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The Debate

How to cool it? The pressure to speed up clean energy transition

It's always a great venue for a round of "how green was my politician". The United Nations is hosting a climate summit to kick off its annual opening of the General Assembly. Lofty speeches aside, the problem is that world leaders answer to their constituents back home with virtually no sway over what happens beyond national boundaries.

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Is France meeting its climate targets when it supports domestic beef producers... yet imports soy beans from Brazil to feed the cows? Is Germany going green when it closes coal plants but imports electricity from Poland?

Germany, whose chancellor last Friday unveiled a raft of measures to meet its energy transition targets... but whose critics argue that because Berlin constitutionally cannot intentionally run a budget deficit, it is at best a Green New Deal Light.

France, despite the activism of its president, is arguably faring worse. Emmanuel Macron has been fencing from afar with his absent Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro, while Donald Trump made a surprise cameo appearance at the summit.

And if some major powers are reluctant, who else can reach across borders and make an impact? Multinational corporations. Last Thursday, Amazon and Google announced ambitions to become carbon neutral ahead of schedule. Genuine intent... or greenwashing public relations stunts?

Produced by Alessandro XENOS, Juliette LAURAIN and Ingri BERGO

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