Today's D Brief: COP26 and national security; Russian buildup; USN in the Black Sea; SCS map on Netflix irks Manila; And a bit more.
Climate change summit draws to a close today for POTUS46. President Joe Biden wraps up the final big day of activities at this year’s Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP26, in Glasgow.
Today’s developments involve a promise to stop deforestation by 2030, which is a pledge that even Chinese, Russian, and Brazilian officials signed, the BBC reports. India, however, was not a part.
Stop deforestation how? In part by emphasizing sustainability in “commodity production and consumption, as well as a pledge to implement or redesign agricultural policies to incentivize sustainable farming,” CNBC reports. So far, more than $19 billion in public and private donor funds have been dedicated to deforestation, according to the BBC, which added that “More than 30 of the world’s biggest financial companies—including Aviva, Schroders and Axa” also promised to stop deforestation operations.
“This is essential to meeting the Paris Agreement goals,” the 105 signatories said in a joint statement, “including reducing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.”
Note of caution: A deforestation promise is one “that has been made and broken before,” including in 2014, the Associated Press reports Tuesday from Glasgow.
In what CNN called a “major announcement,” India on Monday pledged to become “carbon neutral” by 2070. And that’s key because “India had not yet put a date on its net-zero ambition, the 2070 target is a decade later than China’s, and two decades after the world as a whole needs to achieve net-zero emissions in order to avoid temperatures from rising beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.”
Why that matters: It means that finally the world’s top 10 coal-power countries have set goals for becoming net-zero emitters, even if following through on this could prove difficult both in the short and long-term, as China has already learned before Winter has set in this year (via Bloomberg).
Bigger picture: “The world’s biggest carbon emitters need to do much more,” AP writes. That’s because “Earth has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit)” and “Current projections based on planned emissions cuts over the next decade are for it to hit 2.7C (4.9F) by the year 2100.”
“The Doomsday device is real,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during opening ceremonies, “and the clock is ticking to the furious rhythm of hundreds of billions of turbines and systems ... covering the Earth in a suffocating blanket of CO2.”
One stateside perspective: “U.S. defense strategists will be unable to keep pace with China unless they fully take into account how climate change is reshaping the physical and geopolitical environments,” Sherri Goodman of the International Military Council on Climate and Security, as well as Erin Sikorsky and Francesco Femia of the Center for Climate and Security write in Defense One.
“To prevent that scenario, we propose three lines of effort,” they write. The first is to “integrate climate knowledge and understanding into [the Pentagon’s] China analysis and operational planning.” Second, outcompete China in “non-combat” areas like battery development and renewables. And lastly, “The U.S. should also compete for influence with key allies and partners by doing more to help them face climate security risks.” Continue, here.
Related reading from COP26:
- “Russia, China leaders glaringly absent from COP26 climate summit,” via Fox News;
- “Global climate talks deliver moves to cut methane,” via Reuters;
- “Methane limits could be COP26’s real legacy,” via Axios.
From Defense One
The US Can’t Compete With China Without Tackling Climate Change // Sherri Goodman, Erin Sikorsky, Francesco Femia: Beijing is already working to turn the climate crisis to its advantage.
How War With China Begins // Hal Brands and Michael Beckley, The Atlantic: A cold war is already under way. The question is whether Washington can deter Beijing from initiating a hot one.
Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1947, Howard Hughes finally flew his famous “Spruce Goose” (largely made of birch wood) for the first and only time as a long-awaited demonstration and proof of concept—though this maiden flight occurred well after the world war it was meant to assist had already ended. Hughes’s flying boat would hold the record for largest wingspan of any aircraft until just two years ago.
Russia’s military is building up troops and equipment about 150 miles north of Ukraine’s border, near the Russian town of Yelnya, Politico reported after getting its hands on satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies on Monday—and two days after the Washington Post first reported on the Russian movements, many of which were spotted last week on social media.
And ICYMI, “On Oct. 26, Ukraine’s military confirmed it had used a Turkish-made drone against a position in Donbas,” the Post writes, emphasizing that it was “the first time Kyiv has employed the technology in combat, prompting an outcry from Moscow.”
“We are not mounting an offensive, we are just responding,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters Friday.
FWIW: The U.S. Navy has dispatched its destroyer USS Porter to the Black Sea, where it’s due to link up with the Navy’s 6th Fleet flagship, USS Mount Whitney, some time this week.
For your eyes only: View the gorgeous night lights of a historic city as seen from the deck of the Whitney as it approached Istanbul in this U.S. Navy photo taken on Monday.
Related reading: “Putin: Russia must build up defenses in view of NATO moves,” via AP, reporting Monday from Moscow.
At least three people have died in Kabul when two explosions reportedly detonated outside a military hospital, Reuters and AP report from the Afghan capital. (Reuters put the death toll at 15; the Wall Street Journal put it at 23.)
No group has yet claimed responsibility, but many in Kabul suspect the local Islamic State branch is behind the violence.
The UN just sent 33 tons of blankets and tents to Afghanistan to assist those in need ahead of the coming winter, Reuters reports separately today from Geneva.
Myanmar’s military junta is still using fake social media accounts to bully opponents and to spread unfounded allegations of election fraud. “Soldiers are asked to create several fake accounts and are given content segments and talking points that they have to post,” a 31-year-old former officer who’d been doing this sort of thing told Reuters after he defected in February. The officer had worked at the army’s Public Relations and Information Production Unit in the capital city of Naypyidaw.
Across Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and Telegram, Reuters found over 100 instances where “messages or videos were duplicated across dozens of copycat accounts within minutes, as well as on online groups, purported fan channels for Myanmar celebrities and sports teams, and purported news outlets.”
By the way, Facebook is used regularly by more than half of Myanmar’s population, which is partly why the defector mentioned above says he’s now “using the information warfare tactics I learned in the army against them” online. Continue reading, here.
Netflix has removed two episodes of a spy drama after the Philippines’ movie classification board submitted the requests because some scenes involved an inaccurate, dashed-line map of the South China Sea that gives Beijing more territory than it should, Reuters reported Monday.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Vietnam filed a similar complaint with Netflix back in July—and for the very same show, “Pine Gap,” which is an Australian production about a joint intelligence facility. (View the trailer on YouTube, here.)
Yahoo just became the second major U.S. firm to curtail operations in China (following LinkedIn) because of an “increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China,” a company spokesman said in a statement this week.
What’s going on: “Yahoo’s pullout coincided with the implementation of China’s Personal Information Protection Law, a privacy law that will curb data collection by technology companies that went into effect on Nov. 1, though Yahoo didn’t refer directly to it,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
The departure is “largely symbolic, as many of the company’s services were already blocked by China’s digital censorship,” AP writes. But it still “llustrate(s) the choices internet companies face in a huge potential market, but one where the government requires them to censor content and keywords deemed politically sensitive or inappropriate.” Read on, here.
Related reading: “Fortnite to shut down in China as Beijing intensifies video game crackdown,” via CNBC News, reporting Tuesday.
And lastly today: Pope Francis just visited a military cemetary and asked the world’s weapons manufacturers to “stop” because war “swallows up the children of the homeland,” Reuters reports from Rome on All Souls Day.
Meanwhile back stateside, A South Carolina-based gun dealer is “marketing weapon parts and ammunition using a right-wing slogan widely understood as code for profanity directed at President Joe Biden,” NBC News reported Monday. “At least two other firms in other states, Culper Precision and My Southern Tactical, are advertising an AR-15 magazine for sale” with the same coded message. Tiny bit more to that deliberately provocative story, here.
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