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Global Issues

G20 2014: The G20 Brisbane Summit, inequality, energy and anti-corruption

The 12th edition of the G20 monitor contains an overview from John Lipsky on the G20’s role in global governance after the global financial crisis; a paper by Geoff Weir on the G20, Thomas Piketty, and inequality; thoughts from Hugh Jorgensen and Christian Downie on multilateral energy governance

BNP Paribas fine is G20's dollar dilemma

There are many countries which do not much like the central role of the US dollar. But while they generally (and grudgingly) agree that there is not much to be done about it for now, a punishment recently meted out by US financial regulators against BNP Paribas (BNPP) has incensed European leaders

Just how expensive is renewable energy?

I raised this topic recently when The Economist pointed to a new Brookings study which argued that the cost of renewables had been severely underestimated. There was some pushback in the comments thread, and now I see that Green Tech Media, an American green energy industry website, has also

G20: The case for an inclusive growth target

Earlier this year Treasurer Joe Hockey negotiated a significant commitment among G20 Finance Ministers to aim for an additional 2% of global growth over the next five years. As countries develop their action plans for achieving this goal in the lead-up to the next G20 Finance Ministers' meeting in

From the comments thread: Green energy

Two reader comments I'd like to flag in response to my piece highlighting new research by the Brookings Institution's Charles Frank, written up in The Economist, which suggests renewable energy is still way too expensive to take over from coal, oil and gas. Here's OfKember: The basic inadequacy

Green power still too expensive

This piece from The Economist would have been useful context for the green-energy puff piece broadcast on the ABC's flagship current affairs show Four Corners on 7 July. The Economist has highlighted new research from the Brookings Institution which looks at the full cost of generating various

Time to put security issues on G20 agenda

Given developments in the Ukraine and tensions elsewhere in the world, the time has come to put security and geo-political issues directly on the agenda for the meeting of G20 leaders, and for those leaders to bring their foreign ministers to the Brisbane Summit. Soon after President Bush announced

MH17: What does international law say?

In the days following the shooting down of MH17, the UN and governments around the world have quickly turned to discussing how to bring the perpetrators to justice. While the most likely scenario is that pro-Russian Ukranian rebels shot down the aircraft by mistake, the lack of clarity around the

Climate action: Public opinion is not the problem

A newly released IPSOS Global Trends Survey  shows, according to a Guardian columnist, that Anglophone countries are particularly inclined towards climate denialism: When you click on the interactive version on the IPSOS website, you see that the bottom red line (for the US) shows 32%

China: Climate wrecker or climate leader?

Lisa Williams is author of the new Lowy Institute Analysis, China's Climate Change Policies: Actors and Drivers. The views expressed here are her own and do not reflect the views of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet or the Australian Government. As the world prepares to fight for (

Syria, MH17 and the art of the possible at the UN

Australian diplomacy at the UN has kicked up a gear over the last two weeks. On 14 July the Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2165, drafted by Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg, setting up a new mechanism to facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries to Syria. And yesterday it approved

UN in South Sudan: The ghosts of Rwanda and Srebrenica

By Charles Hunt, Lecturer in International Security at the University of Queensland, and Mark Malan, Senior Lecturer in Peacekeeping at Massey University in New Zealand. UNMISS peacekeepers in Juba, South Sudan. (UN Photo.) As the last of the reinforcements arrive for the newly mandated UN

Carbon tax repeal: Learning from Europe

In September 2010, the Australian Labor Party's Greg Combet sat down with The Australian's Samantha Maiden to explain why the coal industry 'absolutely' had a future. Given Australia is a leading coal exporter, this should have been unexceptional, except that Combet had been put in charge of the

MH17: A long shadow over AIDS 2014

The spectre of the MH17 outrage is casting a long shadow across AIDS 2014, the 20th international AIDS conference, which opened yesterday in Melbourne. Six of its delegates, including one of the world's leading HIV/AIDS scientists, Dutchman Jeop Lange, were among the flight's 298 passengers.

Russia's MH17 response: How to mismanage a crisis

For Western audiences, Moscow's initial prickly attitude to the downing of MH17 can be read as an example of how not to manage a crisis. Even with the weak hand he inherited, President Vladimir Putin has been consistently strong when on the foreign policy offensive, devising creative ways to advance

Will Putin go to the Brisbane G20 Summit?

One consequence of the tragedy over MH17, apparently at the hands of Russian-backed separatists, is that it raises the question of whether President Putin should attend the Brisbane G20 Summit in November. Some newspapers are reporting that Australia is threatening to ban Putin. The predominant

Malaysian Airlines shootdown links

Foreign Policy's Passport blog has rolling coverage. The available evidence points to Russian separatist forces being responsible, but it is early days. In 2001 the Ukrainian military accidentally shot down a passenger plane. The Aviationist: given quantity of anti-aircraft equipment in region, it

Australia's next climate push must come from the right

Interpreter alumnus Andrew Carr is hardly the first to point this out, but on the day the carbon tax is repealed in the Australian parliament, it is worth repeating this sentiment: The answer to this anomaly probably lies in this Nicholas Gruen piece on The Interpreter from last May, which was a

