Climate Activists Disrupt Traffic In London, Paris

Activits of the climate change action group Extinction Rebellion block the Paris Grand Boulevard during a demonstration in Paris, on April 16 2022. JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP
Activists of the climate change action group Extinction Rebellion block the Paris Grand Boulevard during a demonstration in Paris, on April 16 2022. JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP

 

Several hundred activists from the Extinction Rebellion activist group on Saturday blocked major roads in central Paris and London, disrupting traffic to protest “inaction” on climate change from world leaders.

Around 300 metres (980 feet) of a main thoroughfare in central Paris was taken over by activists over the Easter weekend, with some of them moving in hay bales and cement-filled containers to block traffic.

Extinction Rebellion tweeted “thousands” of protesters were “occupying” London’s Marble Arch roundabout during a sit-in close to Hyde Park, demanding an end to the fossil fuel economy.

Demonstrators also glued themselves to a limousine in central London.

READ ALSO: Less Than Three Years Left For World To Avoid Climate Catastrophe – UN

The Metropolitan Police said in a tweet that the protest caused “significant traffic disruption” and that the protesters “locked onto a stationary vehicle in the middle of the road… believed to be their own”.

Activists from the group had glued themselves to a tanker earlier on Saturday, blocking the vehicle on a road near Hyde Park.

Three activists including 2012 Olympic canoe slalom champion Etienne Stott climbed onto the tanker belonging to British energy giant Shell, unfurling a banner saying, “End fossil filth”, Extinction Rebellion said.

“I am aware that my actions will cause anger to many people and I am prepared to be held accountable,” Stott said.

“But our government should also be held to account for its decisions which are destroying our planet’s ability to support human civilisation.”

Six people were arrested, the Metropolitan Police said.

In Paris, activists hung out a large red banner that read: “This world is dying. Let’s build the next one.” The protest is scheduled to continue until Monday.

“Rebelling is our duty,” had been daubed in graffiti on a wall nearby.

“This is the only way of ensuring that everyone talks a bit about climate change,” Antoine, a young activist who declined to give his surname, told AFP.

A line of French riot police stood opposite the protesters, but officers did not intervene.

Anger over official policies

Extinction Rebellion has carried out a series of protests in Britain in the past week, including shutting down four of London’s busiest bridges on Friday.

A scientist from the group, Emma Smart, was freed on Saturday after starting a hunger strike following her arrest earlier in the week during a protest targeting the British energy ministry, Extinction Rebellion said.

After several oil depots were targeted by the campaign group Just Stop Oil in recent days, many companies including ExxonMobil successfully took out injunctions to stop such actions, the government in London said.

The British government last week presented a new energy security strategy after the war in Ukraine and soaring inflation, with a greater focus on nuclear power and renewable energy, but also oil from the North Sea.

The strategy has angered many activists who believe the government is not doing enough to move away from fossil fuels.

Many French environmentalists have been left despondent after the first round of presidential elections last weekend in which Greens candidate Yannick Jadot and hard-left ecologist Jean-Luc Melenchon were eliminated.

A second round run-off will be held next Sunday between centrist President Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

 

AFP

Less Than Three Years Left For World To Avoid Climate Catastrophe – UN

Residents watch a wave crashing into rocks at Bondi Beach in Sydney on April 2, 2022, amid danger warnings issued for most of the coast in New South Wales as strong winds whipped up damaging waves. Muhammad FAROOQ / AFP
Residents watch a wave crashing into rocks at Bondi Beach in Sydney on April 2, 2022, amid danger warnings issued for most of the coast in New South Wales as strong winds whipped up damaging waves. Muhammad FAROOQ / AFP

 

Humanity has less than three years to halt the rise of planet-warming carbon emissions and less than a decade to slash them by nearly half, UN climate experts said Monday, warning the world faced a last-gasp race to ensure a “liveable future”.

That daunting task is still — only just — possible, but current policies are leading the planet towards catastrophic temperature rises, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made clear.

The world’s nations, they said, are taking our future right to the wire.

The 2,800-page report — by far the most comprehensive assessment of how to halt global heating ever produced — documents “a litany of broken climate promises”, said UN chief Antonio Guterres in a blistering judgement of governments and industry.

READ ALSO: Nearly Entire Global Population Breathing Polluted Air – WHO

“Some government and business leaders are saying one thing — but doing another. Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic,” Guterres said.

In recent months, the IPCC has published the first two instalments in a trilogy of mammoth scientific assessments covering how greenhouse gas emissions are heating the planet and what that means for life on Earth.

This third report outlines what we can do about it.

“We are at a crossroads,” said IPCC chief Hoesung Lee. “The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said these tools “are firmly within our grasp”: “Nations of the world must be brave enough to use them.” 

The solutions touch on virtually all aspects of modern life, require significant investment and need “immediate action”, the IPCC said.

The very first item on the global to-do list is to stop greenhouse gas emissions from rising any further.

That must be done before 2025 to have a hope of keeping within even the Paris Agreement’s less ambitious warming target of two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Barely 1.1C of warming so far has ushered in a surge of deadly extreme weather across the globe.

The report makes clear that investments to cut emissions will be far less expensive than the cost of failing to limit warming.

Scientists warn that any rise above 1.5C risks the collapse of ecosystems and the triggering of irreversible shifts in the climate system.

