Connect with us

World

‘We have run down the clock’ says Johnson as climate conference opens

Published

on

November 1, 2021

By Mark John and Katy Daigle

GLASGOW (Reuters) – A U.N. conference critical to averting the most disastrous effects of climate change opened on Monday, with world leaders, environmental experts and activists pleading for decisive action to halt global warming.

The task of the COP26 conference in the Scottish city of Glasgow was made even more daunting by the failure of the Group of 20 major industrial nations to agree ambitious new commitments at a weekend summit in Rome.

Advertisement

The G20 is responsible for around 80% of emissions of carbon dioxide – the gas produced by burning fossil fuels that is the main cause of the heatwaves, droughts, floods and storms that are growing in intensity worldwide.

“Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change. It’s one minute to midnight on that Doomsday clock and we need to act now,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the opening ceremony.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reminded the conference hall that the six hottest years on record have occurred since 2015.

Other speakers, including activists from the poorer countries hardest hit by climate change, delivered a defiant message.

“Pacific youth have rallied behind the cry ‘We are not drowning, we are fighting’,” said Brianna Fruean from the Polynesian island state of Samoa, at risk from rising sea levels. “This is our warrior cry to the world.”

Advertisement

As Johnson took the stage, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg retweeted an appeal for her millions of supporters to sign an open letter accusing leaders of betrayal.

“This is not a drill. It’s code red for the Earth,” it read. “Millions will suffer as our planet is devastated — a terrifying future that will be created, or avoided, by the decisions you make. You have the power to decide.”

DISCORD

In Rome, the G20 leaders failed to commit to a 2050 target to halt net carbon emissions – a deadline widely cited as necessary to prevent the most extreme global warming – badly undermining one of COP26’s main aims.

Instead, they only recognised “the key relevance” of halting net emissions “by or around mid-century”, and set no timetable for phasing out domestic coal power, a major cause of carbon emissions.

Advertisement

Their commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies “over the medium term” echoed wording used by the G20 at a summit in Pittsburgh as long ago as 2009.

Discord among some of the world’s biggest emitters about how to cut back on coal, oil and gas will not make their task easier.

At the G20, U.S. President Joe Biden singled out China and Russia, neither of which sent its leader to Glasgow, for not bringing proposals to the table.

He told the conference: “Glasgow must be the start of a decade of shared ambition and innovation to preserve our future.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose country is by far the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead of the United States, told the conference in a written statement that developed countries should not only do more but also support developing countries to do better.

Advertisement

President Vladimir Putin of Russia, one of the world’s top three oil producers along with the United States and Saudi Arabia, dropped plans to participate in any talks live by video link, the Kremlin said.

PROMISES, PROMISES

Less senior delegates – many of them held up on Sunday by disruptions to trains between London and Glasgow – had more mundane problems.

More than a thousand had to shiver for over an hour in a bottleneck outside the venue to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test and gain access, while being treated by activists to an electronic musical remix of Thunberg’s past speeches.

Delayed by a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, COP26 aims to keep alive a target of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

Advertisement

To do that, it needs to secure more ambitious pledges to reduce emissions, lock in billions in climate-related financing for developing countries, and finish the rules for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement, signed by nearly 200 countries.

“Climate financing” could make or break the talks. In 2009, the rich nations most responsible for global warming pledged to provide $100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries deal with its consequences.

The commitment has still not been met, generating mistrust and a reluctance among some developing nations to accelerate their emissions reductions.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley compared the vast sums pumped into the global economy by rich countries’ central banks in recent years with the insufficient amounts spent on climate help for poor nations.

“Our people are watching and our people are taking note … Can there be peace and prosperity if one-third of the world lives in prosperity and two-thirds lives under seas and face calamitous threats to our wellbeing?” she told the conference.

Advertisement

Developed countries confirmed last week they would be three years late in meeting the $100 billion climate finance pledge – which many poor countries and activists say is insufficient anyway.

The pledges made so far to cut emissions would allow the planet’s average surface temperature to rise 2.7C this century, which the United Nations says would supercharge the destruction that climate change is already causing.

Two days of speeches by world leaders will be followed by technical negotiations. Any deal may not be struck until close to or even after the event’s Nov. 12 finish date.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Jeff Mason; writing by Mark John, Kevin Liffey and Gavin Jones; editing by Barbara Lewis and Alexander Smith)

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement

World

Pope says willing to go to Moscow to meet Orthodox Patriarch

Published

on

December 6, 2021

By Philip Pullella

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Monday he was willing to go to Moscow for to meet Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill “brother to brother” in what would be the first trip by a pope to Russia.

