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  • In 2020, one story has consumed everything.

  • But in 2021, the world will start looking to life beyond the pandemic.

  • So behind the headlines, what are the other moments you should be watching out for in the year ahead?

  • From the launch of an asteroid smashing spaceship to the event that could help the world turn a corner on climate change, here are five stories set to shape the post COVID world.

  • In 2021, democracy will be especially tested.

  • There will be an abundance of elections, many postponed from 2020 by the pandemic.

  • And in fragile democracies, autocratic leaders will use the excuse of COVID-19 to crack down on opposition, such as in Uganda which is due to hold its presidential election in January.

  • Maria is a 25 year old activist who was campaigning for the opposition candidate Bobi Wine.

  • But Ugandan authorities have banned rallies because of COVID-19.

  • They're not implementing COVID guidelines with the people that who live day to day lives.

  • They're only implementing these guidelines with opposition politicians. That is all. So it is just an excuse.

  • At a recent rally, Police arrested Bobi Wine accusing him of flouting COVID-19 restrictions.

  • When they were arresting Bobi Wine, what they did was to first block all the vehicles that were around, and only his vehicle was allowed to go in front.

  • They pepper-sprayed all his bodyguardsthose that are personal bodyguards, not the ones Electoral Commission gave to us.

  • They pepper-sprayed them, and they were beaten.

  • Protests broke out. Almost 1000 people were arrested and 45 were killed.

  • Crackdowns on opposition politicians are not just happening in Uganda.

  • Since the pandemic started, democracy and human rights have deteriorated in 80 countries, according to Freedom House, a think tank.

  • The largest number are in Africa.

  • This is certainly a problem in in Africa, because there are many countries there that have made a partial transition towards democracy and respect for human rights.

  • But because it's fairly recent and the institutions that protect it are not particularly strong, there's always a danger of backsliding.

  • Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni has been in power for almost 35 years.

  • In 2017, he changed the country's constitution to allow him to serve a 6th term.

  • The pandemic has made it easier to block opposition and dissent.

  • All we want is our freedom back.

  • All we want is to change power, and so the power comes back to the people and the institutions that must protect the people. That is all we want!

  • Maria can't even campaign on social media.

  • Government rules brought in in 2020, require many Internet users to register with the regulator before they can publish anything online.

  • Across the world, 91 countries have experienced new or increased restrictions on the news media as a result of the pandemic.

  • I think there's a real danger that democracy will continue to retreat in 2021.

  • I'm hoping that eventually we'll be able to get widespread vaccines out there,

  • and that will make it easier for people to gather together and to organize, which is what you need to be able to do if you're going to resist tyranny.

  • We must campaign so that we win this election. We are ready to fight for our victory.

  • It is either bullets, or a ballot.

  • 2021 will be a tipping point for electric cars, as more manufacturers roll out their electric range.

  • Suddenly there's going to be a huge array of electric vehicles for people to choose from.

  • In the autumn, the gas guzzling SUV brand of General Motors, Hummer, will start production on all electric cars.

  • And at the end of the year, Elon Musk's Tesla will launch its futuristic looking Cybertruck.

  • So I present to you the Cybertruck.

  • The Cybertruck may not be to everyone's taste.

  • I think that's significant because in the American market, the real profits there to be made on pickups.

  • Un, so Tesla have come out with their own version of the pickup, the Cybertruck.

  • The electric Hummer is trying to tap into that market.

  • It's the America's biggest and most profitable market.

  • Investment in the electric revolution has surged.

  • Over 250 firms are currently manufacturing electric vehicles, and 47 battery factories are under construction.

  • Tesla, the market leader, has seen its share price surge.

  • It's now so valuable, it's been added to the S&P 500, America's main stock market index, putting it in the same bracket as companies like Apple and Microsoft.

  • Tesla is a remarkable story. No car company has gone from nothing to where Tesla is in such a rapid period of time.

  • So you have to take your hat off to Elon Musk for doing that.

  • Tesla's success convinced established carmakers that there was a market for electric cars.