To achieve that target, the report said carbon emissions need to drop 43 percent by 2030 and 84 percent by mid-century.

“It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5C,” said Jim Skea, a professor at Imperial College London and co-chair of the working group behind the report.

“Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”

Slashing coal, oil, gas

To do that the world must radically reduce the fossil fuels behind the lion’s share of emissions.

Nations should stop burning coal completely and cut oil and gas use by 60 and 70 percent respectively to keep within the Paris goals, the IPCC said, noting that both solar and wind were now cheaper than fossil fuels in many places.

But cutting emissions is no longer enough, the IPCC said. Technologies to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere — not yet operating to scale — will need to be ramped up enormously.

While government policies, investments and regulations will propel emissions cuts, the IPCC made clear that individuals can also make a big difference.

Cutting back on long-haul flights, switching to plant-based diets, climate-proofing buildings and other ways of cutting the consumption that drives energy demand could reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 to 70 percent by 2050.

Those with the most, also pollute the most, the report said.

Households whose income is in the top 10 percent globally — two thirds of whom are in developed countries — emit up to 45 percent of carbon pollution.

“Individuals with high socio-economic status contribute disproportionately to emissions and have the highest potential for emissions reductions — as citizens, investors, consumers, role models and professionals,” the IPCC said.

Fuel for war

For 2019, if energy consumption is included, industry accounted for 34 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions; agriculture, forestry and land use was 22 percent; transport 15 percent; buildings 16 percent; and the energy supply sector 12 percent.

The report’s finding will feed into high-level UN political negotiations, which resume in November in Egypt at COP 27.

Recently updated national climate pledges emerging from these talks still put the 1.5C target “beyond reach”, the report warned.

With war in Ukraine spurring efforts to transition away from Russian oil and gas in the West, observers said the report should sharpen nations’ focus on climate commitments.

“It is heart-breaking for me, as a Ukrainian climate activist, to be living through a war which has fossil fuel money at its core,” said Olha Boiko, an activist from the Climate Action Network, based in Ukraine.

“The money, that we begged not to invest in dirty energy, is now flying over our heads in the form of bombs.”

AFP

World ‘Sleepwalking’ To Climate Catastrophe, Says UN Chief

In this file photo taken on February 4, 2020 United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)

 

UN chief Antonio Guterres said Monday the world is “sleepwalking to climate catastrophe”, with major economies allowing carbon pollution to increase when drastic cuts are needed.

The planet-saving goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius is already “on life support,” he told a sustainability conference in London.

Keeping 1.5C in play requires a 45 percent drop in emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by mid-century, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

But even if nations honour newly revised pledges under the Paris Agreement, emissions are still set to rise 14 percent before the decade ends.

“The problem is getting worse,” Guterres said in a pre-recorded video message. “We are sleepwalking to climate catastrophe.”

“If we continue with more of the same, we can kiss 1.5C goodbye,” he added. “Even two degrees may be out of reach.”

His comments came only hours before the 195-nation IPCC kicks off a two-week meeting to validate a landmark report on options for reducing carbon pollution and extracting CO2 from the air.

The report is expected to conclude that CO2 emissions must peak within a few years if the Paris temperature targets are to be met.

Guterres described covid recovery spending as “scandalously uneven” and a missed opportunity to accelerate the turn toward clean energy.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, he added, could further derail climate action with importers locking in fossil fuel dependence as they scramble to replace Russian oil and gas.

– ‘Addiction to fossil fuel’ –

“Countries could become so consumed by the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they neglect or knee-cap (climate) policies,” Guterres said.

“This is madness. Addiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction.”

A bombshell report last year from the intergovernmental International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that a 1.5C world was incompatible with any new oil or gas developments, or new coal-fired power plants.

Breaking with the usual practice of not singling out countries, Guterres called out Australia and a “handful of holdouts” for failing to lay out “meaningful” near-term plans to slash emissions.

He also said the development needs and economic structures of China, India, Indonesia and other “emerging economies” prevent them from making similar commitments, especially on coal.

Rich nations should provide money, technology and knowhow to help these emerging economies purge coal from their energy portfolios, he added, pointing to a pathbreaking deal for South Africa unveiled at the COP26 climate summit last November in Glasgow.

“Our planet can’t afford a climate blame game,” he cautioned. “we can’t point fingers while the planet burns.”

Wealthy nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) must phase-out coal by 2030, and all other countries by 2040, Guterres said.

China and India — both heavily reliant on coal — have resisted a full embrace of the 1.5C goal, along with pressure to set more ambitious short-term emissions reduction targets.

Both nations, however, have set long-term “net-zero” goals for carbon neutrality, 2060 for China and 2070 for India.

G20 countries account for about 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

A landmark IPCC report on climate impact and humanity’s capacity to adapt, published last month, details an atlas of human suffering and warned that far worse is to come.

Unprecedented floods, heatwaves and wildfires seen across four continents in the last year will all accelerate in coming decades even if the fossil fuel pollution is rapidly brought to heel, the report concluded.

Guterres was addressing a four-day conference organized by The Economist.

AFP

Global Warming: IPCC Warns World About Unavoidable Multiple Climate Hazards

This photograph taken on April 10, 2021, shows a helicopter flying as lava is erupting from Piton de la Fournaise volcano, on the southern side of the volcano, on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion. PHOTO: Richard BOUHET/AFP

 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its latest report has warned that the world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Scientists say human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks.

