Behaviour, the pandemic, and climate change

The behavioural changes necessary to bring about the transition to a zero carbon economy will be far-reaching, bearing on what people eat, how they work, how they travel, the recreations they pursue, and where they live. Will governments be able to rely on the go-to tools of public policy – rational choice theory and more recently behavioural economics, with its so-called ‘nudge’ techniques, to bring about the necessary changes?

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What America’s vaccination campaign proves to the world

Vaccine nationalism is small-minded, self-centered, and ultimately self-defeating, because COVID-19 will not cease to be a problem until no one has it. This is the moment to think big, the moment for generosity and big ideas. When a majority of American adults will have had their first dose of a vaccine, what if the US then begins to pivot from mass-vaccinating its own citizens to mass-vaccinating the rest of the world?

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Beijing and Moscow are filling a vaccine gap that wealthy countries helped create

Author: Yasmeen Serhan | Published 30 March 2021 | The Atlantic The view is frequently expressed that Russia and China are engaging in ‘vaccine diplomacy’ and a ‘vaccine war of influence’; that their capacity to supply Covid-19 vaccines is “being leveraged as a form of soft power to bolster the countries’ global standing”. In this article Yasmeen Serhan suggests that while “U.S. and European leaders might not like it, they are effectively complaining about a

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Is the global shortage of Covid-19 vaccines due to artificial scarcity?

The World Health Organisation has today called for urgent action to ramp up the supply of Covid-19 vaccines, echoing the growing concern of many commentators observing the divergence between what developed countries are doing, and what we know must be done, to avoid prolonging the pandemic and increasing the cost to the global economy. In the article below, in the context of Italy’s decision this week to refuse an export licence for vaccines destined for

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What explains COVID’s east-west divide? (John Feffer)

COVID-19 has drawn a clear line between Asia and the rest of the world. What’s particularly striking about this latest divergence is the lack of significance in types of governance. The countries that have been successful in Asia have very different forms of government, as well as different histories, religious backgrounds, and relationships with the countries of the West. How can this be explained?

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Radical pragmatism: policymaking after COVID (Gertz + Kharas)

Contemplating a world after COVID, some are calling for a reset of existing models of policymaking. In this essay the authors outline shortcomings in existing neoliberal economic models, and argue that the radical pragmatism of effective crisis response—a willingness to try whatever works, guided by an experimental mindset and commitment to empiricism and measuring results —represents a policymaking model that can and should be applied more widely, not only in times of crisis.

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More pandemics, more often, and spreading more rapidly, warns major new IPBES report

Future pandemics will emerge more often, spread more rapidly, do more damage to the world economy and kill more people than COVID-19 unless there is a transformative change in the global approach to dealing with infectious diseases, warns a major new report on biodiversity and pandemics by 22 leading experts from around the world.

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How the IMF and World Bank turned a pandemic into a public relations stunt (Walden Bello)

Serious calls for reform at the World Bank and the IMF first emerged 50 years ago. After 50 years, the absence of change in either policy or intellectual paradigm has been paralleled by the glaring lack of reform in the governing structures of the Bretton Woods twins. Perhaps this is the time for developing country governments to begin exploring an exit strategy? The IMF and the Bank would like the global South to believe that they are indispensable. They are not.

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Global order in the shadow of coronavirus: China, Russia and the West (Lowy)

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a harsh spotlight on the state of global governance. Faced with the greatest emergency since the Second World War, nations have regressed into narrow self-interest. The concept of a rules-based international order has been stripped of meaning, while liberalism faces its greatest crisis in decades. In this Lowy Institute publication, the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI)’s Bobo Lo argues that it’s time to rethink global governance and its priorities.

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Crises only sometimes lead to change. Here’s why. (Sheri Berman)

“The coronavirus pandemic won’t automatically lead to reforms. Great upheavals only bring systemic change when reformers have a plan—and the power to implement it”. In this essay, Sheri Berman analyses historical crises and suggests why they may produce or fail to produce transformational change. The essay has a US focus and deals with the potential for systemic change to follow the coronavirus pandemic crisis, but the analysis could also help in understanding why the global warming crisis is failing to produce transformative change on the scale that is needed.

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The challenges of the post-pandemic agenda (Jean Pisani-Ferry)

There is a growing possibility that the COVID-19 crisis will mark the end of the growth model born four decades ago with the Reagan-Thatcher revolution, China’s embrace of capitalism, and the demise of the Soviet Union. The small government, free-market template suddenly looks terribly outdated. Instead of regarding growth as the ultimate solution to inequality, advanced economies will need to tackle distributional issues head on. It is to be hoped that they will be spared the convulsions that often accompany structural and policy changes of such magnitude.

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The global order after COVID-19 (Stephen Walt)

The COVID-19 crisis will not produce a dramatic and enduring increase in global governance or significantly higher levels of international cooperation. Instead it is likely to reinforce divisive trends; to accelerate a retreat from globalization, raise new barriers to international trade, investment, and travel, and give both democratic and non-democratic governments greater power over their citizens’ lives. The post-COVID-19 world will be less open, less free, less prosperous, and more competitive than the world many people expected to emerge only a few years ago.

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How COVID-19 will reshape Indo-Pacific security (The Diplomat)

This article is one of a number of pieces circulating that usefully starts to ponder the effect COVID-19 will have on strategic relations in the Indo-Pacific. It presents one of the more comprehensive lists of possible effects. The narrow focus of the article, however, means two major results of the pandemic, a change in the relativities in economic power and a possible change in the US Administration, are not clearly factored into the analysis. With regard to the question of impact of Covid-19 on military readiness, there may be room for greater caution; it is yet to be seen if the worst predictions about a shift in the military balance because of readiness issues will eventuate.

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