Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological
Organization, stated that “Things are getting worse”, after the
publication of its annual state of the global climate report,
concluding a decade of what it called exceptional global heat. In order to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions, drastic measures will be required. Dr.
Taalas added that: “The only solution is to get rid of fossil fuels in
power production, industry and transportation”.
In a recent commentary in the journal Nature, scientists warned
that the acceleration of ice loss and other effects of climate change have
brought the world “dangerously close” to abrupt and irreversible changes.
The societal toll is accelerating, too, UN SG António Guterres said in Madrid
before the opening of the UN’s annual climate conference: “Climate-related
natural disasters are becoming more frequent, more deadly, more
destructive, with growing human and financial costs”.
The WMO’s state of the global climate report, released at the
Madrid talks, said that this decade will almost certainly be the warmest
one on record. And the second half of the decade was much warmer than the
first, with global temperatures averaged over the second half about 0.2
degree Celsius. But how fast temperatures will continue to increase, and
how much worse things may get, depends in large part on whether the world
reins in greenhouse gas emissions, and by how much.
If the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had reached its
70th birthday under any of the previous 12 presidents, the celebration
would have occurred in Washington rather than in London. The USA has
always been the most powerful NATO member, and every American president
until Trump has been the alliance’s natural leader. Instead, Trump has
been NATO’s loudest critic. He has cast America’s military allies
primarily as a drain on the US Treasury, and he has aggressively
criticized USA allies in Europe.
Stung by Trump’s overt criticism, US allies have begun to
reciprocate. Macron caused a real stir in NATO when he stated that the
alliance was effectively “brain dead.” Rather than try to mend fences,
Trump announced new trade sanctions against France on the eve of the
summit. Trump’s most egregious mistake, though, was his failure to support
clearly and unequivocally the key provision of the NATO treaty, Article V.
In any case, Trump appears indifferent to the advantage over Russia
and China that the USA enjoys because of the European ties. The US has 28
allies in NATO, as well as treaty allies in Japan, South Korea, and
Australia, who will defend the country when its backs are against the
wall. This is the great power differential the US enjoys with Moscow and
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed not to involve Huawei in
Britain’s 5G telecommunications networks if it compromised the country’s
ability to work with close security allies, including the US, after he was
lobbied on the issue by Donald Trump. In spite of assurances from UK
intelligence chiefs that they can manage the risk from Huawei, US security
and intelligence officials remain anxious about the threat posed by the
Mr Johnson defended that the “key criterion” would be whether the
use of Huawei technology would compromise Britain’s ability to co-operate
with its so-called “five eyes” security partners: the US, Canada,
Australia and New Zealand. He said this was “paramount”.
Different networks such as Vodafone, have argued that a move to ban
the Chinese company’s 5G equipment would significantly slow down the
upgrade to 5G services across the country since the old equipment would
need to be stripped out and replaced to work with the new wireless
China’s top envoy to the US has struck out at Washington’s hardline
measures against Beijing, accusing US officials of building a “Berlin
Wall” between the two sides. Speaking at the US-China Business Council’s
annual gala in Washington on Wednesday, ambassador Cui Tiankai said that
“obstinate prejudice” was behind criticism directed at the Chinese
government for its policies on trade and investment, Hong Kong and the
Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
Along with the approval of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy
Act, the US House of Representatives voted 407 to one to approve the Uygur
Intervention and Global Humanitarian Unified Response Act of 2019, which
commands the US administration to identify and sanction officials deemed
responsible for their involvement in the mass internment of members of
ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang.
Pressure on Beijing to allow international monitors into the
internment camps has escalated since news outlets in November published
reports based on the so-called China cables – a leak of classified
documents that indicate the camps were set up as forced indoctrination
centres. Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council in July released a
statement calling for an end to what it called “arbitrary detention” of
Uygurs and other Muslim groups in the region.
President Trump abused the power of his office by pressuring
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political
rivals, House Democrats concluded in a highly anticipated 300-page report
released on Tuesday. The report, which is expected to form the basis for
articles of impeachment, describes a president eager to use his leverage
over Ukraine to extract political benefit ahead of the 2020 election.
The Intelligence Committee formally adopted the report later on
Tuesday on a party-line vote, ahead of the first impeachment hearing in
the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Republicans offered seven
amendments to the report ahead of the vote, according to people familiar
with the matter, but all were defeated.