The report released on Monday by the IPCC says people and ecosystems least able to cope are hardest hit.

To avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity, and infrastructure, the scientists advised that ambitious, accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, at the same time as making rapid, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Working Group II report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability were approved on Sunday, February 27, 2022, by 195 member governments of the IPCC, through a virtual approval session that was held over two weeks starting on February 14.

The Working Group II report examines the impacts of climate change on nature and people around the globe. It explores future impacts at different levels of warming and the resulting risks and offers options to strengthen nature’s and society’s resilience to ongoing climate change, to fight hunger, poverty, and inequality, and keep Earth a place worth living on – for current as well as for future generations.

 

 

– Urgent action required –

Increased heatwaves, droughts, and floods are already exceeding plants’ and animals’ tolerance thresholds, driving mass mortalities in species such as trees and corals. These weather extremes are occurring simultaneously, causing cascading impacts that are increasingly difficult to manage. They have exposed millions of people to acute food and water insecurity, especially in Africa, Asia, Central, and South America, on Small Islands, and in the Arctic.

So far, progress on adaptation is uneven and there are increasing gaps between action taken and what is needed to deal with the increasing risks, the new report finds. These gaps are largest among lower-income populations. The Working Group II report is the second installment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed this year

“This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. “It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.

“This report recognises the interdependence of climate, biodiversity, and people and integrates natural, social, and economic sciences more strongly than earlier IPCC assessments,” said Hoesung Lee. “It emphasizes the urgency of immediate and more ambitious action to address climate risks. Half measures are no longer an option.”

 

– Safeguarding and strengthening nature –

There are options to adapt to a changing climate. This report provides new insights into nature’s potential not only to reduce climate risks but also to improve people’s lives.

“Healthy ecosystems are more resilient to climate change and provide life-critical services such as food and clean water”, said IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Hans-Otto Pörtner. “By restoring degraded ecosystems and effectively and equitably conserving 30 to 50 percent of Earth’s land, freshwater, and ocean habitats, society can benefit from nature’s capacity to absorb and store carbon, and we can accelerate progress towards sustainable development, but adequate finance and political support are essential.”

Scientists point out that climate change interacts with global trends such as unsustainable use of natural resources, growing urbanization, social inequalities, losses and damages from extreme events, and a pandemic, jeopardizing future development. “Our assessment clearly shows that tackling all these different challenges involves everyone – governments, the private sector, civil society – working together to prioritize risk reduction, as well as equity and justice, in decision-making and investment,” said IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Debra Roberts.

“In this way, different interests, values, and world views can be reconciled. By bringing together scientific and technological know-how as well as Indigenous and local knowledge, solutions will be more effective. Failure to achieve climate-resilient and sustainable development will result in a sub-optimal future for people and nature.”

 

– Cities: Hotspots of impacts and risks –

This report provides a detailed assessment of climate change impacts, risks, and adaptation in cities, where more than half the world’s population lives. People’s health, lives, and livelihoods, as well as property and critical infrastructure, including energy and transportation systems, are being increasingly adversely affected by hazards from heatwaves, storms, drought, and flooding as well as slow-onset changes, including sea-level rise.

“Together, growing urbanization and climate change create complex risks, especially for those cities that already experience poorly planned urban growth, high levels of poverty and unemployment, and a lack of basic services,” Debra Roberts said.

“But cities also provide opportunities for climate action – green buildings, reliable supplies of clean water and renewable energy, and sustainable transport systems that connect urban and rural areas can all lead to a more inclusive, fairer society.”

There is increasing evidence of adaptation that has caused unintended consequences, for example destroying nature, putting peoples’ lives at risk or increasing greenhouse gas emissions. This can be avoided by involving everyone in planning, attention to equity and justice, and drawing on Indigenous and local knowledge.

 

 

A narrowing window for action

Climate change is a global challenge that requires local solutions and that’s why the Working Group II contribution to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) provides extensive regional information to enable Climate Resilient Development.

The report clearly states Climate Resilient Development is already challenging at current warming levels. It will become more limited if global warming exceeds 1.5°C (2.7°F). In some regions, it will be impossible if global warming exceeds 2°C (3.6°F). This key finding underlines the urgency for climate action, focusing on equity and justice. Adequate funding, technology transfer, political commitment, and partnership lead to more effective climate change adaptation and emissions reductions.

“The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner.

 

 

Africa Needs International Partnership To Tackle Terrorism, Climate Change – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said on Friday that there are giant strides recorded across Africa but there are still challenges to overcome for which reasons, “we need partnerships that help to tackle climate change, address security concerns, promote economic prosperity, combat disease, and improve governance”.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this in a Special Address delivered at the virtual edition of the 2022 World Economic Forum featuring leaders from across the world.

According to a statement by his special media aide, Laolu Akande, the Vice President was chosen to deliver one of the 12 Special Addresses at this year’s event.

In all, about 25 Heads of State and Government featured generally at the virtual forum since Monday.

The 2022 virtual edition of the forum features a mix of visionary “state of the world” special addresses and ambitious high-level leadership panels focusing on critical collective challenges, among others.

The VP listed some of the progress on the African continent, including the recovery from the global pandemic, economic growth by 3.7% last year, and a projected 3.8% growth in 2022.

