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MAIN FOCUS | 30/11/2015

COP21: Voluntary action or binding regulations?

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.

With articles from the following publications:
Der Standard - Austria, Libération - France, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna - Poland, The Times - United Kingdom

Der Standard - Austria

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

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

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

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)

MAIN FOCUS | 27/11/2015

High expectations for Paris Climate Conference

The UN Climate Change Conference begins in Paris on Monday. Given that more than 170 states have already tabled their climate protection objectives, some commentators are already calling the summit a success. Others criticise that agricultural reform and sweeping global investment in new energies are still not on the agenda.

With articles from the following publications:
Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland, Dennik N - Slovakia, La Repubblica - Italy, The Economist - United Kingdom

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

The World Climate Summit will be a success, the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger is convinced: "Paris is not Copenhagen, where six years ago the negotiations for a new climate agreement for post-2020 failed miserably. But the Copenhagen failure was a blessing for international climate policy. It marked the start of a paradigmatic change. Since then the view has gained ground among the international community that binding global greenhouse gas reduction targets are not the solution if all UN member states, rich or poor, industrialised, emerging or developing, are to do their bit for climate protection. In Paris, independent national climate programmes put together by the individual states according to their economic and political possibilities are to be bundled into a package. The pledges of 177 states are on the table. That covers over 90 percent of global emissions. That alone is already a success." (27/11/2015)

Dennik N - Slovakia

The world must form an alliance against climate change, the liberal daily Dennik N demands: "Copenhagen ended in a fiasco in 2009. ... Since then not much has changed. For a short time it seemed as if global warning had stopped. But the last two years were the warmest since records began. ... We know that many poor countries can't really afford to fight harmful emissions without the help of richer ones. But notwithstanding all the problems, we must not lose sight of the scientific consensus that our planet is facing a man-made catastrophe. There are also opposing views, but we must not ignore the majority opinion. The search for an end to man-made global warming must continue. Paris will show whether we can learn from our mistakes. But a real breakthrough is not on the cards." (27/11/2015)

La Repubblica - Italy

Like other climate summits the Climate Change Conference in Paris also fails to acknowledge that farming plays a decisive role in global warming, criticises Carlo Petrini, founder of the slow food movement, in the centre-left daily La Repubblica: "The cattle breeding sector alone is responsible for 14 percent of greenhouse gases. ... Nevertheless terms like farming, biodiversity and cash cropping don't appear anywhere in the 54-page document that forms the basis for negotiations at the Paris conference. Instead the focus is on energy supplies, heavy industry and transportation. Although mention is made of soil conservation and food security, the concrete correlation between the climate, farming and food is not explicitly formulated. ... To effectively tackle the problem of global warming we need an economic, cultural and social paradigm change. We must support types of farming based on ecological methods, and we must fundamentally change the system of production, sales and access to food." (27/11/2015)

The Economist - United Kingdom

Now is the time to increase spending on developing new technologies for climate protection, the liberal business weekly The Economist stresses: "Generous subsidies perpetuate today's low-carbon technologies; the goal should be to usher in tomorrow's. Unfortunately, energy companies (unlike, say, drug firms or car companies) see investment in radical new technologies as a poor prospect, and governments have been feeble in taking up the slack. A broad commitment to quickly raise and diversify R&D spending on energy technologies would be more welcome than more or less anything else Paris could offer." (26/11/2015)

MAIN FOCUS | 26/11/2015

Hollande hoping to secure Putin as an ally

In his search for allies in the fight against the terrorist IS, French President François Hollande is meeting his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow today. An anti-terror alliance between the West and Russia is unrealistic, some commentators argue. Others believe the fear of attacks will unite the two sides.

With articles from the following publications:
Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland, Le Monde - France, Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

The fear of concrete terrorist acts will unite Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart François Hollande at their meeting today, the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger comments: "The deployment of the North Caucasus fighters in Syria initially brought Moscow and the North Caucasus advantages. … But after the attack on the Russian passenger jet over the Sinai Peninsula and the Paris attacks, clearly Putin too is worried that the momentary calm is deceptive and that Russia, like Europe, is threatened by a wave of violence. In a new video the IS promised that 'soon, very soon' blood would flow in Russia. The Islamic State would take the Caucasus away from Russia, a radical imam from the so-called IS government district of Dagestan said, adding: 'We will kill you, we will butcher you, we will burn you.' The threats have convinced many Russians that the Kremlin is not just waging a distant war for Assad in Syria but directly defending Russia's interests." (26/11/2015)

