Here is today's foreign policy mandate: The White House is home to virtual ones Climate summit, over 1,400 arrested at protest rallies Russia, and USA-Iran Talks in Vienna are progressing.
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U.S. President Joe Biden brings together 40 world leaders – including 17 of the world's largest carbon emitting countries – for a virtual summit aimed at reconciling global greenhouse gas reduction ambitions and putting the United States at the forefront of the fight to revive against climate change.
Biden is expected to kick off the process with a bombshell announcement: The United States pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030 compared to 2005. The target would nearly double the target set by President Barack Obama under the 2015 Paris Agreement, although how Biden plans to get there is not yet known.
The cuts are in line with those recommended by United States experts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and prevent the catastrophic effects of any further surge. On Wednesday, United States Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world was "on the edge of the abyss" and that 2020 would go down in history as one of the three hottest years ever recorded.
The upcoming White House announcement follows a similar announcement by the European Union, the third largest carbon emitter, on Wednesday. The bloc has passed new targets to cut CO2 emissions by 55 percent compared to 1990 levels and the legal requirements to implement the targets expected for June.
Xi's goals. As the second and third largest emitters achieve their ambitious targets, the White House hopes the dramatic cuts will convince China, the number one carbon emitter, to follow suit. China has pledged to become climate neutral by 2060, but plans to reach the highest emissions by 2030 and risk further environmental damage until then.
That Xi Jinping will take part in today's virtual summit is a good sign, writes James Palmer of foreign policy in the weekly China Brief, if only to "give Chinese officials at least some leeway to reach their colleagues in the US".
Cooperation against competition. While US policy has focused on Chinese cooperation on climate change, such as the trip by Climate Envoy John Kerry earlier this month, a stronger focus on competition could lead to better results, writes Lauri Myllyvirta on foreign policy. "The best that the United States can do to encourage China is to take climate action," Myllyvirta writes. By providing "a clean alternative to China's initiative for high-fossil fuel belts and roads in developing countries," the United States can incentivize China to compete on the same terms while delivering on its own climate commitments.
What we are following today
Russian riots. Russian police arrested over 1,400 demonstrators at rallies across the country organized by allies of imprisoned dissident Alexei Navalny. The protests appeared to be smaller than others held in recent months, Reuters reported. This disappointed the organizers, who hoped an overwhelming number would force the authorities to allow independent doctors to assess Navalny's health.
Russian President Vladimir Putin did not mention Navalny in his state address, but warned the West against provocations, even when he said he did not want to "burn bridges". "But if someone considers our good intentions to be indifference or weakness and intends to burn down or even blow these bridges, he should know that Russia's reaction will be asymmetrical, quick and harsh."
Pakistan hotel bombed. At least four people were killed and a dozen others injured after a car bomb exploded in the parking lot of a luxury hotel in the Pakistani city of Quetta on Wednesday. The Chinese ambassador Nong Rong had been booked at the hotel at the time, but was not there at the time of the bombing. The Pakistani Taliban have taken responsibility for the attack and declared it a suicide bombing.
Talks between the US and Iran. The United States is open to lifting sanctions against the Iranian central bank and a number of key economic sectors, officials told the Wall Street Journal after all sides concluded five days of talks in Vienna. A serious point of contention remains the Trump administration's designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, a label that the Biden administration is reluctant to repeal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani signaled cautious optimism over the next few weeks about the US indirect talks. "In a few steps we found her serious," he said. “In some steps they don't speak clearly. Now we should see. "
South Korea rejects sex slave case. A South Korean court dismissed a lawsuit against Japan filed by a group of women forced into sexual slavery during World War II. In January, a judge ruled in favor of another group of victims and ordered Japan to pay compensation. The judge in Wednesday's case upheld Japan's state immunity when one of the plaintiffs promised to bring the case to an international court. The case of South Korea's euphemistically described "comfort women" has been a source of tension between the two countries for decades. Japan considers the matter closed after issuing an official apology and setting up a $ 9.3 million victim fund in 2015.
A competitor to Belt and Road. The European Union and India plan to create their own infrastructure alliance as a direct challenge to China's Belt and Road Initiative. The plan calls for the two powers to work together on projects in their states as well as in Asia and Africa. "The EU and its allies have a common interest here in presenting an alternative to the Belt and Road initiative instead of allowing Chinese investment to dominate," an EU diplomat told the Financial Times. The terms of the deal have not yet been finalized but should become clearer before the deal is unveiled at a May 8 summit.
Canada's Huawei case. The extradition case of Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei manager arrested in Canada on behalf of US authorities, has been postponed for three months to gain the defense. Meng's lawyers had argued longer after additional documents became available for their defense team to enter as evidence. The documents allegedly show that HSBC bank was aware of Huawei's dealings in Iran and that a corporate entity did not breach sanctions by doing business there.
Russia's space future. Russia plans to build its own space station in 2030 as it wants to leave the International Space Station (ISS) alliance that has existed since 1998. Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said negotiations would begin now NASA partners take responsibility for the Russian segment of the ISS. The move to exit the ISS comes after Russia and China recently signed a memorandum to achieve common ground on the moon or in its orbit.
bits and pieces
The Italian job. " An Italian hospital worker is under investigation by authorities for allegedly skipping work on full pay for the past 15 years. Police say the man, an officer, bagged about $ 650,000, or about $ 43,000 a year, through the no-work program. According to Italian press reports, the man had threatened a hospital director who wanted to discover his absence back in 2005, although the director was about to retire. The Italian government has been mandated to tackle public sector absenteeism since it tightened anti-practice laws in 2016.
That's it for today.