He also noted that there is now in place an African Continental Free Trade Area agreement to fast-track economic transformation just as the continent is making giant strides in agriculture, manufacturing, and digital technology. He added that in Nigeria for instance, 6 unicorns have emerged in the past six years.

Prof. Osinbajo who spoke on a wide range of issues noted that it was time for the international community to “walk the talk” by meeting its commitments towards advancing growth in developing economies, especially climate changes obligations.

On the issue of peace and security, the Vice President said “African countries face a serious threat of terrorism arising from the encroachment of global terror groups and their franchises into Africa.

“It is imperative for the international community to make more robust interventions to clear terrorists from Africa just as it did in the Middle East and other parts of the world. The United Nations Security Council must find unanimity in working with and assisting African countries to eradicate the menace of terrorism in the continent once and for all.”

On the climate change challenge, Prof. Osinbajo acknowledged that “it is now common knowledge that Africa contributes least to climate change but has been most negatively affected by it. We must not allow this worrying situation to be compounded further by global inaction, processes and rules that make it difficult for Africa to adapt to climate change or indeed to develop.”

He then urged “the international community to meet its pledge recently re-affirmed at COP-26 of providing $100 billion annually in climate finance to support climate change efforts in developing countries.”

Continuing, the VP explained that “although we in Africa are working towards the globally accepted net-zero future, we are also conscious that our energy needs are increasing with the growth in our economies.

“We need to ramp up energy access in response to this situation which is why the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies must be just and fair.”

“We are emphatic in our view that natural gas which Africa has in abundance must be accepted as a transition fuel. Moves in the international community especially by development finance institutions to defund gas projects will have severe implications in the medium to long-term for African economies and will slow down the process of phasing out more polluting fuels such as coal, diesel, and heavy fuel oil (HFO),” he added.

In addition to climate finance, the Vice President called for a partnership to tackle poverty, access vaccinations and achieve debt sustainability.

“Economic recovery in Africa is contingent on the containment of the pandemic including through wide-spread vaccinations. Right now, less than 10% of African countries have vaccinated 40% of their population.

“The reality is that due to resource constraints, there will be a relatively slow rollout of vaccinations in Africa and that full national rollouts may take several years.

“The international community must accordingly support Africa with the resources including vaccine doses that will assist in making vaccinations available to all,” Prof. Osinbajo emphasized.

Another point made by the VP in his special address is the call on the international community to support African countries overcome fiscal challenges arising from their limited revenues.

According to Prof. Osinbajo, “the creation of $650 billion in new Special Drawing Rights last year was a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to enable African and other developing countries access the SDRs that are not needed or being used by developed or emerging economies.”

The Vice President also urged multilateral organizations to consider the huge obligations placed on African countries and adopt debt relief initiatives such as the Debt Service Suspension Initiative and the Common Framework for Debt Treatments in a manner that will not further constrain the resumption of growth to the continent.

With regard to governance, Prof. Osinbajo called on the international community to support the efforts of West African leaders under the auspices of ECOWAS particularly, their condemnation of the incidences of coups and unconstitutional changes in government.

Global Warming Is Real In Nigeria, Says Minister

A file photo of the Minister of Science and technology, Ogbonnaya Onu.

 

Minister of Science and Technology, and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, on Friday said global warming is a reality in Nigeria.

The Minister made the comment at the virtual meeting organised by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in his office on Friday in Abuja, a statement signed by ministry spokesperson Afonja Ajibola said.

Dr Onu noted that one evidence for global warming in Nigeria is the drying up of Lake Chad, desertification and coastal flooding affecting many parts of the nation.

READ ALSO: Democracy Has Come To Stay In Nigeria – General Irabor

He called for inclusive energy transmission in Africa as this will support the social and economic prosperity of African nations.

According to the Minister, Africa accounts for 2-3% of world’s carbon dioxide emission that has varied enormous and energy resources which includes Natural Gas, Hydro Power, Biomass, nuclear and coal.

Onu further added that the enormous advantage to be derived from the Energy System can be effectively processed into final energies in the areas of abundance and be transported through inter-regional electric-grid connections, pipelines, roads/infrastructure to regions of resources deficiency.

Onu reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment in providing the enabling environment for private sector participation in the energy sector, adding that the Petroleum Industry Act of 2021 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari among other things seeks to promote investment in Natural Gas, Nigeria’s transition Fuel for electricity, fuel and non-energy usage.

The minister commended IRENA for its role in promoting renewable energy globally and for organizing the Ministerial meeting on just and inclusive energy transition in Africa.

Climate Change: FG Is Focused On What Works For Nigerians, Says Osinbajo

A file photo of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

 

 

As the global conversation on the transition to cleaner energy continues, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the Federal Government would keep to its Climate Change commitments and focus on how to do that in a way that works best for the needs of the Nigerian people.

The Vice President said this on Friday in Abuja when he received a delegation from the World Bank, led by its Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships, Dr. Mari Pangestu, as well as its Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri.

He also interacted with officials of the International Monetary Fund on the IMF Article IV bilateral consultations.

The Vice President has been advocating for a just transition to global net-zero emissions, particularly calling on multilateral agencies, and Western countries to stop the planned defunding of fossil fuels/gas projects in developing countries as part of the energy transition plan towards the global net-zero target by 2050.

