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World aims to slow climate change

Happy faces in Paris: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and French Foreign Minister Fabius, who presided over the eleven-day conference. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

 

By the end of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris 196 states had agreed to attempt to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Some commentators celebrate the agreement as a milestone and praise the global village for its new awareness. Others criticise the absence of business representatives and the lack of binding obligations.

Die Welt - Germany

Magic of Paris lies in voluntary action

The compromise reached in Paris testifies to a very modern form of decision-making, the conservative daily Die Welt believes: "Being innovative and improving one's living conditions has always been a stimulus for human development. That holds for science, and of course also for the big enabler we call capitalism. All the doomsayers who warn of the downfall believe they're helping the 'good cause' with measures that border on totalitarianism. But moderate thinking - avoiding the worst - is more efficient. And in the end, this is what brought about a sort of volonté générale, a common will. That is the magic of Paris, which gave free rein to the principle of voluntary action. Instead of sanctions, the emphasis is now being placed on self-control. A sign not of weakness, but of maturity." (14/12/2015)

La Tribune de Genève - Switzerland

Global village closes ranks

The Paris climate accord exerts a wide-ranging appeal, the regional daily La Tribune de Genève writes: "The framework that has been worked out is to be welcomed, even if it is inadequate in certain areas regarding the tools it stipulates. Among others that includes the fact that measures for traffic are lacking. But the signals the agreement sends are strong, and the quick response on the part of thirteen carmakers on carbon emissions testifies to a real increase in awareness. In view of the global threat posed by the Islamic pseudo-State, the signal that a universal union exists is all the more effective. In the global village, all interconnected, the inhabitants of the earth have demonstrated their will to live -or at least to survive - together." (13/12/2015)

Die Presse - Austria

Only a diplomatic pseudo-success

The climate agreement lacks substance, complains the liberal-conservative daily Die Presse: "For the first time rich and poor countries have undertaken to fight climate change. That sounds good, really good even. But unfortunately it's not quite true. All the states may have signed the agreement in Paris, but that wasn't all that much of a feat. The Paris agreement lacks the wherewithal to achieve its own goal of keeping global warming below two degrees above pre-industrial levels. The gap between the target and the reality is huge. There can be no talk here of a commitment to climate protection by everyone. And with precisely that lack of commitment the negotiators bought this diplomatic pseudo-success in advance. Since the climate conference in Copenhagen it's been clear that from that point on each country was free to decide for itself when, how and by how much to reduce its greenhouse emissions." (14/12/2015)

La Stampa - Italy

Still not clear who must make sacrifices

The most important negotiating partners were absent from the talks in Paris, laments the liberal daily La Stampa: "The round of negotiations in Paris was poorly put together. The government representatives should have been sitting on one side of the table and the captains of industry sitting on the other. Companies, branch-specific manufacturers and also employee associations. … Unfortunately only governments with their bureaucratic entourages were present. But to ensure that the prospects are also viable in the short term it must be accepted that the reduction in greenhouse emissions will also mean a reduction in growth. … Yet we have no idea who is to cover the costs of eco-friendly growth. Nothing precise was said in Paris on this point." (13/12/2015)

Sme - Slovakia

Global warming finally no longer denied

The liberal daily Sme explains what has changed since the failed climate conference in Copenhagen: "195 states reached an agreement that will not only keep global warming below the magic limit of two degrees Celsius by the end of the century but even push it down to just 1.5 degrees. And more than 180 states have presented their own national climate targets. … The most important point, however, is that the problem of global warming has actually been recognised as such. … Compared to Copenhagen 2009 much has changed. Renewable energies are no longer a subsidised plaything but a competitive sector. 'Ecological' no longer stands in contradiction to 'economically viable'. And what has changed most is the attitude of the people and the politicians regarding the climate. The question now is whether this means we will be able to react swiftly enough to climate change." (14/12/2015)

