Press review | 30/11/2015



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COP21: Voluntary action or binding regulations?

Researchers calculate that if the temperature rises by two degrees by 2100 the consequences will be just about manageable. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


The international community is meeting to discuss steps to limit global warming at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. Not all states can commit to binding climate objectives, some commentators stress. Others see an agreement with sanction mechanisms as a chance for politicians to regain the people's confidence.

Der Standard - Austria

Voluntary agreement no guarantee

Voluntary action on climate protection is a poor substitute for a binding agreement, the centre-left daily Der Standard comments: "Whether a celebrated climate protection agreement worth the paper it is written on will be in place by the end of these two weeks is questionable. The trend towards 'voluntary action' in international climate protection policy that can be observed for some time now may well backfire, because if we rely on voluntary policies there will be no international mechanisms for monitoring national data on emissions. Also there would be no possibilities for sanctions if states simply ignore the guidelines. In no time international climate protection would become nothing but a weather vane that can be sacrificed in the name of national day-to-day politics." (30/11/2015)

Libération - France

COP21 must restore trust in politics

People's trust in politics hangs in the balance in Paris, the liberal daily Libération believes, and calls for a binding agreement: "The key players on this overheated planet have all the more responsibility in that the tragic timing of the conference and the excesses that are taking place under the pretext of a state of emergency have prevented civil society - apart from very worthy human chains - from putting peaceful pressure on the meeting in Le Bourget. If the COP 21 ends without an agreement or with a non-binding one, it will be considered a simple political greenwashing event. Leaders, members of parliament and politicians will be all the more discredited. In this case, the 'name and shame' that will no doubt take place will not be limited to a few climate sinners. It will weaken democracy itself." (29/11/2015)

Dziennik Gazeta Prawna - Poland

Not all states can fulfil ambitious goals

The climate goals must not dogmatically apply for all countries equally, Polish energy expert Filip Elżanowski writes in a commentary for the conservative daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, pointing to the problems in his own country: "An agreement should be formulated to be flexible and take account of the specific conditions, needs and possibilities of the individual countries, and in particular those of the less developed states. … Poland is completely dependent on energy production based almost entirely on coal. This is why any demands to reduce emissions trigger major controversies here. The EU's expectations for reducing carbon dioxide emissions are already a huge burden for our country." (30/11/2015)

The Times - United Kingdom

Threat of climate change exaggerated

Politicians and activists who warn of the disastrous effects of climate change are panic-mongers and their arguments are not based on facts, Matt Ridley, a Conservative member of the British House of Lords, writes in the conservative daily The Times: "The 40,000 people meeting in Paris over the next 12 days are committed to the view that the weather is certain to do something nasty towards the end of this century unless we cut emissions. In this, they are out of line with scientists. A survey of the members of the American Meteorological Society in 2012 found that only 52 per cent agree that climate change is mostly man-made, and as to its being very harmful if unchecked, only 34 per cent of AMS members agree. … Are we certain we are not overreacting?" (29/11/2015)


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Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Exodus to Europe: EU buying its way out of solidarity

The EU and Turkey agreed at a special summit on the weekend to cooperate with each other in tackling the refugee crisis. Turkey has undertaken among other things to tighten its border security. In return the EU has pledged to revive the EU membership negotiations and abolish the visa requirement for Turkish citizens in autumn next year. The agreement has a bitter aftertaste, the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger observes: "This deal between the EU and Turkey essentially makes sense. … But it remains vague on one important point, namely the question of how many asylum seekers the EU member states can take in directly from the Turkish refugee camps if the leadership in Ankara sticks to its part of the agreement and seals its borders. By providing concrete numbers here the Europeans could have avoided giving the unpleasant impression that they are buying their way out of solidarity and out of taking in more refugees." (30/11/2015) - Greece

Exodus to Europe: Juncker's surrender to Ankara

The agreement reached between the EU and Turkey on the refugee question completely ignores the interests of Greece and Cyprus, the online portal argues: "The summit represents a crushing defeat for the Europe policy pursued by both countries for decades vis-à-vis Ankara. ... Athens must now look on as Turkey 'invades' Brussels, without having secured recognition for the Republic of Cyprus or respect for its sovereignty. ... What's more, the Greek government's proposals for a solution to the refugee problem landed directly in the waste bin. ... Seized with fear and panic at the uncontrolled flood of refugees to Europe, the major partners and their protagonist Jean-Claude Juncker transformed yesterday's summit into an unconditional surrender by satisfying all of the demands Turkey put to Europe." (30/11/2015)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Paris has good reason to ban demonstrations

Despite a ban on demonstrations thousands of people took to Paris's streets on the weekend as the climate summit began, and there were clashes between protesters and the policy on the Place de la République. The state of emergency regulations imposed after the Paris attacks should be observed, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera urges: "The war is not an abstraction. The sirens that once sent the citizens scurrying for cover in air-raid shelters could also have been interpreted as a symbol of a suffocating state of emergency but bombs did indeed rain down on the city. It was war. A different war, but a war like the one Paris has been experiencing since November 13. And if the French authorities ban a rally organised for the climate summit in Paris, they are not curtailing an inalienable right but resorting to elementary protective measures. Wartime protective measures - even though the word should be used with caution and the warlike atmosphere should not be aggravated with brazen and irresponsible belligerent actions." (30/11/2015)