At both meetings with the World Bank MD and IMF officials, Prof. Osinbajo again noted that Nigeria remains committed in helping to reduce global greenhouse emissions, even as the needs of Nigeria and other developing countries should also be taken into account.

“I think it is very important, at least this is what we are trying to do, to keep our sights on what would work for the majority of our people.

“The truth, of course, is that we have fossil fuel resources, we have all of that, but we have energy issues, distribution and quality of access to energy, as well as clean energy.

“So, those are the issues; access to energy and education, then renewable energy, and how to be able to move quickly enough in terms of putting renewable energy in place,” the Vice President was quoted to have said in a statement by his media aide, Laolu Akande.

Read Also; Osinbajo To Nigerian Exporters: Take Advantage Of AfCFTA

The VP also highlighted funding challenges for developing countries in its response to climate change and preparation for adaptation, alongside other implications of the Paris Agreement.

As part of that Agreement, a $100billion per year was pledged by the wealthier economies to help developing economies to respond to the challenges of climate change and support mitigation and adaptation.

In her remarks, Dr. Mari Pangestu, expressed her delight to visit Nigeria, saying this is her first country mission since assuming her current position in March.
According to her, following COP26, the global body was considering ways to “address both development and climate crisis in developing countries, noting that the development crisis has been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The way we are trying to approach it is the Green, Resilient, and Inclusive recovery and growth strategy which must start with developing countries.”
Commending Nigeria’s energy reforms, Pangestu noted that the World Bank would explore ways to ensure developing countries attract the needed financing so as to achieve its climate and development objectives.

During the interaction with IMF which was virtual, the VP restated Nigeria’s position on Climate Change adding, however, that no developed economy grew its industrial base on renewable energy alone and so developing economies should not be asked to do that.

The IMF Article IV Consultation Mission team was led by Ms. Jesmin Rahman, Mission Chief for Nigeria at IMF.

The consultations, based on the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, involve bilateral discussions between a member country and the IMF.

An IMF staff team “visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies.”

Climate Crisis Could Give Nuclear Energy A Second Wind

In this file photo taken on October 15, 2021 smoke billows from a chimney from a plant in Lyon, south-eastern France on October 15, 2021.
Countries’ latest climate plans will deliver just a tiny percentage of the emissions cuts needed to limit global heating to 1.5C, the United Nations said on October 26, 2021, in a damning assessment ahead of the COP26 climate summit. PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

 

For more than two decades, promoters and purveyors of nuclear energy felt shunned at UN climate change conferences.

At the COP26 summit underway in Glasgow, however, they have been welcomed with open arms, the UN’s top nuclear regulator told AFP.

The spectre of Chernobyl and Fukushima, along with the enduring problem of nuclear waste, kept energy generated by splitting atoms on the sidelines, even if that energy was virtually carbon-free.

But as the climate crisis deepens and the need to transition away from fossil fuels becomes urgent, attitudes may be shifting.

“Nuclear energy is part of the solution to global warming, there’s no way around it,” said Rafael Mariano Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in an interview.

It already accounts for a quarter of “clean” — that is, carbon-free — energy worldwide, and Grossi said this COP is the first where it has “had a seat at the table”.

“The winds are changing.”

To have even a 50/50 chance of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — the threshold for dangerous tipping points that could trigger runaway warming — global greenhouse emissions must be slashed by almost half within a decade, scientists say.

But things are still moving in the wrong direction: a report on Thursday said emissions in 2021 are approaching record levels.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned they could hit new heights by 2023.

That is helping refocus attention on nuclear.

“At the 2015 COP in Paris, nuclear wasn’t welcome,” said Callum Thomas, head of a recruitment firm for the nuclear industry, who was spotted at COP26 sporting a T-shirt saying “Let’s Talk Nuclear”.

“There was a belief it was not needed. Now many countries are looking at the feasibility, especially with the rise in gas prices.”

‘Never Stops’

From the time he took the IAEA’s helm nearly two years ago, Grossi, an Argentine diplomat, has been a tireless advocate for the industry.

At his first COP in Madrid he “went in spite of the general assumption that nuclear would not be welcome”.

On the contrary in Glasgow, where nearly 200 countries are still trying to put flesh on the bone of the 2015 Paris Agreement, he said “nuclear is not only welcome, but is generating a lot of interest”.

Grossi argues that the technology can not only speed the transition away from fossil fuels, but also power research on technologies needed for adapting to climate impacts, from finding drought-resistant crops to eradicating mosquitos.

He acknowledges that it carries serious risks.

The meltdown of three reactors at Japan’s Fukushima power plant in 2011 following an earthquake and a tsunami profoundly shook confidence in nuclear.

The industry also has yet to find a way to dispose of nuclear waste, which remains highly radioactive for thousands of years.

But Grossi said these issues are not disqualifying, arguing that statistically, the technology has fewer negative consequences than many other forms of energy.

It could also be a complement to renewables.

“Nuclear energy goes on and on for the entire year, it never stops,” he said.

Even so, with prolonged construction times, many argue that it is too late to build enough nuclear capacity to effectively join the battle against global warming.

But Grossi said he thinks part of the answer lies in keeping existing reactors up and running.

100-Year-Old Reactors?

