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Nancy Pelosi Visiting South Korea After Trip To Taiwan; China Launches Military Drills Around Taiwan; Ukraine Makes Slow But Steady Progress In South; Blistering Temperatures Expected To Continue Across Europe; Kenya Facing Extreme Hunger Amid Drought, High Food Prices. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired August 04, 2022 - 00:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome everyone. I'm Rosemary Church.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM. China's military response to Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, launching what some describe as a blockade of the island.

Still not the time for talks, Ukraine lashes out at suggestions it negotiate an end to the war with Russia.

And later, the announcement from OPEC that critics call a slap in the face to U.S. President Joe Biden.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Good to have you with us.

So, tensions are building in the Taiwan Strait as China launches military drills after strongly protesting U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's high stakes visit to Taiwan. The Chinese defense ministry says the exercises taking place by air and by sea also include long range live fire drills. The action follows repeated threats from Beijing over Pelosi's trip to Taiwan.

But the warnings did not stop the House speaker who praised the island's commitment to democracy and said her visit should be seen as a strong statement that "America stands with Taiwan".

Well, Pelosi is now in South Korea, her latest stop on her ongoing visit to Asia. She is set to meet with her South Korean counterpart and speak by phone with South Korea's president.

And you are actually looking at live pictures right here of a press conference about to start in Seoul.

Well, CNN correspondents are tracking all the developments. Steven Jiang is standing by in Beijing and Blake Essig is live for us in Tokyo. Good to see you both.

Steven, let's go to you first because many are concerned that China's military exercises could help actually prepare for a future attack. What's China's strategy here?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF (on camera): Well, Rosemary, let's take a look at these drills. Based on what we have heard from authorities on both sides of street, we know for example, the People's Liberation Army has flown drones over one of Taiwan's outlying islands that is closer to the mainland. They have also flown a larger than usual number of warplanes encroaching into what Taiwan's air defense zone crossing the so-called median line above the Strait.

But of course, the PLA has promised a lot more including the blockade you mentioned. But also, of course holding drones that could potentially encroach into Taiwan's territorial waters and airspace, meaning less than 10 miles away from the island's shorelines. They could also of course, fire missiles, including their new hypersonic missiles over the island directly.

All of that, of course, would be considered a major provocation and escalation of tensions by both Taipei and Washington but very much seen as justified and part of their long promise to forceful response by Beijing to this Pelosi visit.

But one word of caution here though, these are not just military drills, but part of the, you know, information psychological and political warfare from Beijing very much directed at domestic audiences where, which so far -- so far has felt rather led down by their governments perceived a lackluster response, especially after days of firing language from Beijing officials.

But one thing I think a lot of people agree and so, it's not just going to be a few days of drills and everything goes back to normal because this visit may indeed prompt all sides to have a rethink for the PLA for example, they may just want to take advantage of this to change the status quo by for example, starting to seriously enforcing their claim that Taiwan -- the Taiwan Strait is not international waters, but rather China's territorial waters that could have major implications on the U.S. and its allies that routinely send warships and warplanes to cross the Strait.

But same thing can be said about Washington's long standing strategic ambiguity on defending Taiwan. Many have said that policy worked as long as Beijing believed it was weaker than the U.S. but that clearly is no longer the case, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Blake Essig, let's go to you now because after the high stakes visit of Speaker Pelosi to Taiwan, she is now in South Korea as we mentioned at the top of the show. What is expected come out of that meeting?


BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Rosemary, you know, her visit in South Korea, you know, she's going to meet with her counterpart in the Korean legislature and then she's going to have a phone call with the South Korea President Yoon Suk- yeol who's actually on vacation, so unable to meet with Pelosi in person.

But, you know, imagine that, you know, the two countries, U.S. and South Korea through Pelosi, they're going to be able to continue to strengthen, you know, an already strong alliance that exists but, you know, really the impact of what has happened as a result of Pelosi's tour of Asia, as you said. She's in South Korea now.

But the impact of her visit continues to play out on the Democratic self-governing island of Taiwan left to pick up the pieces and deal with the fallout, both economically and militarily of the speaker's visit to Taiwan.

Now, China's live fire military exercises that will essentially encircle Taiwan are believed to be underway and will continue until Sunday. Those drills were announced shortly after Pelosi landed in Taiwan.

