Participants are seen in silhouette as they look at a screen showing a world map with climate anomalies during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 8, 2015. (REUTERS/Stephane Mahe)

In this occasional series, The Washington Post brings you up to speed on some of the biggest stories of the week. This week: Amid increasingly urgent warnings, world leaders still seek viable solutions to fight climate change.

The biggest story: Warming of the Arctic is ‘unprecedented’

“The Arctic is going through the most unprecedented transition in human history, and we need better observations to understand and predict how these changes will affect everyone, not just the people of the north,” said Jeremy Mathis, the director of the Arctic Research Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, earlier this week.

He and his colleagues found that although 2017's warming in the Arctic was not as stark as last year's record-breaking numbers, the region continues to warm at roughly double the rate of the rest of the planet.

Read the full story.


An icebreaker steams toward the Arctic. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

France’s Macron takes lead in climate change battle, with the U.S. absent

Even as warnings accumulate, the United States is now the only nation on Earth to have rejected the Paris climate accord, whose signatories have promised to keep this century’s global temperature increase below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

In contrast, climate change has been one of French President Emmanuel Macron's signature issues. When President Trump announced that the United States would drop out of the Paris accord, Macron immediately launched a campaign called “Make Our Planet Great Again,” a riff on Trump’s campaign slogan.

Read the full dispatch from Paris.

Four other important stories

1. Macron speaks to the world. But what about the French?

Seven months after his election, Macron has established himself as a force on the world stage. But at home, some say he's too quiet on a critical question in one of Western Europe’s most diverse societies: national identity. Read James McAuley's report from Paris.

Instead of confronting his critics in France, Macron has also spent much of his time trying to reinvent the embattled European Union. But he's not the only European politician with radical reform proposals.

2. German center-left pitches 'United States of Europe'

In Germany, Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz has proposed a far more integrated continental bloc. “I want a new constitutional treaty to establish the United States of Europe,” Schulz said. The proposed treaty would go into effect by 2025. European Union members that don’t accept the agreement would be forced to leave the bloc, which stands at 28 members and is due to shrink to 27 with Britain’s scheduled exit in 2019, writes Griff Witte in Berlin.

3. Is Putin outplaying Trump?

Many of Trump's controversial policy changes have been announced via the president's Twitter account. The Kremlin views the tweets as official statements, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally briefed on them, according to Adam Taylor.


Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump met in Vietnam on Nov. 11. (Pool photo by Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik via European Pressphoto Agency-EFE)

And while Trump has recently sparked outrage across the Middle East, Putin has played the role of a sober and dependable partner.

A Pew survey conducted this year among people in a number of Middle Eastern countries found that 64 percent see Russia as more influential in regional affairs than it was a decade ago. That perception may grow in the months to come, with Russia well poised to benefit, writes Ishaan Tharoor. 

Anger and disappointment with U.S. foreign policy isn't limited to the Middle East, either.

4. Months of fighting drove the Islamic State from this Philippine city but left behind distrust and destruction


A Filipino soldier in Marawi in November. (Hannah Reyes Morales for The Washington Post)

Some 200,000 residents are still scattered across the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, living with weary relatives or in displacement camps thick with mud and worry. Filipinos who have been allowed to return have found their homes sacked and looted — safes open, jewelry snatched, appliances gone.

Many people are angry at the men who seized their city, took hostages and targeted civilians in a failed bid to establish a caliphate. They are angry, too, at the forces that fought those men — namely the Philippine army and its backer, the United States.

Read the full story by Emily Rauhala in Marawi.

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