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FACTBOX-What’s in the Glasgow Climate Pact?

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November 14, 2021

GLASGOW (Reuters) – Nearly 200 nations agreed to adopt the Glasgow Climate Pact on Saturday after more than two weeks of intense negotiations, with the UK host of the talks saying the deal would keep alive international hopes of averting the worst impacts of global warming.

Here are the biggest achievements of the deal https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/cma2021_L16_adv.pdf:

RATCHETING UP AMBITION

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The agreement acknowledges that commitments made by countries so far to cut emissions of planet-heating greenhouse gases are nowhere near enough to prevent planetary warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures.

To attempt to solve this, it asks governments to strengthen those targets by the end of next year, rather than every five years, as previously required.

Failure to set, and meet, tougher emissions-cutting goals would have huge consequences. Scientists say that to go beyond a rise of 1.5C would unleash extreme sea level rise and catastrophes including crippling droughts, monstrous storms and wildfires far worse than those the world is already suffering.

“I think today we can say with credibility that we’ve kept 1.5 (degrees Celsius) within reach,” said Alok Sharma, the president of the COP26 summit. “But its pulse is weak, and we will only survive if we keep our promises.”

TARGETING FOSSIL FUELS

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The pact for the first time includes language that asks countries to reduce their reliance on coal and roll back fossil fuel subsidies, moves that would target the energy sources that scientists say are the primary drivers of manmade climate change.

The wording was contentious, though.

Just before the Glasgow deal was adopted, India requested that the deal call on countries to “phase down”, instead of “phase out” unabated coal. That minor word change triggered a lot of angst in the plenary hall, but delegations agreed to the request to save the deal.

The deal’s wording on “inefficient subsidies”, meanwhile, kept the “phase out” phrasing.

Questions remain about how to define “unabated” and “inefficient”.

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PAYMENTS TO POOR AND VULNERABLE NATIONS

The deal made some headway on the demands of poor and vulnerable countries that wealthy countries responsible for most emissions pay up.

The deal, for example “urges developed country Parties to at least double their collective provision of climate finance for adaptation to developing country Parties from 2019 levels by 2025.”

It also, for the first time, made mention of so-called “loss and damage” in the cover section of the agreement. Loss and damage refers to the costs that some countries are already facing from climate change, and these countries have for years wanted payment to help deal with it.

Under the deal, though, developed countries have essentially just agreed to continue discussions on the topic. We will see where that leads.

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RULES FOR GLOBAL CARBON MARKETS

Negotiators also closed a deal setting rules for carbon markets, potentially unlocking trillions of dollars for protecting forests, building renewable energy facilities and other projects to combat climate change.

Companies as well as countries with vast forest cover had pushed for a robust deal on government-led carbon markets in Glasgow, in the hope of also legitimising the fast-growing global voluntary offset markets.

Under the accord, some measures would be implemented to ensure credits are not double-counted under national emissions targets, but bilateral trades between countries would not be taxed to help fund climate adaptation – that had been a core demand for less developed countries.

Negotiators also reached a compromise that sets a cut-off date, with credits issued before 2013 not being carried forward. That is intended to ensure too many old credits don’t flood the market and encourage purchases instead of new emissions cuts.

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SIDE DEALS

There were a number of notable side deals too. The United States and the European Union spearheaded a global methane cutting initiative in which around 100 countries have promised to reduce methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

The United States and China, the world’s two biggest carbon emitters, also announced a join declaration to cooperate on climate change measures, a deal that reassured observers of Beijing’s intention to accelerate its efforts to combat global warming after a long quiet period.

Companies and investors also made a slew of voluntary pledges that would phase out gasoline-powered cars, decarbonize air travel, protect forests, and ensure more sustainable investing.

(Reporting by Richard Valdmanis and Kate Abnett; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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Three missionaries released in Haiti following October kidnapping

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December 7, 2021

By Katharine Jackson

(Reuters) – Three missionaries who were kidnapped in Haiti in October have been released, the U.S. State Department and the Ohio-based missionary group that organized the group’s trip to the Caribbean nation said on Monday.

“We are thankful to God that three more hostages were released last night. Those who were released are safe and seem to be in good spirits,” Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement.

