ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 19/10/2018

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The Guardian / Trump pulls US out of UN postal scheme on China price concerns

  • The Trump administration said on Wednesday the US would start the process of leaving the Universal Postal Union (UPU), an organization that connects postal services worldwide.
  • The White House said the UPU enabled foreign postal services to take advantage of cheap shipments to the US, creating an unfair cost advantage over US companies that shipped goods, and hurting the US Postal Service.
  • A US official said the system allowed for a 40% to 70% discount on small packages arriving in the United States from China compared with what it would cost to send them domestically, costing $300m. A change could benefit US merchants and shippers, including Amazon.com Inc.
  • The White House will seek to renegotiate the terms of the UPU rules during the year-long withdrawal process, officials said.

Politico – Diego Torres / Gibraltar Brexit deal done, says Spain’s Sánchez

  • Following the European Council summit in Brussels on Thursday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that the protocol on Gibraltar, to be attached to the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU, “is already closed with the British government.”
  • A Spanish diplomat said the protocol, which essentially respects the status quo, was sent to the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier earlier this month.
  • The diplomat also said that the document contains specific clauses on citizens’ rights and makes reference to a series of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) on a number of issues. These MoUs will not form part of the Brexit agreement, yet questions can be raised over the Spanish legal leverage to enforce them — or even to ensure London signs them at all — once a Brexit deal is done.
  • A controversial question — the joint use of Gibraltar airport — has been dropped from the negotiation, meaning the British overseas territory will continue operating the facility singlehandedly.
  • Euractiv – Georgi Gotev / EU spearheads multilateralism at ASEM summit

The New York Times – Jackie Snow / The World of A.I.

  • Judging by the breathless coverage, it can seem as if the only countries developing A.I. are the United States and China. But while companies in those two countries are leading the way, other nations – such as Singapore, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Israel, India, France and Canada – are working hard to become major A.I. players.
  • Singapore was one of the first countries to announce a national strategy, called A.I. Singapore, in May 2017. Singapore had the first self-driving taxis for use by the public and built a mini-town for further testing.
  • The UAE is the first country in the Middle East to publish an A.I. strategy, and the only country in the world to create a Ministry of Artificial Intelligence.
  • India released its A.I. strategy only this summer, but it contains a big idea that could catch them up: developing A.I. that creates economic growth and social development for themselves and the rest of the developing world.

Foreign Policy – Jason Hickel / The hope at the heart of the apocalyptic climate change report

  • When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a new special report last week, it came with both good news and bad. The good news is that the carbon budget for staying under 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming is larger than we thought. The bad news is that the catastrophes that we once believed would be triggered by 2 degrees of warming are likely to occur at this lower threshold.
  • The IPCC has issued a clear and trenchant call for action—its most urgent yet. It says we need to cut annual global emissions by half in the next 12 years and hit net zero by the middle of the century. This requires nothing less than a total and rapid reversal of our present direction as a civilization.
  • A plan the IPCC has considered is called BECCS, which stands for “bioenergy with carbon capture and storage.” But this kind of “negative emissions” speculative technology may not work at scale, and would require devoting huge tracts of agricultural land to biofuels.
  • Last week’s special report includes an exciting new scenario that—for the first time—does not rely on speculative technology. This model involves scaling down global material consumption by 20 percent, with rich countries leading the way, by moving away from disposable products toward goods that last.

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.  

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