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Explainer-Sticking points at the U.N. climate conference

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October 27, 2021

By Nina Chestney

LONDON (Reuters) – Representatives from nearly 200 countries will meet in Glasgow, Scotland, from Oct. 31-Nov. 12 for climate talks to strengthen action to tackle global warming under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Against the backdrop of extreme weather events around the world and a United Nations’ climate report that said global warming was close to spiralling out of control, the actions of governments at this conference will determine whether it is a success.

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Here are some of the issues which need to be resolved:

EMISSIONS CUT PLEDGES

Six years ago in Paris, countries agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and ideally 1.5C (2.7 Fahrenheit). To do this, emissions need to be cut in half by 2030 and reach net-zero by around mid-century.

As the U.N. conference was postponed last year due to the pandemic, this year is the deadline for countries to make steeper emissions cut pledges (called nationally determined contributions or NDCs).

The annual “emissions gap” https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/un-warns-world-set-27c-rise-todays-emissions-pledges-2021-10-26 report by the United Nations’ Environment Programme (UNEP), which measures the gap between anticipated emissions and those consistent with limiting the temperature rise this century as agreed in the Paris accord, said updated pledges only reduce forecast 2030 emissions by an additional 7.5%, compared to the previous commitments.

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If continued throughout this century, this would lead to warming of 2.7C, slightly less than the 3C UNEP forecast in its last report. A 30% cut is needed to limit warming to 2C and a 55% cut is needed to limit to 1.5C.

It said current commitments to net zero could limit warming to around 2.2C by the end of the century, but 2030 pledges so far do not put major emitters on a clear path to this.

Major emitters China and India – together responsible for around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions – have not yet come forward with strengthened NDCs and need to do so at this conference, known as COP26.

FINANCE

As far back as 2009, developed countries agreed to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries deal with the impacts of climate change.

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But a plan on how to do so, prepared by Canada and Germany ahead of the United Nations COP26 summit in Scotland, said the annual target would now not be met until 2023. https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/developed-nations-say-they-can-deliver-100-bln-climate-change-fund-by-2023-three-2021-10-25

As rich nations are not meeting the $100 billion a year goal, it can break down trust at the climate talks, experts say. And a new finance goal needs to be worked out for 2025 onwards.

LOSS AND DAMAGE

Governments agreed to address the impact of climate change on developing countries but there is no detail about liability or compensation, a bone of contention for many poorer countries.

A platform to enable technical assistance for vulnerable countries was established in 2019 but developing nations want a more robust mechanism to include financing.

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FOSSIL FUELS

The UK COP26 president, Alok Sharma, has said he wants this conference to be the one where coal power is consigned to history.

The U.N. has called for phasing out coal by 2030 in OECD countries but environment ministers from the Group of 20 big economies have failed to agree a timeline.

ARTICLE 6

Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which covers the role of carbon markets, has not been resolved since the pact was struck. Progress on it broke down at the last talks in 2019.

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The article calls for “robust accounting” to avoid “double counting” of emissions reductions. It also aims to establish a central U.N. mechanism to trade carbon credits from emissions reductions generated from low-carbon projects.

(Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Barbara Lewis)

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Russian court remands mine director, inspectors in custody after deadly accident

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November 27, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A court in Siberia on Saturday remanded five people in custody for two months to face charges related to a mining accident that killed more than 50 people this week.

Three managers of the Listvyazhnaya mine, including its director, were ordered to remain in custody until late January for flouting industrial safety standards, a spokesperson for the regional prosecutor’s office said.

The court also ordered two safety inspectors, who had issued a certificate for the mine this month but had not actually checked the facility, to remain in custody until late January.

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The accident, which regional authorities say was likely caused by a methane explosion, claimed the lives of 51 people, including five rescuers who were sent to bring out dozens of men stuck deep underground.

The health ministry said on Saturday that 60 people were being treated in hospital for injuries sustained at the mine, TASS news agency reported.

The accident at the mine, located some 3,500 km (2,200 miles) east of Moscow in the Kemerovo region, was Russia’s worst since 2010 when explosions killed 91 people at the Raspadskaya mine in the same region.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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Russia spy chief says Ukraine invasion plan ‘malicious’ U.S. propaganda

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November 27, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has no plans to invade Ukraine and suggestions to the contrary are malicious U.S. propaganda, Moscow’s foreign intelligence chief said on Saturday.

U.S., NATO and Ukrainian officials have raised the alarm in recent weeks over what they say are unusual Russian troop movements near the border with Ukraine, suggesting that Moscow may be poised to launch an attack.

Russia has repeatedly said it is free to move its troops on its own territory and that such movements should not be a cause for concern.

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“I need to reassure everyone. Nothing like this is going to happen,” Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, said in an interview broadcast on state television, referring to comments on Russia’s alleged invasion plans.

“Everything that is happening around this topic right now is of course malicious propaganda by the U.S. State Department.”

Naryshkin spoke a day after the State Department’s top U.S. diplomat for European affairs said all options were on the table in how to respond to Russia’s troop buildup near Ukraine’s border and that NATO would decide on the next move after consultations next week.

While U.S. officials have voiced concerns about a possible Russian attack on Ukraine, Moscow has accused Washington, Kyiv and NATO of provocative and irresponsible behaviour near its borders.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Spanish police march in Madrid to protest against ‘Gag Law’ reform

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November 27, 2021

By Miguel Gutierrez and Marco Trujillo

MADRID (Reuters) – Thousands of Spanish police officers marched through Madrid on Saturday to protest against a proposed reform of a security law which they say will hamper their ability to do their work.

Politicians from Spain’s three main conservative parties joined police officers in the protest against proposed changes to the 2015 Citizens Security Law, which critics say violates the right to protest and limits free expression.

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Dubbed the “Gag Law” by those who oppose it, the legislation allows authorities to fine media organisations for distributing unauthorised images of police, strictly limits demonstrations and imposes heavy fines for offenders.

Spain’s leftist government has proposed reforms including no longer classifying the taking of photographs or making of recordings of police at demonstrations as a serious offence.

Under the changes, police will also have to use less harmful materials at protests after a number of people were seriously injured by rubber bullets fired by officers.

The time that suspects who are arrested at protests can be held in custody will be cut from six hours to two and fines will be proportional to how much offenders earn.

“They should either leave the current law as it is or make it better for the police and for the citizens,” Civil Guard officer Vanessa Gonzalez told Reuters.

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Ivan Espinosa de los Monteros, of the far-right Vox party, said: “There is strong opposition against (the reform) of this law. It is against our police and we will not let it happen.”

However, Isa Serra, spokeswoman for the far-left Unidas Podemos party, said at a rally in Cantabria in northern Spain that the law had done a “lot of damage to Spanish democracy”.

Organisers said 150,000 people took part in the Madrid demonstration but the government put the figure at 20,000.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley, Miguel Gutierrez and Marco Trujillo; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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