 paperwork deadline.

What We're Ignoring:

New Vows, Same Old Marriage The leaders of France and Germany met in the border town of Aachen yesterday to sign a new friendship agreement on the anniversary of a similar one penned by their predecessors 56 years ago. The Treaty of Aachen aims to demonstrate unity and bolster cooperation between Europe's two powerhouses at a moment when the common bloc is struggling to deal with widespread nationalism and anti-EU sentiment. We're ignoring the story though because both Macron and Merkel remain sufficiently tied up with domestic concerns and out of step on key issues like economic and security cooperation to make this new treaty anything other than symbolic.

The growing list of Democratic presidential contenders It's not that we don't care that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, California Senator Kamala Harris, Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard, and a clutch of other hopefuls have either declared themselves official candidates or launched exploratory committees for the Democratic Party's nomination in the 2020 race. But the list of contenders is bound to get longer, and we need to conserve our energy.

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.

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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.

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.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

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.

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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.

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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.

Two big Andean elections: This Sunday, Ecuadorians go to the polls for the second time this year in a close presidential runoff, while Peruvians will vote in the first round of their own presidential election. In Ecuador, the matchup is between the leftwing-populist frontrunner Andrés Arauz, who has pledged to blow up the country's IMF agreements and boost national oil production, and Guillermo Lasso, a pro-business candidate who is seen as the choice of continuity with the current market-friendly government. Voter abstention is likely to be high, and the final result could very well be close and contested in a polarized country that was struggling with massive social unrest even before the pandemic struck. Meanwhile in Peru — which recently went through three presidents in the space of a week — the candidate field is hugely fragmented. Those with a decent shot to make it to the second round include "change" candidates like the leftist former lawmakers Yohny Lescano and Verónica Mendoza, as well as the prominent neoliberal economist Hernando De Soto, who has recently risen in the polls. Former soccer star George Forsyth is also in the mix, as is Keiko Fujimori, daughter of authoritarian former president Alberto Fujimori. Both of this Sunday's elections will serve as a kind of bellwether for the political mood in a region that has been devastated by the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

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