Many power plants designed to run for 40 years are now licensed for 60 years under strict national safety standards supervised by the IAEA, he said.

“What could be more efficient than a facility that you build that gives you energy for close to 100 years?” he said.

He acknowledged that plants running that long might be a “bit of a provocation”.

“But it still might be possible.”

In their projections on how to limit the rise in global temperatures and satisfy a growing global demand for energy at the same time, the IEA takes all non-carbon sources on board.

The UN’s climate science advisory panel, the IPCC, has also given a place to nuclear in its models, even as it says that its deployment “could be limited by social preferences.”

Indeed, attitudes towards nuclear power vary sharply across nations.

While New Zealand and Germany are opposed, India is in discussions with French energy giant EDF to build what would be the largest nuclear power plant in the world.

Meanwhile, both Canada and the United States are developing so-called “small modular reactors”, although only Russia has put into operation a floating reactor using this technology.

Price is also not the barrier it used to be, said Grossi.

“Countries see in smaller units a very interesting alternative, which is not in the range of billions but of hundreds of millions,” he said. “When it comes to energy projects, this is quite affordable.”

African Nations Call For Billions To Adapt To Climate Change

In this file photo taken on October 15, 2021 smoke billows from a chimney from a plant. PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

 

Battered by drought, floods and famine they had little part in creating, vulnerable African nations are seeking billions of dollars at COP26 to boost their defences against climate change.

Many view the Glasgow climate summit as the last chance for world leaders to save humanity from its devastating consequences.

For wealthy economies, the key aim has been cuts in carbon emissions to try to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

But for African countries, the biggest issue is finding enough money to help struggling economies to limit emissions but also adapt to the adverse impact of the changing climate.

The chairman of the African Union, DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, said Africa could not do it alone.

“As a continent that only contributes three percent of greenhouse gas emissions, Africa cannot be left on its own to manage their increasingly harmful effects,” he said at a meeting to accelerate adaptation in Africa on Tuesday.

It’s not a new challenge.

Rich nations in 2009 promised to muster up $100 billion annually to help poorer nations worldwide cope with climate change.

But that aid has still not fully materialised even as vulnerable nations are increasingly ravaged by disasters linked to climate change, from deadly floods in South Sudan and Niger to devastating famine in Madagascar.

“More than 1.3 million people are facing a food crisis,” Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina said of the famine currently ravaging his country.

“My countrymen are paying the price for a climate crisis that they did not create.”

– ‘Injustice is stark’ –

The African Development Bank (ADB) and the Netherlands-based Global Center on Adaptation have launched a $25-billion programme to help Africa adapt.

The African continent has secured half of those funds via the ADB, and has called on developed countries to provide the rest.

But the money “will not fill the funding gap for adaptation”, said DR Congo’s Tshisekedi.

ADB head Akinwumi Adesina called for more spending on adaptation, or measures to alleviate the effect of climate change, than on mitigation, or reducing its causes.

He said spending should at least follow a 50/50 ratio, like at his bank where 63 percent of earmarked funds go to adaptation.

Britain’s COP president, Alok Sharma, said there had been a gulf between needs and the international response so far.

“The need is great and the injustice is stark,” he said.

He announced $197 million in new funding for African adaptation from the UK government.

– ‘Stand up and help’ –

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on nations in part responsible for climate change to step up.

“Citizens and leaders across the regions have seen what’s coming, and they want to stop it,” he said.

“The world, especially those countries that contributed to the crisis in the first place, must stand up and help.”

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said investing in adaptation made sense as it “is also development”.

For example, “when we protect our forests… the world must pay for that”, she said.

It should pay “also when we cut carbon emissions by sinking carbon”, she said.

Gabon is already cutting its carbon emissions by reducing deforestation and forest degradation.

Under another ground-breaking initiative, the Seychelles has swapped millions in sovereign debt for conservation funds to protect the ocean.

Tshisekedi urged donors to wrap up funding to accelerate adaptation in Africa by the next COP summit to be held in Egypt in.

“We simply can’t wait any longer,” he said.

Olympians, Paralympians Want United Fight Against Climate Change

Picture Courtesy: International Olympic Committee

 

In an inspiring video produced with support from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), athletes who participated at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo are calling on world leaders to deliver on climate action.

The call becomes necessary as world governments, business, and civil society representatives meet at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this week in Glasgow, Great Britain.

Initiated by Hannah Mills, MBE, double Olympic champion in sailing and the most decorated female British sailor of all time, and British Olympic rower Melissa Wilson, the video features more than fifty Olympians and Paralympians from different parts of the world.

These include three-time Olympic medallist Pau Gasol (basketball, Spain), who is also a member of the IOC Athletes Commission; double Olympic champion and marathon world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge (athletics, Kenya); Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion Tom Daley (diving, Great Britain); double Olympic champion Andy Murray (tennis, Great Britain); Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion Emma Twigg (rowing, New Zealand); Tokyo 2020 Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft MBE (wheelchair racing, Great Britain); Tokyo 2020 Paralympian Koyo Iwabuchi (table tennis, Japan); Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion Martine Grael (sailing, Brazil); and many others.

The athletes reflect on the challenges and obstacles they overcame as they chased excellence at Tokyo 2020, and called on the world’s leaders to do the same as they gather at the “Olympics of climate summits” to decide on the global response to the climate crisis.

