Why the Paris climate talks were different; agriculture and climate change; feminism goes mainstream; Russia as a distraction; talking with IS

A roundup of global commentary for the Dec. 15, 2015 weekly magazine.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Kyana Pinto-Desbrosses, 7, accompanied by her mother, joins a rally outside the White House in Washington, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in support of the climate talks in Paris. Government and business leaders are banking on clean energy technology to fight global warming, kicking off this week's high-stakes climate change negotiations by pledging tens of billions of dollars for research and development.

Les Échos / Paris
Why this summit on climate is different
“Given its past diplomatic failings, whether in relation to Russia or the handling of the Syrian conflict, there are reasons to worry about France’s capacity to produce a result that would measure up to expectations,” writes Jean-Francis Pecresse about the Paris climate talks. “This time, however, there is room for hope. First because Paris, learning lessons from the Copenhagen failure in 2009, has had the good idea of gathering the heads of state and of government at the very start of the conference, in order to provide the political momentum necessary to put the pressure on their respective delegations. Secondly because France is not alone. It has natural allies: Germany, but also the United States and China, the world’s two main polluters, are on our side – as long as their obligations are reasonable.”

The Globe and Mail / Toronto
Don’t forget agriculture in climate talks
“As world leaders meet to discuss climate change in Paris, the headlines are being dominated by carbon taxes, clean energy, the future of the oil sands and coal. One economic sector, agriculture, is overshadowed by these more obvious polluters – which is odd, given that food and farming systems are both major emitters of greenhouse gases and particularly vulnerable to climatic shifts...,” write Evan Fraser and Sylvain Charlebois. “Throughout history, agricultural problems have acted as catalysts that trigger widespread social and humanitarian crises.... Innovations in food science can create novel products for consumers that are nutritious and less taxing on the environment to produce.... Simultaneously, we must be much more ambitious in our development targets and establish grassroots partnerships in poorer parts of the world where food security and farm livelihoods are particularly vulnerable to climate change.”

New Zealand Herald / Auckland, New Zealand
Feminism goes mainstream in politics
“It’s becoming increasing[ly] popular to identify as feminist, even if you’re a man, and especially if you’re a politician. This year has seen a surge of concern about gender inequality, discrimination and the degraded position of women in many aspects of New Zealand life...,” writes Bryce Edwards. “Feminism used to be associated with the political left, but today’s feminist agendas are often pushed from the political right, including within the National Party.... The Green Party has responded with an announcement from co-leader James Shaw that ‘half of its Cabinet will be women if it enters Government....’ ”

Deutsche Welle / Berlin
Russia is distracting from goal of defeating Islamic State
“The clash of interests is striking. Russia is backing Syrian President [Bashar al-Assad] against [Islamic State], but also against other groups, some of whom are supported by the US. Turkey, for its part, is fighting Assad and, in the past at least, has often looked the other way when IS has attacked Assad or the Kurds...,” writes Christoph Hasselbach. “After the Paris attacks, it looked for a short time as if a very broad coalition would come together and cooperate on military action against IS. Now, it looks far less certain. No matter what happens now, NATO must resist being drawn into a conflict between member state Turkey, and Russia.”

The Guardian / London
Are we prepared to talk with Islamic State?
“[W]e have to consider the unthinkable: the probability that we will in the end have to talk to [Islamic State]. Every time we have met a terrorist group we have said we will never talk to them; but from the original IRA in 1919 to Eoka in Cyprus, the FMLN in El Salvador, the Gam in Indonesia, the [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] in the Philippines, the PLO in Palestine and the Farc in Colombia, we have ended up doing so,” writes Jonathan Powell. “People say [IS] is different and the rule doesn’t apply. Of course it is different, just as each of those groups was different from each other, but does that really mean that all the lessons we have learned from our previous encounters are no longer valid?”

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