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Parallel Worlds: Climate change and global power

Dario Fabbri is an Italian geopolitics expert and editor of Domino magazine.

In some people’s minds, there are no global issues – least of all a climate issue. Worse still, the topic is considered pressing mainly in Western Europe, much less so in the rest of the world. The major powers of our time take the issue lightly or use it instrumentally to target their adversaries and satellites. While the coasts of the United States show some sensitivity to the issue, the heartland appears rather indifferent, if not sceptical, about the consequences of climate change, as demonstrated by the statements of numerous local political figures.

This sensitivity also seems absent in Russia, where for some years grains have been grown for export in Siberia. Beijing’s attitude is more aware, partly due to the experiences of the consequences on its population, yet the Chinese government continues to consider – partly rightly so – the intentions of others (especially the US) to limit its industrial production in the name of the environment as malicious.

Furthermore, beyond reducing emissions and transitioning to renewable energy sources, over the years, Washington has also used the climate emergency to target those who ‘live’ on fossil fuels.

Starting from Russia and reaching the major Gulf nations, notably reluctant to accept a specific timeframe for abandoning non-renewable sources, especially given the hostility from the United States, which is centred on its own energy independence. This has actually drawn Saudi Arabia closer to Moscow and Beijing in recent years, as evidenced by Riyadh’s upcoming entry into the BRICS group, despite the announced presence of the Iranian enemy in the anti-Western forum and the commitment of the Wahhabist monarchy to rebuild its image in the West.

The lack of seriousness among the major powers is reflected in the annual United Nations conferences dedicated to climate change, known as COP, where governments make commitments with thirty or forty-year deadlines, allowing ample room to not fulfil these promises.

This was precisely the case at the latest COP 28 held in Dubai, with the specific ‘agreement’ setting the transition from fossil fuels by 2050, even though the terms will have been revised multiple times.

There are no penalties for governments that fail to respect these agreements, as there is no ‘world government’, least of all the United Nations Security Council dominated by the most powerful states on the planet who, as mentioned, show little passion for the issue.

It’s worth noting, especially in Western Europe, that the narrative on this topic is generally flawed. Although fundamental and certainly to be pursued seriously, contrary to what is often said, an eventual energy transition would not make European countries independent. This is because in terms of production capacity and simple economies of scale, it is primarily China that produces materials and equipment utilizing renewable energies. In fact, we would shift the dependence we currently show towards the main oil (and gas) exporters towards Beijing.

Similarly, in our latitudes, the debate on the issue (rebranded as ‘green’ for somewhat unclear reasons) suffers from an apocalyptic tone, suggesting that the world is about to end due to CO2 emissions. Humans have been predicting the end of the world for millennia and consistently do so without hesitation, forgetting that they have predicted such outcomes many times before. The ecological transition is a serious and concerning issue that requires concrete measures, much less hyperbolic tones.

 

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