Global experts and decision makers discuss, debate and analyse a key news story.
Climate change: Lessons from Denmark
48:32Denmark is at the forefront of the global effort to fight climate change. It has committed to cut emissions by 70% below 1990 levels by 2030. It also wants to be carbon neutral by 2050 and end all fossil fuel exploration. Denmark was an early adopter of climate friendly policies and successive governments have taken a consensus driven approach to putting the green transition into motion. Danish start-ups are among those driving innovation to reduce carbon dependency in the cities and in the country. There is even a plan to build artificial “energy islands” in the sea. As governments grasp for solutions to the growing challenge of climate change, can the success enjoyed by a small, rich, northern European nation be scaled up and applied elsewhere in the world? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of experts in Copenhagen. Producers: Junaid Ahmed and Paul Schuster
Empty shelves and clogged ports
49:10The world has emerged from pandemic lockdowns more optimistic about the direction of Covid, but the sudden surge in demand for goods is creating new economic shocks from London to Los Angeles. Factories and ports are not functioning as they once did due to the pent-up demand for goods and broken supply chains. Energy prices are surging and some shelves are empty. So is this a temporary blip or a new normal? Who will be the winners and losers of the post-pandemic global economy and what opportunities do new economic landscapes provide for fighting the climate crisis? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of experts. Producers: Paul Schuster and Junaid Ahmed
How green is nuclear energy?
49:02Is nuclear energy ‘sustainable’ and deserving of tax breaks? It’s a question dividing member states of the European Union which is considering what role nuclear should play in efforts to wean the continent off fossil fuels. Germany announced it would phase out its existing nuclear power plants after the disaster at Fukushima in Japan in 2011. But others are pushing ahead with plans to extend the life of existing power stations and even build new ones. But with the cost of renewable energy plummeting, critics say money invested in nuclear could be better spent upgrading power grids and improving the resiliency of cleaner forms of energy. Nuclear enthusiasts say new, smaller nuclear reactors will soon become available and could help keep the lights on when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. There’s increasing private sector money going towards the development of the next generation of nuclear reactors, plus Russia and China continue to invest heavily in a sector which provides export opportunities - particularly in the developing world. So, what role will nuclear play in the future and will the technology help or hinder attempts to avert catastrophic climate change? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of expert guests. Producers: Paul Schuster and Junaid Ahmed.
How powerful is China's navy?
49:03China has reacted angrily following this month's announcement of an alliance that will enable Australia to possess and deploy nuclear powered submarines in the region. Australia says the partnership with the USA and the UK, or Aukus, is not aimed at China. But most analysts agree that the initiative is hoping to counter Beijing's rapidly expanding naval capabilities. Chinese patrol boats have clashed with neighbouring vessels in disputed waters, home to billions of barrels of untapped oil and gas. The country has created artificial islands in the South China Sea and there are concerns it may use its growing amphibious capabilities to invade Taiwan. So how important is the Chinese navy to the country's overall strategic and economic plan? How does its expansion affect maritime disputes in East Asia and the safe passage of trillions of dollars worth of commodities each year? And is China right to accuse the West of a 'Cold War mentality' when it criticises the country's military investments? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of experts. Producers: Junaid Ahmed and Paul Schuster
Canada votes: Is Trudeau in trouble?
49:09On Monday Canadians will vote in a snap election called by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just two years after they last voted. He hopes to turn his minority in parliament into a majority having previously enjoyed favourable reviews for his handling of the pandemic. But since calling the election, a fourth wave of Covid infection has gathered pace in parts of the country prompting claims that he is putting his own political interests ahead of the public’s by going ahead with the vote. Some polls even show the governing Liberal Party slipping behind its main rival the Conservatives, led by Erin O’Toole. The PM also faces a strong challenge from the left in the form of New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, and Quebec-nationalist party the Bloc Québécois is also polling strongly. So, what are the main issues that will decide the election and are Canadians in the mood for change? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of expert guests. Producers: Junaid Ahmed and Paul Schuster.
What's ailing Japan?
