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In Germany, global warming is changing more than just the climate. It’s changing politics, too. – NBC News

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AHRWEILER, GermanyLayers of dried mud on sidewalks, concrete roads turned to gravel and time-worn stone bridges washed away. Three months after this summer’s catastrophic floods in Germany’s Ahrweiler region, there are reminders everywhere of the destruction they wrought.

The deluge, which was preceded by three consecutive summers of drought, has brought a new urgency for many to find climate change solutions — and that has impacted Germany’s politics, too.

In last month’s federal election, the environmentalist Green Party had its best results yet, winning nearly 15 percent of the vote, and trailing just behind the two largest parties.

Unlike in the United States where the issue is still subject to debate, global warming is a key concern in Germany that voters increasingly expect politicians to address. 

Its prominence in the election was no surprise to architect Florian Trummer, 65, whose hometown of Antweiler was hit by the floods. He officially joined the Green Party two months ago after a lifetime of swing voting.

Florian Trummer, center, joins members of the Green Party for the Ahrweiler district in Germany. Andy Eckardt / NBC News

“I have to admit that in the past, I did not always vote for the Greens,” he said. “With the elections looming this year, I felt compelled to do something. The conventional parties play hide and seek, they say one thing, but mean another. They did not take the implementation of the climate goals seriously.”

Unlike foreign policy, which hardly got a mention in pre-election debates, climate change was a top focus before the vote.

The issue also spurred tens of thousands of Germans to gather days before the election at a climate action protest outside parliament in Berlin featuring the famed young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Also, a handful of young people declared a hunger strike in August to push politicians to acknowledge that there’s a climate emergency.

The banks of the Ahr river in Altenahr, Germany, remain exposed three months after the devastating floods. Alex Kraus for NBC News

This attitude isn’t unique to Germany — a recent Pew survey found that intense concern about climate change has increased sharply among people in several advanced economies. Remarkably, the share of people in Germany who are very concerned that climate change will harm them personally at some point during their lives has increased 19 percent since 2015, according to the survey published in September. In contrast, in the U.S., that number has decreased 3 percent.

The difference in the urgency to fight climate change felt by the American and the German electorates comes as a result of decades of environmental messaging in Europe, according to Andreas Goldthau, a research leader at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, Germany.

“The whole idea of the environment being important is something that has been with most of the European electorate for the last 40 years,” he said. “So, voters understand climate change, they can make sense of it, and it is a topic they can engage with.”

“We need an energy transition.”

Winegrower Christoph Baecker 

Winegrower Christoph Baecker has taken those environmental lessons to heart over the years. His winery, one of the first in the region to go organic in 1990, stands in the middle of the picturesque Ahr Valley, where vineyards line the sides of steep hills. 

Christoph Baecker, a winegrower in Mayschoss, Germany.Alex Kraus for NBC News

His home, around 10 miles from the river, was severely damaged in July’s floods. The waters also washed away around a third of his vineyards, destroyed nearly all of his equipment and contaminated many barrels of grapes from the harvest. He described how the morning after the flood, his property looked like a parking lot, filled with cars carried from elsewhere in the region by the floodwaters. 

“It is clear that the catastrophes are not only hitting closer to home, but they are also occurring more frequently,” Baecker, 60, said. “We have had flooding in the past, but this type of weather constellation, with so much rain in such a short time, we have not seen before.”

Sept. 24, 202103:19

Not far from his home, piles of debris, wood and waste still line the banks of the shallow Ahr river, and heavy machinery is on hand to reconstruct streets, houses and riverbanks. The flood’s damage to the region’s wine industry alone is estimated at $175 million, according to the Ahr Wine umbrella organization for winemakers.

Baecker believes that it could take five to 10 years for the area to rebuild. As it does, he wants the government to take the lessons learned from the floods more seriously.

“It is important that the next government ensures that there is less burden on the environment,” he said. “We need an energy transition.”

Christoph Baecker’s vineyard is set in the hills of the Ahr Valley. Alex Kraus for NBC News

Baecker is not alone. A study published last month by the market research company Kantar showed that the number of shoppers polled in Germany who made changes to be more sustainable in the last year was up nearly 9 percent, compared to just over 1 percent of those polled in the U.S.

Voters in Germany are paying ever-closer attention to how the main political parties address the issue.

In the recent election, the Green Party nearly doubled its 2017 results, and is now likely to be not only part of a new coalition government, but also influential in choosing a successor to outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Last week, the Greens, the center-left Social Democrats and the pro-business Free Democrats announced that they plan to open formal coalition talks.

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It won’t be the Green Party’s first time as a member of a coalition government. Started as a grassroots movement in the 1980s, it became the junior partner in a coalition with the Social Democrats in 1998 and stayed in government until 2005. Germany’s abandonment of nuclear power is largely attributed to the Greens’ influence.

Despite the prominence of climate change and environmental issues in Germany, implementing solutions quickly may be more of a challenge, according to Richard Youngs, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Europe think tank.

“Even a country as well organized and prosperous as Germany can struggle to be prepared for the environmental crisis that we are likely to suffer,” he said. “Protests and other ways of having citizens involved in climate action do now seem to be a way of pushing governments toward more ambitious climate action in a way that wasn’t the case 10 or 15 years ago.”

For Trummer and his fellow Green Party members, it’s more important than ever to continue bringing the dangers of climate change to light so mainstream solutions can be found. 

“The Greens today are politically relevant, they deal with reality, they want to move things forward,” he said.

