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India and China for a news Leadership on the Climate?

Asia @en di

The world is changing rapidly. Until not long ago, the United States of Barack Obama, in the role of the virtuoses, pressed on India and China, the “big polluters”, to renew their environmental policies and join the ranks of countries engaged in combating climate change. The Paris COP 21 agreement, which was signed in 2015 by all the major players in the game, had, despite the many downward compromises, represented a favorable outcome for environmental issues and a success of the American democratic administration.

Less than two years later, Trump is ready to get out of the agreement, and India and China are willing to lead the fight against pollution, without saving sharp criticism to the new presidency’ choices.

None of the two countries, however, seems to be ready to assume a real leadership in the fight against global warming and fill the void that will inevitably be left by USA discharge.

The two Asian governments are gradually taking on more strong positions, on the public level as well, against fossil fuels, as their respective populations are going to directly suffer, more and more, from the adverse effects of climate change and poisoning of natural resources. Beyond reassuring positions, China and India are, at least for now, unable to offset the strong weakening of the economic incentive system the US offered to developing countries in exchange for a greater control over their levels of pollution.

The change of route in Asia is, however, evident and should not be underestimated. For decades, the governments of India and China had looked with suspicion and annoyance at the appeals of the first world countries for a reduction in polluting emissions. The countries which have based their development on wild industrialization without posing too much doubts about the climatic consequences, asked the poorer countries to limit their growth capabilities to preserve the health of the planet. What pulp came from the sermon?

Today, however, both Indian President Modi and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping seem to have adopted a different vision of the world. Modi called a “morally criminal act” to not stick to the commitments assumed on the climate front. Jinping addressed all signatories to the COP 21, recalling that it represents “a responsibility we must assume for future generations”.

Trump’s choice could have dramatic consequences for that same future. In addition to the reduction in economic incentives and technological equipment supplies (the US alone would have to contribute for about 20% of the total), American withdrawal could entice other countries to do the same. The Paris agreement, moreover, had been considered by many to be a downward result, unable to effectively contain global warming in the coming years. There would be much more substantial emissions cutbacks in order to reverse the route, but the American turnaround may also weaken the current deal, encouraging more hesitant states to loosen the ties of their engagement.

The United States is also the second most polluting country in the world, and with the Paris agreement they pledged to reduce 26 to 28% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. Without their contribution, experts are asking, will it be possible to meet the objective of limiting the rise in temperature, compared to the pre-industrial era, below the two degrees, as established by the Paris Agreement?

It’s hard to say, but things are neverthless moving. If India is committed to meeting its objectives, despite the fact that 240 million people in the sub-continent still have no access to electricity, China seems to have rapidly traveled to its commitments and started a financing project on the renewable energies ($ 360 million by 2020) that makes the Asian giant the new industry leader, globally.

New environmental policies, according to scholars, have already begun to have some tangible consequences in the two countries. China has slowed down its consumption of carbon and India is about to reduce its construction projects for new coal-fired power plants. New Deli then accelerated investments in wind and solar energy, moving to the target set for 2022: to bring its capacity from renewable sources to 175 gigawatts.

The words of Indian Energy Minister Piyush Goya sound clear and strong: “We are not addressing climate change because somebody told us to do it, it is an article of faith for this government .”

The jibe for the most industrialized countries is also a paradigm shift: “Sadly the developed world does not show the same commitment to fulfill their promises, which could help speed up the clean energy revolution .”

Will the Asian powers therefore be able to fill in the American shortages and load this revolution on their shoulders? The commitment is evident but the economic problem remains. American leadership on the environmental front, in the Obama era, was expressed through a $ 3 billion loan in favor of the poorest countries to support them in the development of alternative energies. This fund has been reduced by two-thirds by Trump and neither Beijing nor New Delhi intend to put all this money on the table. Rather, the two giants seem willing to play a coordinating and addressing role, strengthening the sharing of technology-based knowledge among the nations involved.

Using the words of Varad Pande, an ex-consultant at the Indian Ministry of Energy, the one that is being built todaywill be a different flavor of leadership“.

Intense and spicy, hopefully, like curry.

North Korea launches a warning to Trump and Xi Jinping

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A few hours before the summit between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese equivalent Xi Jinping, in Florida, the North Korean leader has ordered the launch of a KN-15 medium-range which missile which concluded its trajectory in the Sea of ​​Japan waters, after a short flight of about 60 kilometers.