POLITICS

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Le Soir - Belgium

Le Pen's defeat deceptive

The far-right Front National was unable to gain control of any of France's 13 regional councils in the second round of voting on Sunday. But the party's failure is not as clear as it looks at first glance, the liberal daily Le Soir believes: "This Sunday's defeat is really a hidden victory. ... The FN feeds on fear and foments hatred: hatred of differences, hatred of others, hatred of Europe, etc. And it has neither said its last word nor pronounced its last lie. There's no point adding rejection to rejection or crying wolf, or trying to kick it when it's down. Hatred must be met with intelligence - and with results. In response to the legitimate fears, the loneliness and the feeling of being left in the lurch which have swelled the number of FN supporters, our societies urgently need to calm down. Because this is not only about France." (13/12/2015)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland

Front National really is just a protest party

The Front National's failure to repeat its success in the first round of the French regional elections will be a major problem for the far-right party, comments the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger: "Despite her demonstratively triumphant mood, Sunday's outcome was the worst-case scenario for Marine Le Pen. The failure, or worse still, the evident political impossibility of translating the sensational results of the first round into a final victory damages the party enormously. Now even more than before it is stuck with the label of a 'first-round party' which only achieves symbolic victories but can't secure a majority to form a government. A protest party that focuses the people's dissatisfaction but is no good for pushing through anything constructive." (14/12/2015)

Super Express - Poland

Don't overrate demonstrations in Poland

Tens of thousands of supporters of Poland's ruling PiS party demonstrated in Warsaw on Sunday in response to an equally large march the day before by government opponents. So what else is new? asks the conservative tabloid Super Express: "The [former governing party] PO ruled with almost absolute power for five years. In that time various demonstrations were also held in protest against them. Now the reins of power are in the hands of the PiS, and marches are also being held against it. That's normal. And it's also normal that those who were doing fine not so long ago are now protesting at the loss of their power and position. ... But the Poles will watch very closely how the PiS governs, and whether it takes care of the people. And if it turns out that it doesn't, that it is unsuccessful, that it lies and only pursues its own interests, then the people will chase it out of power in four years' time. And all of that without any big demonstrations." (14/12/2015)

The Irish Times - Ireland

Merkel's late transformation into leader

Just before its party conference starts today Germany's conservative CDU has reached a compromise in the dispute over refugee policy. The party will take steps to stem the influx of asylum seekers, but an upper limit remains taboo. Party leader Angela Merkel is taking on a new, more active role, and not just on refugees, the centre-left daily The Irish Times comments: "In August she made a massive 'we can do this' humanitarian leap into the unknown on refugees. Last week, meanwhile, she was pushing through her first military intervention. ... After a decade in power, a decade of being attacked regularly as an over-cautious pedant, Merkel has quietly buried her anti-interventionist self. She has taken Germany from being a solidarity-driven follower to cautious leader - without knowing if her people will follow." (13/12/2015)

REFLECTIONS

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The Malta Independent - Malta

Noel Grima against idea of EU as loose federation of states

The EU could degenerate into a federation along the lines of the British Commonwealth in view of the current crisis and the challenges it faces, columnist Noel Grima fears in the centre-right daily The Malta Independent: "In the end, in other words, I foresee that in some years' time the EU we - or our children - will see maybe a watered-down version of the EU we joined. This is where the Commonwealth comes in. A watered-down EU may be something like the Commonwealth - a grouping of countries with nothing much holding them together, no central institutions, no common opus of laws, no common currency. ... I suspect that what the eurosceptics - from Marine Le Pen to Viktor Orbán, from Cinque Stelle to Podemos, from UKIP to Syriza - want is a sort of Commonwealth EU, a loose collection of states from which one can exit at any time. I acknowledge that the European Dream has paled for many people, but this sort of Commonwealth EU leaves me colder than ever." (13/12/2015)