And yesterday, Taiwan's defense ministry condemned the drills, saying they amount to a maritime an aerial blockade as a result. Taiwan had to negotiate alternative aviation routes with Japan in the Philippines because of China's military exercises.

In total, 18 international flight routes, about 300 flights per day will be impacted and on the same day that Pelosi met with Taiwan's president and visited parliament, 27 Chinese warplanes entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone with 22 crossing the Taiwan Strait median line, splitting Taiwan from China.

While it's happened before, it's nonetheless seen as provocative with only 120 kilometers essentially separating China and Taiwan. Meaning, crossing the median line would put Chinese warplanes very close to the island and as a result of those incursions by the PLA aircraft, radio warnings were issued, air defense missile systems were deployed to monitor activities and fighter jets were scrambled to warn away the Chinese warplanes.

Taiwan's defense ministry also said that they fired flares to drive away drones seen flying above some of Taiwan's outlying islands as Steven mentioned. It is worth noting, at least from the Taiwanese side, similar situation had happened last week, and that it's still unknown who exactly was operating those drones.

As for the local reaction in Taiwan, well, some people think Pelosi's trip was beneficial and that China shouldn't have a say in who visits Taiwan. Others are worried that her visit would escalate tensions. And for now, that seems to be the case. That seems to be what we're seeing between China and Taiwan, especially there on the Taiwan Strait, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, Blake Essig in Tokyo, Steven Jiang in Beijing, many thanks to you both.

Joining me now from Canberra, Australia, Malcolm Davis, a military analyst and senior analyst of defense strategy and capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So, not only has China launched military exercises in response to U.S. House Speaker Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, but it has also hit the self-governing nation with the trade -- with trade restrictions. Was Pelosi's visit worth all this and the risk of conflict?

DAVIS: Look, I think it was for the simple reason that it sent a very strong message to the Taiwanese government that the United States will stand by it, and recognizes the importance of preserving essentially a Western democratic nation of 24 million people.

And in that sense, I think it's really important that Pelosi did make that visit, especially after Beijing tried to intimidate and coerce the U.S. government into not making the visit.

CHURCH: And some analysts suggest that China's military exercises could actually help it prepare to attack Taiwan. What is your reaction to that? Do you think that's what's going on right now?

DAVIS: I think certainly there's an element to that. The sorts of military exercises that are undertaking in those exclusion zones are certainly the same sorts of things that the PLA would be doing in a blockade of Taiwan. And of course, under international law, a blockade is an act of war.

So, the Chinese are certainly gaining experience in that regard in terms of the likely operations they would undertake in the future. But at the same time, we are gaining valuable intelligence opportunity by observing what they're doing, how they're operating, what are their communications capabilities, their sense of capabilities.

So really, they're providing us with a valuable intelligence gift which we are happily taking on board. But of course, there are risks going forward.

CHURCH: And reaction in Taiwan to Nancy Pelosi's visit has ranged from excitement to anger as a result of the response that's come from China.


Is a political visit like this ever smart when it could trigger conflict? Would it have been better for her to make the determination to go at another time perhaps, and not put the U.S. and others in this situation where you then can't be seen to be cowering to China, can you?

DAVIS: No, I think that no matter what time she did it, the response from Beijing would be the same, to essentially coerce and try and challenge the legitimacy of the speaker's freedom to make a trip -- a trip to Taiwan. So, it's not a case of avoiding antagonizing China, we need to stand

up for Taiwan's future. And for its right to choose its own future, we need to support a fellow Western liberal democracy against an authoritarian state.

And for us to back down in the face of Chinese threats, I think would have been catastrophic for the resolve of Western countries and that would have only encouraged China to actually do this sorts of coercive activity more often. So, I don't think delaying the trip would have achieved anything.

CHURCH: So, where do you see this going? Do you expect China to attack at Taiwan soon? And if it does, how likely is it that the U.S. and perhaps other nations would do get involved militarily?

DAVIS: Well, there's a range of assessments on the Chinese military's ability to undertake a cross straits invasion, ranging from the second half of this decade to early in the 2030s.

I think that their ability to undertake provocations and what's known as gray zone actions or to attack Taiwan's offshore territories is likely to happen sooner than the middle of this decade, but across straits invasion to invade an annex Taiwan, and force it back into China against the will of the Taiwanese people.