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U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday confirmed the release, adding that the United States is continuing to work to secure the release of the others.

Haitian National Police spokesman Garry Desrosiers said the three were released on Sunday night. He declined to give additional details, citing the security of the remaining hostages.

Sixteen Americans and one Canadian, including five children, were abducted after visiting an orphanage. The incident has highlighted Haiti’s dire kidnapping problem, which has worsened in recent months amid economic troubles and political upheaval.

Two other ministry group members were released last month.

(Reporting by Katharine Jackson in Washington; Additional reporting by Gessika Thomas in Port-au-Prince; Editing by Susan Heavey and Matthew Lewis)

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Dutch court to rule on Palestinian’s case against Israeli defence minister

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December 7, 2021

By Stephanie van den Berg

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – An appeals court in the Netherlands rules on Tuesday in a case alleging war crimes against Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who is blamed by a Dutch Palestinian for the loss of six relatives in an Israeli air strike on Gaza in 2014.

Ismail Ziada filed the civil case against Gantz and another former senior Israeli military official, seeking unspecified damages under Dutch universal jurisdiction rules. His case was thrown out by a lower Dutch court in January 2020.

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Universal jurisdiction allows countries to prosecute serious offences such as war crimes and torture no matter where they were committed.

But the lower court ruled that the principles of universal jurisdiction could be applied for individual criminal responsibility, but not in civil cases.

Ziada appealed, arguing that universal jurisdiction should be applied in civil cases if the alleged conduct involved serious violations of international humanitarian law. He asked the appeals judges to reverse the decision, which effectively granted Gantz immunity from prosecution.

Gantz, a career soldier turned politician, was commander-in-chief of the Israeli armed forces during a war against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in 2014, when the incident took place.

About 2,200 Palestinians are estimated to have been killed, up to 1,500 of them civilians, in the conflict, according to U.N. figures. Ziada said he lost relatives when his family home in Gaza was bombed during a June 2014 Israeli air strike. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and five civilians were killed.

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Gaza is controlled by the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement, regarded by the West as a terrorist organization. Israel says Hamas puts civilians in harm’s way by deploying fighters and weaponry inside densely populated areas of Gaza. 

    Human rights groups have accused both sides of war crimes in the 2014 conflict. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently investigating alleged war crimes committed on Palestinian territory since June 2014 by both Israeli defence forces and Palestinian armed groups.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg in The Hague with additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Mark Heinrich)

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Global finance system partly to blame for inequality – World Bank’s Malpass

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December 7, 2021

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – World Bank President David Malpass on Monday said fiscal and monetary policies were operating in “uncharted territory” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and may be contributing to a sharp rise in global inequality and poverty.

Malpass told a roundtable hosted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang the number of people in extreme poverty had increased by over 100 million since the beginning of the pandemic even as global spending has increased to an all-time record.

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Advanced economies have rebounded, while the poorest countries had seen only a weak rebound, or none at all, he said. This was causing “tragic reversals” in median incomes, women’s empowerment and nutrition, he said, and inflation, supply chain bottlenecks, and high energy prices were aggravating these trends.

“Part of the inequality problem is global finance itself and the unequal structure of the stimulus,” Malpass said, noting that prevailing sovereign debt, fiscal and monetary policies were adding to inequality.

Malpass said monetary policy in the advanced economies had long focused on reserve requirement ratios and limited growth in bank reserves to achieve stability in currencies and prices, an approach still used by China.

Other major central banks had switched to a “post-monetarism system” of using very large amounts of excess bank reserves to purchase and hold long-duration bonds and other assets, which he said provided price support for a highly select group of assets.

That approach, he said, excluded small businesses and developing countries, while restraining policy through regulation of liquidity and bank capitalization ratios.

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Fiscal policy was also channeling resources to narrow groups within major borrowers, while leaving others behind, and sovereign debt policies were contributing to inequality.

Malpass repeated his call for greater transparency in debt contracts and a freeze in debt payments for countries with unsustainable debt. He said creditors should move away from collateral and escrow arrangements.

“As one of the largest creditors of developing countries, China’s active participation and strong voice in debt reduction efforts are very much needed and would benefit all participants by encouraging sustainable investment and debt,” he said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by David Gregorio)

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