SOCIETY

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Sydsvenskan - Sweden

Exodus to Europe: Denmark robbing asylum seekers

Asylum seekers in Denmark will in future have to pay for any costs they incur. Accordingly, the police will be authorised to confiscate money and personal articles of value. The liberal Swedish daily Sydsvenskan voices concern: "It's as if you could hear the thundering echo of history. One feels the urge to reassure the refugees with the words: 'We won't take your gold teeth.' ... History does not repeat itself. Nevertheless it is important to warn that certain patterns must not be repeated. ... Refugees will now also have to pay for the costs of their stay. Individual faces are becoming blurred in the general cost calculations. People can't be transformed into a mass of costs overnight. It takes years of small shifts, and suddenly state-sanctioned robbery is a fact. ... How did things come to this, how could this happen? This is unworthy of Denmark. It is unworthy of Europe - and humanity." (13/12/2015)

Savon Sanomat - Finland

A glimmer of hope for women in Saudi Arabia

Seventeen women won seats in Saudi Arabia's first-ever municipal polls open to female voters and candidates on Saturday. This is a first step towards more rights for women in the country, the liberal daily Savon Sanomat hopes: "In Saudi Arabia's absolute monarchy the many-headed clan of King Salman has a tight grip on power. The municipal elections are the only elections, and the councillors elected mainly take decisions on things like refuse collection and road and park maintenance. … Whether a woman may vote or not is entirely up to the men, who make all the decisions about women's affairs. … The introduction of women's right to vote in the municipal elections is mainly aimed at improving the country's image abroad. The state leadership seems to have understood that the rest of the world doesn't approve of this glaring inequality. This hold out hope that things may at least gradually improve there." (13/12/2015)

Cumhuriyet - Turkey

Far-right parties capitalising on fears

The Kemalist daily Cumhuriyet takes a look at why far-right parties are so successful in Europe now: "The wave of refugees is hitting all the societies whose multiculti policies have failed just as their assimilation policies have. This is increasing the fears of the local populations that they will lose their jobs, religion and culture. The leftist movement, however, is not reacting to this insecurity and climate of fear which affects above all those with jobs. The right-wing populist parties, on the other hand, are promising to maintain industry, higher minimum wages, earlier pensions and to restore the welfare state. They are responding to these fears. But at the same time these parties are turning the promises into a racist, xenophobic and - as far as religion is concerned - fascist ideology. Fascism is not yet taking power in the countries of the West. But what about the day after tomorrow?" (14/12/2015)

MEDIA

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El Periódico de Catalunya - Spain

Spaniards entitled to view poll results

A week before the parliamentary elections on December 20 the Spanish media have been banned from publishing poll results. The centre-left daily El Periódico de Catalunya explains why it refuses to go along with the ban: "This paper has repeatedly criticised the assumption that in a consolidated democracy publishing the results of surveys amounts to influencing the voters' decision. And since it is not forbidden to carry out surveys but only to publish them, the results are reserved for a small elite of parties, media and well-connected people while they are inaccessible to the common voter. Consequently, as with previous elections El Periódico will publish a link to the surveys on the website of the El Periòdic d'Andorra newspaper, which because it is based abroad is not subject to Spanish law." (14/12/2015)

i - Portugal

Portugal's crisis-ridden newspaper sector

Around two-thirds of the 120 employees at the daily i and the weekly Sol stand to lose their jobs because the Angolan holding Newshold is withdrawing as an investor. The future of the publications remains uncertain, commentator Elísio Summavielle complains in what may well be the daily i's last weekend edition: "What worries me is the fate of many of my colleagues who made the paper what it is. I worry about the fate of many good, young journalists. From one moment to the next they will be out of a job and without prospects of finding new employment in a country that unfortunately has stopped reading newspapers. ... To those who remain I wish courage and strength, in the certainty that they will do all they can to ensure that the new [journalistic] project is successful. The rest is irrelevant." (11/12/2015)

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