I think that's not likely to happen until probably the second half of this decade, or into the early 2030s. And I think in terms of international response, the U.S., Japan, Australia and others in the Indo-Pacific region, have to have a solid dialogue about how they would respond because if the U.S. does not respond to a call of assistance from Taipei, then it loses an awful lot of credibility in the eyes of other Indo-Pacific powers. And also, a lot of the fundamental strength of America's strategic relationships and alliances is gone.

So, it would be catastrophic damage to U.S. strategic interests if it did not respond.

CHURCH: Malcolm Davis, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

DAVIS: Thank you.

CHURCH: Sweden and Finland are now one step closer to joining NATO after clearing an important hurdle on Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted 95 to one to ratify NATO membership for the two countries, a rare display of overwhelming bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress.

The official ratification document now goes to President Biden for his signature. One U.S. senator said Russia's invasion of Ukraine underscored the urgency of Wednesday's vote.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Russia's unprovoked aggression in Ukraine has changed how we think about the world security. That's why I strongly support the decision of these two great democracies, Sweden and Finland to join the most important and defensive alliance in the world NATO.


CHURCH: Both countries must still get unanimous approval from all 30 NATO members. According to the alliance, 23 of those countries have now given the green light so far.

Ukraine is blaming Russian military contractor Wagner for an attack that killed at least 50 prisoners of war in the occupied East. Ukraine claims the prisoners had been tortured and the building was destroyed to cover up evidence of their mistreatment.

CNN cannot independently verify this claim. But now the United Nations is planning to create a fact finding mission to look into what happened.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECURITY-GENERAL: We hope to have all the facilities from both sides for access and for the attention of all data that is necessary to be able to clarify the truth about what has happened.

So, this is a matter that we took very seriously. And we are we're working hard for that.


CHURCH: However, a White House official says Russia could be preparing to falsify evidence that would make it appear that Ukraine hit the prison with HIMARS rockets like the ones you see here.


Ukraine also says its forces are making slow but steady progress in the South. Ukrainian officials say Russian troops have been pushed out of some villages and strategic points in the region.

But as Nic Robertson finds out, the people who used to live there are not coming back yet.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): The road to Ivanivka isn't safe. Playboy his war name is taking us there across country. He says his forces recaptured it from the Russians following a two week artillery battle.


ROBERTSON: That was a month ago. It's still deserted, only abandoned pets and farmyard animals here now.

When you come in here, and you look at the farm here, the animals left out, the dog in a terrible state. How do you feel?

PLAYBOY: If I feel quite sad.

ROBERTSON: And when can people come back to this village?

PLAYBOY: I think when we will go further forward or further to the next line of the villages.

ROBERTSON: Unexploded shells littered the ground. The end of war a long ways off, he says.

PLAYBOY: I think it's not real finished very fast. Because we are not so powerful right now.

ROBERTSON: During the attack here, Ukrainian forces estimate they killed about 50 Russian soldiers, injured about 100 more. The big challenge for the Ukrainians now mustering enough men to advance further.

The frontline just a few kilometers away. A single artillery shell hits its target. The troops that took even if the last month have moved on.

PLAYBOY: We are planning to move forward, surely.


PLAYBOY: I don't know. Well, my own opinion, I think in a month.

ROBERTSON: At the village school, window smashed, classrooms trashed, empty ration packs on the floor, and a message scrolled before they retreated.

The Russian troops have left a parting message, it says Russia is everywhere. It has no borders. And over here they've crossed out the Ukrainian word for march and said use the right language.

Where the Russians appeared to fight harder frontline trenches near the village, armored vehicles and tanks taken out by artillery.

You get an idea of the ferocity of the fight here from the artillery impacts and the way the trees around here are all shredded.

But here's a surprise, hitting these targets with U.S. gifted M777 artillery wasn't as easy as the soldiers expected.

PLAYBOY: M777 shooting quite good, but not so good as we expected.

ROBERTSON: Not ungrateful, he says and very willing to learn better skills.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Ivanivka, Ukraine.


CHURCH: Ukrainian officials are dismissing suggestions by a former German Chancellor that Moscow wants a negotiated solution to the war in Ukraine.

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder made the remark on Wednesday after meeting last week in Moscow with the Russian leader. Schroeder cited the recent Green Deal as a possible starting point toward a ceasefire. But Schroeder has had close ties to Vladimir Putin for many years. And his comments did not sit well in Kyiv. Take a listen moves.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It is simply disgusting when former leaders of major states with European values work for Russia, which is at war against these values.


