Editorial - Aug/Sept 2019

James Lewis

As this edition of Global Insight went to press, preparations were being finalised for the IBA’s Annual Conference in Seoul. It seems appropriate, therefore, that we have coverage assessing the importance of South Korea’s economy both for Asia and the rest of the world (‘Korea: gateway to Asia’). We also consider the progress being made by the Asean Economic Community and whether China’s Belt and Road Initiative can reinvigorate the ambitious alliance four years after its inception (‘Asean: unlocking the potential of the single market’).

Our cover feature, meanwhile, is the latest in our ongoing coverage of one of the most urgent issues currently facing the world: the global climate emergency. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has called for ‘rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes’ to avoid global warming increasing temperatures to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. But, we’re seeing the opposite and, despite record-high temperatures and significantly increasing risks of drought and floods, destruction of Brazil’s rainforest continues apace, while efforts by EU governments to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 are being blocked. UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David Boyd, points out that ‘three years after the Paris Agreement, we’re still seeing more money being invested in fossil fuels than renewable energy… the opposite of the direction that we must head.’

Boyd speaks of the heart-breaking consequences for communities in Fiji – the first in the world that have needed to be relocated because of the impacts of climate change. As such tragedies unfold, and in the face of apparent inertia on the part of governments and major corporations, there’s growing civil unrest prompted by movements such as Extinction Rebellion in the UK and the gilets jaunes in France. While highlighting the human consequences of climate change, and exploring some of the more innovative uses of litigation to aid the world’s most beleaguered people, our feature (‘The climate crisis: turning the tide’) also makes clear that legislation to effectively address the climate crisis is now long overdue.

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