Australia's carbon price repeal: The global context

With the repeal today of Australia's two-year-old carbon pricing scheme, the Abbott Government has formalised Australia's transition from climate laggard to climate wrecker. But just how serious a blow to global climate efforts is this repeal? To answer this question we can compare Australia

Middle powers in Asia: The limits of realism

In the world of international relations theory, the realist paradigm reigns supreme. In large part, this is because it has core features that exert strong appeal beyond the academy: explanatory parsimony and the use of historical analogy. Realists place great emphasis on Europe's experience of

Australians shifting on climate change

A month ago my colleague John Connor wrote an op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald welcoming the fact that for the first time in years, climate change was a major story coming out of the Lowy Institute's poll of public attitudes to international affairs. Expectation for leadership on the issue was up

The economic impact of environmental crime

A new report from the UN Environment Programme claims that  the monetary value of 'environmental crime' — logging, poaching, animal trafficking, illegal fishing, illegal mining, etc — is between US$70 billion and US$213 billion each year.  If this upper figure is to be believed, then

Asia's coal demand: You ain't seen nothing yet

Sam Roggeveen yesterday showed us how much demand for coal has risen in Asia during this century. Now consider what the future will hold. A recent joint publication from the International Energy Agency and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia forecasts what is in store for the

China's banking sector: More equity, less debt

So China's economy will soon overtake the US in PPP terms. Some commentators believe market-rate calculation is more meaningful than PPP, and forecast that on this basis China still is decades away from catching America. For here is a remarkable fact: the equity market capitalisation of the US

Climate change: Asia leads, but not in a good way

Vox has some remarkable — and depressing — charts on why the world is failing on climate change, all derived from BP's latest Statistical Review of World Energy. Half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions now come from Asia, with China alone consuming half of the world's coal. This is the

G20: dealing with too-big-to-fail banks, corporate tax avoidance, and development

This issue of the G20 Monitor addresses the ‘too big to fail’ dilemma of major financial institutions, combating tax evasion and avoidance through ‘base erosion and profit shifting’ (BEPS), and a report from the ‘G20 and Development’ conference hosted by the G20 Studies Centre and

When should the IMF apologise?

If you make a mistake, common courtesy says you should apologise. The IMF made a mistake in its forecasts for the UK economy — a high profile mistake. It admitted it got it wrong. But should the IMF have apologised? In 2013, IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard publicly said that UK

Climate and energy policy merging, but where is Australia?

Australia's low level of ambition ahead of next year's climate change talks in Paris reveals more than the negative effect of domestic politics on our international reputation and economic future. The broader message to trading partners, investors and policymakers is that Australia is unwilling

Global financial crisis: Did the system really work?

Much of the mountain of commentary and analysis of the 2008 Great Recession has been either critical (Paul Krugman might be typical), or a self-interested defence (Tim Geithner and Larry Summers provide examples). Daniel Drezner's The System Worked is atypical in two respects: he was not a

Football vs international policy: No contest

Tomorrow I begin a bleary-eyed month of World Cup watching. In part to justify my reduced productivity over the next four weeks, I wanted to identify some of the key points at which global politics and world football intersect. …(cue crickets chirping)… I know others have done it, I have done

Climate change: The G20 can add value

Yesterday I gave an interview to the Sydney Morning Herald for a story published today: 'Stopping climate change talks "could hurt" G20' (p. 8 in the paper version). Here I want to offer a little more background to the three direct quotes that made it to the final story: Climate change will be

A parallel Chinese financial order

The Financial Times ran a front page piece last Monday claiming that China has ordered a ban on state-owned companies using Western management consulting companies. It is alleged by senior Chinese sources that 'foreigners use their consulting companies to find out everything they want about our

The far right in Europe's elections: Not such a big a deal

The most sensational result of the elections to the European Parliament is the gains made by xenophobic nationalists in some member countries, particularly France and the UK. The most important result however is that this will not change Europe profoundly, at least not in the short term. In the

Obama at West Point: The limits of American power

Barack Obama has declared a new foreign policy doctrine: the limits of American power. The US, he argues, 'must always lead on the world stage,' but 'US military action cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance.'   Addressing future US Army

Egypt's opposition: Three scenes from Cairo

 Below are photos taken by journalist Lisa Main in Cairo over recent days of the opposition to presumptive new president Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. We published Lisa's post on the Egyptian elections earlier today.   Ahmed Harara, a former dentist who was blinded by gunfire in the 2011 uprising. His

False choices in Egypt's presidential election

It goes something like this: over the next two days, Egyptians will elect the former head of the military, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, as Egypt's new president. His sole challenger, Hamdeen Sabahi, may do a little better than expected, perhaps denying Sisi his landslide. But by hook or by crook, Sisi will

Women in finance (or: Why is there no Lehman Sisters?)

 [youtube:fwIO4zbJt10#t=2229] As I mentioned previously, I was in the US last week to attend the Council of Councils conference in New York. Council of Councils is an initiative of the Council on Foreign Relations, and brings together 24 foreign policy think tanks from around the world around the

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