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Expresso - Portugal

Daniel Oliveira on terror hysteria in Europe

Since the Paris attacks a security hysteria has taken hold in Europe, columnist Daniel Oliveira observes in the liberal weekly Expresso and warns of the consequences: "I can't remember any city in the US looking after 9/11 like Brussels looks these days. The climate of hysteria in Europe perfectly reflects its political weakness. The EU member states are caught up in a seemingly endless race with each other on security policy - because there seems to be no one in either the opposition or in civil society capable of conducting a sensible debate on this issue. The media massacre that has gone on for 15 days now is preventing such a debate. No one is stopping to think; and amidst all the emotion and fear those who do don't say what they really think out of fear. … It was in just such a climate that the Guantánamo prison camp where highly illegal detainments were carried out was set up, in which allies were spied on and the Patriot Act approved - and in which the chaos was planted in Iraq that made the birth and growth of the IS at all possible." (28/11/2015)

El País - Spain

Javier Solana on eco-friendly urban planning

Around 70 percent of the emissions causing the greenhouse effect are generated in major cities, former EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana points out in the centre-left daily El País and stresses the importance of efficient city planning: "The form cities take will be decisive both for their emissions and the economy. A study on Atlanta and Barcelona demonstrates this. The two cities have a similar number of residents, but Atlanta has a built-up area nearly 12 times larger than Barcelona's, and Atlanta's transport-related carbon-dioxide emissions exceed Barcelona's by a factor of six. For this reason and in view of the growth of new cities in emerging or developing nations, urban planning plays a vital role. If compact, well-connected models are implemented - ones that combat urban sprawl and reduce the use of private vehicles -  carbon emissions levels, traffic and air pollution can be reduced. Moreover, studies show that efficient urban planning could reduce capital requirements for urban infrastructure by more than 3 trillion dollars over the next 15 years." (30/11/2015)


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Kristeligt Dagbladet - Denmark

Time for climate-friendly Christmas presents

With Black Friday at the end of last week the Christmas shopping season began for many Europeans. The Christian-influenced daily Kristeligt Dagblad calls for restraint - also in the interest of climate protection: "While the Danes, the Europeans and the Americans start stashing away electronic devices and designer fashion and order so much stuff on the Internet that the websites are overloaded, the Climate Change Conference is kicking off in Paris. There, the leaders of this world are trying to reduce environmental pollution in a bid to stop global warming. That in itself is a paradox. Nevertheless it is obvious that Western consumption is incompatible with a climate-friendly lifestyle. ... Perhaps we should think twice before rushing headlong into our Christmas shopping. Because perhaps we could spread just as much joy with a home-made gift, the promise of a visit or a present bought at a second-hand store." (28/11/2015)


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Le Soir - Belgium

Puberty crisis a cause of terror

Terrorism must be tackled at its roots, the liberal daily Le Soir writes after a week of the state of emergency in Belgium: "A new era has dawned in which we must live with a danger that can strike at any moment. For that reason we must live as if nothing had happened although we know that the worst is possible, and we must accept a slew of security and control measures. ... What we are going through is not a war of religion but a fight against the barbaric manipulation of a religion, as well as an identity and puberty crisis on the part of lost young men who are attracted to the IS more by what it offers them (money, power) than by any spiritual calling. True, for the moment the security measures are unavoidable, nevertheless we must focus above all on what our societies can offer in terms of hope (jobs, self-fulfilment, respect)." (28/11/2015)

T24 - Turkey

Kurdish lawyer murdered intentionally

The prominent Kurdish human rights lawyer Tahir Elçi was shot and killed on the street in the southern Turkish city of Diyarbakir on Saturday. He and a police officer were fatally wounded during a shoot-out, according to Turkey's Interior Minister Efkan Ala. The liberal online paper T24 disagrees, arguing that this was premeditated murder: "Dozens of bullets were fired and dozens of people were at the scene of the crime. But what a 'coincidence' that only Tahir Elçi was killed by a single bullet. It's clear who killed him. But officially the perpetrator will remain unknown. That too is clear, unfortunately. ... Tahir Elçi was a man of the law, someone who was not afraid to criticise the PKK when the situation arose, and who defended strict non-violence and peace. He was a moderate, a principled and honest dove on a bridge that both sides should protect like their own eyesight if they want peace in this country. Demons bombed this bridge so that no ties can remain between the two sides, and so that no one can hope for peace anymore." (30/11/2015)

Ziare - Romania

Romania's mafia-like authorities cause deaths

Three top emergency officials were suspended from office on Friday in Romania. Media research revealed information that contradicted their claim that they had not been aware of safety defects at the Colectiv nightclub where a fire at the end of October killed 60 people. The news website Ziare expresses deep disappointment: "What happened at the Colectiv nightclub was not an exception but the rule as regards safety regulations. Many safety authorities in Romania are based on Mafia structures and live from the protection money that private and state-owned companies rake in for them. The inspectors are deeply corrupt and the complicated legislation and endless red tape exist for one reason only: to force the citizens to constantly pay bribes. … All this was exposed at the Colectiv nightclub - the bribery system, the illegal agreements, the protection money payments to the fire department - and it all collapsed on itself. And people died as a result." (28/11/2015)

Sme - Slovakia

Absurd terrorism fears at Prague's Xmas market

Owing to fears of a terrorist attack the lights on the large Christmas tree at Prague's Christmas market were not lit during the traditional tree lighting ceremony watched by thousands of people but at a time of day when only a few tourists were present. The liberal daily Sme sees the measure as completely disproportionate to the threat: "The IS terrorists would have a hard time even finding Prague's Old Town Square on a map. There is no terrorist threat yet still the ceremony was cancelled. This was both crazy and cowardly. Why not just scrap Christmas altogether? … What is particularly absurd is that the Christmas market itself is open. Only its inauguration was cancelled. Don't they fear what could happen in the days to come? … The biggest threats at the Christmas market will be teenagers who drink too much mulled wine and the not properly cooked dough of the Christmas biscuits." (30/11/2015)

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