Category: Current affairs

What Obama administration wants from Paris climate summit?

  • Prefers to join an accord by executive agreement (i.e. a swish of Obama's pen).
  • If accord contains legally binding obligations, Obama will need to put it to the Senate.
  • But the Republican majority in the Senate is hostile to scientific consensus vis-à-vis climate change.

Why is a binding global climate accord so difficult to achieve?

  • Because there's a divide between rich and poor nations.
  • Rich nations' industrialisation resulted in global warming - now poor nations want their own share of industrial wealth.
  • Also, the Republican party in the US is hostile to to scientific consensus vis-à-vis climate change.

Expectations re UN Paris climate meeting end Nov?

  • Impossible to force nations to cut pollution, so will be based on voluntary pledges.
  • Hopefully agreement to review every 5 years to see if pledges having any effect.
  • If an accord is reached, will be based on collection of widely differing national promises, so expect no universal outcome (like an agreed global carbon price, or a global ban on fossil fuel subsidies).

History of UN climate accords?

  • Rio accord 1992 & Kyoto protocol 1997: Failed to meet chief objective, i.e. preventing rise of C02 from burning of fossil fuels.
  • Copenhagen 2009: Attempt to replace Kyoto agreement - failed to reach agreement.
  • Paris 30 Nov. 2015: Hopefully an accord, but expected to be unenforceable and voluntary.

Why is ISIS now branching out of Syria and Iraq?

  • ISIS largely contained in its core territory (N + E Syria, N + W Iraq).
  • Whenever they try to break into neighbouring Shia or Kurdish areas, they get pushed back.
  • Could explain attacks in Lebanon (Beirut), Egypt (Russian jet) and Paris.

Syria Macrosnap?

  • Looks like military and political stalemate.
  • Military: Increased (covert) supply of missiles to selected rebel groups has stalled Russia-backed Assad advances.
  • Political: Putin's negotiating position therefore weakened.

Growing support for stronger US presence in S-China Sea?

  • Yes, as China flexes its muscles, neighbours look towards US.
  • Closer military co-operation with Australia, Philippines, Japan over last 2 years.
  • Malaysia also moving closer to US.

Increased supply of US missiles to Syria rebels?

  • Coming via Turkey - and part sponsored by Saudi Arabia.
  • Recipients vetted by CIA operatives first, i.e. to get resupplied, recipients need to show video footage of successes and need to return spent cartridges.
  • Program seems to be successfully holding off Russian-backed Assad advances.

Macrosnap Myanmar election?

  • Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party's (NLD) historic win against ruling military-backed elite.
  • Despite landslide electoral win, 25% of parliamentary seats are allocated to the military, so they will have huge influence.
  • So she will need to work with them.

Why did ISIS attack Paris?

  • French special forces have been tracking ISIS militants in the Sahara since 2013.
  • France was the first EU country to join the US air strikes on ISIS in Iraq in 2014.
  • France is the only EU country to have joined the US air strikes on ISIS in Syria in 2015.
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