49:03Japan has received much praise internationally for successfully holding both the Olympic and the Paralympic Games in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. At home, however, events have failed to generate much enthusiasm for the government. Analysts say a public backlash over the Olympics is one of the reasons prime minister Yoshihide Suga is not going to contest the coming elections. But it is not just the Olympics. The LDP government is also in trouble over its response to Covid vaccines, and its failure to modernise the economy, which remains sluggish. It is accused of having done little to expand employment opportunities for young people and to give greater rights to working women. So why does Japan find it so hard to bring about the changes necessary to end years of economic stagnation? How is its ageing population and its unwillingness to open up to greater immigration affecting its ability to increase growth? Plus, what does all this say about the cultural shifts taking place in the country? Celia Hatton is joined by a panel of experts. Producers Junaid Ahmed and Paul Schuster.
Methane: The other greenhouse gas
49:02The latest UN climate report concludes that while carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of global warming, another gas - methane - is likely responsible for between 30-50% of the current rise in temperatures. Methane is much more effective at trapping heat in Earth’s atmosphere than CO2 is, but it also breaks down much faster, raising hopes that quick action to curb emissions could aid efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 C. Methane is the largest component found in natural gas and is also emitted during the process of fracking and coal production. It’s produced in large quantities by farmed animals but also leaks into the atmosphere when organic matter decomposes in landfills. A report published earlier this year claimed that if existing measures and technologies were used more widely, human-caused methane emissions could be cut by as much as 180 million tonnes a year by 2030. But others argue that until CO2 emissions are dealt with, methane will remain 'a sideshow' and that attention paid to the problem must not distract from the bigger threat. So, is enough being done to prevent the leakage of methane? Paul Henley is joined by a panel of expert guests. Producers: Paul Schuster and Zak Brophy.
The challenges facing the Taliban
49:02The World Bank this week halted funding for projects in Afghanistan, following the lead of the IMF and US government which also froze payments and accounts. The increased financial pressure on the Taliban is just one of the many challenges they’ll face now they've taken control of the country. Thousands of professionals who’ve worked with foreigners are fleeing, prompting increasingly urgent calls from the Taliban for them to stay. Internal disagreements within the movement are also likely to make forming a stable government difficult, as will attacks from the Islamic State militant group and rebel forces amassing in the Panjshir Valley. So, does the Taliban have what it takes to preside over a relatively orderly transition? Is the group capable of keeping the lights on and the water flowing in cities that now have much more complex infrastructure than they did back in 2001? And when it comes to the potential for a humanitarian disaster to emerge, should Western powers help the new administration in Kabul or work against it? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of expert guests. Producers: Paul Schuster and Ellen Otzen.
America after Afghanistan
49:11The speed with which the Taliban took control of Afghanistan surprised not just the world but even its own members. The group's rapid rise coincided with an equally fast withdrawal of US-led international forces. In a major speech this week President Biden rejected criticism that the manner of the American withdrawal contributed to the sudden collapse of the Afghan government. He also said that the mission was never about nation building. But critics argue that the events in Afghanistan have not just tarnished Washington’s reputation but they have also exposed the limits of its willingness to invest time and resources to achieve foreign policy objectives. So what does America's departure from Afghanistan tell us about its future engagement on global security issues? Is it an effort to concentrate on more pressing challenges from rivals like China and Russia? Or is it a continuation of Donald Trump's isolationist ‘America First’ policy? How will it affect Washington's international credibility and its desire to promote human rights and democratic values around the world? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of expert guests. Producers: Junaid Ahmed and Paul Schuster.
49:06A year on from the disputed election in Belarus, the country’s president has denied claims his security services were involved in the death of dissident Vitaly Shishov, who was found hanged in neighbouring Ukraine last week. The death follows EU accusations that Minsk effectively “hijacked” a plane en route to Lithuania earlier this year, forcing it to land in Belarus where a journalist on board who was a critic of the president was arrested. Technology allows many dissidents to continue impacting events whether they live at home or abroad. But reports suggest spyware developed in Israel and sold to multiple governments may have been used to target rights activists, journalists and lawyers. The company behind the software denies any wrongdoing and says it’s intended for use against criminals and terrorists. But with surveillance systems proliferating and activists increasingly voicing fears over their safety, is the role that dissidents play under threat? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of expert guests. Producers: Paul Schuster and Zak Brophy.