The report describes a tangled web of contacts among an array of
Trump associates and allies as the Ukraine effort took shape earlier this
year. It also includes new details, such as phone logs and records
describing a more extensive set of contacts than previously known between
Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the top Intelligence
Committee Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes of California.
The emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels hit a
record high in 2019, researchers said on Tuesday, putting countries
farther off course from their goal of halting global warming. Worldwide,
industrial emissions are on track to rise 0.6 percent this year, a
considerably slower pace than the 1.5 percent increase seen in 2017 and
the 2.1 percent rise in 2018. Moreover, global emissions from coal,
unexpectedly declined by about 0.9 percent in 2019, although that drop was
more than offset by strong growth in the use of oil and natural gas around
However, scientists have long warned that it’s not enough for
emissions to grow slowly or even just stay flat in the years ahead. In
order to avoid many of the most severe consequences of climate change,
global carbon dioxide emissions would need to steadily decline each year
and reach roughly zero well before the end of the century.
A handful of countries account for the majority of the world’s
carbon dioxide emissions each year, with China responsible for 26 percent,
the United States 14 percent, the European Union 9 percent and India 7
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece’s conservative prime minister, has
called on the EU to open membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania
next year, challenging France’s move to block the process of enlargement
to the Western Balkans. Mr Mitsotakis took issue with President Emmanuel
Macron’s decision in October to veto new accession negotiations calling it
an error. “I hope that this mistake is going to be corrected”, he
Concerning Mr Macron’s comments on NATO, the Greek PM stated that:
“Sometimes the language itself is also important, and it ends up bringing
about the opposite results. It’s one thing to say NATO is in need of
reform, and it’s completely different to actually say that NATO is
However, Mr Mitsotakis argued that he strongly supported Mr
Macron’s push for eurozone reform. The Greek leader said he feared that
the new European Commission, which takes office this week, would not
attribute enough importance to the subject.
As President Trump has insulted international institutions and
abandoned allies from Syria to the Korean Peninsula, policymakers on this
side of the Atlantic have found themselves trying to walk a fine line: On
the one hand, they want to hedge against Washington turning its back on
Europe; on the other, they want to ensure that their hedging doesn’t push
the Trump administration even farther away.
While Trump-friendly governments in Europe hope that Mr Trump will
get four more years, European liberals are giving up. They have
finally started to realize that a proper EU foreign policy cannot be
based on who is in the White House. What explains the shift? It is
plausible that European liberals are unconvinced by the foreign policy
visions of Democratic hopefuls. Europeans are still struggling to
understand how it was that Obama, probably the most European-minded
American president, was also the one least interested in Europe.
But putting that aside, I believe there is a more fundamental
change: European liberals have come to understand that American democracy
no longer produces a consensual politics with a predictable foreign
policy. For the past 70 years, Europeans have known that America’s
foreign policy will be consistent. Today, all bets are off. Could this
week’s NATO summit change Europe’s state of mind when it comes to the
future of trans-Atlantic relations? It is easier to hope for than to bet
NATO, founded on the concept of collective action, is struggling
with conflicting ideas from its members about how the 29-country coalition
should focus its attention. France’s leader has proclaimed the “brain
death” of the group, Turkey is demanding more NATO support for a
controversial, unilateral invasion in Syria and President Donald Trump
continues to bully allies over their defense spending.
Most political and military leaders say that’s exactly how the
alliance will emerge from this turbulent political moment. NATO member
governments are bound together by history, geography and necessity, while
the alliance’s military relationships are solid. Still, the divisions are
clear and, in many cases, widening. Here are the top gaps and factions to
Today only nine alliance members are hitting an agreed-upon target
of spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense: the United States, Greece,
the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Romania and
Bulgaria. Turkey and France are close. The majority are far from meeting
the target. Precious little unites the alliance’s three most difficult
members — Turkey, France and the U.S. — but that hasn’t stopped them
causing heartburn within NATO.
President Trump would like NATO allies to focus on the strategic
threat China poses, and is calling on members to not let Chinese firms
help build next-generation wireless networks. China is several steps ahead
in dealing with this challenge. Hungary and Italy led 22 European
countries in signing agreements to support China’s Belt and Road
initiative, Beijing’s controversial foreign investment program.
Europe has to step up its defence cooperation, according to Jorge
Domecq, who heads the European Defence Agency (EDA). According to
him: “Strategic autonomy should be a concept which is not built against
anyone. It’s not questioning our transatlantic link, not questioning our
support to NATO as the cornerstone for collective defence, it only shows
the need to become a more relevant partner for our allies across the
Atlantic, but also in other fora as the global security provider, which is
what the EU has the ambition to do.”
