Bringing together the best longer Interpreter articles you were too busy to read this week.
Last Saturday's Australian election delivered a resounding win for the centre-right parties. Our comprehensive coverage of the international policy aspects of the election campaign ended, and Interpreter writers began to look at the policy outcomes for the new government. Fergus Green on the implications of the election for international climate policy:
...a major blow has been struck to the mainstream 'Treaties, Targets & Trading' paradigm of global climate policy. The grand vision at the heart of this paradigm is of (1) a global emissions trading scheme (ETS), enshrined within (2) an international treaty, predicated on (3) a regime of emissions reduction targets for each country that 'add up' to a global reduction in greenhouse gas concentrations sufficient to restrain global warming to within 'safe' levels.
As efforts towards a comprehensive global climate treaty have stalled in recent years, proponents of this paradigm, including the outgoing Labor Government, have sought to develop linkages among the patchwork of existing and proposed emissions trading schemes. The idea was that, by linking existing schemes, an international network of domestic schemes would emerge, approximating a global carbon market and proving the viability of global, market-based cooperation as a solution to climate change.
The Labor Government had commenced arrangements to link both the New Zealand ETS and the EU ETS to Australia's scheme upon commencement of Australia's floating price phase (set to occur on 1 July 2015 under the legislation as it stands).
The election of the Abbott Government is a major setback to this agenda.
The Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program Director, Jenny Hayward-Jones, outlined why the Australia-PNG relationship needs to be a priority for any new Australian government, arguing that Foreign Minister-elect Julie Bishop should initially focus on five things:
1. Reaffirming to the O'Neill Government the priority she attaches to broadening and deepening the relationship.
2. Reassuring the PNG Government and people that effective aid remains a priority for Australia that will not be affected by projected cuts to aid.
3. Reaching out to PNG's emerging youthful, informed and increasingly influential middle class, perhaps in an address at the University of PNG.
4. Connecting with the Australia-PNG business community, using her links with the Australia-PNG Business Council and PNG companies.
5. Meeting and listening to women working in civil society organisations, health, education, agriculture and government, both in Port Moresby and a provincial centre (Lae, Goroka or Mount Hagen).
Daniel Woker surveyed the Australian election from Europe:
As a sympathetic and somewhat seasoned Australia watcher, I might be permitted a concluding personal remark in the light of the just reported lack of mutual political understanding between Europe and Australia. Even though Australians have just voted out their former 'Diplomat Number 1', the necessity of a powerful Australian voice and brand abroad will not go away, both for the country itself but also the region. As an important Asia Pacific member of the G20, Australia should continue as a voice of reason to further the building of durable structures in a region still dangerously devoid of means for conflict resolution. With the glory of economic ascent comes the burden of increased responsibility for the functioning of the system.
This week the Lowy Institute farewelled its International Economy Program Director, Mark Thirwell. Having been at the Institute since its inception, Mark offered some insight on the future development of the global economy:
The onset of rapid, sustained catch-up growth in the big emerging markets has arguably done more than any other single development to shape our current international economic and strategic environment. Of course, this convergence story has had its ups and downs: the debates over decoupling during the depths of the GFC were one manifestation of doubts about its durability, and the current angst over emerging market growth prospects is a more recent one. Correctly calling the next phase of that convergence story is going to be crucial in understanding the probable shape of our future international environment and should continue to offer the Institute a fruitful research agenda.
A critical aspect of this debate is what often appears to be a continuing tension between the economic and strategic/security views of where the convergence process is likely to take us. The former view of a successful convergence story tends to end up in a rather optimistic place — an 'Asian century' world of increased prosperity and deeper international engagement. Embedded in the more thoughtful forecasts is a careful recognition that reaching this destination will first require navigating some tricky territory including, but not restricted to, stresses on environmental and resource sustainability and social and political strains triggered by big shifts in income and wealth.
Anthony Bubalo, the Lowy Institute's Research Director and another who has been here since the beginning, also commented on Mark's departure:
You sometimes get the impression that when people look at the Institute today, from the grand building and the voluminous research output to the strong media presence and our regular engagement with government and business, they assume it was always thus. Those of us who were there at the beginning know this is not the case, and that our success was far from assured when we began. Today we bade farewell to one of the people who contributed disproportionately to building the Institute into what it is today.
Global machinations surrounding the crisis in Syria understandably dominated international news again this week, and was covered from some interesting angels by Interpreter contributors; a selection below:
- ANU's Bob Bowker: Russia offers Obama a way out.
- Lowy's Anthony Bubalo: How the West can play weak hand better.
- Mike Callaghan on how Syria dominated the St Petersburg G20 summit.
- GoranaGrgic: Washington's diplomatic by trial and error.
Photo courtesy of @History_Pics.