Here is today's one Foreign policy short: USA-China Climate negotiations begin in Shanghai, EU and UK Officials meet on the Northern Ireland Protocol and St. Vincent Volcanic eruptions continue.
If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please register here.
Kerry looks for common ground in China
U.S. Climate Commissioner John Kerry is in Shanghai today to meet with Chinese officials as the world's two largest carbon emitters look for rare similarities in a relationship not known to work smoothly.
The talks aim to convince China to do more to promote global climate goals ahead of a summit of world leaders hosted by US President Joe Biden on April 22nd. This meeting is itself an attempt to lay the groundwork for a crucial UN climate change conference, COP 26, to be held in Scotland in September.
Today's discussions mark the first visit by a Biden Cabinet official to China and the first meeting of the two nations since talks between senior diplomatic and national security officials in March. Those Alaska talks began astute, with Chinese officials listing a litany of US crimes in their opening speeches.
Kerry will – and likely will – hope for a more cooperative atmosphere in the coming days, as Chinese President Xi Jinping's proclamation to achieve net zero emissions by 2060 reverberates through China's policymaking machine. Writing in Foreign Policy in March, Steven Stashwick explained why Xi's words can lead to real change. And as Melinda Liu writesThe decades-long relationship between Kerry and his counterpart Xie Zhenhua could help both sides solve the delicate problems that divide the two nations.
Coal country. China's coal consumption must be hit quickly to meet its 2060 target. A study by TransitionZero, a climate analysis company, released todayurges China to shut down nearly 600 coal-fired power plants over the next 10 years to meet its targets.
Mining of the 21st century. Unconventional power users will soon have to be addressed as well. A study published last week in the journal Nature Communications found that 75 percent of the world Bitcoin miningThere is a process going on in China that involves special computers and large amounts of electricity. The authors warn that China's bitcoin-related energy consumption will exceed Italy's total energy consumption by 2024. China's Inner Mongolia region is already preparing to ban new cryptocurrency projects following a reprimand from Beijing for the region's high energy consumption.
What we are following today
EU-UK. Conversations. British Brexit Minister David Frost will meet his EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic in Brussels today resolve a dispute the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol to the Brexit Agreement. In March, Westminster unilaterally extended a waiver of some goods entering the UK from Northern Ireland. This is a move that the EU sees as a violation of the agreement and international law. Talks come as civil unrest has ravaged Northern Ireland for the past few days. Dan Haverty writes into it Foreign policy, explains how Brexit did fueled fears within the loyalist community on a permanent break from Britain.
Russia sanctions. The Biden administration is expected Announce sanctions through a number of Russian individuals and organizations linked to a widespread government cybersecurity breach that exploited SolarWinds software in December. The violation allowed intruders to access emails from a number of government agencies and steal encryption keys, which are essential to the preservation of correspondence among top US officials. The move comes after U.S. President Joe Biden called for a summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
Outbreak in the Caribbean. Didier Trebucq, the United Nations-based coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, has warned of a humanitarian crisis volcanic eruptions on the island of St. Vincent. About 20 percent of the island's population has been displaced as the volcanic ash continues to rain. The National Emergency Management Organization for St. Vincent and the Grenadines has forecast "Explosions and associated ash falls of a similar or larger magnitude" for the next few days.
India-Pakistan relations. High-ranking intelligence officials from India and Pakistan were arrested secret conversations in January on calming tensions in the disputed Kashmir region, as a sign of warming relations. The UAE eased back-channel diplomacy, which resulted in both sides agreeing in February to end the shooting along the control line, the de facto border between the two countries. Reuters reports that the two governments have started talks to achieve a "modest roadmap to normalize relations" in the coming months.
Global access to vaccines. Many former world leaders and Nobel Prize winners have required US President Joe Biden supports a temporary surrender of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments to address the current global imbalance. The letter, signed by 175 greats, including former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former French President Francois Hollande and former Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev, has called on Biden to support a waiver proposed by South Africa and India to the World Trade Organization in October . The US sales representative's office said last month it is evaluating the effectiveness of India and South Africa's proposal.
Brazil investigated. The Brazilian Supreme Court has kicked off a Investigation of the Senate in President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the country's COVID-19 epidemic. Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco tried to delay the investigation, citing the current restrictions on the corona virus. Senator Marcio Bittar, an ally of Bolsonaro, has called the investigation an "attempted coup against the president". Brazil's average 7-day COVID-19 death toll hit a record high on Monday with 3,125 reported deaths.
Sweden, like many countries last year, saw a baby bust, with 6.4 percent fewer births in 2020 than in 2019. This decline could get worse as the country now faces a birth defect of sperm donors than men largely avoided hospitals and donation clinics in 2020.
The problem has increased waiting times for an assisted pregnancy from six months to two and a half years, and has given potential parents the option to pay the nearly $ 12,000 fee to visit a private clinic that can purchase donated semen from overseas. Assisted pregnancies are otherwise covered by the Swedish national health system.
Swedish regulations have also contributed to the shortage. A maximum of six women can use the same donor, and the donor review process takes approximately 8 months.