Global Issues Email Update, January 2010.

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-- Anup Shah,

In this update:
1) Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

2) Iran: recent nuclear weapons concerns unfounded?

3) Inequality in Rich Countries

4) Women’s Rights and Climate Change


1) Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

December 7 – December 18, 2009, Copenhagen, Denmark was the venue for the
15th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as the 15th
Conference of the Parties — or COP 15.

As with previous conferences, thousands of politicians (including head of
states), diplomats, journalists, lobbyists and NGOs attended hoping the
summit would finalize a post-Kyoto international agreement on climate change
to take effect in 2013.

The build-up to the meeting was full of optimism and hope, as the US was,
for the first time in a long time, going to be seen as a positive contributor,
and their involvement is always recognized as key. There was also increasing
focus on emerging economies such as China and India.

Instead of a positive outcome, most commentators saw it as a failure, though
for different reasons.

This article provides a very brief summary of the outcome and related issues:

2) Iran: recent nuclear weapons concerns unfounded?

Towards the end of 2009 it was revealed published a document which purportedly
described an Iranian plan to do experiments on what the newspaper described
as a "neutron initiator" for an atomic weapon. However, it seems US intelligence
sources find this Iran nuclear document to be a fabrication. Shortly before his
term as head of the IAEA ended, Dr. Elbaradei reiterated that using the language
of force on this issue has not been helpful and despite some serious failings
recently failings by Iran not to disclose an enrichment facility by a certain
time, "to present the Iran threat as imminent is hype."

This update expands on the above as well as adds a few notes on the recent
political violence that has erupted as Iran’s security forces have clamped down
on protesters supporting moderate opposition parties.

3) Inequality in Rich Countries

Once nations are industrialized, more equal societies almost always do better
in terms of health, well-being and social cohesion. Large income inequalities
within societies destroys the social fabric and quality of life for everyone.

That is what the Equality Trust in the UK have found after researching numerous
aspects of inequality.

They looked at a wide range of health and social problems and found that,

  * Outcomes are substantially worse in more unequal societies
  * The problems tend to move together, implying that they share an underlying
  * Whether their findings are tested internationally among the rich countries,
    or among the 50 states of the USA, there is almost always the same tendency
    for outcomes to be much worse in more unequal societies.

For industrialized nations, it would seem that economic growth is therefore less
important than equality when it comes to social cohesion and individual well-being.

This update includes a video describing this in further detail, as well as charts
and graphs showing the relationship between various social factors and inequality.

4) Women’s Rights and Climate Change

There has been 30 years of the UN women’s rights treaty, the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Many indicators
suggest that immense progress has been made, with the treaty even being described
as one of the most successful human rights treaties ever. Nonetheless, numerous
challenges remain around the world.

At the same time, it is increasingly accepted that women (especially in poorer
countries) are going to be more vulnerable to climate change impacts. This can be
for a number of reasons, including poverty, inequality and deprivation.

Fighting for women’s rights and gender equality is therefore seen as crucial from
a number of perspectives.

This update includes a few notes on additional progress seen around the world due
to the CEDAW treaty as well as information and a couple of videos on how climate
change already impacts women in similar ways in places far apart as Bolivia and

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