Three global fossil fuel giants have just suffered embarrassing rebukes over their inadequate action on climate change. Collectively, the developments show how courts, and frustrated investors, are increasingly willing to force companies to reduce their carbon dioxide pollution quickly. A Dutch court ordered Royal Dutch Shell to slash its greenhouse emissions, and 61% of Chevron shareholders backed a resolution to force that company to do the same. And in an upset at Exxon Mobil, an activist hedge fund won two seats on the company’s board. The string of wins was followed in Australia on Thursday by a court ruling that the federal environment minister, when deciding whether or not to approve a new coal mine, owes a duty of care to young people to avoid causing them personal injury from climate change. The court rulings are particularly significant. Courts have often been reluctant to interfere in what is viewed as an issue best left to policymakers. These recent judgements, and others, suggest courts are more prepared to scrutinise emissions reduction by businesses and – in the case of the Dutch court – order them to do more. Court warns of ‘irreversible consequences’ In a world-first ruling, a Hague court ordered oil and gas giant Shell to reduce CO₂ emissions by 45% by 2030, relative to 2019 levels. The court noted Shell had no emissions-reduction targets to 2030, and its policies to 2050 were “rather intangible, undefined and non-binding”. The case was brought by climate activist and human rights groups. The court found climate change due to CO₂ emissions “has serious and irreversible consequences” and threatened the human “right to life”. It also found Shell was responsible for so-called “Scope 3” emissions generated by its customers and suppliers. The Chevron upset involved an investor revolt. Some 61% of shareholders supported a resolution calling for Chevron to substantially reduce Scope 3 […]
by Jean Hanff Korelitz Hailed as breathtakingly suspenseful, Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Plot is a propulsive read about a story too good not to steal, and the writer who steals it. Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he’s teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what’s left of his self-respect; he hasn’t written–let alone published–anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn’t need Jake’s help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then . . . he hears the plot. Jake returns to the downward trajectory of his own career and braces himself for the supernova publication of Evan Parker’s first novel: but it never comes. When he discovers that his former student has died, presumably without ever completing his book, Jake does what any self-respecting writer would do with a story like that–a story that absolutely needs to be told. In a few short years, all of Evan Parker’s predictions have come true, but Jake is the author enjoying the wave. He is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world. But at the height of his glorious new life, an e-mail arrives, the first salvo in a terrifying, anonymous campaign: You are a thief, it says. As Jake struggles to understand his antagonist and hide the truth from his readers and his publishers, he begins to learn more about his late student, and what he discovers both amazes and terrifies him. Who was Evan Parker, and how did he get the idea for his “sure thing” of a novel? What is the real story behind the plot, and who stole it from whom?
By Peter Hartcher, Political Editor, Sydney Morning Herald How Australia woke up to China’s challenge – and what comes next What does China want from Australia? In this incisive and original book, Peter Hartcher reveals how decades of economic dependence left Australia open to the strategic ambitions of the most successful authoritarian regime in modern history. He shows how ideology, paranoia and Xi Jinping’s personal story have reshaped China, and shines new light on Beijing’s overt and covert campaign for influence – over trade and defence, media and politics. Australia has now woken up to China’s challenge, from passing foreign interference laws to banning Huawei from our 5G network. But at what cost? Will we see a further slump in relations? How best to protect our security, economy and identity? Drawing on interviews with Scott Morrison, Malcolm Turnbull and other key policymakers, as well as leading Sinologists and a rare interview with Australia’s spy chief, Red Zone is a gripping look at China’s power and Australia’s future.
Edward-Isaac Dovere’s, an award-winning political journalist for The Atlantic tells the story of an embattled Democratic party seeking a direction for its future during the Trump years, and how it successfully regained the White House. It is the inside story of how the embattled Democratic party, seeking a direction for its future during the Trump years, successfully regained the White House. The 2020 presidential campaign was a defining moment for America. As Donald Trump and his nativist populism cowed the Republican Party into submission, many Democrats—haunted by Hillary Clinton’s shocking loss in 2016, which led to a four-year-long identity crisis—were convinced he would be unbeatable. Their party and the country, it seemed, might never recover. How, then, did Democrats manage to win the presidency, especially after the longest primary race and the biggest field ever? How did they keep themselves united through an internal struggle between newly empowered progressives and establishment forces—playing out against a pandemic, an economic crisis, and a new racial reckoning? Edward-Isaac Dovere’s Battle for the Soul is the searing, fly-on-the-wall account of the Democrats’ journey through recalibration and rebirth. Dovere traces this process from the early days in the wilderness of the post-Obama era, though the jockeying of potential candidates, to the backroom battles and exhausting campaigns, to the unlikely triumph of the man few expected to win, and through the inauguration and insurrection at the Capitol. Dovere draws on years of on-the-ground reporting and contemporaneous conversations with the key players—whether in Pete Buttigieg’s hotel suite in Des Moines an hour before he won the Iowa caucuses or Joe Biden’s first-ever interview in the Oval Office—as well as aides, advisors, and voters. With unparalleled access and an insider’s command of the campaign, Battle for the Soul offers a compelling look at the policies, politics, people and the often absurd process of running […]
If there is one thing clear from the past year, it is that consensus building and collective action is required to convert the ideas and innovations of knowledge-rich but economically poor individuals and communities, into viable means of raising income, addressing social needs and conserving the environment. Unless we build on the resources in which poor people are rich, the development process will not be dignified, and a mutually respectful and learning culture will not be reinforced in society and lead to an inclusive future for all. Even with access to the best pool of resources and networks, accelerating grassroots innovation is not a guaranteed smooth-sailing journey. The simple answer is: it is tough. A more objective answer is: it requires a coherent and holistic hand-holding ecosystem to be built around it for sustenance. 1. Crowdsource global innovative ideas to deliver on the SDGs The importance of sustainable solutions came to the forefront in 2020 as communities across the world faced the twin threats of climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, this urgency continues to grow. Innovation and sustainability are inextricably linked at the grassroots level, and we can only be sustainable by generating measurable long-term social and environmental development benefits applicable to local communities. 2. Encourage local governments to become an active stakeholder Around the world, local governments are increasingly tasked with regulating environmental concerns that do not conventionally lie within their purview. In local government policymaking, affected residents are the grassroots. Citizen participation in local government is an effective method to educate citizens about governmental activities and remove barriers to advancing the SDGs. 3. Foster a grassroots community to share research, know-how and talent A basic principle of grassroots innovations is to not depend on external systems and incentives for solving local problems. Whether innovation is […]