South Korea strongly condemned the new provocation of Pyongyang, and the US Defense Secretary, Rex Tillerson, coldly addressed the episode: “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.” The most decisive response came instead from Tokyo, speaking through Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga: “Japan can never tolerate North Korea’s repeated provocative actions. The government strictly protested and strongly condemned it. “

After five nuclear tests, two of which were conducted in 2016, today’s launch has renewed fears of the international community on the North Korean missile program. Pyongynag is still far from the objective of realizing a long-range warhead that can deliver a nuclear weapon on American soil , but analysts have speculated that the KN-15 missile was propelled by a solid propellant, easy to handle and transport, which would increase the striking capacity of the Asian regime.

The show of force occurs in the aftermath of two events that Pyongyang interpreted as serious threats. In recent days, Trump launched its warning: if China decides not to cooperate in containing the inconvenient regional ally, the US is ready to act alone against the enemy. At the same time, a joint military drill between the US, Japan and South Korea, which Pyongyang sees as a rehearsal for a possible invasion, just came to an end.

According to a spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry, the actions of enemy powers are bringing the Asian Peninsula on “brink of war”.

The current crisis, which undoubtedly will be the focus of talks between Trump and Jinping, was preceded, in February, by the launch of four ballistic missiles by North Koreans who have fallen close to the Japanese coast, and from an SLBM ( Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile) launch system test that would allow Pyongyang to bring its warheads into enemy waters and have an unprecedented second-strike capability, in case of destruction of its terrestrial arsenal. However, this hypothesis, according to analysts, is currently only theoretical and years will occour before Kim Jong Un will be able to rely on such an offensive capability.

In an increasingly overheated scenario, the Chinese government try to throw water on the fire. On the eve of Jinping and Trump summit, at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, owned by the US president, a spokesman for the Beijing Foreign Ministry has denied any link between the North Korean missile launch and the meeting between the two powers, urging all actors involved to avoid any further escalation.

China, at this moment, seems to be the only force able to put a stop to the conflict between Pyongyang and its many enemies.

Xi Jinping at the WEF in Davos: “no-one can win a trade war”

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Globalization versus protectionism, this could be the focus of the clash that prepares globally in the coming years between the two giants of the world economy: China and the US.

The elected president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, summarized in the “America first” slogan, focuses on the American interests protection on the commercial level, questioning the economic relations with the Asian opponent. After the sunset of ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP), the new administration seems willing to withdraw from international treaties favoring bilateral free trade agreements which may provide greater protection of American interests. A perspective that puts Beijing in alarm, as it sees in globalization and liberalization of trade the high road to continue on the growth path.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has therefore decided to take the field in person, by taking part today, with a delegation of the highest level, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Never in the past any Chinese leader participated in the prestigious annual Davos summit, a novelty that well represents the importance of the moment, a few days before the assignment of the new president Trump at the White House, on 20th of January.

As expected, in his speech Jinping spoke in defense of globalization and free trade, while warning Washington against the danger of a trade war between the first and the second largest economy on the planet, from which no one would come out as a winner.

In a symbolic speech, the Chinese president has defended the outcomes of economic integration, considering it, at the same time, inevitable and unavoidable. “Many of the problems troubling the world are not caused by economic globalization,- Jinping said. “Whether you like it or not, the global economy is the big ocean you cannot escape from.” “We must remain committed to free trade and investment. We must promote trade and investment liberalization,” he added, stressing that “No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war.” A clear message for the new Trump administration, in order to deter any markedly protectionist choice.

While recognizing the negative effects of globalization on certain sectors of the economy and society, Chinese President considers isolationism a wrong reaction: “TThe right thing to do is to seize every opportunity to jointly meet challenges and chart the right course for economic globalization”.

With the Davos speech, Xi Jinping has a twofold purpose: to counter the protectionist narrative of President Trump and remind everyone that China is ready to take over the US, if the protectionist choice will be confirmed by the facts, in the role of global economic leader. Beijing is ready to propose a series of new free trade agreements, not only with the countries of the Pacific region, orphans of the TPP, but also with the Latin American continent.

Is Trump really inclined to leave the field open to the emerging superpower to focus only on defense of american internal market? In this case, Beijing will be able to create new conditions to sustain chinese growth?

2017 could be a year of great changes for the global economic order.

Luca Marchesini
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