Donald Trump’s exit would change the face of geopolitics. All nations will be impacted by the climate crisis and Covid’s response – while others face very particular challenges. The next 12 months are being investigated by Observer correspondents.
The start of 2021 in most parts of the world is followed by a potent combination of hope and fear.
Scientists have produced multiple vaccines for a disease that last year did not even have a name this time.
But several nations, the U.K. included. And the U.S. is still stumbling through the pandemic’s deadliest period.
For many months, even in affluent nations, Covid’s shadow would not rise.
In the U.K. Boris Johnson’s suggestion that life will return to normal by Easter is generally seen as naive, though it was the first country to authorize a vaccine and has secured large supplies. Other countries will have to wait a long time to get vaccines and help pay for them, particularly in the South. It will be slow everywhere to restore economies ravaged by Covid; even countries that have managed to contain the virus, from Vietnam to New Zealand, have taken a hit.
But the planet will face other big threats that would have dominated the headlines in a typical year once the immediate danger is over. The climate crisis is probably the most urgent, but not always viewed as such by policymakers. The cost of a warming planet and the narrowing window of opportunity to reduce emissions and stop drastic global warming have centered attention on wildfires and severe weather.
World leaders are expected to meet in Glasgow in November for a global summit.
With the pandemic being delayed for a year, pressure is mounting on them to settle on major new measures.
Greener production is a goal of the current U.S. Once he fulfills his first campaign pledge, President Joe Biden will beat Covid. The special elections for Georgia’s two Senate seats on Jan. 5 would decide, in no small part, his ability to control this and other issues.
Senate control relies on the outcome.
After Donald Trump’s aggressive ‘America First’ project led him to withdraw from foreign commitments and threaten multilateral organizations such as NATO, Biden must also think about how to restore the image of his country abroad. Ties with Beijing, which under Trump have deteriorated rapidly, are also likely to be a specific priority.
China has already returned to growth since moving rapidly to suppress the coronavirus, and a trade agreement with the EU in late December is a reminder of how attractive its economy is to global investors.
In several countries, however, there is still anger over China’s handling of the early days of the pandemic and an evident unwillingness to allow for an impartial international investigation into the source of Covid-19.
From a sweeping security law used to crack down on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong to internment camps for Muslim minorities in the far western province of Xinjiang, the communist leadership of the country has also come under growing scrutiny for human rights violations.
By the end of his tenure, by taking a hard line against Beijing on trade and diplomatic problems, including growing military and political support for Taiwan, Trump had turned decades of policy on its head.
A less confrontational approach is supposed to be taken by Biden.
Other populist rulers will also be checked in 2021, following Trump’s exit.
Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel will face his fourth parliamentary election in two years’ time as cases of corruption continue.
Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil is entering the third of his four-year term, but his popularity could take a nosedive with pandemic payouts ending.
Below, our world-wide correspondents take a closer look at what 2021 might bring. Emma Graham-Harrison-The Harrison
U.S.: A return to reality?
He will face the most overwhelming, crowded inbox of any new U.S. president since World War II when Joe Biden assumes office on January 20.
More than 346,000 Americans have been killed by the coronavirus pandemic. With an unemployment rate v, the economy is struggling