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.)

Protests in China over Covid restrictions



News Desk, Barta24.com
Protests in China over Covid restrictions

Protests in China over Covid restrictions

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Police in Shanghai on Sunday (November 27) dragged and detained demonstrators who were protesting strict coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. Protesters were seen singing the national anthem as they gathered in the streets of Shanghai.

China has been marred by rare protests against Covid measures that are part of the nation's strict zero-Covid policy. Police face the unusual task of maintaining law and order as people express anger over recent restrictions.

Amid the protests, demonstrators were seen clashing with the police in Shanghai on Sunday as the protests continued for a third day, further spreading to several cities. This comes after the deadly apartment fire in the country's far west.

On Thursday, a fire at a residential high-rise building in the city of Urumqi, reportedly led to the death of at least 10 people. Urumqi is the capital of the Xinjiang region.

China has implemented stringent policies, including lockdowns, mass testing, etc. in order to curb the spread of the deadly virus, which was first reported in China in late 2019.

Now, nearly three years into the pandemic, the authorities in China are still imposing the zero-Covid policy that has caused frustration among people.

Besides Shanghai, protesters also took to the streets in the cities of Wuhan and Chengdu on Sunday. Peaceful vigils were held in Beijing. Meanwhile, the students on several university campuses around China demonstrated over the weekend.

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President signs off on top military appointments; Lt Gen Asim Munir to be next army chief



News Desk, Barta24.com
President signs off on top military appointments; Lt Gen Asim Munir to be next army chief

President signs off on top military appointments; Lt Gen Asim Munir to be next army chief

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President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday formally approved Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s nominations for the next army chief and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), hours after receiving a summary in this regard.

Lt Gen Asim Munir has been named as the chief of army staff and Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza has been named as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

The confirmation of the president’s approval was given by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, putting an end to weeks’ long speculation. However, an official handout from the President’s office is still awaited.

Talking to media persons in Islamabad, Asif said that the advisory sent to President Alvi by the government has been approved. “The president has signed [the summary],” he said, calling it a “good omen”.

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Anwar Ibrahim sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister



News Desk, Barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister on Thursday, ending a 24-year wait to lead the country.

In a black baju melayu, with gold sampin, Mr Anwar wore a wide smile as he was called upon to take his oath of office and secrecy.

Datuk Seri Anwar, 75, was appointed after the king, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, made the decision following a conference with other rulers in a special meeting of the nation’s nine state monarchs.

“After going through the views of the Malay rulers, His Majesty has consented to appointing Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister,” said Royal Comptroller Fadli Shamsuddin on Thursday afternoon.

The ceremony was attended by top officials such as the chief secretary to the government, the chief justice, attorney-general, speakers of both houses of Parliament and leaders from both his PH and Barisan Nasional (BN).

Mr Anwar was seated next to his wife and former deputy premier Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, with their six children including former MP Nurul Izzah Anwar in attendance.

“After going through the views of the Malay rulers, His Majesty has consented to appointing Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister,” said Royal Comptroller Fadli Shamsuddin on Thursday afternoon.

The ceremony was attended by top officials such as the chief secretary to the government, the chief justice, attorney-general, speakers of both houses of Parliament and leaders from both his PH and Barisan Nasional (BN).

Mr Anwar was seated next to his wife and former deputy premier Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, with their six children including former MP Nurul Izzah Anwar in attendance.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar and his rival Perikatan Nasional (PN) chief Muhyiddin Yassin, also 75, had been deadlocked and unable to gather the 112 MPs needed for a simple majority in the legislature.

After Umno confirmed early on Thursday that it would join a unity government, departing from the BN coalition’s earlier stance of remaining in opposition, other parties across the country followed suit.

Even PN said on Thursday that it would consider unity government discussions with like-minded parties.

Markets surged upon the end of the political deadlock. The ringgit currency posted its best day in two weeks and equities rose 3 per cent, hitting a 15-month high.

The Straits Times has learnt that a deal struck between PH and BN – which found itself in the role of kingmaker with 30 MPs despite the Umno-led coalition being humiliated at Saturday’s vote – will see Umno gaining several senior portfolios, with the party’s No. 2 Mohamad Hasan set to be installed as deputy premier.

Mr Anwar’s ascension to the top office, having been sacked as deputy premier in 1998 amid controversial allegations of sodomy and abuse of power, marks a remarkable triumph following a journey that included two stints in prison.

He was appointed deputy prime minister under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Umno-led government in 1993, but his prospects dimmed after he was jailed for corruption in 1999. His imprisonment sparked street protests and the birth of his PKR, which now leads PH.

Mr Anwar was again imprisoned in 2015 for sodomy, but was given a royal pardon and released in May 2018 after PH won the general election that year. Dr Mahathir, who had left Umno and joined hands with Mr Anwar to secure PH’s victory, became the prime minister.

The PKR chief was then widely expected to ascend to power as part of an agreement within PH for him to take over as prime minister in two years from Dr Mahathir. But his progress was again thwarted when the PH government collapsed in February 2020 following defections.

Mr Anwar and Tan Sri Muhyiddin both staked their claim after their respective coalitions won 81 and 73 seats, respectively, in Saturday’s general election, which also saw Dr Mahathir fall from grace in a thumping defeat.

Sultan Abdullah stepped in on Tuesday to surface the idea of a unity government.

Mr Muhyiddin’s decision to reject the proposal, claiming he had a simple majority with backing from other parties, proved fatal to his hopes.

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Malaysia's King Names Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister



Newsdesk, barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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After last week's election, the country risked ending up with a political impasse, since no bloc or alliance could secure a majority of votes in the parliament.

Malaysian King Abdullah of Pahang named Anwar Ibrahim, the chairman of the Pakatan Harapan (the Alliance of Hope) the country's new prime minister on Thursday, resolving an ongoing cabinet crisis.

After taking into the consideration the views of Their Royal Highnesses the Malay Rulers, His Majesty has given consent to appoint Anwar Ibrahim as the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia," an official statement said.

During a general election on Saturday, Ibrahim's alliance managed to secure 82 seats in the 222-member parliament. Ex-PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s Malay-based Perikatan Nasional (PN) got 73 seats, and the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition only managed to attract 30 votes. The blocs were not able to form any coalition over the past days, with the cabinet, headed by Barisan Nasional stating they would go into opposition.

Source: Sputnik

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