Moreover, he stated that: “What the Commission can do, on the basis
of those priorities and planning tools that have been set up, is to
provide the incentives and the funds through the European Defence
Fund (EDF) and other mechanisms to support that progress in the
European defence effort.”
Referring to PESCO, Mr Domecq argues that: “I do see improvement.
By the end of this year or early next year, around 17 of those projects
will be reaching initial operational capability. PESCO is a creature which
is only two and a half years old and it has been a big effort, both for
capitals, but also for EU institutions and EU military staff.”
President Donald Trump revved up his global trade war on two fronts
on Monday, announcing tariffs on industrial metals from Brazil and
Argentina while threatening even harsher penalties on dozens of popular
French products. The administration said the moves were necessary because
US trading partners were acting unfairly to disadvantage both the
country’s traditional economic pillars as well as its best hopes for
Robert E. Lighthizer, the president’s chief trade negotiator,
defended that the French tax imposed upon American Internet companies:
“discriminates against US companies, is inconsistent with prevailing
principles of international tax policy, and is unusually burdensome for
affected US companies.” Speaking early on Tuesday, French Finance Minister
Bruno Le Maire called the proposed tariffs “unacceptable.”
The president’s enthusiasm for tariffs is not shared by Federal
Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell, who has said they are making executives so
uncertain about the outlook that companies are delaying investments and
slowing the economy.
US officials and lawmakers could face visa restrictions in
China, as Beijing considers retaliatory measures against Washington for
what it calls interference in Chinese internal affairs over Xinjiang and
Hong Kong. Mainland media and diplomatic observers said Beijing was
mulling visa restrictions, while one state media editor went further and
suggested all US diplomatic passport holders could be barred from entering
Xinjiang, where hundreds of thousands of Uygurs are held in detention
The Chinese foreign ministry responded to the passage into law of
the US Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by suspending visits of US
military vessels and aircraft to Hong Kong. The Act allows the US to
impose sanctions on officials that violated human rights in Hong Kong. The
ministry also announced sanctions on five US-based NGOs which Beijing
accuses of supporting violence: Human Rights Watch, the National Endowment
for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute for International
Affairs, the International Republican Institute and Freedom House.
US President Donald Trump said on Monday that the situation in Hong
Kong could complicate his administration’s efforts to secure a trade deal
with Beijing. “It doesn’t make it better,” Trump acknowledged when asked
if the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act – which he signed into law
last week just before Thanksgiving – would make a deal with China harder
The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.
As delegates from nearly 200 countries convene in Madrid for the
annual UN climate summit, the gap between the countries willing to reduce
emissions and those who are not has become ever more stark. Teresa Ribera,
Spain’s environment minister, said her country’s last-minute decision to
host the talks was essential to prevent the collapse in international
climate efforts after the cancellation of Santiago de Chile. Ahead of the
two-week COP25 summit, the European Parliament declared a “climate emergency”.
However, other actors are moving in the opposite direction, such as
the US, the world’s biggest per-capita emitter, which has begun leaving
the Paris climate accord entirely. Laurence Tubiana, an architect of the
Paris pact, said that China, the world’s number one emitter, and Japan
also appeared to be climate laggards.
Ms Ribera’s plan would commit Spain to cutting greenhouse gas
emissions by 21 per cent of their 1990 levels by 2030. To do this, the
renewables proportion of the country’s electricity generation would rise
from about 40 per cent today to 74 per cent in 2030. Under her proposals,
Ms Ribera predicted an “explosion” in Spain’s solar capacity.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is marking its 70th
anniversary this year, but Trump’s notoriously transactional worldview has
deepened questions about its future. More broadly, his stated skepticism
about US security commitments to Europe, curiously friendly disposition to
Russia’s autocratic ruler, indifference to multilateral diplomacy and
apathy about human rights and the rule of law abroad have all been widely
interpreted as signs of the Western liberal order fraying under his watch.
However, he won’t be the only skeptical figure at the summit that
will start this Tuesday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may furrow
the most brows after his government acquired and then tested an advanced
Russian antiaircraft missile system. Moreover, there’s French President
Emmanuel Macron, who provocatively declared in an interview last month
that Europeans are experiencing “the brain death of NATO”.
