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Climate Activist Self-Immolates and Emmanuel Macron Wins Elections and Beijing Mass COVID Testing

Updated: May 20

April 21-27, 2022 | Issue 5 - Behavior/Leadership Team

Zoe Beyer, Sara Buccino, Katie Lohret, Sofia Stanga, Jacqueline Schluger, B/L Team

Demetrios Giannakaris, Senior Editor


Sign from a climate change protest[1]

Date: 22 April, 2022

Location: Washington, D.C.

Parties involved: US Supreme Court; The Biden Administration Climate Activists; Wynn Alan Bruce; Environmental Protection Agency; The Republican Party

The event: Wynn Bruce, a climate activist, self-immolated at the Earth Day protest against the US Supreme Court majority’s statements claiming they do not believe the EPA can limit carbon emissions. Bruce, a Buddhist, followed lawyer David Buckel, who self-immolated to protest climate change inaction in 2018 while alluding to self-immolation’s Buddhist roots. A year before his immolation, Bruce reposted an article with the date of his self-immolation and a fire emoji.[2] Friends and admirers on Twitter tweeted statements calling his death “the ultimate sacrifice,” “deeply fearless,” and “an act of compassion.”[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The Supreme Court majority will very likely rule to limit EPA power over carbon emission regulations, almost certainly resulting in protests from climate activists. Climate activists will almost certainly further spread information on social media supporting Bruce’s protest, likely inspiring similar actions in the future. Potential self-immolators will very likely either come from a Buddhist background or adopt Buddhist rhetoric and will likely discuss their plans on social media to garner publicity.

  • Climate activist organizations will almost certainly openly reject suicide protests to avoid association with extremism. Organizations will likely monitor Buddhist members and those who post in support of Bruce’s act to preserve organizational unity. Climate activists committed to violent tactics will likely form radical groups that support extreme measures to bring attention to climate change.

  • US Supreme Court majority judges will very likely rule against EPA powers despite protests as their decisions require objectivity. The Biden Administration will almost certainly continue to support policy against climate change while condemning self-immolation due to the potentially negative associations with extremism. The Republican Party will very likely associate Bruce’s self-immolation with extremism to justify rejecting policies that reduce climate change.

Date: 24 April, 2022

Location: France

Parties involved: French voters; French President Emmanuel Macron; Marine Le Pen; French far-right groups; French far-left groups

The event: Emmanuel Macron, leader of the centrist party La République en Marche, won the 2022 French presidential elections with 58.54% of the votes, against the 41.46% obtained by Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader of the Rassemblement Nationale party. The gap between the two candidates had tightened since the 2017 elections when Macron scored 66.1% and Le Pen 33.9%. Over the years, France’s abstention rates have significantly increased, amounting to 28.01% in the French 2022 elections.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Increased abstention rates in France very likely signal widespread dissatisfaction with the political class. French citizens who feel unrepresented by the elected government will likely join violent demonstrations and far-right or radical left groups, likely leading to political polarization. Polarization will likely negatively affect social cohesion, likely leading to increased levels of intercommunal violence.

  • The tightening gap between Macron and Le Pen almost certainly signals that far-right ideology in France is gaining popularity, likely leading to the normalization of ethnonationalist discourses. This will very likely lead to increased discrimination and aggression towards ethnic minorities, immigrants, and the Islamic community.

Date: 25 April, 2022

Location: Beijing, China

Parties involved: Chinese authorities; Chinese government; Chinese residents; Chinese businesses; Shanghai

The event: While Shanghai is experiencing its fourth week of strict lockdown due to COVID, Beijing has placed a mass COVID testing order on its biggest district, Chaoyang. The ruling caused residents to stock up on groceries should a strict lockdown similar to Shanghai’s is implemented shortly.[5] Chinese authorities ordered residents to test for COVID three times this week as officials in Beijing were alerted to a new wave of COVID infections. Police in hazmat suits continue to monitor the streets, asking pedestrians to go home. Beijing residents swarmed stores and e-commerce sites to purchase food and essentials. Authorities blocked entrances to streets in response to videos online showing residents protesting the city’s COVID protocol.[6]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Beijing residents likely anticipate a lockdown similar to Shanghai's, likely including stricter quarantine protocols. Restrictions and extended quarantine will likely have a negative effect on the mental health of citizens, likely resulting in increased rates of crime, self-harm, and clinical depression. Stricter protocols will almost certainly affect the social lives of citizens, likely prompting violations of Covid measures and further restrictions.

  • Overstocking by Beijing residents will almost certainly reduce the availability of primary resources such as food and medicine, further affecting public health. This will very likely increase the frustration of local residents, likely leading to protests similar to those in Shanghai. The Chinese government is likely to suppress protests and maintain lockdown measures unless COVID cases decrease.


 

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)


[1] End fossil fuels now! by Alisdare Hickson licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

[2] Climate Activist Dies After Setting Himself on Fire at Supreme Court, The New York Times, April 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/24/us/politics/climate-activist-self-immolation-supreme-court.html

[3] Tributes paid for climate activist Wynn Alan Bruce who died after setting himself on fire, Indy100, April 2022, https://www.indy100.com/news/wynn-alan-bruce-climate-activist

[4] French election results in charts and maps: Abstention and Le Pen gain ground, Le Monde, April 2022, https://www.lemonde.fr/en/politics/article/2022/04/25/french-election-results-in-charts-and-maps-abstention-and-le-pen-gain-ground_5981592_5.html

[5] Beijing races to contain ‘urgent and grim’ Covid outbreak as Shanghai lockdown continues, CNN, April 2022 https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/24/china/beijing-covid-outbreak-lockdown-fears-intl-hnk/index.html

[6] Panic buying in Beijing stores amid COVID lockdown fears, Reuters, April 2022 https://www.reuters.com/world/china/shanghai-was-lesson-beijing-residents-hit-stores-amid-covid-lockdown-fears-2022-04-25/


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