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French press review 8 October 2018


We can still save the planet, but it won't be easy. Can Steve Bannon save Europe?

Le Monde gives the top of the front page to the sweltering planet, with the news that the Intergovernmental Expert Group on Climate Evolution thinks we still have a chance.

The group's report, to be made public later today after a week of discussions involving representatives from 195 nations in South Korea, says that an unprecedented effort could keep global warming down to 1.5°C. And we're likely to reach that dangerous limit sometime between 2030 and 2052.

This is not to be mistaken for good news. We're still deep in the do-do.

There's more greenhouse gas in the earth's atmosphere than at any stage in the last 800,000 years. Temperature records are being beaten each year. Intense heat waves, unprecedented storm rainfall and a rapid succession of sever hurricanes are just some of the indications that all is not well with Planet Earth.

If we do still have a chance, say the experts, it will require nothing less than an international sommersault.

And the delegations from the United States and Saudi Arabia, for example, had to have their arms twisted before they would accept the findings of the 400-page report presented in South Korea.

There are four main messages from the Korean meeting . . .

  • Climatic change is already having a serious impact.
  • Every half degree of temperature increase counts. At just 1.5° more, for example, the polar ice caps will melt completely ever hundred years or so. At 2°C the arctic ice will vanish once every decade.
  • If everybody kept the much-vaunted promises made at the Paris climate conference in 2015, the globe will be 3° hotter bt the end of this century.
  • It is possible to keep the change down to 1.5° by comparison with the pre-industrial average, but that's going to take a fundamental re-think of the way we live. If we don't wake up, we're on track for a polar bear melting global temperature rise of about 5.5°C by the end of the century.

If we do keep the heat down, say the experts with what must be weary scepticism, sustainable development could become a reality and we'll all live happily ever after.

Trump's right-hand man turns to Europe's far right

Right-wing Le Figaro looks at the efforts of Steve Bannon, the strategist who got Donald Trump into the White House, and who now wants to unite the various populist anti-European movements before next year's European Parliamentay elections.

Bannon was recently the star speaker at a rally in Rome organised by the far right Italian Brothers (there's no place, apparently, for their sisters), a group whose not immediately comprehensible slogan is "Europe against Europe, the people against the élite, national sovereignity against technocracy." The leader of the brothers, incidentally, is Giorgia Meloni, and she's a girl.

Bannon understands the brothers. He says the average ordinary European has no future. He's locked into an insecure job, worse than a Russian serf, even if he has an iPhone.

Let the serfs be assured: Steve, who clearly know very little about Russian history, tells Le Figaro that his sole aim is to give simple people a voice.

Bannon's enemies number one are what he calls the Davos set, the political and economic élite who are benefitting from globalisation, leaving the lower orders (us, in other words) struggling in their wake.

And then, says Bannon, the politicians have the nerve to complain that democracy is at risk, simply because the poor will no longer bother to vote. Give them candidates worth voting for and see what happens.

What happens is that you get Donald Trump, but that's another story. And more than one person in Brussels fears that Steve Bannon's arrival in Europe means that Trump intends to further destabilise the already tottering Union.