The climate fight is Asia’s leadership opportunity



Kevin Rudd and Ban Ki-moon
The climate fight is Asia’s leadership opportunity

The climate fight is Asia’s leadership opportunity

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A year ago, following US President Joe Biden’s election, multilateralism once again became the beating heart of global climate action. G20 leaders agreed to more ambitious near-term climate targets en route to achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century and they committed to ending inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies and cooperating on clean energy deployment to phase out coal more quickly. The willingness of China and India to address fossil fuels reflected a growing awareness of the macroeconomic risks of resisting the clean-energy transition.

These outcomes were crucial for delivering a litany of new initiatives at last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) that were dedicated to ‘keeping 1.5 alive’, in line with the Paris climate agreement’s goal for limiting the increase in global temperature to 1.5° Celsius, relative to the preindustrial average. They also helped set the stage for the historic Glasgow Climate Pact, which commits every country to phase down unabated coal use, even if India and China were able to block calls to phase out coal entirely.

Unfortunately, the stage for this week’s G20 summit in Bali could not be more different. Geopolitical and economic conditions are much less favourable, owing largely to Russia’s appalling war of aggression in Ukraine, with G7 countries backtracking on their commitments to end fossil-fuel investment as a result. Heightened US–China tensions will, one hopes, be eased somewhat by the bilateral meeting between Biden and President Xi Jinping in Bali. But forging a strong outcome in Bali will be hard.

Given that G20 countries account for around 80% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, the summit will set the tone for the final outcome of this year’s UN climate conference (COP27), which will conclude in Egypt after the G20 wraps up in Indonesia. The proceedings in Sharm El-Sheikh have already been dominated by the world’s most vulnerable countries calling for climate justice and demanding that big emitters pay up to support their transitions and livelihoods.

This is why the fight against climate change might be the unifying moment the G20 requires. And the G20’s Asian members have a vital role to play in that.

Rather than backtracking on climate action during the ongoing and compounding crises of the past year, Asian economies have deepened their resolve. Major Asian emitters headline the small list of countries that actually responded to the Glasgow Climate Pact’s call to increase their climate ambitions in 2022: India, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Australia have all enhanced their targets. While greater ambition is needed for commitments to align with the Paris agreement’s 1.5°C target, regional momentum is moving in the right direction.

Asia is acting because it makes good policy sense. Research commissioned by our High-Level Policy Commission on Getting Asia to Net Zero shows that more ambitious climate action is a boon for the region’s economic development. If the region fully implements the climate targets it set at COP26, it will boost GDP growth by as much as 5.4% by 2030, while also creating more new jobs, reducing energy costs and strengthening energy security. This is a big deal for governments looking to escape the inflation trap and rising energy prices.

Developing economies are also aware that embracing the green transformation can help mobilise the massive amounts of investment needed to turn rhetoric into reality. For example, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are among those publishing ‘climate prosperity plans’ that, if funded, could enhance resilience, reduce poverty and spearhead economic growth.

Likewise, Indonesia and Vietnam are expected to announce new ‘just energy transition partnerships,’ replicating a model whereby developed countries committed US$8.5 billion to South Africa last year to enable a faster exit from coal while protecting fossil-fuel workers’ livelihoods. Political will and policy certainty are powerful tools for unleashing capital flows from rich donor countries, de-risking private finance and unlocking new domestic resources.

Asia finds itself in the multilateral hot seat at a critical time. India will take on the G20 presidency from Indonesia following this week’s summit, Japan will host next year’s G7 summit and the UAE, as part of the Asia–Pacific group, will host the COP28 climate conference next year. Simply put, climate action can be the common thread that helps rebuild a consensus in favour of multilateralism.

The G20 could start by seeking a unified commitment among member countries to climate action as a driver of economic recovery and growth. After India, the G20 presidency will rotate to Brazil, implying a unique opportunity to define what this looks like from the perspective of major emerging economies. Countries like Indonesia, India and Brazil could emphasise the win-win benefits of deepening cooperation.

Another way the G20 could lead is by elevating the ‘Bridgetown agenda’ championed by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley to provide emergency liquidity, expand multilateral lending and mobilise the private sector, in part by seeking a new issuance of US$650 billion in special drawing rights (the International Monetary Fund’s reserve asset). Advancing the ‘Bridgetown agenda’ will require political will from the world’s most powerful lenders and shareholders.

Under India’s leadership next year, the G20 should seek to achieve tangible outcomes. This could include devising a blueprint for modern, resilient energy systems; outlining a supportive policy infrastructure for critical climate technologies, like green hydrogen and battery storage; and getting climate finance to work for all developing countries. India could also use the G77 bloc of developing economies as a bellwether to ensure that the G20 is meeting the needs of the world’s most vulnerable countries.

Multilateralism is on life support at a moment when it is critical for humanity’s survival. By putting climate action at the heart of their efforts to rebuild consensus and reinvigorate multilateralism, Asian countries will prop open the world’s window of opportunity to prevent climate disaster. They will also catalyse their own ability to benefit from the massive economic and social opportunities created by the green transition.

