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  • Author: Marcin Andrzej Piotrowski
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In April 2021, the U.S. intelligence community published the extensive report “Global Trends 2040: A More Contested World”. It analyses the main demographic, political, and strategic trends that will likely shape the world for the next two decades. The report will be intensively used by the Biden administration in the preparation of the new U.S. National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, as well as in new military doctrines. The “Global Trends” document reflects the main tendencies in American strategic thinking, such as the growing “Sinocentrism” and traditional U.S. attachment to transatlantic relations.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Intelligence, Strategic Planning
  • Political Geography: China, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony Bergin, Tony Press
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Given recent broader tensions in the China–Australia relationship, China’s global ambitions, lack of progress on key Antarctic policy initiatives and the potential for significant geopolitical consequences for the future of Antarctica and for Australia’s strategic interests, it’s important that Australian policymakers reconsider our long-term Antarctic policy settings. The report found no clear evidence that China is violating the Antarctic Treaty. But it argues we should apply a more sharply focused assessment of the costs and benefits of cooperation, given China’s more assertive international posture and increasing interests in Antarctica. The recommendations in the report are designed to maximise the value and mitigate the downside risks of China engagement for our Antarctic and broader national interests. Overall, we should adopt a more transactional approach in our Antarctic engagement with China, making it clear what we require from cooperation and what we expect from China. Given the track record Beijing has in moving rapidly on a broad front, as it’s done in the South China Sea, we need to be prepared to respond to a rapid increase in the speed and scale of China’s actions in Antarctica.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, National Security, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia, Australia/Pacific, Antarctica
  • Author: Molly Jahn
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: US public investment in agricultural research in the 20th and 21st centuries has resulted in unprecedented worldwide production of a few staple crops and the improvement of dozens more. Increased crop yields and animal production have drastically reduced famine compared to previous centuries and supported an overall increase in global affluence. Today, agricultural producers around the world are facing new challenges as global climate changes become increasingly unpredictable. Inconsistent rain, extreme temperatures, droughts, flooding, wildfires, and shifting pest and disease patterns are just a few of the obstacles farmers face as they try to feed their families and produce enough food to feed the world. In spite of these dire challenges, US public agricultural research funding has been decreasing over the past several decades. This has allowed competitors such as China and Brazil to outpace American ingenuity, take over American markets, and put American farmers at a disadvantage. The lack of investment in agricultural research and development is a critical national security concern. Historical US agricultural strength has contributed to US hard and soft power around the world. As the US food system is beset by increasing climate, economic, financial, and security threats, US rural communities have been left behind, undermining US power and domestic well-being. Increasing global food insecurity, which has been amplified by increasing weather extremes, will lead to economic and political instability in many areas of the world, further threatening US national security. Although the private sector plays a crucial role in the development of new agricultural techniques and products, public funding has been the backbone of many agriculture and food system advances. While agricultural research and development has historically focused primarily on increasing yields, this narrow focus does not adequately support the food requirements of today’s growing global population. There must be a revitalization of public investment in agricultural research, American food systems, and international agricultural development that focuses on the challenges of the future. US leadership is vital to ensuring the global research agenda does not leave farmers behind. Opportunities to build upon and enhance existing US agricultural research infrastructure across many diverse government entities abound. The US government should recognize these investment opportunities to address current and future climate challenges.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change, Environment, Research
  • Political Geography: China, Brazil, North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Gavin Helf
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This report offers a road map for understanding the most likely sources of violent conflict in the post-Soviet nations of Central Asia—ethno-nationalism and nativism, Islam and secularism, water resources and climate change, and labor migration and economic conflict. The analysis draws from emerging trends in the region and identifies the ways in which Central Asia’s geography and cultural place in the world interact with those trends. It suggests that the policy goals of the United States, Russia, and China in the region may be more compatible than is often assumed.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Climate Change, Migration, Economy, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Central Asia, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: In September 2020, President Xi Jinping announced new goals for China to reach carbon neutrality before 2060, as well as to strengthen its existing 2030 commitments under the Paris Agreement. With these announcements, China has signaled a move to join the European Union—as well as the United States under a Biden administration—in leading long-term climate action among the big emitters. Our analysis demonstrates that if China’s new long-term goal covers all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and not just carbon dioxide (CO₂), this could bring the country within reach of the emissions reductions required by mid-century for its actions to be in line with the Paris Agreement’s long-term goal of limiting average global temperature increases to 1.5°C. However, if President Xi’s announcement is only meant to cover CO₂, then China would need to achieve carbon neutrality around 2050 for this to be compatible with the Paris Agreement.1 Either way, China’s short-term actions will also need to be quickly brought into line with its new long-term trajectory. This includes doing more than simply peaking CO₂ emissions before 2030 as President Xi foreshadowed. Instead, our analysis demonstrates that China would need to peak its emissions by 2025 and rapidly reduce these thereafter to be compatible with the Paris Agreement. This also implies a need for significant adjustments to the other quantifiable targets identified in China’s existing Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement and the ramping up of action to achieve these. Reducing coal-fired power generation quickly and phasing it out entirely by 2040 would be an important step toward achieving this early peak and rapid reductions. Under the Trump administration, the United States has reneged on past climate action promises and rolled back existing policies resulting in an increase in emissions compared with the Obama administration. As a result, this report highlights that even under a Biden administration, the United States is likely to miss its previous 2025 target under the Paris Agreement. However, a Biden administration means that the United States now has the potential to reverse the Trump administration’s rollbacks and make a significant contribution to closing the Paris Agreement’s ambition gap in a new 2030 NDC. Indeed, by taking the initiative to reboot U.S. action in line with the Energy and Climate Package touted by President-elect Biden during his campaign, including its goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, U.S. emissions could be reduced substantially by 2030.2 For example, our analysis indicates that if the Biden campaign’s policies were to be fully implemented with the support of Congress (see below), and continue to be supported by strong subnational action, they could bridge more than half of the U.S. share of the global ambition gap by 2030 through reducing emissions by up to 38%–54% below 2005 levels (GHGs, including land use, land-use change and forestry)3. This would also reduce estimates for average global temperature increases in 2100 by 0.1°C, on top of the 0.2°C–0.3°C reduction achieved by China’s recent announcement. As this report shows, President-elect Biden’s plan to decarbonize the U.S. electricity system by 2035 would represent by far the biggest contribution to this effort and is in line with the Paris Agreement temperature goal. It would result in savings of ~1,350 MtCO₂ out of a total abatement potential of ~1,810 MtCO₂e [1,630–2,100] in 2030 across his Energy and Climate Package. However, this report also estimates that potentially only half of this potential could still be achieved through Executive Authority in the event of Congress not supporting action, although this estimate carries a large degree of uncertainty. We also outline how additional emissions reductions could come from action in other areas, including freight transport and industry—with the electrification of end-use sectors and green hydrogen important opportunities to achieve this. If the United States and China fully implement these ambitious goals and are able to achieve net-zero GHG emissions around mid-century, it would be a monumental step forward toward bringing the Paris Agreement goals within reach. It would also mean that for the first time more than 60% of the world’s emissions are in countries with a clear pathway to decarbonize their economies. However, achieving the goals will require bold action in all sectors of the economy, with an early coal phaseout being paramount for both countries.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Carbon Emissions, Paris Agreement , Decarbonization
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America