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Canada’s ambassador to China to leave post after helping free detainees

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Canada‘s ambassador to China said on Monday he would soon leave his post after a two-year assignment where he helped secure the freedom of two Canadian detainees despite icy relations between Beijing and Ottawa.

Dominic Barton’s departure, which will take effect on Dec 31, leaves a crucial diplomatic post open at a time when the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is rethinking its policy towards a more assertive China.

Barton said in a statement that working to free the two men had been “the honor of a lifetime”.

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor spent almost three years in detention before being freed in September. The two were jailed shortly after Canadian police picked up a top Huawei Technologies Co Inc executive on a U.S. warrant.

Trudeau, under pressure from the official opposition Conservatives to take a tougher line with China over human rights, said Canada was “better positioned to manage this important relationship and achieve our diplomatic objectives”.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said Trudeau had mishandled the relationship with China, which he said was currently a disaster. Canada should consider a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics, he told reporters, a step U.S. President Joe Biden is set to announce this week.

Despite the release of the two men, bilateral relations remain chilly. A Chinese ban on imports of canola from two major companies imposed in 2019 remains in place and Canada is yet to decide whether to bar Huawei equipment from 5G telecommunications networks.

Two senior diplomatic sources said Canada was putting together a new strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, in part to deal with China. Canadian officials say Ottawa, which has limited diplomatic influence, must work with others.

In February, Canada launched a 58-nation initiative to stop countries from detaining foreign citizens for diplomatic leverage, a practice that Ottawa says China is using.

Charles Burton, a China expert and senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute think tank, said one replacement for Barton could be long-time diplomat Julia Bentley, who served in China from 2011-2014 and recently ended an assignment as head of mission in Malaysia.

Another possibility is Sarah Taylor, a fluent Mandarin speaker, who is ambassador to Thailand.

The office of Foreign Minister Melanie Joly did not immediately respond to questions about when a replacement might be named or whether Canada might consider a diplomatic boycott.

 

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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Politics Podcast: Most Americans Don’t Blame God For All The Bad Stuff That Keeps Happening – FiveThirtyEight

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FiveThirtyEight

 

On today’s Politics Podcast, the crew gets into God, COVID-19, and the midterms. So, the usual. They discuss a new poll about whom Americans blame for misfortune — is it a higher power, or the unending, uncontrollable, unyielding chaos of the universe? Then they pivot to what causes so much of our misfortune these days: COVID-19. Namely, the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, how concerned Americans are and should be, and what it might mean for politics in the coming months.

And then finally it’s time for the horse race stuff: Who’s running in 2022, who’s not, and what that tells us about how politicians are sizing up their chances in the midterms and beyond. As part of that discussion, they discuss how running on a lark might be different for women than it is for men, and mention FiveThirtyEight’s “When Women Run” project, which features an interview with Stacey Abrams.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

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Brazil Politics: Impasse Over Bill That Eases Fiscal Rule – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — The lower house and the senate reached an impasse over the so-called precatorio bill, which eases austerity laws and makes room in the budget for President Jair Bolsonaro’s new social program. 

The constitutional amendment was approved by both houses of congress in two rounds of voting, and the senate made changes to the text, forcing it to return to the lower house. But senators didn’t receive well a proposal made by house Speaker Arthur Lira, who would like to speed up the process by enacting only the consensual part of proposal — leaving changes to be voted on a separate bill at a later date. 

Another idea would be to take the full text of the bill, including changes introduced by the senate, directly to a vote on the floor of the lower house, skipping its committees. The issue will be debated on Monday during a meeting of senate leaders. 

Tighter Deficit

The economy ministry cut to 0.4% from from 0.99% of gross domestic product its estimate for next year’s primary budget deficit, considering the approval of the precatorio bill, according to newspapers.

Petrobras’s Prices

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the Brazilian state-owned oil giant, will announce a reduction in the price of fuel in the next few weeks, Poder360 reported, citing an interview with President Jair Bolsonaro. 

The report provided no details. The president’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

2022 Election

Room for a so-called third-way presidential candidate running as an alternative to leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and President Jair Bolsonaro depends on the incumbent losing popularity and not making it to the runoff, Christopher Garman, director of the Eurasia Americas division, said in an interview with Valor Economico. 

He forecast that Bolsonaro’s popularity will recover in the coming months with an increase in the minimum wage, cash handouts and an expected deceleration of inflation. Garman doesn’t expect such moves to make Bolsonaro the front-runner ahead of Lula, but sees former judge Sergio Moro coming third in the race. Chances of a runoff between Lula and Bolsonaro is 80% and the leftist leader is more likely to win then, the newspaper quoted Garman as saying.

  • Guedes wants Bolsonaro to support the liberal agenda during the 2022 election campaign: Folha de S.Paulo
  • Moro says he believes in the leadership of his electoral project and puts the polarization Lula-Bolsonaro in check : Estado
  • Moro met wit Rio Grande do Sul Governor Eduardo Leite

Coronavirus

Brazil reported 4,844 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, according to data published by the Ministry of Health. The death toll reached 615,636, with 66 in the past 24 hours.

Newspapers’ Top Stories

  • O Estado de S. Paulo
    • Mayors fail to use 15 billion reais ($2.6 billion) of the budget for education
  • Folha de S.Paulo
    • GSI allows mining in preserved areas of the Amazon
  • O Globo
    • Use of revolving credit card lines hits record
  • Valor Economico
    • Even with weak GDP, BC is likely to maintain a high interest rate policy

Original Story:

Promulgação da PEC gera embate no Congresso: Radar Político

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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