The major news ahead of the summit was that the Trump
administration is likely to cut US funding to NATO’s operating budget,
bringing in line its contributions to that of Germany, while other member
states will work to make up the shortfall.
Malta’s embattled prime minister Joseph Muscat has resigned, driven
from office by the constitutional and political crisis triggered by the
murder of the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Caruana
Galizia was killed in October 2017 when a bomb planted under the driver’s
seat of her rental car was detonated as she was travelling away from her
home in the village of Bidnija. She had exposed corruption at the highest
level in Muscat’s government.
Muscat’s departure brings to an end his seven-year term as the
leader of the European Union’s smallest member state, but it is unlikely
to draw a line under the scandal engulfing his administration. On
Saturday, Malta’s richest man, the property and gambling tycoon Yorgen
Fenech, was charged with complicity in Caruana Galizia’s murder.
Investigations by journalists and the authorities have uncovered links
between Fenech and the man who until last week was Muscat’s chief of
The Iranian Republic is experiencing its deadliest political unrest
since the Islamic Revolution happened 40 years ago, with at least 180
people killed — and possibly hundreds more — as angry protests have been
smothered in a government crackdown of unbridled force. These protests
began two weeks ago with an abrupt increase of at least 50 percent in
gasoline prices. Within 72 hours, outraged demonstrators in cities large
and small were calling for an end to the Islamic Republic’s government and
the downfall of its leaders.
The latest outbursts not only revealed staggering levels of
frustration with Iran’s leaders, but also underscored the serious economic
and political challenges facing them, from the Trump administration’s
onerous sanctions on the country to the growing resentment toward Iran by
neighbors in an increasingly unstable Middle East.
Political analysts said the protests appeared to have delivered a
severe blow to President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate in Iran’s
political spectrum, all but guaranteeing that hard-liners would win
upcoming parliamentary elections and the presidency in two years. The
tough response to the protests also appeared to signal a hardening rift
between Iran’s leaders and sizable segments of the population of 83 million.
President Trump made a surprise Thanksgiving visit to American
troops in Afghanistan on Thursday and declared that he had reopened peace
negotiations with the Taliban less than three months after scuttling talks
in hopes of ending 18 years of war. Mr. Trump’s sudden announcement on
peace talks came at a very critical moment in the United States’ long,
drawn-out military venture in Afghanistan, a time when the country is
mired in turmoil over disputed election results.
However, the scope of the negotiations is still unclear, and White
House officials gave few details beyond Mr. Trump’s sudden revelation. The
Taliban made no official comment immediately after the late-night visit
and Mr. Ghani said little afterward about any peace talks.
The visit had an important political dimension. President Trump is
searching for foreign policy achievements he can celebrate on the campaign
trail over the next year. Several of his other marquee initiatives,
including nuclear talks with North Korea and an effort to squeeze
concessions out of Iran with economic pressure, have yielded few results.
The EU is ready for the next phase of Brexit but risks
greater internal divisions, one of its incoming leaders has stated. In one
of his first interviews since being nominated president of the European
Council, Charles Michel hoped that the UK election would bring clarity on
whether the country would ratify the withdrawal agreement. If Brexit
happens on January, the two sides will embark on a race to negotiate a
free-trade agreement. He stated that the EU would have to “work again very
hard” to maintain unity as countries had different economic interests in
the UK relationship.
Moreover, Michel said that he wanted to avoid Brexit becoming
a big issue, as he planned to focus on the eurozone, climate change and
the EU’s next seven-year budget. His priority is making Europe a more
united player on the world stage, as he warned against the possibility of
the union becoming “the collateral damage” in a possible cold war between
the US and China.
He spoke warmly of ideas to reform the EU enlargement process that
are closely associated with the French president: “We need to discuss
whether it is possible to improve this process, for example with the
possibility to decide the principle of reversibility.”, referring to a
French idea that countries could be pushed to the back of the queue if
sliding back on democratic reforms.
A wave of fresh unrest rippled across Iraq on Thursday as
security forces clashed with demonstrators in Baghdad and cities in the
south, leaving more than two dozen protesters dead and one Iranian diplomatic
mission burned, which prompted the Iraqi government to form new “crisis
cells” to manage the unfolding turmoil.
