The topics chosen for the fourth edition of Making It Clear, the column about international relations events of the week in a nutshell, were: the resolutions of COP26, the deforestation in Amazon and the most recent lockdown in Austria.
The COP26, which happened in Glasgow, Scotland, this year, was an attempt to reunite government leaders from all over the world to reduce the effects of climate change and environmental issues, also to organize an agenda globally in order to do so. The countries engaged agreed to cut the emissions of CO2 to keep the temperature rise by 1.5ºC declared by scientists to be the measure required to avoid a natural catastrophe, however further negotiations on how to cut these emissions were postponed to next year.
The use of coal was also discussed, since it’s responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions per year, but China and India only agreed to phasing down the emissions instead of phasing out, which was heavily criticized by the remaining members and activists. A small, but not enough, progress was seen when it comes to build a fund by 2025 to help developing countries to handle the effects caused by climate change and to improve the use of clean energy and there was a general agreement to interrupt the subsidies to lower the price of fossil fuels, which China, one of the biggest CO2 emitters, is not very willing to abide by, however it appeared to join a cooperation with the United States, another of the biggest CO2 emitters, to decrease the emissions.
Furthermore, more than 100 countries agreed to cut the methane emissions by 30% until 2030, even though China, Russia and India, the biggest emitters, haven’t still joined the conversation. There’s also 130tn dollars being controlled by financial agencies to finance “clean” technology and there are negotiations to bring private companies into them.
Overall, the main criticism is about how the conference hasn’t done enough for the climate situation around the globe and focused on small resolutions that most claim not to be sufficient for the severity of the scenario, however it is a start, nevertheless.
In addition to environmental problems, Brazil is currently living the highest level of deforestation is Amazon since 2006, reaching a concerning number of 22% in a year. The government claimed that the data doesn’t reflect the actual situation in Brazil and that there has been an effort to preserve the forest, the president also claimed that the national agency Inpe is smearing the country’s reputation.
In Glasgow, at the COP26, Brazil was one of the countries which signed an agreement to cut the practice and to have access to a fund to help developing countries to restore deforested land, support indigenous people and to contain wildfires. However, the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro doesn’t have a good reputation when it comes to address environmental problems, especially deforestation and after an investigation from Greenpeace discovered a connection between the deforestation in Amazon and food sold to the United Kingdom, which worsened his image.
Recently, Austria has declared a lockdown for the unvaccinated people in the country which progressed to a complete national lockdown starting Monday, the 22nd. The country has the lowest rate of vaccination in Western Europe and the government is implementing a legal requirement for vaccination on February 1st, 2022. The cases are rising in Europe which is, once again, becoming the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic and the neighboring countries, such as Germany and Bavaria, are also expressing concern over the situation. Germany had a record of infections this week, but there aren’t any plans to install a lockdown. Bavaria, on the other hand, is planning to declare a lockdown for the unvaccinated as well as Czech Republic and Slovakia. Netherlands has already introduced a partial lockdown.
Russia and Hungary are also facing a rise on the infections and deaths by coronavirus, and there is a prospection of harsher measures to contain the infections.
Environmental problems and lack of effort to solve these are becoming a big part of international agenda, specially in the UN, but so far, no stronger measures have been either agreed or elaborated. The COVID-19 pandemic is also taking a toll on the world once again with part of the global population refusing to get vaccinated which results into harsher measures and an increase of infections.