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‘It’s our lives on the line’, young marchers tell UN climate talks

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November 5, 2021

By Elizabeth Piper, Lucy Marks and Natalie Thomas

GLASGOW, Scotland (Reuters) -Thousands of young campaigners marched through the streets of Glasgow on Friday, demanding urgent action from world leaders at the U.N. climate conference to stave off catastrophic climate change.

A week of government speeches and pledges https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/new-promises-glasgow-climate-talks-2021-11-02 at the two-week gathering https://www.reuters.com/business/cop has included promises to phase out coal, slash emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane and reduce deforestation.

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But campaigners and pressure groups have been underwhelmed by the commitments made so far, many of which are voluntary, exclude the biggest polluters, or set deadlines decades away.

“We are in a disaster that is happening every day,” activist Vanessa Nakate said of life in her home country Uganda, which has one of the fastest changing climates in the world. “We cannot keep quiet about climate injustice.”

Some of the marchers and community leaders who addressed the crowd demanded deep-rooted change to the status quo.

“This is a message from indigenous women in the Amazon to keep oil in the ground, to stop mining. That is good for all of us, for indigenous people and for the world,” one speaker said.

Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg said leaders of the global north appeared to be fighting to prevent real change.

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“They are actively creating loopholes and shaping frameworks to benefit themselves and to continue profiting from this destruction,” she said. “We need immediate annual drastic annual emission cuts unlike anything the world has ever seen.”

Sixteen-year-old protester Hannah McInnes said climate change was the most universally devastating problem: “It’s our lives and our futures that are on the line.”

Inside the COP26 conference venue in the Scottish city, civil society leaders took over discussions.

“We must not declare victory here,” said former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work informing the world about climate change. “We know that we have made progress, but we are far from the goals that we need to reach.”

PROMISES

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The talks aim to secure enough national promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions – mainly from fossil fuels – to keep the rise in the average global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Scientists say this is the point at which the already intense storms, heatwaves, droughts and floods that the Earth is experiencing could become catastrophic and irreversible.

To that end, the United Nations wants countries to halve their emissions from 1990 levels by 2030, on their way to net-zero emissions by 2050. That would mean the world would release no more climate-warming gases than the amount it is simultaneously recapturing from the atmosphere.

The summit on Thursday saw 23 additional countries pledge to try to phase out coal – albeit over the next three decades, and without the world’s biggest consumer, China.

A pledge to reduce deforestation brought a hasty about-turn from Indonesia, home to vast and endangered tropical forests.

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But a plan to curb emissions of methane by 30% did appear to strike a blow against greenhouse gases that should produce rapid results.

And city mayors have been https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/nations-talk-climate-cities-say-we-deliver-2021-11-04 working out what they can do to advance climate action more quickly and nimbly than governments.

The Glasgow talks also have showcased a jumble https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/mission-coalition-cop26-spawns-confusing-clusters-2021-11-05 of financial pledges, buoying hopes that national commitments to bring down emissions can actually be implemented.

But COP26 President Alok Sharma warned time was running short, with too many issues still unresolved.

Efforts to set a global pricing framework https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/glimmers-hope-seen-global-carbon-market-deal-cop26-2021-11-05 for carbon, as a way to make polluters pay fairly for their emissions and ideally finance efforts to offset them, are likely to continue to the very end of the two-week conference.

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THE NEW NORMAL

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said a deal at the summit could be reached to settle the final details of the rulebook for how to interpret the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The United States favoured “the most frequent possible” assessments of whether countries were meeting their goals to reduce emissions, he said.

But President Joe Biden’s mammoth “Build Back Better” package, including $555 billion of measures https://www.reuters.com/world/us/what-are-climate-change-provisions-us-budget-bill-framework-2021-10-28 aimed at hitting the 2030 target and adapting to climate change ran into snags on Friday as the House of Representatives was due to vote on it.

The placards and chants of the crowd in Glasgow suggested people’s patience was running out.

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“The Earth’s climate is changing!” a schoolchild’s sign read, under a hand-painted picture of a globe on fire. “Why aren’t we?”

(Additional reporting by Katy Daigle in Glasgow; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Janet Lawrence and Philippa Fletcher)

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Pope says willing to go to Moscow to meet Orthodox Patriarch

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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.

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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.

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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)

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Yemen Houthis bury their dead as Marib fighting rages

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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.

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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.

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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)

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Putin and Modi discuss trade, humanitarian situation in Afghanistan

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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.

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“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.

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(Reporting by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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