“The Olympic dream is all about being the best you can – and that doesn’t just mean competing or winning medals; it means being a good global citizen. I feel that we have a responsibility to use our platforms to highlight the need for all of us to live and operate in a more responsible manner,” said Mills.

READ ALSO: COP26 Climate Summit Must Act To ‘Save Humanity’, Says UN Chief

In 2019, also supported by the IOC, Mills launched the Big Plastic Pledge, an athlete-driven movement to eliminate the use of single-use plastic within and beyond sport. She believes that if the entire sporting community changes their habits, and makes their voices heard, the ripple effect can create a global tidal wave of change.

“Our environmental movement is fortunate to have the support of the IOC,” says Mills.

“It is a clear demonstration of their commitment to building a better world through sport. However, sport is just one part of a much greater global picture. We are counting on world leaders to take accelerated climate action at COP26.”

“The IOC is delighted to support this initiative, and help Olympic athletes use their powerful voices to create a more sustainable future for everyone,” said IOC President, Thomas Bach.

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced, and the IOC is proud to be leading the Olympic Movement’s response to this crisis. Our recent commitment to reduce our carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 and our support for this initiative are part of this effort. Sport has the power to make the world a better place, and today we have an opportunity to use this power in the face of climate change.”

Sustainability is a key pillar of Olympic Agenda 2020+5, the strategic roadmap of the Olympic Movement.

The IOC is working to ensure that sustainability principles are embedded across its activities as an organisation, as the owner of the Olympic Games, and as the leader of the Olympic Movement. As part of this effort, the IOC works with athletes to leverage their inspirational power to promote sustainability through sport.

G20 Agrees On 1.5 Degree Climate Change Target

(From L) US President Joe Biden, DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, French President Emmanuel Macron, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Draghi and other world leaders. (Photo by Erin SCHAFF / POOL / AFP)

 

G20 leaders meeting in Rome on Sunday committed to the key goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and pledged action on the use of coal, but fell short on a target of zero emissions, according to a final draft communique.

The pledges by the Group of 20 major economies, who emit nearly 80 percent of carbon emissions, are viewed as crucial to the success of make-or-break UN climate talks taking place in Glasgow over the next fortnight.

 

(From L) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden pose within a meeting about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the sidelines of the G20 of World Leaders Summit on October 30, 2021, in Rome. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)

 

According to a draft communique obtained by AFP, which several sources said was the final version due to be published later Sunday, the leaders agreed to keep in play key commitments agreed at the landmark 2015 Paris accords.

“Keeping 1.5 degrees within reach will require meaningful and effective actions and commitment by all countries, taking into account different approaches,” it says.

 

This handout photograph taken and released on October 31, 2021, by the Turkish Presidential Press Service shows Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L back), Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu (L), US President Joe Biden (R back) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) attending a meeting during the G20 Summit at the Roma Convention Center La Nuvola. (Photo by Murat CETIN MUHURDAR / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP)

 

Diplomats said the language used was tougher than in the Paris deal, but activist groups slammed the final statement as “weak” and half-hearted.

According to the statement, leaders of countries including the US, China, India, Russia, plus the EU, call for clear national plans that “align long-term ambition with short- and medium-term goals, and with international cooperation and support”.

READ ALSO: World Leaders To Talk Climate, Economy, Vaccines At G20

But experts say meeting the 1.5 degree target means slashing global emissions nearly in half by 2030 and to “net-zero” by 2050 — and there is no firm date in the G20 communique, which speaks only of reaching the goal of net zero “by or around mid century”.

 

Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales arrives to attend the G20 Summit at the La Nuvola conference centre in Rome on October 31, 2021. (Photo by Aaron Chown / POOL / AFP)

 

The leaders did agree to end funding for new unabated coal plants abroad — those whose emissions have not gone through any filtering process — by the end of 2021.

– Lacking ambition –

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace slammed the final statement as “weak, lacking both ambition and vision”, saying G20 leaders “failed to meet the moment”.

“If the G20 was a dress rehearsal for COP26, then world leaders fluffed their lines,” said Executive Director Jennifer Morgan.

 

(From L) Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visit the Trevi fountain in central Rome on October 31, 2021, on the sidelines of the G20 of World Leaders Summit. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

 

Friederike Roder, senior director at anti-poverty group Global Citizen, told AFP the summit had produced “half-measures rather than concrete actions”.

However, French President Emmanuel Macron had earlier said it was too early to write off the success of the Glasgow talks.

Nearly 200 nations are gathering in the Scottish city, with many of the leaders in Rome — including US President Joe Biden — heading straight there.

The Rome summit had to “do its utmost” to ensure the success of Glasgow, but “nothing is ever written before a COP”, Macron told the weekly Journal du Dimanche.

 

French President Emmanuel Macron hosts a meeting with leaders of the African Union and European Union at the Palazzo Farnese, in Rome on the sidelines of the G20 leaders’ summit, on October 30, 2021. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

 

“Let’s not forget that in Paris, in 2015, nothing was decided in advance,” he said.

China — by far the world’s biggest carbon polluter — plans to make its economy carbon neutral before 2060, but has resisted pressure to offer nearer-term goals.

India, meanwhile, argues that if net-zero by 2050 is the global goal, then rich countries should be carbon neutral ten years earlier to allow poorer, emerging nations a larger carbon allowance and more time to develop.

