Northwestern Qatar faculty join Evanston campus seminars

February 10, 2021

Northwestern Qatar Professors Anto Mohsin and Jairo Lugo-Ocando joined fellow Northwestern faculty at seminars hosted by the Buffet Institute for Global Affairs and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program in Evanston.

Mohsin joined Northwestern Professors Mary McGrath, Michael Barsa, and Mar Reguant, for a session – “Prospects for the U.S. and Global Climate Action with the Biden Administration” - that explored the challenges and opportunities of the new administration's role in leading international cooperation efforts around climate change. 

Panelists expressed optimism in the Biden administration’s ability to overcome the U.S. partisan divide on climate change and put the world on a sustainable climate pathway.

In his remarks, Mohsin noted that international progress has been made to adopt renewable energy solutions, but outlined the complications facing some nations, particularly in the Global South, in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and shifting towards renewable energy.  

“Over the past 20 years, we have seen a steady increase in the global production of renewable energy, as well as a decrease in price for solar and wind power technology, but production levels are still far below international targets set for 2030 and 2050,” Mohsin said quoting the World Resources Institute’s State of Climate Action 2020 report.

Mohsin added that one of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is a record drop in global carbon dioxide emissions; however, he pointed out that this dip is not expected to be a sustained trend and carbon emissions will likely rebound as economies and manufacturers worldwide start reopening.

Mohsin pointed to Indonesia as an example of how countries in the Global South are adopting alternative solutions to mitigate the impact of climate change. The country’s capital, Jakarta, is one of the fastest sinking cities globally, and the Indonesian government has plans to move it further inland due to rising sea levels. Although the Covid-19 pandemic halted this plan, it has been prioritized over developing electricity generators that run on renewables. Mohsin also said that Indonesia has the potential to become a global renewable energy leader given the country’s abundant renewable energy resources, but Indonesia plans only include a modest increase in the share of renewables in 2026, according to the country’s 2017 Electricity Supply Business Plan. “Not even the looming threat of a climate change impact such as the sinking of the capital prompted the government to make more electricity generators from renewables or decrease deforestation,” Mohsin concludes.

Lugo-Ocando spoke at a faculty colloquium, titled, “Media & Governance in Latin America – Polarization in the Digital Age & the (Failed) Quest for Plurality,” where he explained the role of the media in transforming the relationship between the public and political leaders.

Explaining how the process of transitioning from dictatorships to democracies in Latin America excluded the mainstream media, prompting them to “act as political players by galvanizing weak opposition and influencing the formation of the region’s political landscape.”

Despite countries like Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay finding success in bringing new democratic leadership in the 1980s, Lugo-Ocando noted that the media institutions and conglomerates in Latin America continued to serve their owners and the interest of the powerful economic elite. In attempts to reform the media landscape, left-wing governments utilized the polarized media landscape that they inherited in their favor to create “political silos” that forced people to subscribe to pro-government narratives and affected journalists’ reporting on the truth.