Macron urges European army to defend against Russia, US

Macron has been warning of rising nationalism as he prepares to host dozens of world leaders, including Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (File/Reuters)
Updated 06 November 2018
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Macron urges European army to defend against Russia, US

  • France has also spearheaded the creation of a nine-country force designed to be capable of rapidly mounting a joint military operation
  • Macron has been warning of rising nationalism as he prepares to host dozens of world leaders, including Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron called Tuesday for a “real European army” as the continent marks a century since the divisions of World War I, to better defend itself against Russia and even the United States.
Macron, who has pushed for a joint EU military force since his arrival in power last year, said Europe needed to reduce its dependence on American might, not least after US President Donald Trump announced he was pulling out of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty.
“We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” Macron told Europe 1 radio.
“When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security,” he said.
“We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army,” he said in the interview, recorded Monday night in Verdun, northeast France, as Macron tours the former Western Front during week-long World War I centenary commemorations.
Faced with “a Russia which is at our borders and has shown that it can be a threat,” Macron argued: “We need a Europe which defends itself better alone, without just depending on the United States, in a more sovereign manner.”
The EU launched a joint multi-billion-euro defense fund last year designed to develop Europe’s military capacities and make the continent more strategically independent.
France has also spearheaded the creation of a nine-country force designed to be capable of rapidly mounting a joint military operation, an evacuation from a warzone, or providing aid in a natural disaster.
“Peace in Europe is precarious,” Macron told Europe 1.
“We have been hit by intrusion attempts in cyber-space and multiple interventions in our democracies,” he said in an apparent reference to Russia.
He also warned of “authoritarian powers which are reemerging and rearming within the confines in Europe.”
Macron has been warning of rising nationalism as he prepares to host dozens of world leaders, including Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Sunday to mark 100 years since the World War I armistice.
He repeated his warning Tuesday that he was struck by similarities between the world today and the financial crisis and “nationalism playing on people’s fears” of the 1930s.
“The peace and prosperity which Europe has enjoyed for 70 years are a golden moment in our history,” he said, warning that this was the exception rather than the rule.
“For millennia, it has never lasted so long.”


Two thirds of African cities face ‘extreme climate risk’

In this file photo taken on July 7, 2014 children wait in line during a food distribution by the Word Food Programme (WFP) at a school in Bangui. (AFP)
Updated 14 November 2018
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Two thirds of African cities face ‘extreme climate risk’

  • The data also showed that some of the most populous cities on Earth — including Delhi, Mumbai, Mexico City and Karachi — were all at “high-risk” of damage to their economies and populations

PARIS: Rapid population growth and poor infrastructure have put two out of three cities in Africa at “extreme risk” of the threats posed by climate change, according to a new analysis released Wednesday.
With UN figures showing 86 of the world’s 100 fastest-growing cities are in Africa, experts warned nearly half of the continent’s GDP was exposed to the perils posed by our warming planet.
The findings were laid out in the 2018 Climate Vulnerability Index which calculates an overall risk figure from more than 50 separate data sources, including state-of-the-art climate models, socio-economic factors and demographic trends.
It found Bangui in the Central African Republic, Liberia’s capital Monrovia and the Congolese city of Mbuji-Mayi to be the three most at-risk cities.
Eight African cities featured in the index’s top 10.
“It’s really assessing the ability to withstand climate-related shocks and this is what makes African economies stand out as at risk compared to the rest of the world,” said Niall Smith, an environment analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, which compiled the index.
The British-based risk consultancy also singled out DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa as being of particular concern for investors.
Currently home to 13.2 million people, the city regularly experiences weather events such as cyclones and flooding, which will cause greater disruption as the population swells to 26.7 million by 2035.
“Urban population growth at this projected rate will, without doubt, intensify the city’s alarming risk profile,” they said.
“Africa’s megacities already face issues like lack of clean water, sanitation and shelter.”
The study found that as much as 47 percent of Africa’s GDP — an amount totalling close to $1.4 trillion (1.24 tn euros) — to be at “extreme risk” from climate change by 2023, significantly higher as a percentage than any other continent.
“By no means are we saying don’t invest in these locations,” Richard Hewston, principal climate change and environmental analyst at Verisk told AFP.
“But climate risk should be one of the elements you consider. There’s a huge opportunity for investors and we would say that you need to go in with your eyes open by doing due diligence beforehand.”

The data also showed that some of the most populous cities on Earth — including Delhi, Mumbai, Mexico City and Karachi — were all at “high-risk” of damage to their economies and populations due to climate change.
Scientists in May released the findings of a study suggesting that prompt global action to tackle climate change could save the world economy $20 tn by the end of the century.
But in many nations domestic political concerns still trump climate action.
Hewston gave New York as an example of a city with the technical know-how and political will to invest in climate defenses after it was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
“But if you’re looking for other cities, say in Africa, or Dhaka or Mumbai, they also have competing aspects they look to fund so things like climate resilience don’t always top the list,” he said.
Verisk found that British cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast were the three cities best prepared to manage the impact of climate change.