  • The car companies that made the biggest bet on the future is Volkswagen, which has invested huge sums, but all car companies are introducing electric models every week.

  • You hear about a new plan to electrify an old model or bring out a new model from various car companies. So it really is picking up the pace.

  • Although all car sales dropped in 2020, in 2021, they are expected to pick up again, and sales of battery powered vehicles are projected to grow rapidly over the next decade.

  • 2021 is just the start.

  • If more governments commit to future bans on the sale of petrol and diesel cars, the growth in the electric vehicle sector could accelerate even more.

  • In November, all eyes will be on Glasgow, Scotland, as world leaders meet for the UN's climate change summit.

  • Known as COP 26, it was originally scheduled for 2020, but postponed due to the pandemic.

  • If it had gone ahead as planned, COP 26 would have marked five years since the Paris Agreement.

  • Built into the Paris Agreement was this ratchet mechanism that basically said governments need to, every five years. increased the promises to cut emissions.

  • The Paris Agreement set a target of limiting global warming to between 1.5 and 2°C above pre industrial temperatures.

  • But experts predict that the pledges governments made in 2015 would not be enough to achieve this target.

  • So this ratchet mechanism, the purpose of COP 26, is really to get closer to this target of 1.5 to 2°C, and what's needed for that are bigger, better promises to cut national emissions.

  • It looks likely that 2021 will be the boldest year ever for tackling climate change.

  • So the EU has said that it will reach net zero emissions by 2050.

  • Climate change is caused by us. So in other words, it's up to us to make a turnaround.

  • They have an expansive package of policies that they will be expanding on and agreeing on in 2021 for how they head towards that goal.

  • The surprise announcement really of this year came in September when Xi Jinping announced that China would be heading towards carbon neutrality by 2060.

  • The details of how China does this are still unclear and are anticipated at some point in 2021.

  • In America, Donald Trump has undermined global efforts to tackle global warming.

  • We are going to put our coal miners back to work.

  • What is our mandate?

  • I believe it's this: the battle to save our planet by getting climate under control.

  • Joe Biden is going to mark a real U-turn, in particular American foreign climate policy.

  • Biden has promised to put America back into the Paris Agreement pretty much as soon as he enters the oval office, and as such, America will once again be influencing global climate politics.

  • America is the world's second biggest emitter.

  • Joe Biden has promised to make the country carbon neutral by 2050.

  • His greatest challenge however, is getting these ambitious pledges through Congress.

  • There is a lot of ease in making these long term promises.

  • It's a lot harder to back those up with the real policies at home that are going to achieve them.

  • But having the European Union, the United States, China all headed towards some kind of mid-century target—2050, 2060—of eliminating their emissions,

  • should give confidence to the rest of the countries that they can also amp-up their targets.

  • So all of that put together means that 2021 could really mark a turning point in international climate negotiations.

  • In 2021, the eagerly awaited next installment in the James Bond franchise will be released, as shown in this slick trailer.

  • Why would I betray you?

  • We all have our secrets.

  • But its release could be eclipsed at the box office by a movie most people in the west may never even have heard of.

  • The slapstick comedy, Detective Chinatown 3 will help china's box office to take more money than America's, to become the biggest in the world.

  • For a century, Hollywood has ruled the movie world. Now it's china's turn.

  • Hollywood was the first kind of global, truly global film industry which exported worldwide, and it has held that dominance for a long time.

  • Now with China becoming the biggest box office, and it feels like a milestone simply because it sort of shakes that Hollywood dominance.

  • China's cinema industry has been growing for a number of years.

  • But in 2021, projections show America's box office revenues stagnating as China's continued to rise.

  • China's building more screens, particularly in third tier and fourth tier cities.

  • Uh, so it was something that was gonna happen. It was just a question of what year it was going to happen. The trend is there.

  • In America, film fans are shunning the cinema in favor of video on demand, but in China, both online streaming and cinema attendance are on the rise.

  • The key element of it is the, is the young audience who goes to the cinema regularly, you know, going out with friends to go to the cinema is still something of an event and experience.

