Letter from...

After the applause has died down, will the Paris Agreement do enough to keep global temperatures down, fund emission reductions in developing countries and hold nations to account?

As expected, a deal was finally done in Paris. This in itself is vital as we tackle the most serious strategic threat to our planet and its people. But it'd be easy to get carried away with hyperbole -- so what does the Paris Agreement actually deliver?

In his second post from Paris, Barry Coates says the current deal before ministers is not good enough to keep temperature increases below 2 degrees and spells out what's missing

As ministers arrive in Paris from around the world, they have a historic opportunity – and responsibility. While it's now clear most countries want a global agreement, the current draft simply isn't good enough. It will lead us into an era of dangerous climate change.

Long-time climate campaigner and Green candidate Barry Coates writes from negotiations at Paris to explain NZ's role and what's really happening behind the scenes

The first deadline for climate change negotiators in Paris is upon us. The government officials who have been negotiating for eight long years since talks started in Bali in 2007 have to finish their work today.

During late night sessions, they have been trying to come up with a draft agreement that is ready for Ministers to take the final political decisions.

The flag debate tells us something about the quality of design in New Zealand

I am not going to tell you about the right choice for New Zealand’s flag. That would invalidate the point of the column. Certainly I shall vote for one; much of my response will be an instinctive opinion. What I shall probably miss – what we are currently missing – is expert guidance on the characteristics of a good flag.

What do the anti-capitalist protesters in London actually want? They compare themselves to the Arab Spring, but it all sounds a bit vague

It’s getting colder in London. We had a lingering summer, but that is over. Not such a great time to be on the streets for any longer than you have to.The central heating goes on and the thick duvet is very welcome.

Left- and right-wing politicians and commentators in Europe are grappling with the lessons to be learned from the terrorist attack in Norway -- and what it means for debate about immigration.

Since the horrific attacks by Anders Breivik, rather than calls for vengeance, European newspapers have been full of reflection about the tenor of their national debates on multiculturalism and immigration.

From Jordan, Jane writes: The Arab Spring turned far more murderous, leaving the West, as well as Arab neighbours, to do little but talk while Bashar the Butcher gets on with his slaughter

The Arab Spring is now well into its sixth month and in much of the Middle East and North Africa, it is a pivotal time as autocrats still clinging to power have decided they’d rather slaughter their own than give up decades of cushy brutality and corruption.

Ed Miliband has given fresh energy to UK Labour in opposition. Should NZ Labour be looking for something similar?

For the last day and a half I've been struggling to persuade "New Power Generation" - not one of Prince's best songs - to get the hell out of my head. It's all Ed Miliband's fault. He planted the earworm with the message he trumpeted in his first big speech as leader, to gathered party conference delegates in Manchester this week.

The drama in London this week meant that the Euro-zone crisis received relatively little coverage or commentary. It's big news – and what happens next could be even bigger.

Kept at home by an annoying flu, I spent much of this week following the live coverage of the British election and its fall-out.

What's Fun about a Summit to Solve Global Warming?

I received an odd phone-call this week. Out of the blue, the alarmingly perky morning hosts of an Auckland radio station I've never listened to rang to say that they'd heard I lived in Copenhagen. They wanted me, live on-air, to tell their listeners "fun things about the Copenhagen climate summit".

And you thought John Key's bit on Letterman was a sad attempt at scaring up tourists. In Denmark the state tourism organisation filmed a fake YouTube appeal in which a hot Dane woman admitted her fling with a foreign visitor produced a child

So, have American tourists started calling up, expressing interest in the Cinnabon at Auckland Airport yet?

Melting ice provides Greenland with an economic lifeline. Should it grab hold?

It seems to be a modern-day pilgrimage for those who fear global warming's impact: go to Greenland and witness the melting glaciers before they disappear.

If you're lucky, you can hover above the oft-lamented glaciers (in a carbon-emitting helicopter), ruing humanity's impact on the landscape.

And the winner is... It's time for the results of elections affecting 491 million people. Should anyone in NZ care?

The biggest trans-national elections in history have been held over the last few days – not that you get to read much about this in the New Zealand media.

Fidel Castro has survived many US Presidents, and a trip to Cuba suggests he may outlive the Cold War as well as Obama re-thinks 50 years of failed sanctions

It is rather an odd feeling to be witnessing the closing chapter of the Cold War, as the United States admits the Castros have won, and it is time to move on… Well, almost.

A little bit of weather, and the city grinds to a halt. Pathetic, yes. But what fun


A report from Washington DC on Inauguration day, when Americans found a reason to be proud once again. And boy, did they show it!

The largest party on earth is over, and what a party it was.

The NZ war hero behind the Battle of Britain has turned posthumous political peacemaker

Although he has not received widespread public recognition, either in Britain or his native New Zealand, Sir Keith Rodney Park has a claim to be one of the greatest commanders in the history of aerial warfare.

When Tony Blair and Madonna hit Montreal together this week, they only added to the surrealism surrounding this once in a century credit tsunami.

Tony Blair and the now oh-so-appropriately-named Material Girl breezed in to Montreal for the same days this week, each charging bucket loads for the privilege of their presence right in the middle of the economic tsunami. One was clad in fishnets, thigh-high boots, top hat and little else. The other was not.

Given the number of sub-cultures in America, it's a wonder the country holds together as 'one nation under God'.

With three winners in four Republican primaries so far, and John Edwards hoping against hope for an upset in Nevada or South Carolina that would make it three winners on the Democratic side, this year's presidential race has highlighted the diversity of political opinion in the US.

For half a century science has played a crucial part in America's international dominance. Now the rest of the world is catching up - fast.

When America's prominence in the world is discussed, it's usually attributed to its open democracy and free market policies, to its military might and economic heft since the second world war, to the sheer size of its population and landmass and to the American idea of liberty and opportunity for all.

The US is not at the forefront of any debate that matters, except war and terrorism. The rest of the world is moving on without it.

As George Bush strolls into the leaders' meeting at Apec, I half expect to see him rubbing his eyes in a somewhat sleepy, surprised manner, like a bear coming out of hibernation.