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Weekly Summaries

20th of September – 26th of September

Elections in Germany

In Germany, elections took place this past Sunday. In Berlin, the marathon took place on the same day, which led to many disruptions and some people only being able to vote after the first results had already been published. The Social Democrats (SPD) ended up winning the election, winning 25.7% of the votes, earning just 1.6% more than the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which is Angela Merkel’s party. Because no party earned more than 50% of the votes, they have to form a coalition. At the moment, there are three possibilities, but the negotiation talks could take months. It is also still unclear who will become Chancellor now that Angela Merkel’s 16-year long chancellorship has ended.

Elections in Canada

After the current prime minister Trudeau called elections early this summer in the hopes of gaining a majority, the people decided last week that he should stay in power. Overall, Trudeau’s party the Liberals won 158 seats, 12 seats short of the 170 seats required to have a majority. The Conservatives, meanwhile, won 119 seats. However, voter turnout was the lowest in more than a decade, with just 59% of Canadians who are eligible to vote giving their poll.

Other News

  • Meng Wanzhou, the executive of Huawei, has been released and returned to China last week
  • Thousands of residents of the island La Palma had to be evacuated by Spanish authorities last week because a volcano spewed lava and smoke. The eruption was later called the “most powerful eruption in half a century,” according to the New York Times
  • The U.S. lifted its travel ban on foreign travelers who have been fully vaccinated from 33 countries, which include E.U. countries, China, Iran, South Africa, Brazil and India
  • Same-sex marriages are now legal in Switzerland after many people voted for the legalisation in the vote
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Weekly Summaries

12th of July – 18th of July

Protests in Cuba

Last week, Cuba saw some of the biggest protests in decades. Thousands of Cubans went to the streets to protest against power outages and food and medicine shortages, which were caused by the country’s economic crisis. The New York Times describes scenes in which people have to wait for hours to buy food. Although Cuba had already been suffering from an economic crisis before the pandemic hit, lockdowns have meant that the valuable income from the tourism industry has also been cut.

Floods in Western Europe

Violent storms caused floods in Western Europe last week. So far, the number of deaths is over 180 but more than a thousand people still remain missing. Germany and Belgium were hit the worst but Switzerland and the Netherlands have also been affected.

Other News

  • The Death Valley in California reached a temperature of 54 degrees Celsius (130 degrees Fahrenheit) last weekend. This is one of the highest temperatures to ever be recorded.
  • After protests in South Africa connected to the arrest of the former president Jacob Zuma turned violent, the South African military has been deployed by the government. Alone 117 people died last week due to looting and vandalism. 
  • According to the New York Times more than 77% of New Mexico is “in severe drought”.
  • The designated prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, has resigned after months of trying to form a new government.

Categories
News

The G7 Summit in Cornwall

What is the G7?

The G7 is a political establishment, founded in 1975, that addresses current and potential future challenges that can affect the growth of the global economy, including the impacts of fluctuating oil prices and of emerging markets. The G7 is made up of some of the wealthiest economies across the world — the US, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan (China is not a member of the G7). The organisation is not an official, formal entity and therefore has no legislative or authoritative power to enforce policies or laws around the world. However, due to the powerful nature of the countries involved, policies can be introduced within said countries, helping to resolve global issues.

What is the purpose of the G7? 

The intergovernmental organisation meets periodically to assess economic and monetary issues that have developed throughout the world between each summit. They discuss and sometimes act in order to assist in resolving global issues, particularly those that concern the global economy.  Their efforts have allowed the organisation to launch initiatives, which fund issues and relieve crises, including several aimed at relieving debt within developing nations. For example, the establishment provided $300 million in 1997 to help construct the containment of the reactor meltdown at Chernobyl, following the nuclear disaster. 

What did they discuss in Cornwall last week? 

As expected, the main topic of conversation was resolving the current global crisis, COVID-19. The leaders within the establishment debated the importance of a stronger global health system and reviewed a potential plan of action which could reduce the global health inequality that could protect us from future pandemics.  Their agenda further included discussion on actions taken towards climate change, e.g. the unsuccessful Paris Agreement of 2015, and trade agreements. This was a big topic for Britain in particular, since talks regarding Brexit began in 2016 when Britain decided to leave the European Union.

What were the outcomes of the meeting? 

The meeting had three major outcomes: “A Billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine (1)”, “no more coal (2) ”, and “tech giants and tax havens targeted (3)”.

  1.  The leaders at the conference pledged to deliver over 870 million vaccine doses to the developing world, on top of the 250 million already promised by the US and the 100 million from the UK. This action will not only allow the HIC’s to recover from the pandemic but allow LIC’s to recover, also. This will have a rather large impact as the lower-income countries are more at risk of an unrecoverable economic depression than higher-income countries. 
  2. There was a unanimous agreement in which the G7 leaders pledged to phase out coal-fired power generation at home and reduce/end funding for new coal-burning power plants in the developing world. Furthermore, the leaders committed to offering developing nations $2.8bn to help them switch to cleaner fuels. These plans will not only help reduce carbon emissions but will consequently reduce climate change. A large issue within climate change is that developing countries do not have funding to provide renewable sources of energy. Therefore, this initiative is of great importance as it will allow countries to take a global stance against global warming.
  3. The summit agreed to take steps towards dissuading MNC’s (multinational co-operations) from shifting profits to low tax-havens. The leaders signed up to levy a minimum 15% corporate tax rate. This will help boost economies especially following the pandemic, which has caused severe economic instability globally. Furthermore, the leaders have also moved to help protect the global financial system from the impact of climate change by agreeing on rules which require companies and financial institutions to disclose the extent to which their business is exposed to climate change risks.