  • China's rise to the top of the box office has been helped by the pandemic.

  • Hollywood delayed productions and movie theaters have been closed. Yet in China, cinemas are now back up to almost 75% capacity and production of new films is steaming ahead.

  • They are not too reliant on foreign productions in a way that they were perhaps previously.

  • Um, nowadays, something like 65 to 75% of the cinema slate in China is actually local content, and the budgets of those films that has risen quite a lot in recent years.

  • Despite this, big American films still do very well in China.

  • The 8th installment of the Fast and Furious series took nearly twice as much in China as it did in North America.

  • But Hollywood's reliance on chinese ticket sales has started a worrying trend.

  • Well, there's a lot of self-censorship, no question.

  • Um, China will not always tell you, and normally will not tell you, what you have to do to get the film into the China market.

  • They will let you decide, and you end up self-censoring more than China might censor you. So that that can be a problem.

  • Tilda Swinton's Marvel character in Doctor Strange, The Ancient One, was changed from a Tibetan to a Celt, in part it was thought to placate China.

  • But despite the soft power China may wield on Hollywood films, it's unlikely it will succeed in exporting its own blockbusters anytime soon.

  • It's very hard for China, given the stories they tell, giving their emphasis on the domestic market, given the issue of dubbing and subtitling, for them to do very well overseas.

  • While a lot of those local films from the Chinese industry are very culturally specific,

  • I think we might well see western studios taking on titles that performed well in china, and remaking them for a US or a Western audience.

  • While much of next year will be focused on protecting the world from dangers on earth, some scientists will be focusing on how to defend the planet from threats in outer space.

  • In July 2021, NASA will launch the world's first trial in planetary defense.

  • Basically we're purposely slamming a spacecraft into an asteroid to move it a little bit.

  • And this is the sort of thing that you might want to do if an asteroid was on a course to hit the Earth.

  • This might sound like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster, but the threat of an asteroid hitting earth is real.

  • A tiny asteroid streaking across southern Russia.

  • Just seven years ago, an undetected meteor exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, injuring at least 1200 people.

  • I think the Chelyabinsk impact really brought a lot of visibility to the fact that this is something that happens to the earth all of the time.

  • If something like that happens over a large city, you can get this sort of unfortunate devastation.

  • Something that's Chelyabinsk's size happens every few decades to maybe 100 years or so.

  • As you go up to something that's a bit bigger, sort of 160m, that's more rare,

  • but the amount of damage that it would cost could potentially wipe out a large region, perhaps a small country, if it was over one of those.

  • This is a rare event, but the consequences are so big and devastating that it really makes sense to take a step to do something about it.

  • NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, will practice defending Earth by altering the course of an asteroid using what's known as kinetic impactor technology.

  • This asteroid is not a threat to the Earth. It's not going to hit the Earth in the foreseeable future.

  • But, we do know that Earth is hit by asteroids all the time, and so we really want to take this first step to develop the technology to do something about that if we needed to in the future.

  • The target is the asteroid Didymos, which is orbited by a smaller asteroid, Dimorphos.

  • The DART spacecraft will hit the moonlit, adjusting its path and shortening its orbit by several minutes.

  • The impact will happen in 2022, when the asteroid is close enough to Earth for scientists to be able to study the change in momentum using powerful telescopes.

  • The DART mission is just one part of a wider worldwide effort in planetary defense.

  • Knowing where everything is is really a crucial foundation for planetary defenses.

  • Finding all the asteroids, tracking them and then being ready to do something about them in order to take that next step,

  • and turn what was science fiction into a reality of being able to do something about asteroids.

  • The probability of a giant asteroid hitting Earth is extremely small, but if 2020 has shown anything, it's that it pays to be prepared for the unexpected.

  • I'm Tom Standage, editor of the Economist Annual: The World in 2021. Click on the link opposite for more analysis of the year ahead.

  • Thank you for watching. And don't forget to subscribe to our channel.

In 2020, one story has consumed everything.

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The World in 2021: five stories to watch out for | The Economist

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    林宜悉 posted on 2022/01/03
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