The latest surge of violence underscored the deep challenges
for authorities after nearly two months of anti-government protests over a
high unemployment rate, corruption and poor government services in this
oil-rich nation. Moreover, it draws Iran deeper into the unrest. Iran is a
major backer of the Iraqi government and holds powerful sway over local
At least 350 people have died in Iraq since protests erupted on
Oct. 1, with daily battles in the heart of Baghdad as protesters attempt
to gain control of the key downtown bridges leading to the seat of
government. Security forces have confronted crowds with live ammunition,
rubber bullets and tear gas, often with fatal results.
Germany has been the driving force behind the dominant economic
orthodoxy in Europe over the past 20 years: balanced budgets, deep-seated
scepticism about the role of the state in the economy and a strong focus
on export competitiveness. Outsiders have long expressed frustration at
the apparently strong consensus in Germany over economic policymaking.
However, the signs are now multiplying that change could be afoot, not
least because the country’s economic prospects have worsened sharply.
Moreover, a large new poll of Germans’ attitudes to government and
the economy commissioned by the Forum for a New Economy threw up some
striking results, suggesting that a large majority could support a less
“German” economic policy agenda. The survey revealed strong support for
more public spending, including a surprising degree of support for this to
be financed through debt.
Could this all be good news for Europe? Weak global trade and
persistent trade tensions will emphasise the importance of a healthy
European economy to Germany. This could persuade the country to end its
opposition to reforms — such as more risk-sharing and a major common
budget — needed to improve the eurozone’s economic performance.
Donald Trump’s decision to sign the Hong Kong Human Rights
and Democracy Act into law will further complicate the world’s most
important bilateral diplomatic relationship. Under the act, the US
secretary of state will be required to make a determination every year as
to whether the “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees Hong
Kong’s independent legal system and civil liberties is intact.
The decision would enrage and probably provoke a concrete response
from Chinese leader Xi Jinping, whose administration insists that it
continues to honour one country, two systems and is hypersensitive to any
suggestions to the contrary.
Throughout the 1990s, in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen
Square massacre, the Bush and Clinton administrations renewed China’s
“most-favoured nation” trade status every year. Moreover, President
Clinton gave China “permanent” MFN status in 2000 and paved the way for
its entry into the WTO a year later. For now, the pattern will hold. Trump
administration officials have made it clear to their Chinese counterparts
that the president could not veto a piece of legislation that sailed
through Congress with veto-proof majorities.
Ursula von der Leyen cited climate policy as the most pressing
issue facing her new executive team, which was officially ratified by a
vote in the European Parliament on Wednesday. EU lawmakers confirmed von
der Leyen along with her new team of 26 Commissioners, with 461 voting in
favour, 157 against and 89 abstentions.
The climate crisis featured at the top of her address to MEPs. “We
don’t have a moment to waste any more on fighting climate change,” von der
Leyen told the assembly shortly before the vote in a speech delivered in
English, French and German.
Von der Leyen’s second in command, Frans Timmermans, is expected to
outline the Commission’s new environmental priorities in a European Green
Deal, expected on 11 December. The centrepiece of the European Green Deal
will be a climate law that von der Leyen said will be tabled within the
first 100 days of the new Commission taking office. And the ambition has
already been spelled out: the bill will contain a legal requirement for
Europe to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
The case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL
who was charged with multiple war crimes before being convicted of a
single lesser charge earlier this year, was troubling enough before things
became even more troubling over the past few weeks.
Earlier this year, Gallagher was formally charged with more than a
dozen criminal acts, including premeditated murder. He was tried in a
military court and acquitted in July of all charges, except one count of
posing with the body of a dead ISIS fighter. The jury sentenced him to
four months. President Trump involved himself in the case almost from the
start. The president’s involvement was shocking, as well as a reminder
that the president has little understanding of what it means to be in the
military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a set of rules and
The rest is history. We must now move on and learn from what has
transpired. The public should know that we have extensive screening
procedures in place to assess the health and well-being of our forces. But
we must keep fine-tuning those procedures to prevent a case such as this
one from happening again.
The facts show that capitalism is not in a crisis, despite the
avalanche of recent books and articles that defend it. It is stronger than
ever, both in terms of its geographical coverage and expansion to areas
(such as leisure time, or social media) where it has created entirely new
markets and commodified things that were never historically objects of
transaction. Moreover, nonexistent markets have been created, like the
huge market for personal data, rental markets for own cars and homes.