(Kevin Rudd, a former prime minister of Australia and founder of the G20 Leaders’ Summit, is President of the Asia Society and convener of the High-Level Policy Commission on Getting Asia to Net Zero. Ban Ki-moon, a former secretary-general of the United Nations, is Deputy Chair of The Elders and a member of the High-Level Policy Commission on Getting Asia to Net Zero.)

   

Shehbaz Sharif is the new Prime Minister of Pakistan



International Desk, Barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) President and former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has become the new Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Pakistani media Dawn reported that Shehbaz Sharif was elected as the 24th Prime Minister of Pakistan by getting 201 votes in the National Assembly election on Sunday (March 3). And his nearest rival Omar Ayub Khan of PTI got 92 votes.

In April 2022, the coalition government led by Imran Khan's PTI was ousted by the opposition in the National Assembly, the lower house of Pakistan's parliament. Prime Minister Imran resigned. After that, the opposition formed a coalition government in the country under the leadership of Shehbaz Sharif.

National Assembly elections were held in Pakistan on February 8 this year. In this election, no party got the majority to form the government. PTI-backed independent candidates won the most seats. PML-N gets the second highest number of seats. Pakistan People's Party (PPP) was ranked third. ML-N and PPP decided to form a coalition government in alliance.

Apart from the PPP, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Inteqam-e-Pakistan Party supported Shehbaz Sharif for the post of Prime Minister. The Sunni Ittehad Council is supporting PTI leader Omar Ayub Khan.

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Israel has accepted a conditional ceasefire agreement in Gaza



International Desk, Barta24.com
Picture: Collected

Picture: Collected

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Israel has conditionally accepted the ceasefire agreement with the Palestinian independence movement Hamas. A senior US official said on Saturday (March 2). Meanwhile, the United States has started dropping relief supplies from the air in war-torn Gaza.

On Sunday (March 3), Qatar-based media Al Jazeera reported this information.

According to the report, the senior US official said that Israel has more or less accepted the ceasefire agreement with Hamas. Now the rest depends on the decision of Hamas.

According to the US administration, the six-week ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas will come into effect soon. But its implementation will begin only after the organization agrees to release the most vulnerable hostages held by Hamas and signs the deal.

The cease-fire announcement came hours after a US military cargo plane dropped humanitarian aid into besieged Gaza.

According to the US Central Command, the relief materials that have been given since Saturday include 38,000 packets of food that will ensure the necessary assistance to civilians affected by the ongoing war.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council expressed deep concern about the food crisis in Gaza in a statement on Saturday and called for continuous food aid there.



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For the first time, US has airdropped aid in besieged Gaza



International Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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For the first time, the United States has airdropped aid to Gaza, besieged by the Israel-Palestinian war. More than 38,000 food packets were parachuted from three military planes on Saturday (March 2) afternoon.

According to a report of the international media BBC, after the announcement of President Joe Biden, the relief assistance was given jointly with the Jordanian Air Force.

Joe Biden promised to increase aid on Friday after 112 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces on Thursday (February 29) when civilians gathered to collect aid in Gaza. The US military dropped food packets the day after the announcement.

The aid came amid a message from a top US official that a deal was in place for a six-week ceasefire in Gaza.

US Central Command said in a statement that on Saturday, C-130 transport aircraft dropped more than 38,000 meals ashore.

Other countries including the UK, France, Egypt and Jordan have previously sent aid to Gaza. But the United States sent food aid for the time.

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Conservatives dominate Iran's parliamentary and assembly elections



International Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
Photo: BBC

Photo: BBC

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Amid political and economic challenges, many conservative candidates have won Iran's parliamentary and religious assembly elections. Voting took place from 8 am to 6 pm local time on Friday (March 1). Counting of votes started after 12 midnight local time.

Official primary results on Saturday (March 2) showed ultra-conservatives Mahmoud Nabavian and Hamid Resai in the lead in Tehran's 30 seats in the Iranian capital, Tehran. Then there is 35-year-old Amir Hossain Sabeti, a national television host.

Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf is in fourth place. Longtime lawmaker Mojtaba Jonnour holds a seat in the holy Shiite city of Qom.

President Ibrahim Raisi has renewed his seat in the Council of Experts for the third time with more than 82 percent of the vote in South Khorasan province in eastern Iran.

Meanwhile, followers of moderate politician Ali Motahari, son of the late eminent scholar Murteza Motahari, could not secure a single seat with a majority of the 30 seats in Tehran.

The ultra-conservative Ahmad Khatami, the incumbent imam of Tehran's Friday prayers, has again won a seat in the assembly from Kerman province, and Mohammad Sayedi is the representative of Qaum.

Along with the parliamentary elections, the midterm elections of Iran's Council of Experts were also held on the same day. Voters will elect seven members of the Expert Council. The National Assembly elections are being held across the country, but the Expert Council polls were held only in Tehran, Qom, North Khorasan, Khorasan Razavi and Fars provinces.

The supreme leader, made up of Islamic scholars, will be elected through the election of 290 lawmakers and 88 expert members of the assembly. Seven thousand 148 candidates are contesting 290 parliamentary seats.

Officials are yet to release voter turnout figures for Friday's parliamentary elections. But the Mehr news agency, citing unofficial results, said voter turnout in Tehran was only 24 percent.

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