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Russia

Putin's Ambitions

Vladimir Putin came to Geneva to tout his country's economic prospects, but Russians are wondering whether it was really an early stop on the campaign trail to take back the Russian Presidency in 2012.

Putin and his Akita guard dog
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Kremlin

Worldcrunch NEWS BITES

GENEVA – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has always been a man of great ambitions – both for himself, and his country.

The latter was undoubtedly on grand display this week in Geneva, as Putin told a United Nations labor conference that Russia was on its way to becoming one of the world's top five economic powers in the next decade.

"Russia is the only country which has reformed its pension system during recession," Vladimir Putin has said. He also touted the relatively modest unemployment rate, and his government's role in preventing companies from going bankrupt.

But observers were also looking for signs at the Geneva appearance that Putin had come to help satisfy his own political agenda. The very fact that he came to the Swiss city to attend the UN labor meeting may be a way of gearing up to run next year for President, the country's top office that he held for the maximum two successive terms before making way for current President Dmitri Medvedev.

Deciding to speak to the international delegation about labor conditions was seen by some as an attempt to offer a softer public face for voters back home. Still, some Russian journalists picking apart the text of his speech saw signs that he may not seek the presidency. There is also the possibility that Putin has simply not decided.

The Prime Minister also suggested to the UN labor delegates that his country should host an International Decent Labor Conference in the fall of 2012. So whatever his own political future may be, no one can doubt that Putin will continue to have big plans for Mother Russia.

Read the full article in French by Stéphane Bussard.

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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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