The pair’s meeting in Cuba in 2016 was the first by a pope and a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church since the great schism that split Christianity into Eastern and Western branches in 1054.

Advertisement

Both sides have declared a willingness to work towards unity but they are still far apart theologically and over what role the pope would play in an eventually reunited Church.

“We are brothers and we talk straight to each other. We do not dance the minuet,” Francis told reporters aboard his plane returning from a trip to Cyprus and Greece.

“We have to move forward, walking and working towards unity.”

He said he was willing to go Moscow and that a top Russian Orthodox official was expected in Rome next week to decide the time and location of the meeting.

Francis said working out the protocols would be less important than meeting “brother to brother” with Kirill.

Advertisement

The Pope normally travels to countries with a joint invitation from its religious authorities as well as one from the government, meaning that Francis would most likely need an invitation from President Vladimir Putin to visit Russia.

The Russian Orthodox Church, the largest in Christian Orthodoxy, with about 100 million members, is closely aligned with the Kremlin.

Francis said the meeting with Kirill was “on the not too distant horizon”.

He said Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, who is responsible for the Russian Orthodox Church’s external relations, would be coming to the Vatican to meet him to discuss where and when the next meeting can take place.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Alison Williams)

Advertisement

Continue Reading

World

Yemen Houthis bury their dead as Marib fighting rages

Published

on

December 6, 2021

By Adel Al-Khader

SANAA (Reuters) – Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis held military funerals on Monday for 25 fighters killed in battles with a Saudi-led coalition, as fighting shows no sign of abating despite intense international diplomacy to end the seven-year-old conflict.

The funerals took place as fighting has raged in the gas-rich Marib region, while warplanes from the coalition have intensified their bombing of Sanaa, Marib and other areas.

Advertisement

The Houthis have also stepped up cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia using armed drones and missiles.

An honour guard carried the coffins – draped with flags, flowers and photographs of the dead – with military music through the capital Sanaa. Relatives gathered to mourn their loved ones.

“We are in these days inspired by these martyrs’ pride and dignity and say to them: ‘congratulations! You have preceded us to a paradise as wide as the heavens and earth’,” said Ali Muhyaddin, a relative of one of the dead.

The war in Yemen has killed tens of thousands and caused what the United Nations describes as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

U.N.-led efforts to agree a ceasefire have stalled in the conflict, which is seen largely as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis say they are fighting a corrupt system and foreign invasion.

Advertisement

Houthi media showed fighters exchanging heavy artillery fire with coalition forces in Marib on Sunday as warplanes flew overhead. All the 25 fighters buried in Sanaa were killed in Marib, Houthi officials said.

The Houthis have launched a year-long offensive to take Marib, which hosts Yemen’s biggest gas fields. The city is the last stronghold of the internationally recognised government.

Marib is home to 3 million people, including nearly 1 million who fled other parts of Yemen after the Houthis ousted the government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to intervene.

The number of displaced people in camps in the province has risen nearly 10-fold since September, with more than 45,000 people fleeing their homes as Houthi forces press the offensive, the U.N. migration agency IOM said last month.

(Writing by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Advertisement

Continue Reading

World

Putin and Modi discuss trade, humanitarian situation in Afghanistan

Published

on

December 6, 2021

By Alasdair Pal and Neha Arora

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Russian President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi on Monday, with trade and the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan both on the agenda.

Afghanistan’s takeover by the Taliban earlier this year has led to a humanitarian crisis in the country, which New Delhi and Moscow have both previously said risks destabilising the region.

Advertisement

“The fight against terrorism is also a fight against drug trafficking and organised crime,” Putin said in introductory remarks broadcast by Indian media. “In that regard, we are concerned about developments of the situation in Afghanistan.”

The visit by Putin and several top Russian officials comes amid increasingly strained relations between Russia and the United States, also a key Indian ally.

Earlier on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a deal to supply India with S-400 air defence missile systems was being implemented despite what he said were U.S. efforts to undermine the accord.

India and Russia are expected to cement several trade and defence pacts at the summit.

“The relation between India and Russia is truly a unique and reliable model,” Modi said.

Advertisement

(Reporting by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending