EU aims for net-zero emissions by 2050

This looks similar to New Zealand’s net-zero emissions by 2050 goal.

If they are going to reduce energy imports by 70% they will need to make significant progress towards alternative energy, if they don’t ramp up nuclear power.

Net-zero emissions a big goal but a long way out – 2050 is over thirty years away.

I wonder if they would be better having shorter term goals – five year and ten year targets – with realistic plans (that can be explained and sold to the public) to attain them.

 

EU leaders agree to UK Brexit proposal

RNZ: UK’s Brexit deal agreed by EU leaders

EU leaders have approved an agreement on the UK’s withdrawal and future relations – insisting it is the “best and only deal possible”.

After 20 months of negotiations, the 27 leaders gave the deal their blessing after less than an hour’s discussion.

hey said the deal – which needs to be approved by the UK Parliament – paved the way for an “orderly withdrawal”.

Theresa May said the deal “delivered for the British people” and set the UK “on course for a prosperous future”.

Speaking in Brussels, she urged both Leave and Remain voters to unite behind the agreement, insisting the British public “do not want to spend any more time arguing about Brexit”.

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.

The EU officially endorsed the terms of the UK’s withdrawal during a short meeting, bringing to an end negotiations which began in March 2017.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said anyone in Britain who thought the bloc might offer improved terms if MPs rejected the deal would be “disappointed.

The UK Parliament is expected to vote on the deal on 12 December, but its approval is far from guaranteed.

Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, the DUP and many Conservatives MPs are set to vote against.

Mrs May has appealed to the British public to get behind the agreement – saying that although it involved compromises, it was a “good deal that unlocks a bright future for the UK”.

At a news conference in Brussels, she said the agreement would:

  • end freedom of movement “in full and once and for all”
  • protect the constitutional integrity of the UK, and
  • ensure a return to “laws being made in our country by democratically elected politicians interpreted and enforced by British courts”.

The agreement, she added, would not remove Gibraltar from the “UK family” – a reference to a last-minute wrangle with Spain over the territory.

The EU leaders have approved the two key Brexit documents:

  • The EU withdrawal agreement: a 599-page, legally binding document setting out the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU. It covers the UK’s £39bn “divorce bill”, citizens’ rights and the Northern Ireland “backstop” – a way to keep the Irish border open, if trade talks stall
  • The political declaration, which sets out what the UK and EU’s relationship may be like after Brexit – outlining how things like UK-EU trade and security will work

There was no formal vote on Sunday, with the EU proceeding by consensus.

Trump threatens countries who don’t negotiate ‘fair trade’ deals with tariffs

The United States negotiated a wide ranging trade deal with eleven Pacific rim countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Donald Trump withdrew the US as son as he became president. The eleven remaining countries went on to ratify the agreement without the US. Since then Trump has reconsidered – Trump Proposes Rejoining Trans-Pacific Partnership – but hasn’t done anything more than pontificate.

Trump has also attacked other trade agreements and trading arrangements, including with:

With all this chaos going on Trump has just issued another  threat:

Trump may succeed in bullying some countries into better deals for the US, but this ultimatum approach is not good for getting mutually beneficial and long lasting trade agreements.

And it is not good for international relations generally.

Playing the tough guy (except with Russia) may keep pleasing Trump’s dedicated base supporters,

And this is also having an impact on the US, with farm subsidies, already a major factor in trade issues, set to increase.

WSJ: Trump Administration to Offer About $12 Billion in Farm Aid to Ease Concerns Over Trade Disputes

The Trump administration on Tuesday is expected announce a plan to extend some $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers amid growing concerns that the U.S. agricultural sector could suffer from President Donald Trump’s escalating trade dispute with allies…

US agriculture has long been bolstered by subsidies and tariff protection – and still needs more aid to survive. Nuts.

WSJ: The Many Ways Trump’s Trade Disputes Are Affecting the Auto Industry

Auto-industry representatives are expected to argue during a U.S. Commerce Department hearing Thursday that President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on auto imports would cost jobs and increase car prices.

The White House in May asked the Commerce Department to investigate whether it could use a national-security law to impose tariffs of up to 25% on imported vehicles and car parts. Mr. Trump has argued trade barriers are needed to pressure manufacturers to build more goods in the U.S. and expand factory jobs.

WSJ editorial: Trump Rides a Harley—to Europe

Donald Trump’s trade war has been an abstraction for most Americans so far, but the retaliation has now begun in earnest and the casualties are starting to mount. The President’s beloved stock market took another header Monday on news of more restrictions on investment into the U.S., and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is now down for 2018.

The rest of the world can’t avoid being affected by Trump’s trade interventions and tariffs, but at least they can trade amongst each other. In the meantime Trump is isolating the US, and burning a lot of diplomatic and good faith bridges.

Trump’s trade chaos could get very messy, and not just with trade wars.

From Remain to Brexit due to Euro

Missy:

This is a great explanation as to why Brexit is a good thing. This was originally written as a twitter thread, and picked up by a magazine and published as an article. The guy who wrote it voted Remain, he was angry at the result, but now has an understanding as to why the UK needs to leave the EU, and not just leave, but leave cleanly.

Country Squire: From Remain to Out Now

I could never understand why people were anti EU – what a wonderful liberal construct that did so much good in the world. It brought countries together, helped poor ones develop. It made us prouder to be from this continent as we were building something unique.

So, what changed?

In a word, the Euro.

I remember watching horrified as the EU via the ECB removed two heads of state in Italy and Greece. Forced the Irish to take on their entire banking sector’s debt and drove the Greek economy and much of the south into a depression. How could this be happening? The EU were the good guys. They didn’t do this – that was the US; the IMF; the World Bank.

How could all these people be party to this horror? How could they sit by as peoples’ lives were destroyed and, in many cases, finished due to suicide?

This organisation did not give a shit about the south. It was their fault. And I thought “but that is economically illiterate” but by then I had realised they didn’t care – and so we wandered on towards Brexit.

And the results came – we lost! I was angry. So angry that I remember shouting at my best friend who voted leave – and saying he didn’t realise what he had done – I think more in shock – but after I thought you know this could be good this could be what the EU needs – a wake-up call.

And after a time, I began to realise – watching Verhofstadt, Barnier, Tusk et al – they didn’t get it. They didn’t get the anger that was there – for me over Greece and the state of the Euro but for others – migration, democracy, laws. Listening to the shameful descriptions of the UK as an extremist country and that it was an isolated case – I watched election after election and like Chemical Ali they keep parroting the same line – ‘this is an aberration’. Completely ignoring the trends, completely ignoring the facts on the ground and I realised that they were literally cut off from reality – they had no idea what so many people were thinking!

Even if the wanted to know what ‘the people’ thought it would be difficult to understand ordinary people in every country in the EU.

In any case, the bigger the body, the more distant the head gets from the arms and legs.

I want to go vote and hold politicians to account – I want us to trade, cooperate and ally with countries but one where we have control – we the people – and you know what I might lose many of the arguments and this country might not be what I want all the time.

And if those in power get too distant and too arrogant,in democracies people have an ability to rebel via the ballot box.

As for the EU, I feel its dying – the dream started dying 8 years ago and they are damn well doing their best to make sure it stays dead – but you know what … I don’t wish it ill, it doesn’t need any help from me – I just don’t want to be associated with it anymore.

The disadvantages have grown to eclipse the advantages of the EU.

But it starts for me – getting clean Brexit and starting a new exciting conversation – one that I never thought I would suggest we have – it’s strange how life changes you along the way – strange the way important things fade, and new ones emerge.

Regardless of controversy over the Brexit campaign the UK needs to move forward with it.

And a general hope:

But before that – let’s start by being kinder to each other – I have been as guilty as others – but I have realised it is not healthy for me, for others or the country to rage at each other – people hold their views because they care – let’s all try and keep that in mind.

That is good advice for any country. New Zealand political and social discourse would be the better for a kinder approach. The United States in particular, which is struggling with increasing division.

EU rules could ‘destroy the Internet as we know it’

The European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs has voted for controversial Internet rules that could fundamentally change how the Internet is able to work, in Europe at least (I don’t know if the rules could apply elsewhere in the world).

They have been dubbed a ‘link tax’, and ‘censorship machines’. Both would make operating a site like this not worth the effort or cost.

The rules still require approval by the European Parliament, but they are causing major concern, for good reason.

Independent: EU COMMITTEE APPROVES NEW RULES THAT COULD ‘DESTROY THE INTERNET AS WE KNOW IT’

An EU committee has approved two new copyright rules that campaigners warn could destroy the internet as we know it.

The two controversial new rules – known as Article 11 and Article 13 – introduce wide-ranging new changes to the way the web works.

Article 11 would have the effect of severely limiting linking to and part quoting news sites, something that a lot of the dissemination of information relies on and is a key to online discussion.

Article 11 introduces a “link tax”, requiring that internet companies get permission from publishers to use a snippet of their work. On websites like Google and Twitter, for instance, a small part of the article is usually shown before someone clicks into it entirely – but, under the new rule, those technology companies would have get permission and perhaps even pay to use that excerpt.

Facebook would similarly be affected.

It would also probably make it impossible in practical terms for blogs like most political discussion blogs to operate as they now do.

Article 13 would add to administrative difficulties for large operators like Google, Twitter and Facebook, and would make running smaller sites like this not worth the cost and effort.

Article 13 has been criticised by campaigners who claim that it could force internet companies to “ban memes”. It requires that all websites check posts against a database of copyrighted work, and remove those that are flagged.

That could mean memes – which often use images taken from films or TV shows – could be removed by websites. The system is also likely to go wrong, campaigners say, pointing to previous examples where automated systems at YouTube have taken down a variety of entirely innocent posts.

Smaller sites might not even be able to maintain such a complicated infrastructure for scanning through posts, and therefore might not be able to continue to function, activists claim.

TNW also describes the rules in EU votes for memes ban and censorship machines — what now?

Article 11 (a.k.a. link tax) would force anyone using snippets of journalistic online content to get a license from the publisher first — essentially outlawing current business models of most aggregators and news apps. This can also possibly threaten the hyperlink and give power to publishers at the cost of public good.

Article 13 (a.k.a. censorship machines) will make platforms responsible for monitoring user behavior to stop copyright infringements, but basically means only huge platforms will have the resources to let users comment or share content. People opposed to the proposal worry that this could lead to broader censorship, threatening free speech via parody, satire, and even protest videos.

The rules still have to pass through the European Parliament.

The committee’s vote doesn’t automatically make the Copyright reform and its controversial articles law. Instead, it cements the European Parliament’s stance on the issue — which is highly influential — before entering the final stage of the legislation process.

However, there is a way to change that. Plenary is the European Parliament’s tool to bring matters out of committee and put up for a vote in the Parliament itself, i.e. have all 751 MEPs vote instead of only 25. But there needs to be enough support in Parliament for this to happen, so opposers have already started campaigning for a plenary session.

If passed I think that this would have an adverse effect on many news websites, who rely on quotes and linking to promote and circulate their news.

Many news sites deliberately use Twitter and Facebook to attract readers and viewers to their own sites.

And I doubt they will appreciate the administration overhead of responding to all requests to link, unless they simply ignore them all.

The rules could also have a chilling effect on online discussion. In New Zealand some news sites allow discussion on their own sites, but most don’t, they rely on Facebook and Twitter to facilitate discussion.

EU rules would probably have a limited effect here in New Zealand, if any. I don’t know if the EU could impose or police their rules outside their own region. And if they could it would only apply to European news sources – it would create a censorship wall between the EU and the rest of the world.

So if passed by the European Parliament the proposed rules may only destroy the Internet as they know it in Europe – unless it had wider jurisdiction.

What if a trade agreement between New Zealand and the EU was dependent on abiding by their Internet rules?

If the proposed rules applied here now I would not have been able to post about it like this.

Thanks to ‘soundhill’ who brought this to my attention at Kiwiblog.

Q+A today – business and trade

On Q+A this morning:

Why is business feeling so gloomy? Surveys show business confidence has been persistently low since the Labour led Government took office. Corin Dann talks to Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

Plus, what could an NZ-EU Free Trade Agreement mean for you? And will European farmers give up some of the subsidies that make trade harder for our food producers? European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom joins us.

Post G7 bickering

Reuters: U.S.-Canada spat escalates, Europeans criticize Trump’s G7 move

The United States and Canada swung sharply toward a diplomatic and trade crisis on Sunday as top White House advisers lashed out at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a day after U.S. President Trump called him “very dishonest and weak.”

The spat drew in Germany and France, who sharply criticized Trump’s decision to abruptly withdraw his support for a Group of Seven communique hammered out at a Canadian summit on Saturday, accusing him of destroying trust and acting inconsistently.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland responded to the White House comments by saying that Canada will retaliate to U.S. tariffs in a measured and reciprocal way and that Canada will always be willing to talk.

“Canada does not conduct its diplomacy through ad hominem attacks … and we refrain particularly from ad hominem attacks when it comes from a close ally,” Freeland told reporters in Quebec City on Sunday.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow accused Trudeau of betraying Trump with “polarizing” statements on trade policy that risked making the U.S. leader look weak ahead of a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Hours after Trump withdrew his support for the joint statement and attacked Trudeau, Kudlow and trade adviser Peter Navarro drove the message home on Sunday morning news shows in an extraordinary assault on a close U.S. ally and neighbor.

“(Trudeau) really kind of stabbed us in the back,” Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council who had accompanied Trump to the summit of wealthy nations on Saturday, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Trump seems to have stabbed Trudeau in his front.

Navarro told “Fox News Sunday”: “There is a special place in hell for any leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door and that’s what bad-faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference, that’s what weak dishonest Justin Trudeau did.”

Some will see a lot of irony in “bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump”.

Trump seems to be increasing division between the US and the rest of the countries in G7, but prefers to deal with Russia.

Reuters: Russia’s Putin would be ready to host G7 in Moscow

Russia did not choose to leave the G7 and would be happy to host its members in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday when asked about U.S. President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Russia should have been at its latest meeting.

Interesting times.

Trade wars on again in response to Trump’s interventionism

It’;s hard to keep up with Donald Trump’s varying positions on a number of issues, but it looks like trade wards are back on after he imposed tariffs in steel and aluminium imports.It’s too soon to tell what this may escalate into, but the signs look ominous.

Reuters: U.S. isolated at G7 meeting as tariffs prompt retaliation

U.S. President Donald Trump told Canada and the European Union on Friday to do more to bring down their trade surpluses, a day after hitting them and Mexico with import tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Trump castigated Canada, a top U.S. trade partner and ally, in a tweet on Friday morning, saying it had treated U.S. farmers “very poorly for a very long period of time.”

“Highly restrictive on Trade! They must open their markets and take down their trade barriers! They report a really high surplus on trade with us,” he wrote.

Trump also told French President Emmanuel Macron of the need to “rebalance trade with Europe,” the White House said.

The strong words followed swift responses to the tariffs by Canada, Mexico and the EU, which all plan to retaliate with levies on billions of dollars of U.S. goods, including orange juice, whiskey, blue jeans and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

ODT: Trade war repercussions likely

By later today,  or early tomorrow, it will be known the extent to which Europe, Canada and Mexico will go to counter the United States’ tariffs.

Canada and Mexico have made early moves but there are suggestions more barriers will be put in place for US exports.

US President Donald Trump unilaterally imposed sweeping tariffs on  steel and aluminium imports from the European Union, and its Nafta trading partners Canada and Mexico.

European commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker is promising to have retaliatory measures in place. In a furious address to a conference, Mr Juncker was threatening like for like, enough to make free-trade countries like New Zealand shudder.

The move is likely to have an immediate impact on global trade in steel and aluminium, particularly between the US and Canada, the largest supplier of imported steel to the US.

A meeting of the Group of Seven, in Canada, was taken by surprise by the announcement. Concern about Mr Trump’s hardening approach to trade dominated the discussion panel as top policy makers from the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada gathered in the alpine village of Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.

There is growing concern trade wars may turn into real wars — particularly with the ongoing tit-for-tat squabble between China and the US.

On Tuesday, the White House pledged to slap an additional 25% tariff on a long list of Chinese products, including metals. Within hours Beijing retaliated with the promise to lift levies on $US50 billion worth of US imports by 25%. The Chinese list includes soybeans, automobiles, chemicals and aircraft. In response, Mr Trump threatened an additional $US100 billion in tariffs against China.

Global supply chains are at risk from the actions being initiated by Mr Trump and, because of his powerful position and erratic behaviour, no-one knows for sure how this will play out.

Mr Trump’s posturing is damaging to not only global trade. He is facing a backlash from some of his Republican allies, who are now worrying about surviving midterm elections.

The bigger fear over the current conflict is how escalating retaliatory tariffs may undermine institutions such as the World Trade Organisation, which have underpinned the world trading system since the aftermath of World War 2 and have prevented the outbreak of major trade wars.

Reuters:

Trump’s tariffs on Washington’s closest allies also drew condemnation at home from Republican lawmakers and the country’s main business lobbying group and sent a chill through financial markets.

The US markets keep bouncing around:

This year they have been as erratic as Trump, which is no coincidence.

While steel and aluminium tariffs may help protect some US industries they are likely to raise prices on many products that use steel and aluminium.

These particular tariffs aren’t likely to impact greatly on New Zealand, but if it escalates into a wider trade war then we are likely to get tossed around in the storm.

Meanwhile Trump is trying to prop up some big business friends: Trump orders Energy Department to help ailing coal, nuclear plants

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take emergency steps to keep at-risk coal and nuclear plants running, the White House announced.

Under the directive, Perry would require grid operators to buy electricity from ailing nuclear and coal-fired power plants to keep them from being shuttered.

Trump is an erratic interventionist.

EU to start trade talks with New Zealand, Australia

The European Union has announced it will open trade talks with new Zealand and Australia in June.

Reuters: EU agrees to start Australia, New Zealand trade talks

European Union countries cleared the way on Tuesday for the bloc to begin free trade talks with Australia and New Zealand in a drive to forge new alliances as trade tensions with the United States increase.

The European Commission, which negotiates on behalf of the 28 EU members, said EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom would visit both countries to open talks in June before negotiators convene in Brussels in July for a first round of discussions.

The EU forecasts that ambitious and comprehensive agreements could boost its exports to the two countries by a third in the long term, although there are caveats about opening up EU markets to farm produce such as butter and beef.

The bloc is the third largest trade partner of both Australia and New Zealand.

Trade Minister David Parker: EU and New Zealand to start free trade talks

A free trade deal between New Zealand and the European Union (EU) has taken a major step forward with the announcement overnight that the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council has approved its negotiating mandate.

Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker has welcomed the news, saying it opens the way for a free trade deal with one of the largest economies in the world that will boost jobs and incomes.

“Credit must go to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern whose strong advocacy for New Zealand’s interests during her recent trip to Europe helped tip the balance,” David Parker said.

“It is also an endorsement of our strong backing for the talks as the next priority on our extensive free trade agenda, that includes the CPTPP, the Pacific Alliance and RCEP.

“These negotiations offer significant economic gains for New Zealand and the EU. They are an example of like-minded countries working together at a time when the world faces a rising tide of protectionism,” David Parker said.

“The EU is our third largest trading partner, with two-way trade worth more than $20 billion. Even excluding the UK, our trade with the EU is worth about $16 billion annually.

“Our recently-announced inclusive and progressive Trade for All agenda aims to benefit all citizens – an approach in line with the EU.

“At the start of negotiations, we’ll be releasing a package of information outlining our negotiating priorities for this agreement and how we will be engaging with New Zealanders as negotiations progress,” David Parker said.

A good step in the right direction with the EU on trade, but with 28 countries involved it will take some time to negotiate and approve, if successful.

Peters on Commonwealth and EU trade

While Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters has been largely overshadowed by Jacinda Ardern as both visit Europe and the United Kingdom, he has been reported commenting on trade agreement possibilities.

Stuff: Winston Peters says Commonwealth countries open to multilateral trade deal

The bones of a Commonwealth free trade deal have been laid out and the EU is also turning an eye to the Pacific, says Foreign Minister Winston Peters.

He made the comments at the back end of a tour where he visited UK and EU leaders before meeting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in London to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

“There’s a whole lot of excitement about that and how we might again, put some flesh to an idea. It was [non-existent] two years ago, but since the 23 June, 2016 it’s become real.  That was very exciting. And a whole lot of countries, without saying too much about it realise there’s something very exciting and new about this.”

Peters said there was a hope that the foundations could be laid for a multilateral agreement within the Commonwealth countries, before the UK had left the European Union.

“And it was thrilling to get that sort of acceptance that we needed to talk more and do things far more often.

It is early days for all of these trade initiatives. The UK can’t do anything until they have sorted Brexit out, and while Germany and France have stated support for an EU agreement that has to be negotiated and approved by all member countries.

At least it gives Peters something to work on now that his Russian trade aims have been taken off the Government table.

“For decades we’ve seen enormous cynicism about the Commonwealth, don’t forget it started with eight countries. That’s a long time ago and it’s 53 now, possible 54 if the Maldives comes back. And that fact is that things have dramatically changed.”

He said the rest of the world “needs the Commonwealth” and the Commonwealth needed New Zealand to be a voice within it.

“It needs a country called New Zealand to show its kind of values that could be seriously important towards the economic security of the Pacific and indeed the world we live in.”

The world doesn’t need the Commonwealth. And the Commonwealth doesn’t need New Zealand – I’m sure it would manage to continue as a largely irrelevant grouping of countries without us.

But it does provide a chance to meet leaders from a bunch of countries every now and then, and to try to get things moving on trade deals. And we get to gather to do some sports every four years.