Wednesday. 3/11/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Carlota Rebelo

Temperature check

One of the peculiarities of the UN climate conference in Glasgow is the rare opportunity it affords for the world’s most polluting countries and the nations facing the consequences of their actions to share the same room. “We must hold each other accountable,” said Surangel Whipps Jr, president of Palau, during the two-day high-level segment of Cop26 that ended yesterday. “We, the islands, are devastated most. The scorching sun is giving us intolerable heat; the warming sea is invading us. Our resources are disappearing before our eyes and our future is being robbed from us.”

This theme was echoed throughout the day yesterday – perhaps not coincidentally as many of the major polluters spoke a day earlier. “It’s heartbreaking to hear how island states have to pledge for their existence,” said Carlos Alvarado Quesada, president of Costa Rica (pictured). “We need the large economies to pull their act together. It’s a matter of life and death.”

Climate negotiations are never straightforward and successful summitry is an art form. But these first few days of Cop26 in Glasgow have delivered some hopeful signs: yesterday, 110 leaders of countries that account for 85 per cent of the world’s forests promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. And yesterday, an EU- and US-led initiative to slash global methane emissions was subscribed to by almost 90 more nations. The afternoon concluded with John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, announcing that his country would join the Ocean Panel, a high-level group with 14 other nations that is committed to sustainably managing the oceans under their national jurisdictions by 2025.

The real work begins today. The photo ops are done and dusted, speeches delivered and shredded. Now it’s time for working groups, government officials and those who have dedicated their careers to climate change to shine. Activists are describing this as the summit of our time; let’s hope everyone else thinks so too.

Tune in to Monocle 24 for our continuing coverage of the summit.

Image: Getty Images

Conflict / Ethiopia

Truth will out

A first report detailing human rights abuses in Ethiopia’s Tigray region is set to be released today, a year after a devastating civil war broke out between rebels and Ethiopian government forces. Assembled following investigations by the UN’s human rights office and the government-sanctioned Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the findings could shed light on atrocities that are thought to include mass expulsions, deliberate starvation and thousands of deaths. The fact that most foreign media and NGOs are currently banned from the region makes the results even more important. But the investigation’s legitimacy has been called into question amid reports that Ethiopia’s government blocked some access and expelled a UN investigator. “Even with these limitations it is crucial that the joint report is released,” Laura Hammond, professor of development studies at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, tells The Globalist on Monocle 24. “Given the extreme difficulty of getting any information out of Tigray, the report is the best chance we have of finding out what has happened.”

For more from Hammond on the report, tune in to today’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Shutterstock

Society / Thailand

Treasonable doubt

Opponents of Thailand’s strict lèse-majesté laws received a boost over the weekend when the largest party in parliament came out in favour of reform. Article 112 of the criminal code makes insulting the monarchy a crime but it has long been abused by those in power to stifle all kinds of political dissent. Pheu Thai, the country’s main opposition party, said that it would support amending the code to restore faith in the legal system.

The announcement coincided with another demonstration in Bangkok that called for the repeal of lèse-majesté laws and for the release of activists jailed during ongoing protests against the government of prime minister Prayut Chan-ocha. His ruling coalition controls a majority of seats in parliament and has shot down earlier attempted amendments, so Thai reformers will still have to watch what they say for the time being. But Pheu Thai’s backing brings plenty of political weight to the cause.

Image: Getty Images

Media / Lebanon

Falling star

Lebanon’s oldest English-language daily newspaper has become the latest casualty of the country’s deep-seated economic troubles and declining media landscape. This week, The Daily Star laid off its entire staff; its print edition ceased production early last year and it stopped updating its website two weeks ago. Founded in 1952, the newspaper stopped printing during the 1975-1990 civil war but returned to newsstands in 1996. Co-owned by the family of former prime minister Saad Hariri, it played an important role in Lebanon’s once-thriving press. “When you think about the stories that have been on the front pages of The Daily Star, it really is a huge amount of history compressed into just a few decades,” Tom Fletcher, UK ambassador to Lebanon from 2011 to 2015 and former columnist for the paper, told Monocle 24’s The Briefing, adding that its closure portends a loss for more than Lebanon’s media. “It’s that broader hit to morale that the country is going through, which is terrible to watch.”

Image: Getty Images

Culture / UK

Booking the system

One silver lining of coronavirus lockdowns is that they reacquainted many of us with the pleasures of reading. And while it would be easy to assume that the principal beneficiaries of this were retail giants such as Amazon, the past year has shown us that alternatives are available. That’s thanks in part to Bookshop.org, which is celebrating its first anniversary in the UK this week. The digital platform shares its profits with independent bookshops while handling many of the onerous tasks involved in servicing transactions. The model has so far generated a total profit of £1.7m (€2m) for 480 bookshops. Without the kind of state support given to, say, their Parisian counterparts, the UK’s independent booksellers have struggled to survive as readers increasingly shop online instead of over the counter. The shared success of Bookshop.org suggests that a digital future can be a bright one for independent sellers too.

For more on the anniversary of bookshops.org, tune in to ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Alamy

M24 / Tall Stories

Casa de Chá da Boa Nova, Porto

Monocle’s Ivan Carvalho takes us to Portugal to examine one of the earliest works by Alvaro Siza Vieira, perched on the coastline outside Porto.

Monocle Films / Global

The Monocle Media Summit 2021

TV anchors, conflict reporters, radio presenters and magazine editors all shared the stage at The Monocle Media Summit and to mark Monocle 24’s 10th birthday in London. Watch some of the key moments from the day and listen to further coverage from the event here.

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