CHURCH: Ukraine's foreign minister said Moscow remains focused on its military objectives in Ukraine and that everything else is a smokescreen.

Well, Europe's getting hit with scorching temperatures this week. Just ahead, we will find out how this hot dry weather is taking a toll on some of Europe's most important cash crops.

Plus, it's not just Europe suffering, parts of Africa in the midst of the worst drought in 40 years, leading to widespread starvation. More on that when we come back.



CHURCH: Temperatures are scorching parts of Europe with some places topping 40 degrees Celsius and the heat is expected to continue over the next few days at least.

It's already taken a toll in France. Water restrictions are in place in an effort to preserve crops, and it's hitting the heart of Italy's wine and olive oil industry as well.

The lack of rainfall is even affecting plants that normally thrive in hot, dry conditions. The soil is so parched that olive trees are not producing enough fruit.

So, let's turn now to CNN Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. And Pedram, it does appear that these high temperatures will continue for a while. But the consequences are just immense, aren't they?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): It is year after year, Rosemary. You know, you look at 2021 and I stood up here about a year ago telling you the data indicating this was Europe's hottest summer on record. And more than likely in a few months, we'll stand up here and tell you that 2022 bested 2021 because these heat waves are unrelenting and you take a look at these temperatures across areas of Spain where you expect it to be hot this time of year. Of course, Cordoba, Madrid, the middle 30s, this time of year are more typical, but the upper 30s and lower 40s have been playing out here in the past 24 or so hours.

Now, how about some other cities Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin, Milan, temperatures running as much as 10 to 11 degrees yet again, above average in what is typically already considered the hottest time of year.

But we had one day of this, we'll get one more day of it before conditions we think will begin to cool off at least across the northern reaches of Europe, going in from Friday, eventually into Saturday.

So, there is at least a brief period where we get some breaks in the action here from the success of heatwave.

But notice the seven day forecast and remember I told you this year of the heat wave here in 2022, because Paris cools off significantly over the next three to four days. But then this time next week goes right back up again, where we are here, right now essentially back into the 30s.

Berlin from 37 down into the 20s, a climb back up to the upper 20s. And then of course to talk about air conditioning and the impacts here across these regions around the northern tier of Europe, between one to five percent of households have air conditioning units installed, so it becomes really a dangerous situation for a lot of people. Where in the United States in Japan, upwards of 85 percent of households have air conditioning units installed.

So, a lot of these to take into consideration when these repeated heat waves keep taking place.

CHURCH: All right, meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, many things for keeping us up to date on all of that. Appreciate it.

Well, a withering drought is just one part of the dire situation in East Africa. Another, the war in Ukraine and its effect on food supplies. One shipment of much needed grain safely left Ukraine this week, but that shipping alone is not nearly enough to solve the global food crisis.

CNN's Sam Kiley reports now from northern Kenya.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's not a coffin he's being measured for, this is an urgent effort to keep him from the grave. His arm so thin for his age and height. He's categorized as severely acutely malnourished.

Ebola (PH) needs urgent help. He's about two and he can't walk. He's one of six million kids across the Horn of Africa, the U.N. says are on the brink of starvation.


There's food for her youngest but nothing for her other children, except for a little wheat, ground into a handful of flour.

She says her husband died last year, she has no livestock. She survives by selling charcoal where she can but food prices have trebled this year.

The evidence that humanity's ancestors lived here one and a half million years ago has been found in places like this.

Now, water the very source of life is being measured out in coffee cups, an 11.6 million people across northeastern Africa a short of water in the worst drought for 40 years.

Here in Eldoret, northern Kenya, local officials say that at least 85 percent of animals once owned by nomadic people are dead.

And the U.N. says one and a half million head of livestock have perished in Kenya, and across the Horn of Africa, close to 20 million people face acute food shortages.

Now, the price of staple food like maize flour have more than doubled in many parts of Kenya, since the disruption of global food supplies by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In short, Europe's war may soon start killing people in Africa.

This community is marginal. It's living on the brink of the very brink of survival, but so are millions of people right across the region. And critical to their long term survival is the stability of Kenya a country that is facing drought. It is facing massive increases in the price of fuel and food. And it's now facing general elections. Instability here causes chaos across the whole Horn of Africa.

The increased banditry across the vast Marsabit County has led to dozens of murders and thousands of livestock lost in raids, and has now been met with military operations and a dawn to dusk curfew.