Le Monde - France

French President François Hollande must know that an international coalition against the IS is unattainable even before his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the centre-left daily Le Monde comments: "François Hollande wants to move closer to Moscow - Bashar al-Assad's departure is no longer an absolute prerequisite for him - and at the same time he is consolidating his alliance with Washington. In Washington, however, distrust of Vladimir Putin prevails. The discussions between Hollande and Obama have confirmed that a global alliance is not on the cards. Tuesday's shooting down of a Russian fighter jet shows that both powers continue to prioritise their own regional interests. Before taking off for Moscow the French president is already aware that the Paris attacks have failed to mend the rifts caused by the Syrian drama." (25/11/2015)

Il Sole 24 Ore - Italy

The difficulty in the fight against the IS terrorist group is not the forging of an alliance between the West and Russia, writes the liberal business paper Il Sole 24 Ore: "Putin is no role model for democracy. But if the IS is a kind of Nazism of our times (in reality a lot less dangerous), then we must realise that the Americans already fought a victorious war with a far more difficult Russian than Putin. The real difficulty doesn't consist in achieving a Russian-American deal by reconciling mutual interests with competing ambitions, but in the fact that the two countries must reach this deal with their respective regional 'clients'. If they fail to do so and don't start building a new Middle East, they will be making the same mistake the English and French made exactly a century ago when they defined the borders of the disintegrating region with all the arrogance of realpolitik." (26/11/2015)

MAIN FOCUS | 25/11/2015

Turkey shoots down Russian fighter jet

After Turkish aircraft shot down a Russian fighter jet over the country's border region with Syria President Vladimir Putin has threatened Turkey, a Nato member, with serious consequences. Some commentators fear that the war against the IS may spiral out of control following the incident on Tuesday. Others believe Russia will exercise restraint so as not to jeopardise its return to the international community.

With articles from the following publications:
Star - Turkey, Lidové noviny - Czech Republic, Nowaja Gaseta - Russia, Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland, Le Figaro - France, Frankfurter Rundschau - Germany

Star - Turkey

Russia has repeatedly violated Turkey's airspace in recent weeks despite being warned not to, so the latter shooting down a Russian fighter jet was an understandable reaction, the pro-government daily Star comments: "If you, brother, bomb the Free Syrian Army on the pretext of beating the most ruthless terrorist group in the world, thus keeping Assad alive, if you wink at Iran, which has sent its soldiers to war to support the dictator with bloody hands, if you pay no heed to Turkish sensitivities and bombard Turkmen, and on top of that try to violate our airspace dozens of times, and this time you went too far, if you test the patience of a country too much, then at some point it will lose its patience and shoot down your aircraft all over the world." (25/11/2015)

Lidové noviny - Czech Republic

It's a good thing it was Turkey and not another country that has stopped Russia from flexing its military muscles, writes the conservative daily Lidové noviny: "Russia has gone a little too far with its provocations. Similar incidents have been occurring almost on a daily basis: submarines in the waters on the UK's borders, fighter jets flying right next to Alaska, planes and ships on the borders of the Baltic states and Norway. In this respect it's good that someone is taking action against the invader - and that that someone wasn't a European. It would be far worse had there been confrontation between military forces in the Baltic, on the direct border between Nato and Russia. For the strategic interests of the Atlantic alliance it is also better that Ankara is on our side instead of allying with Moscow against the West." (25/11/2015)

Nowaja Gaseta - Russia

Putin has underestimated Turkey as a geopolitical player in the Syrian war, the Moscow-based government-critical daily Novaya Gazeta writes: "Now Russia has another potential adversary on its border, which will mean more economic losses and make it even harder for Russian military operations in Syria to be successful. ... Russia failed to take Turkey's interests into account when planning its military strategy in the region, and is relying on Ankara's traditional competitors and adversaries: the Assad regime in Syria, the Kurds and Iran. Russian experts viewed Turkey as a loyal ally of the US, unwilling to act on its own. By contrast, Erdoğan and his advisers believe that they play a key role as a military and political power in the region." (25/11/2015)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not risk breaking with the West despite Nato member Turkey's shooting down of a Russian fighter jet, the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger is convinced: "Last week Putin adopted a softer tone than usual. Even his reaction to the attack on the Russian passenger plane over the Sinai Peninsula in which 224 people died was moderate, all things considered. The reason is that Putin sees a unique opportunity to be part of the anti-terror coalition and return to the global community. With this goal in mind he is even willing to restrain his anger at Turkey. Putin supports this coalition not only because of Syria, and not only because of the Ukraine conflict. His goal isn't a partnership with the West, but a new world order in which Russia and the US once more play a leading role. ... It may seem absurd to Europeans, but Vladimir Putin is firmly convinced that only the old bipolar world order can restore stability." (25/11/2015)