– ‘Dream big’ –

Earlier Sunday, summit host Mario Draghi, the Italian prime minister, Prince Charles and Pope Francis had all called on G20 leaders — and by extension, the wider group of world leaders meeting in Glasgow — to think big.

Draghi called climate change “the defining challenge of our times”, saying: “Either we act now… or we delay acting, pay a much higher price later, and risk failing.”

 

(From 2ndL) Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, International Monetary Fund (FMI) Managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, Director General, World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Director-General, Food, and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Qu Dongyu, President of the European Council Charles Michel, and Japan’s senior deputy foreign minister for economic affairs, Hiroshi Suzuki throw a coin in the water during a visit to the Trevi fountain in central Rome on October 31, 2021, on the sidelines of the G20 of World Leaders Summit. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

 

Prince Charles, a committed environmentalist and summit guest, had also reminded leaders of their “overwhelming responsibility” to keep climate change in check.

“It is impossible not to hear the despairing voices of young people who see you, ladies and gentlemen, as the stewards of the planet, holding the viability of their future in your hands,” the heir to the British throne told the G20.

Pope Francis later tweeted: “This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities… The time to act, and to act together, is now!”

President Xi Jinping of China was absent from the meeting, as was Russia’s Vladimir Putin, although they were participating via videolink.

Top Oil Exporter Saudi Arabia Targets Zero Carbon Emissions By 2060

A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman delivering a speech addressing the Saudi Green Initiative opening ceremony in the capital Riyadh on October 23, 2021. BANDAR AL-JALOUD / AFP / Saudi Royal Palace
A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman delivering a speech addressing the Saudi Green Initiative opening ceremony in the capital Riyadh on October 23, 2021. BANDAR AL-JALOUD / AFP / Saudi Royal Palace

 

Top crude exporter Saudi Arabia will aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2060, its de facto ruler said on Saturday, days before the COP26 global climate summit.

The kingdom, one of the world’s biggest polluters, said it would also join a global effort to cut methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

The UN says more than 130 countries have set or are considering a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, an objective it says is “imperative” to safeguard a liveable climate.

“I announce today Saudi Arabia’s target to reach net zero emissions by 2060,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the “Saudi Green Initiative” forum.

READ ALSO: Climate Change Threatens More Than 100 Million People In Africa, Says UN

“I am pleased to launch initiatives in the energy sector that will reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tonnes annually by 2030, thus voluntarily more than doubling the target announced,” Prince Mohammed said.

“We also announce the kingdom’s accession to the Global Methane Pledge.”

A statement said Saudi Arabia would “contribute to cutting global methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030, as part of its commitment to deliver a cleaner, greener future”.

The 2060 target would “enable us to have a smooth and viable transition, without risking economic or social impacts”, Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said.

COP26 President Alok Sharma welcomed the announcement.

“I hope this landmark announcement… will galvanise ambition from others ahead of #COP26,” Sharma tweeted, adding he was looking forward to seeing more details on the Saudi plan.

Aramco 2050 target

Shortly after, energy giant Saudi Aramco said it committed to being a net zero enterprise by 2050.

“Saudi Aramco will achieve an ambition of being also a net zero from our operation by 2050,” Aramco chief executive Amin Nasser said at the forum.

“We understand that the road will be complex, the transition will have its challenges, but we are confident we can meet them and accelerate our efforts to a low emission future.”

Saudi Arabia is estimated to emit about 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year — more than France and slightly less than Germany.

The year 2050 has become a focus for carbon neutrality, defined as achieving a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere.

As COP26 approaches, a string of countries have pledged to aim for net zero emissions by 2050, and global airlines and banks are also targeting the mid-century goal.

UN chief Antonio Guterres said Friday the current climate situation was “a one-way ticket for disaster”, stressing the need to “avoid a failure” at COP26 in Glasgow.

Held between October 31 and November 12, the gathering is seen as a crucial step in setting worldwide emission targets to slow global warming.

Tree-planting drive

In March, Saudi Arabia unveiled a campaign to tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions, including a plan to plant billions of trees in the coming decades.

The OPEC kingpin aims to reduce emissions by generating half of its energy from renewables by 2030, Prince Mohammed said at the time.

The prince announced on Saturday that the first phase would include planting more than 450 million trees and the rehabilitation of eight million hectares (nearly 20 million acres) of degraded land.

Saudi Arabia also said it would designate new “protected areas”.

The move brings “the total protected areas in the kingdom to more than 30 percent of its total area”, Prince Mohammed said, adding the first set of green initiatives would cost more than 700 billion riyals ($186.6 billion).

Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, said the land conservation move was critical.

“We want to diversify our economy. Hospitality and tourism are key to that, but so is preserving our environment,” she said at the forum.

Saudi Arabia currently draws on oil and natural gas to both meet its own fast-growing power demand and desalinate its water — which consumes huge quantities of oil.

The initiatives come as energy giant Saudi Aramco, the kingdom’s cash cow, faces scrutiny from investors over its emissions.

In January, Bloomberg News reported that Aramco excluded emissions generated from many of its refineries and petrochemical plants in its overall carbon disclosures to investors.

It added that if those facilities are included, the company’s self-reported carbon footprint could nearly double, adding as much as 55 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent to its annual tally –- roughly the emissions produced by Portugal.

AFP