Around 200 machine guns and other weapons were captured in one recent police operation here. Along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, roadblocks screen travelers in daylight. Nomads are moving south in search of grazing into major towns like Isiolo. And they've invaded wildlife sanctuaries like buffalo springs, competing with protected and often endangered animals for food and water.

The results can be fatal, two men were recently killed by a female elephant near here. But it's violence between humans that's putting the most traditionally stable country in the Horn of Africa at risk.

FRANK POPE, CEO, SAVE THE ELEPHANTS: Anytime you get -- you get people that are hungry, without other options, you've got a security situation in northern Kenya, as you know, we're bordered by South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, all of which have had or are still in the grip of conflict that spews small arms into this ecosystem.

So, you've got a lot of weapons up here and increasing hunger. So yes, I'd say that's a security concern. KILEY: That concern will endure as long as this landscape continues to dry out, and war in Europe chokes food supplies to Africa's most needy.

Sam Kiley, CNN in Eldoret, northern Kenya.


CHURCH: OPEC says it will pump more oil starting next month, but will it be enough to bring down fuel prices for consumers around the globe? We will ask an expert right after the break.


CHURCH: Germany's chancellor says there is no reason a refurbished turbine can't be shipped back to Russia to increase the flow of national gas to Europe.


Olaf Scholz visited the German plant where the vital piece of equipment is now being kept after being repaired in Canada. But Gazprom, the Russian state-owned energy company, says it's impossible to take delivery, because of Western sanctions. That's despite the chancellor saying earlier that sanctions were not an issue.


OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): What is important to me is to make clear that this turbine can be deployed at any time and that it can be used. There's nothing standing in the way of its onward transport to Russia.


CHURCH: Germany says Russian gas through the Nord Stream One pipeline has slowed to just 20 percent since the turbine was taken offline.

Chancellor Scholz is warning that if the turbine is re-installed, Gazprom might stop honoring its existing contracts.

Well, the world's top oil exporting countries say they will step up production by 100,000 barrels a day next month. But it's hardly the boost the U.S. government was hoping for when President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia last month.

The increase is one of the smallest since OPEC quotas started in 1982. It amounts to less than 1 percent of global demand.

CNN's Clare Sebastian has more now from London.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was, in many ways, a token gesture. A nod, perhaps, to U.S. President Biden, who visited Saudi Arabia, OPEC's de facto leader, last month in an attempt, of course, to thaw relations with the kingdom and convince them to help bring down oil prices.

The White House's energy envoy called the planned increase a step in the right direction.

A hundred thousand barrels a day, though, is a much smaller increase that we've seen in previous months and a measure pretty unlikely to do much to bring down global oil prices, especially since many OPEC members are not actually pumping enough to meet recent production target increases.

OPEC is also balancing the fact that Russia is a member of OPEC+ and would not be in favor of doing anything to bring down high prices.

And there are economic concerns, as well. Oil prices, which soared in the spring over Russia-related supply concerns, have come down a lot from their recent peaks, as recession and therefore demand, fears have taken over. Raising production too much in this climate could be risky, especially since OPEC doesn't have much spare capacity to do so.

And it may need that spare capacity later, as there's another big risk to contend with. What will happen to supply at the end of the year when the E.U. embargo on Russian seaborne oil kicks in? That will be a key factor in determining whether oil prices stay high.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, London.


CHURCH: Economist Jeffrey Sachs is the director of Columbia University's Center for Sustainable Development and the author of "The Price of Civilization." He joins us now from New York.

Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, oil prices have been skyrocketing around the globe, due to a combination of the COVID pandemic, Russia's war in Ukraine, sanctions on Russia, and of course, other contributing factors.

And now, OPEC's minimal increase in oil output isn't helping the situation. What is going on with that, and what will the likely consequences be of OPEC's actions, if it continues like this?

SACHS: Well, OPEC is just sitting tight. Oil prices are staying around $100 a barrel. They're fluctuating a bit down today, but perhaps up again tomorrow.

We're in a general inflationary situation worldwide, of course, not only in oil but also in food prices and many other commodities prices. There are a lot of dollars out there chasing commodities.

[00:35:10] And in the case of oil, these supply chains are all disrupted, as you said, by the war, by the wild swings of the pandemic, when demand for oil collapsed in 2020 and 2021, and only gradually did production recover since then.