Le Figaro - France

Turkey's shooting down of the Russian fighter jet won't make it any easier for French President François Hollande to form an international alliance against the IS, the conservative daily Le Figaro concludes: "Both Turkey and Russia are indispensable to him, but it's hard to imagine worse allies: they are irreconcilable on the fate of Bashar al-Assad and equally ambiguous in the fight against the Islamic State. Their race for hegemony in the Middle East is intensifying in the absence of American leadership. However Ankara knows that Washington is bound by Nato, whose return to the game can only antagonise Russia. … The internationalisation of the Syria conflict offers a fragile opportunity to bring the world together against the IS. Now, however, we are faced with another reality: if it fails, the logic of war could spin out of control." (24/11/2015)

Frankfurter Rundschau - Germany

The terrorist IS is the main beneficiary of this occurrence, comments the centre-left daily Frankfurter Rundschau: "Erdoğan and Putin are using the incident to exchange strong words aimed at keeping their audiences at home happy. Nato is busy trying to contain the damage. French President Hollande, meanwhile, has completed this disastrous picture by talking of war after the Paris attacks, conducting symbolic bombings on IS targets in Syria and visiting his allies to talk about the fight against the terrorists - as if this were an entirely new conflict rather than one in which countless people have already died over the years. The secret winners here are the 'holy warriors'. They are celebrating the weakness of the international community which has long been their main strength. And they will be delighted that hardly anyone is now pushing for the peace process urgently needed to end the Syrian civil war." (25/11/2015)

MAIN FOCUS | 24/11/2015

Europe in the grips of fear

In view of the tougher security measures in Europe after the Paris terror attacks, the press asks how much freedom states can sacrifice in the name of security? While some commentators warn against tighter controls, others see people's fear of surveillance as a joke.

With articles from the following publications:
Der Standard - Austria, Sme - Slovakia, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna - Poland, The Independent - United Kingdom

Der Standard - Austria

The question of how much freedom should be sacrificed for the fight against terror poses a threat to EU unity, the centre-left daily Der Standard comments: "France has not only invoked the EU mutual defence clause. Paris (and other states) will also demand a tougher approach on security and justice. In these areas the interests of the member states vary widely - almost even more than on euro policy. For the French, data control and storage are just as acceptable as the fact that for terrorist suspects certain civil rights no longer apply. In Germany in particular, which has been spared from terrorist attacks so far, the opposite seems to be the case. ... If the EU wants to preserve its openness and lack of border controls it urgently needs to reach a consensus with its member states on freedom and security. If it doesn't, the Union could begin to crumble." (24/11/2015)

Sme - Slovakia

Tougher controls won't turn the countries of Europe into police states from one day to the next, the liberal daily Sme is convinced: "Up to now the Belgian police is only allowed to search homes between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. So the terrorists can sleep peacefully. Should this make us laugh or cry? … The EU Parliament is also blocking an eight-year-old draft law that obliges airlines to gather passenger data. Security experts say the data could help uncover entire networks of jihadists. But MEPs talk of this being too great a violation of the private sphere. It's paradoxical: people reveal all kinds of things about themselves on the web but are scared by the idea of airlines retaining their names and the credit card numbers they have no qualms about using to buy stuff online." (24/11/2015)

Dziennik Gazeta Prawna - Poland

Terrorism will always exist but Europe must keep a cool head, philosopher Marcin Król writes in the conservative daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna: "The terrorists hadn't struck for some time. However that's not because our European security services worked so well but because the terrorists were in disarray after the death of Osama bin Laden. Now Islamic State has given them backing. ... Basically no one is safe from terrorist attacks. But that doesn't mean we should let ourselves be intimidated. And the politicians must finally start thinking in bigger categories and looking ahead. If liberal European freedoms are now curtailed then the terrorists and other enemies of democracy like Putin will have achieved their goals. The attacks in Paris are certainly a tragedy, but we have to maintain a sense of proportion." (24/11/2015)

The Independent - United Kingdom

Despite the terrorist threat people in Paris and other European cities are getting on with their lives as best they can, writes the centre-left daily The Independent approvingly: "The overriding mood, in Paris and across the world, is one of determined optimism, a resistance to division and fear. It is heartening to see so many stand against giving the terrorists what they want. Being reminded of the universal defiance, resolve and courage that the majority of humankind has in its weaponry is a silver lining in a time of enormous grief. And watching Europe bounce back from the threat of all-consuming hatred is enough to make you smile - however briefly." (23/11/2015)

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