Today at WPR we’re reporting on how the war between Israel and Hamas has raised Qatar’s regional profile and Venezuela’s territorial dispute with Guyana.
But first, here’s our take on today’s top story:
Nuclear energy: The United States and 21 other countries committed to tripling their nuclear energy capacity by 2050 at the UN climate conference COP28 on Saturday. Britain, Canada, France, Ghana, South Korea, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates were among the 22 countries that signed the agreement. (New York Times)
Our opinion: Admittedly, there is a certain irony in the recent acceptance of nuclear energy as part of the solution to an essentially ecological crisis. Finally, the modern environmental movement – particularly the Greens across Europe – grew in part in response to questions about the safety of nuclear energy, particularly after the high-profile accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986. During the Cold War there was also increasing fear before nuclear war raised concerns about nuclear technology in general.
But there is no escaping the simple fact that nuclear energy does not emit carbon and therefore does not contribute to the climate crisis caused by greenhouse gases.
This would not be the first push for major investment in nuclear energy since the end of the Cold War, although the motivations have changed. In the 2000s, nuclear energy became an arena of geopolitical competition and cooperation between allies as the industry expanded globally – particularly in China and India – winning billion-dollar contracts for new nuclear power plants. This trend would likely have continued if it had not been for the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.
But now, as the climate crisis becomes more urgent and the global North desperately tries to reduce carbon emissions without sacrificing reliable energy sources, many countries are once again turning to nuclear power, this time to meet ambitious climate goals, including the Paris Climate Agreement goal is to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. For Europe, the move also serves to reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas.
Of course, nuclear energy is still controversial, particularly in the EU, where a pro-nuclear alliance led by France has clashed with anti-nuclear countries Germany and Austria over, among other things, whether to label nuclear energy as “green.” should be part of the EU’s energy transition. Nuclear energy also faces other hurdles, such as funding gaps, as the cost of building new reactors rises.
It is also worth noting that some of the countries that signed this agreement – namely the US, France and South Korea – are already major exporters of nuclear technology and will therefore benefit economically from this push. The question now is whether these countries, ostensibly committed to nuclear energy as an essential part of the solution to the climate crisis, will be willing to share that nuclear technology with the Global South, where many countries may be asked to forego other energy sources of theirs promote and in many cases finance economic development.
The political spotlight that accompanied Qatar’s success initially frustrated some of Doha’s Arab Gulf neighbors. But as the war continued, Gulf states increasingly recognized that Qatar’s actions were beneficial to them, leading to some coordination between them.
As a result, the war became a milestone in relations within the Gulf region, writes Lina Khatib.
Invading Guyana is a really, really bad idea for Maduro
Yesterday, Venezuela held a controversial referendum to underline its long-standing territorial claim to the Essequibo region of Guyana.
The rest of the world assumes the territorial dispute was settled in the late 19th century, but Venezuela recently renewed its claim to the region because Essequibo has oil – in abundance.
Many observers feared that the referendum was essentially an attempt to give President Nicolas Maduro’s government popular legitimacy to take Essequibo and annex it to Venezuela. However, as columnist James Bosworth writes, an invasion of Guyana is highly unlikely.
Question of the day: Which far-right political party won a shocking victory after the November 22 elections in the Netherlands and became the party with the most seats in the Dutch Parliament?
Find the answer in the latest weekly WPR quiz, then read Frida Ghitis and Alexander Clarkson’s columns on the election results.
An explosion at a Roman Catholic mass in the south Filipino At least four people were killed and dozens more injured in the city of Marawi on Sunday. The Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack.
Marawi is located in the young Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which was established in 2019 through peace agreements between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. However, as Michael Hart wrote in August, attacks by Islamist militant groups threaten the region’s fragile transition process ahead of the BARMM’s first elections in 2025.
Authorities in Honduras have issued an arrest warrant for the alleged mastermind of the murder of Berta Caceres, an indigenous environmental activist killed in March 2016 in retaliation for leading a campaign to stop the construction of a hydroelectric power plant.
Over the past decade, environmentalists like Cáceres have faced increasing forms of repression, including lethal violence, with the Americas the most dangerous region for them. As Mariana Montoya wrote last year, changing the situation on the ground requires that governments address the drivers of violence and repression against these activists and community leaders.
The UN Security Council voted on Friday to lift a decades-old arms embargo Somalia, a move welcomed by the Somali government as it continues to wage war against the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab. Read last week’s briefing by Omar Mahmood and Nicolas Delaunay on the Somali government’s struggle to address the country’s many challenges.
GuatemalaThe United States Congress on Friday stripped four judges of their immunity from prosecution, accusing them of fraud. It is the latest in a series of moves that could derail the country’s democratic transfer of power planned for January. Read James Bosworth’s October column on Guatemala’s still-threatened democracy.
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