Children at a UN camp for internally displaced persons. Photo: Ashraf ShazlyAFP/Getty Images

Nearly five years into a civil war, the leaders of two warring factions in South Sudan met for talks in Ethiopia Wednesday, the AP reports.

Why it matters: The talks were the first in two years, and come as fears of genocide and famine are rising.

By the numbers: “Over a quarter of the population has been displaced from their homes. ... So we have over 3.5 million people now outside of their homes and without means for sustenance,” Katherine Almquist Knopf of National Defense University explained in a recent Council on Foreign Relations conference call. “... The situation is so bad, and the intent of the government as well as other armed actors — but principally of the government — of going after different ethnic communities, that we’ve had several very serious, very credible warnings of possible genocide unfolding in South Sudan.”

  • From the AP: "Both sides in South Sudan's civil war have been accused of widespread abuses such as gang rapes against civilians, including along ethnic lines. A number of South Sudan officials have been accused by human rights groups of profiting from the conflict and blocking the path to peace."
  • From Knopf: “Because of this dire, dire situation, what I would characterize as extreme state failure, the government of South Sudan does not control its territory, does not have a monopoly over coercive power in any meaningful way, it does not provide basic security to its citizens, and it does not deliver any public services or administer justice, and it has failed to act as a legitimate sovereign state.”

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The new politics of global warming

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Getty Images photos: Ethan Miller and Chip Somodevilla

The 2020 election is both very different and very familiar when it comes to the politics of global warming and the stakes of the outcome.

What's new: Democratic voters are more concerned than in prior presidential cycles, polling shows.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
19 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Pinpointing climate change's role in extreme weather

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Getty Images photos: David McNew and George Rose

Climate scientists are increasingly able to use computer models to determine how climate change makes some extreme weather more likely.

Why it matters: Climate change's effects are arguably felt most directly through extreme events. Being able to directly attribute the role climate plays in natural catastrophes can help us better prepare for disasters to come, while driving home the need to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
25 mins ago - Energy & Environment
Column / Harder Line

Big Tech takes the climate change lead

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Getty Images photo: Jit Chattopadhyay/Pacific Press/LightRocket

The tech industry is playing a growing role in fighting climate change, from zero-carbon commitments to investments in startups and pushing for the use of data to encourage energy efficiency.

Why it matters: Big Tech is already dominating our economy, politics and culture. Its leadership in helping to address climate change — and reckon with its role in contributing to it — could have similarly transformative impacts.