The social importance of these new markets is that by placing
a price on things that previously had none, they transform mere goods into
commodities with an exchange value. Commodification goes together with the
gig economy. In a gig economy we are both suppliers and purchasers of
services that used not to be monetised. This expansion of capitalism
potentially opens up questions about the role, and even survival, of the
So if capitalism has spread so much in all directions, why do we
speak of its crisis? Because we focus on the malaise of the western middle
classes and the rise of populism. But the dissatisfaction with globalised
capitalism is not universal. The western malaise is the product of uneven
distribution of the gains from globalisation.
The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.
China has its sight on leading the global organization that is
supposed to protect intellectual property, and which sets international
standards for patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Earlier this month,
Beijing nominated a candidate to head the United Nations’ World
Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, signaling its desire to more
actively shape the international system for defining intellectual property
Ironically, one reason for Beijing’s move is that China is now
producing a great deal of IP of its own. For years, China had shown little
interest in carving out a leadership role at WIPO. But it has been quietly
deepening its relationship with the agency.
The prospect of a Chinese leader at the organization has rattled
some U.S. policymakers, who feel that WIPO’s current Australian leader has
already been too accommodating to Chinese interests, such as setting up a
Chinese branch office in Beijing in 2014.
A victory for the Chinese with their WIPO ambitions would place a
Chinese national at the head of five of the U.N.’s fifteen specialized
agencies. No other country has more than one national in a leadership
position in a specialized U.N. agency. The USA is still hoping that China
can be convinced to withdraw from the race, if they receive assurances
that they can maintain their influence at WIPO for years to come.
History is the most powerful guide to understand the present, and
since the biggest current geopolitical event, by far, is the burgeoning
friction between the US and China, it is illuminating to look back to
similar events in the past. The most recent one is the Cold War, a great
power conflict between the chief victors of the Second World War, as well
as an ideological conflict over the nature of modernity.
Further back, we reach the interwar period, a time of civil strife,
populism, nationalism, communism, fascism and national socialism. The
1930s are an abiding lesson in the possibility of democratic collapse once
elites fail. Finally, going even further, we reach the decisive 1870-1914,
where a Thucydidean war between the UK and Germany occurred.
Meanwhile, US industrial output went from 15 to 32 per cent of the
world’s, while China fell into irrelevance.
Today’s era is a mixture of all three of these, marked by a
conflict of political systems and ideology between two superpowers, as in
the Cold War, by a post-financial crisis decline of confidence in democratic
politics and market economics as well as by the rise of populism,
nationalism and authoritarianism, as in the 1930s, and, most
significantly, by a dramatic shift in relative economic power, with the
rise of China, as with the US before 1914.
The Iranian’s decision on November 15 to triple gasoline prices
sparked protests across the country. Although the Iranian government has
managed to contain the protests, discussions over various aspects of the
recent events are still ongoing.
Taking into account international reactions toward the protests,
Iran’s relations with the West seem to be the most important area to be
affected by the recent events. In the administration of US President
Donald Trump, the protests were seen as a proof that Washington’s “maximum
pressure” policy against the Islamic Republic is working. Meanwhile, the
EU issued a statement calling on the Iranian government to “exercise
maximum restraint in handling the protests.”
American support for the protests has just reinvigorated the
Islamic Republic’s official narrative that the real goal that the United
States pursues through maximum pressure is not to bring Iran to the
negotiating table but to cause “regime change.” Moreover, the protests
could have implications for Iran’s regional policy as well. The Iranian
conservatives see in the current situation a golden opportunity to put the
burden of the economic problems on Rouhani and try to gradually sideline
the moderate camp.
Serious challenges in the energy and transport sectors could be
solved, or at least mitigated, by a step-change in storage capabilities,
supported by EU funding. However, wind turbines and emission-free mobility
all rely heavily on the ability to store power and deploy it efficiently.
As the old saying goes, the sun does not always shine and the wind does
not always blow, so any power generated when they do needs to be
Despite advancements since they were first developed in the 1970s
and rolled out en masse in the early 1990s, rechargeable
lithium-ion batteries still suffer from diverse problems. There are limits
to how much energy they can store, concerns over the supply chains that
provide the raw materials and, in some cases, safety fears that come
hand-in-hand with regular intensive use. Different projects funded under
the European Research Council aim to address those issues.
EU officials will be hoping that advancements in the battery sector
will continue and increase in pace, as estimates show that the annual
value of the global market could swell to €250 billion. That is why the
European Commission has doubled down on the European Battery Alliance, an
industry platform meant to get all players on the same page in order to
compete with Asia, which currently dominates the market.