Global Matters – 4 things happening in the world right now

Global Matters - 4 things happening in the world right now

Written by Staff Writer

14/04/2021

By Fiona Wakelin

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel to step down later this year

After 16 years in public office, Angela Merkel is stepping down as German Chancellor. And what historic events she has witnessed, with seismic shifts happening not only in Europe, but around the world – from the 2008 financial meltdown to Covid in 2020. Not only was she at the helm in Germany during the global meltdown, but she was key in the response to the Eurozone debt crisis which could have led to the economic collapse of Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Cyprus. 

In 2015, she was faced with making policy decisions around the influx of more than a million refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan across the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, with thousands losing their lives on the way.   Under her guidance, Germany famously adopted an “open-border” policy. This extensive support for refugees was “both a remarkable humanitarian gesture, and an example of economic pragmatism. Complex, costly, and controversial up front, integration efforts have already had some positive short term economic impact. More importantly, they may emerge as part of a much-needed solution to the long term economic challenges posed by a rapidly aging native population.” – WENR.

Merkel is an ambassador for green economies and she more than earned her nickname “Climate Chancellor” for her long-standing international promotion of carbon emissions cuts. Her last Council of the European Union presidency forged consensus among EU member states on a more ambitious 2030 climate target and a pandemic stimulus programme that promises a green recovery. Her tenacity has paid off with renewable power production in Germany increasing in 2020 and, for the first time, overtaking generation from coal, natural gas, and oil in the country.

On her watch, the scar of the Iron Curtain which had divided East from West has now become a green belt, home to more than 600 rare and endangered species of birds, mammals, plants and insects. In 2018, Merkel was elected for a fourth term in office, but with the loss of a number of votes her party formed a coalition and she decided she would not run for a fifth term. Now that she is stepping down, her party has a new leader — Armin Laschet who will lead the Christian Democratic Union in the September polls.

After the UK’s exit from the EU, the European Union remains a divided bloc – this has been exacerbated by varied responses of different leaders to the Covid outbreak. However, Merkel’s handling of the pandemic entrenched her reputation as a pragmatic leader, whose shoes will be hard to fill.

 

Ghana’s President is first in the world to receive Covax vaccination

Ghana’s 76-year old President, Nana Akufo-Addo, became the world’s first recipient of a coronavirus vaccine from Covax with 600,000 doses to be distributed across the country.

“It is important that I set the example that this vaccine is safe by being the first to have it, so that everybody in Ghana can feel comfortable about taking this vaccine,” – President Akufo-Addo.

 

Atlanta plants the United States’ largest free food forest

Ten minutes from the city of Atlanta’s busy airport, and a 30-minute bus ride to the nearest grocery store, the largest free food forest in the U.S. has been planted.  With one in three residents of the Browns Mill area living in poverty, the nearly 3-hectare forest is abundant with 2 500 pesticide-free edible and medicinal plants and is the result of a partnership between the city, the Conservation Fund, and Trees Atlanta.

“Food forests also known as forest gardens, are low-maintenance, sustainable arrangements of edible plants that are designed to mimic natural ecosystems. Composed mostly of perennial plants, there’s no need for tilling, weeding, fertilizing or irrigation. While food forests first became popular in European and North American gardening in the 1980s, the concept has taken off in recent years as cities have started to integrate edible public spaces in their planning. To date, there are more than 70 other free food forests that have been planted across the US.” –  Lindsay Campbell, Modern Farmer.

And whilst the initiative, funded by a US Forest Service grant, is an innovative project aimed primarily at addressing food insecurity, it has also been a catalyst for community building and education.  A definite win-win for the city and its residents.

 

Ring those bells – the U.S. has rejoined the Paris Climate agreement

On 19 February the United States officially rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement after Donald Trump put a red pen through it during his presidency. 

“The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016. Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. To achieve this long-term temperature goal, countries aim to reach a global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate neutral world by mid-century. The Paris Agreement is a landmark in the multilateral climate change process because, for the first time, a binding agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.” – The United Nations

On 4 November 2020, the U.S. became the only country to leave the agreement, which had been signed when Barack Obama was president.  Under Joe Biden, the red pen has been typexed out, with people around the world celebrating the re-invigoration of the global fight against climate change.

 

 

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