Sources

  1. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/06/g7-summit-covid19-tax-environment/
  2. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/g7.asp

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Weekly Summaries

3rd of May – 9th of May

Unrest in Israel

Last week, a stampede at a festival for the ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel left 45 people dead. Meanwhile the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that he “would be willing to hand over leadership for one year” to Naftali Bennett, a right-wing rival, according to the New York Times. This statement can be seen as a desperate attempt by Prime Minister Netanyahu to form a government. Mr. Netanyahu may have been in office for the past 12 years, but he is currently facing trial on corruption charges and Israel has seen four elections in just two years. However, Naftali Bennett is uncertain about how sincere the Prime Minister is about his proposal, especially because the coalition would still be two seats short of the required number to form a majority government. Soon after, Mr. Netanyahu failed to meet the deadline set for assembling a new government, which was Tuesday night. Yair Lapid, who is politically in the center, now has 28 days to form a coalition.

Other News

  • A suicide bomber blew up a truck in Logar Province, Afghanistan. 
  • German prosecutors were able to break up “one of the largest child pornography sites operating on the darknet,” according to the New York Times.
  • The New York Times reported a subway crash in Mexico City last week, in which a subway overpass collapsed, has killed at least 24 people and wounded 70 more.
Categories
Analysis

Nord Stream 2 – A step in the wrong direction

Nord Stream 2 is a gas pipeline, that carries non-renewable natural gas into the European Union, from Vyborg, Russia to Lubmin, Germany. According to Nord Stream AG (the operator of the project), the overall costs of the construction of the 764 mile long pipeline are estimated to total around 9.5 billion euros (which is enough money to fund the construction of over 6000, 800kW wind turbines, in Britain). The gas that the pipeline is to carry, lies in northern Russia’s Yamal Peninsula, which holds nearly 5 trillion cubic meters of gas reserves, according to the Nord Stream 2 consortium. The aims of the transportation of the natural gas are to enhance the security of supply, to strengthen the internal market, and to relieve pressure on other sources within the EU that previously supplied all the non-renewable resources since the EU’s domestic gas production is in rapid decline. However, it is debatable as to whether relying on other sources of natural gas is the best way forward for our economies and for our planet. Currently, the EU has committed to finance projects worth 168.7 billion euros, of which 21%  will go to measures to address climate change. Why spend this much money on reversing the effects of climate change, if Nord Stream 2 is to be built? 

Over the past decade, we have seen a drastic increase in the demand for the use of renewable resources, in response to the ever-increasing climate change issue. As we all know, climate change will not only affect the weather and temperature of our planet, but it will also hinder human life and activities in a variety of ways. A simple example of this would be the increase in global food insecurity and reducing crop productivity, which feeds our ever-growing population. Over time, farmers have adapted to the weather patterns, planting crops accordingly, however, climate change is altering temperature and rainfall patterns, potentially affecting which crops can be planted at which times throughout the course of the year. I believe that we struggle to understand that climate change can be positively impacted by the individual efforts of the human race, as many wrongly-believe that this global issue could, and should have been resolved by our governments, therefore deeming the global political system incompetent. While it is true that governments should increase the focus surrounding reversing climate change, individual countries and their citizens must cooperate, to reduce their overall carbon footprint; something that will be very difficult to do with the influx of natural gas delivered by Nord Stream 2.

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Weekly Summaries

18th of January – 24th of January

President Biden’s Inauguration

This past Wednesday was Trump’s last day in office. He became the first US President to leave the White House before his successor’s (Joe Biden) inauguration. Biden became the 46th President of the United States and Kamala Harris officially became the first woman and person of colour to take up the position of vice president. Since then, President Biden has already released a national pandemic response plan.

US accuses China of Genocide

The US State Department declared on Tuesday — former US President Trump’s last full day in office — that the Chinese government is committing genocide and crimes against humanity. There has long been criticism of China for suppressing Muslim minority groups, including Uyghurs, in the region of Xinjiang. US officials later said that they hope that other countries will follow in their footsteps.

Other News:

  • Armin Laschet was named the next leader of Angela Merkel’s CDU Party. Elections will take place in Germany in fall.
  • On Thursday morning two bombers wearing explosive vests killed at least 32 people in an attack at a busy market in central Baghdad, Iraq.
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Weekly Summaries

27th of July – 2nd of August

US to withdraw troops from Germany

The United States announced that it will pull out 12,000 troops from Germany. Some of these troops will be relocated to Belgium and Italy, while 6,400 troops will return to the US. As a member of NATO, Germany committed to spend two percent of its GDP on defense. However, Germany has not kept its word. This decision is of significance as American military has been stationed in Germany since the end of World War  II.