Against all odds and expectations, the Paris Conference on climate change was a partial success. For the first time almost 200 governments agreed on reduction targets for emissions, on external controls, and on an aim to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees.
While according to many experts these results are not good enough, they nevertheless constitute significant progress.
So, the questions are:
Why did this happen now?
And how can we navigate between the unrealistic expectation that the postindustrial countries will agree to reduce their living standards to make energy consumption more sustainable, and the equally unrealistic assumption that developing countries should agree to slow down their growth?
One of the most puzzling developments of the past five years has been the transformation in Myanmar. After decades of an authoritarian form of domestic governance and relative isolation from international relations, the ruling military group, or caste, decided to gradually reform the country, and to open it up. Domestically, a process of democratization was initiated and accepted. The recent parliamentary election produced a landslide result for the oppositional NDL party under Aung San Suu Kyi who now has a defining majority. Externally, the long cooperation with, or rather dependency on Chinese projects in the fields of water management, infrastructure and trade (especially lumber and jade) was reduced, and the country has opened up to Western partners and other neighbors.
The question is this week: How can we explain this shift that was not produced by collapse or external pressure, and what can we learn from this (if anything) for the potential future of other authoritarian systems?