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Monday, July 10


Monday, July 10


The European Union debates how to reduce ship emissions

Photo: Andrew Priest
Photo: “Maersk Virginia on Approach”, Andrew Priest

The next round of talks on renegotiating the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) kick off today in London. The ETS aims to regulate pollution from industry in pursuit of the EU’s ambitious climate goals of cutting emissions by 95% compared to 1990 levels by 2050.

But Brussels won’t be able to meet its target alone; international consensus is required to regulate emissions generated outside of national jurisdictions. The focus of today’s summit – the trillion-dollar global shipping industry, responsible for 3% of global CO2 – is a prime example.

The EU is aiming to broker cuts on shipping emissions through the International Maritime Organization. But the move faces resistance from oil-producers like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Countries reliant on geographically-remote traded, particularly those in Latin America, also fear that cuts could increase the costs of long-haul trade, raising prices of imported products and reducing the competitiveness of their exports.

Discussions at the International Maritime Organization will resume in October and, if a consensus is reached, an agreement could be drafted as early as next year and implemented in 2023. But if they fail, the EU will likely incorporate ship emissions to the ETS by 2023.


Syria’s warring factions meet for UN-backed talks

Photo: Sputnik/ Valeriy Melnikov
Photo: Sputnik/ Valeriy Melnikov

Today the seventh round of UN-backed peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition begins in Geneva. Delegates will focus on four topics that have proven to be intractable: a political transition, a new constitution, elections and combatting terrorism.

The talks hope to build off progress made last month when both sides agreed to establish four de-escalation zones in areas contested between the Syrian regime and opposition. Nonetheless, representatives at Russian and Turkish sponsored talks last week in Astana failed to reach an agreement over military administration of these zones. The opposition strongly opposes Iranian and Russian oversight while the regime is likewise suspicious of Western military supervision.

At the G20 summit, the US and Russia jointly announced a US-Russian-Jordanian brokered agreement to support the safe zones.  Yesterday, an open-ended ceasefire went into effect in the southwestern de-escalation zone surrounding Daraa city on the Jordanian border.

But the question of military supervision of the safe zones remains unresolved. While the Geneva talks are focused on the future of political transition in Syria, they will accomplish little unless the safe zones can establish the first step of slowing the violence between the regime and opposition


Tunisia’s PM urges support for the Arab world’s youngest democracy

Photo: Reuters//Anis Mili
Photo: Reuters/Anis Mili

Tunisian PM Youssef Chahed will spend two days meeting with US Defence Secretary James Mattis and other officials starting today.

Tunisia relies on US military aid, including training and weapons to quell Islamic extremism at home and in neighbouring Algeria and Libya. As President Trump has proposed cutting military aid by 67%, Chahed will try to see if he can regain lost support.

One of the arguments which he may use to convince Washington is that American military aid is vital to protect Tunisia’s borders. Smuggling is a major problem, not only costing the country revenue, but also financing terrorism. Chahed has vowed to deal with the problem, saying the fight against organised crime and corruption “is a war, not a one-off battle.”

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But without American military aid, that fight will prove much harder to win, leading Tunis to turn to Europe for support.



US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will arrive in Kuwait tonight for crucial talks on deescalating a regional row with Qatar. The US and Kuwait have worked behind the scenes to mediate a resolution to the month-long spat, which has seen Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE blockade Qatar. In a sign of just how important Gulf Arab cohesion is to the Trump administration, Tillerson is expected to spend the week in the region, shuttling between capitals. The US relies on the Gulf Cooperation Council to spearhead regional anti-ISIS efforts, as a bulwark against Iran and to provide crucial military bases.

An Iranian delegation will arrive in Islamabad for talks on a free trade deal with Pakistan. By eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, the two neighbours have pledged to increase trade fivefold within five years to $5 billion.

The navies of India, Japan and the US will begin 10 days of drills in the north Indian Ocean. India and the US will both deploy aircraft carriers—the INS Vikramaditya and USS Nimitz—for the Malabar exercise, which comes amid an increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean. Expect Chinese naval reconnaissance to keep a close eye on operations.

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