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Arch-enemies no more
Arch-enemies no more

-Analysis-

Some new presidents wait three months until they make their first overseas trip. Not Emmanuel Macron. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, the freshly-elected, 39-year-old French president headed to Berlin today, just 24 hours after his inauguration.

A stronger, more united Europe sits at the top of Macron's agenda, as shown by his election night victory march last week to the strains of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" — the European Union's official anthem. In yesterday's inauguration address, he declared, "We will need a more efficient, democratic and political Europe, because it is the instrument of our power and sovereignty." But how he can actually make that happen remains to be seen.

In Berlin, Macron will meet a reinvigorated Angela Merkel after the Chancellor's CDU party unseated SPD rivals in Sunday's regional elections in Germany's most populous state, North-Rhine Westphalia. It's a victory that bodes well both for Merkel's hopes to secure a fourth term at Germany's helm in national elections in September, and subsequently for Macron's desire to move swiftly on a new, common plan for Europe.

Now the Macron-Merkel duo — "Mackerel"? — must breathe a whole new life into the European project.

As journalists Stefan Kornelius and Christian Wernicke explain in Süddeutsche Zeitung, France and Germany are planning "a new beginning" in their relations and will be looking at ways to bring their cooperation closer, including on security and defense issues. For Sascha Lehnartz, Die Welt"s correspondent in Paris, Macron's "courageous pro-Germanism" is a "unique opportunity" for Germany and for Europe. But there is also an opportunity in teaming up with Macron for Merkel, who, Lehnartz writes, "over the past 12 years didn't stand out as an outspoken Francophile."

In the German as well as in the French press, there is the unmistakable feeling that a new era is opening today. With Macron's victory over Marine Le Pen, the EU just survived a "near-death experience,"Süddeutsche Zeitung"s Stefan Kornelius writes. But now the Macron-Merkel duo — "Mackerel"? — must breathe a whole new life into the European project.

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Green

China Can't Kick Its Coal Habit

China has endured two months of scorching heatwaves and drought that have affected power supply in the country. Spooked by future energy security, Beijing is reinvesting heavily in coal with disastrous implications for climate change.

The Datang International Zhangjiakou Power Plant shown at dusk in Xuanhua District of Zhangjiakou City, north China's Hebei Province.

Guangyi Pan and Hao Yang*

Two months of scorching heatwaves and drought plunged China into an energy security crisis.

The southwest province of Sichuan, for example, relies on dams to generate around 80% of its electricity, with growth in hydropower crucial for China meeting its net-zero by 2060 emissions target.

Sichuan suffered from power shortages after low rainfall and extreme temperatures over 40℃ dried up rivers and reservoirs. Heavy rainfall this week, however, has just seen power in Sichuan for commercial and industrial use fully restored, according to official Chinese media.

The energy crisis has seen Beijing shift its political discourse and proclaim energy security as a more urgent national mission than the green energy transition. Now, the government is investing in a new wave of coal-fired power stations to try to meet demand.

In the first quarter of 2022 alone, China approved 8.63 gigawatts of new coal plants and, in May, announced C¥ 10 billion (around $1.4 billion) of investment in coal power generation. What’s more, it will expand the capacity of a number of coal mines to ensure domestic supply as the international coal market price jumped amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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