The U.S. has also disrupted supplies from Venezuela in recent years through sanctions. It's disrupted supplies from Iran. It's disrupted, obviously, the supplies from Russia.

So we have -- we have ourselves to blame, as well. We've really gone into this oil market globally in a lot of ways that have destabilized the global supply chains, and here we are with high prices.

CHURCH: And some view OPEC's minimal increase in oil output as a rejection of President Biden and his recent meeting with Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Do you agree with that assessment?

SACHS: Generally, yes. The Saudis say that they don't have much spare capacity. They are pumping a lot of oil.

The trip was not much of a success, clearly. Soon afterwards, the Saudis met with the Russians. Russia is part of the so-called OPEC+. In other words, cooperation between Russia and the OPEC countries.

I think they're sitting tight with this high price of oil. They're earning a lot of money, and they don't see any reason to budge. And U.S. politics didn't push that.

CHURCH: And U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling out fuel companies and what he calls the immoral profits. Let's just take a listen.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: It is immoral for oil and gas companies to be making record profits from this energy crisis on the back of the poorest people and communities and at a massive cost to the climate.

And I urge people everywhere to send a clear message to the fossil fuel industry and their financials that this grotesque greed is punishing the poorest and most vulnerable people, while destroying our only common home, the planet.


CHURCH: What's your reaction to his comments there?

SACHS: Well, it shows a lot of frustration, not just about this immediate circumstance but years and years in which the fossil fuel industry, the oil, gas and coal industry, have turned their backs on what is an alarming and growing environmental crisis, due to the production of fossil fuels.

This climate crisis we've seen this summer, in addition to these oil prices increases, have delivered record temperature increases, wild forest fires across Europe, United States, other parts of the world. And the oil industry has not played a constructive role in that at all.

And the secretary-general of the U.N. has been saying for years that we need an energy transition. These big oil and gas companies ought to turn into big wind and solar and renewable energy companies, but they're not doing it. They're dragging their feet on that.

And I think that that's the secretary-general's tremendous frustration with this. That on top of everything else, we have a calamitous environmental crisis, and the oil industry is not playing a constructive role.

CHURCH: All right, Jeffrey Sachs, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

SACHS: Good to be with you.

CHURCH: Well, still to come, polls show most Americans don't agree with the Supreme Court's recent decision on abortion rights. Now voters have had their say in a key state in the American heartland. We will explain why the record turnout in Kansas shocked almost everyone.



CHURCH: Voters in Kansas in the U.S. have overwhelmingly rejected an attempt to weaken abortion rights in the state constitution. It was the first major electoral test since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June. And it happened in a heavily Republican state.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny explains what it could mean for the upcoming midterm elections.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A surge of Kansas voters sending an overwhelming message to protect abortion rights.


ZELENY: It was the biggest sign yet of the backlash to the Supreme Court's decision to send the question of abortion back to the states. And here in conservative Kansas, voters delivered their answer loud and clear.

REP. SHARICE DAVIDS (D-KS): We don't want the government making our reproductive healthcare decisions for us.

ZELENY: Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids said Kansans have watched closely as neighboring states have enacted abortion bans.

DAVIDS: I think that there's a lot of energy to make sure that we're -- that we're maintaining our rights and that our children and our grandchildren have -- have as many rights as we've had.

ZELENY: The abortion measure drew historic turnout for an August election, with more than 900,000 voters casting ballots, dramatically outpacing primaries in 2018 and 2020.

It was a question of whether voters wanted to amend the Kansas constitution to allow lawmakers to further restrict or ban abortion. A resounding 59 percent said no; 41 percent said yes, with a coalition of some independents and Republicans joining forces to preserve access to abortion.

Three months before the fall elections, the outcome in Kansas reverberated across the political landscape, with Democrats expressing fresh hope that support for abortion rights could be a motivating force in November.

ZELENY: There is no doubt that the abortion rights are a motivating factor for some voters, as was shown here in Kansas. That coalition of Democrats, independents, Libertarians and even some Republicans, joining forces to protect abortion rights by a wide margin.

The question is whether it will overtake other issues driving this midterm election conversation, like the economy and inflation. Republicans clearly want to keep their focus on that, but Democrats believe they've learned a new playbook here in Kansas.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Overland Park, Kansas.


CHURCH: And thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more news in 15 minutes. WORLD SPORT starts after the break.