COP26: World Leaders In Glasgow For ‘Last, Best Hope’ Climate Summit

 

More than 120 world leaders meet in Glasgow on Monday in a “last, best hope” to tackle the climate crisis and avert a looming global disaster.

“It’s one minute to midnight and we need to act now,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was due to tell them, according to extracts from his speech.

“If we don’t get serious about climate change today, it will be too late for our children to do so tomorrow.”

Observers had hoped a weekend meeting in Rome of leaders of the G20 nations, which between them emit nearly 80 percent of global carbon emissions, would give a strong impetus to the Glasgow COP26 summit, which was postponed for a year due to the pandemic.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres greet Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari as they arrive to attend the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1, 2021.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong / POOL / AFP)

 

The G20 major economies committed on Sunday to the key goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — the most ambitious target of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement.

They also agreed to end funding for new unabated coal plants abroad — those whose emissions have not gone through any filtering process — by the end of 2021.

But this did not convince NGOs, the British prime minister, or the United Nations.

“While I welcome the G20’s recommitment to global solutions, I leave Rome with my hopes unfulfilled — but at least they are not buried,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Twitter.

‘Going To Be Very Difficult’

“We’ve inched forward (at the G20). We’ve put ourselves in a reasonable position for COP in Glasgow but it’s going to be very difficult in the next few days,” Johnson said Sunday, before warning: “If Glasgow fails, then the whole thing fails.”

The Glasgow gathering, which runs until November 12, comes as an accelerating onslaught of extreme weather events across the world underscores the devastating impacts of climate change from 150 years of burning fossil fuels.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres greet Lesotho’s Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro as they arrive to attend the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1, 2021. Alastair Grant / AFP

 

The current commitments of the signatories of the Paris agreement — if they were followed — would still lead to a “catastrophic” warming of 2.7 Celsius, according to the UN.

COP26 marks the “last, best hope to keep 1.5C in reach”, summit president Alok Sharma said as he opened the meeting on Sunday.

“If we act now and we act together, we can protect our precious planet,” he said.

Climate advocacy groups expressed disappointment at the statement released at the end of the G20 summit.

“These so-called leaders need to do better. They have another shot at this: starting tomorrow,” said Namrata Chowdhary from the NGO 350.org.

Eyes On India

While China, by far the world’s biggest carbon polluter, has just submitted to the UN its revised climate plan, which repeats a long-standing goal of peaking emissions by 2030, India is now at the centre of expectations.

India has yet to submit a revised “nationally determined contribution” but if Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces new efforts to curb emissions in his speech Monday, it could put more pressure on China and others, said Alden Meyer, a senior associate at climate and energy think tank E3G.

“If he feels confident enough that there’s going to be financing and technology assistance from Europe, the US, Japan and others, he might signal that India is willing to update its NDC,” Meyer said.

Another pressing issue is the failure of rich countries to cough up $100 billion a year starting in 2020 to help developing nations lower emissions and adapt — a pledge first made in 2009.

This goal has been postponed to 2023, exacerbating the crisis of confidence between the North, responsible for global warming, and the South, which is the victim of its effects.

“Climate finance is not charity. It is a question of justice,” stressed Lia Nicholson, on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States vulnerable to climate change, also denouncing the refusal of large economies to abandon coal.

Delegates listen as United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R) speaks during the opening ceremony of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Forecasts by the UN climate experts panel (IPCC) that the threshold of a 1.5 Celsius increase could be reached 10 years earlier than expected, around 2030, are “terrifying” she said, particularly for those on the front line of the climate crisis who are already suffering the consequences in a world that has heated up by about 1.1 degrees Celsius.

Despite everything, it seems that some are not afraid, or worse, that they are indifferent, she said.

‘Not next year; Now’

Her words are likely to find an echo in the speeches from African and Pacific leaders on Monday and Tuesday.

While the Chinese and Russian presidents are not expected in person, dozens of other heads of state and government from US President Joe Biden to EU leaders and Australia’s Scott Morrison are making the trip to Glasgow.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson greets Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari as they arrive to attend the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1, 2021. (Photo by Christopher Furlong / POOL / AFP)

 

Their words and actions will be closely scrutinised, in particular by the young activists who travelled to Scotland despite the obstacles due to the pandemic.

“As citizens across the planet, we urge you to face up to the climate emergency,” they said in an open letter from several of them, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who arrived Sunday by train.

“Not next year. Not next month. Now.”

World Leaders To Talk Climate, Economy, Vaccines At G20

World leaders gather for the official family photograph on day one of the G20 Summit at the convention center of La Nuvola, in the EUR district of Rome on October 30, 2021. PHOTO: LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL / AFP

 

Climate change and the relaunch of the global economy will top the G20 agenda as leaders of the world’s most advanced nations meet Saturday, the first in-person gathering since the pandemic.

Looming over the two-day talks in Rome is pressure to make headway on tackling global warming, ahead of the key COP26 summit kicking off in Glasgow Monday.

The stakes are high, with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warning G20 leaders Friday to show “more ambition and more action” and overcome mistrust in order to advance climate goals.

READ ALSO: Trials For COVID-19 Vaccine Pill To Begin In South Africa

“We are still on time to put things on track, and I think the G20 meeting is the opportunity to do that,” Guterres said.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi met leaders as they arrived in the futuristic convention centre known as the “Nuvola” (cloud) in EUR, a southern Rome district built by Benito Mussolini to glorify his fascist regime.

US President Joe Biden flew in on Friday, hoping to turn a page from the tumultuous Trump years and show that American leadership on the world stage is restored.

Yet the Democrat faces a credibility test as his own signature climate policy — part of a sweeping economic package — is held up amid infighting within his party in Congress.

He met Friday with Pope Francis and then French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, where he admitted Washington had been “clumsy” in handling of a submarine deal with Australia and Britain that left Paris out in the cold.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping are absent from Rome, attending only by video link, but the others are taking advantage of the first in-person G20 for more than two years to hold a flurry of bilaterals.

Biden will meet Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s Boris Johnson later Saturday for talks on Iran, after Tehran said it would resume discussions with world powers next month on reviving the 2015 nuclear accord.

Security is tight in Rome following violent protests earlier this month over the extension of Italy’s coronavirus pass to workplaces, and a Fridays for Future climate march is expected in the city later in the day.

Draghi has called for a “G20 commitment on the need to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees” above pre-industrial levels, the most ambitious target outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

Johnson — the host of the UN climate summit next week — said neither the G20 nor the COP26 meetings could stop global warming, and “the most we can hope to do is slow the increase”.

Humanity, Johnson told reporters onboard his flight to Rome, can regress “at extraordinary speed”.

“You saw that with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, and I’m afraid to say that it’s true today unless we get this right in tackling climate change,” he said.

Complicating the task for the G20 will be disparities between top world powers.

China, the world’s biggest polluter and responsible for more than a quarter of all carbon emissions, has been accused of sidestepping calls to stop building new coal-fired power plants.

A new plan submitted by Beijing to the UN ahead of COP26 fell short of environmentalists’ expectations, with a target date of 2060 to reach carbon neutrality.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, meanwhile, has steadfastly demanded that his country be paid for protecting its share of the Amazon.

The world’s biggest rainforest is seen as a vital resource to combat climate change for its ability to absorb fossil fuel emissions.

 – Taxing global players –

A surer bet for concrete progress at the G20 involves taxation, as the group is expected to endorse the 15 percent minimum international tax rate on multinational companies after nearly 140 countries reached an OECD-brokered deal.

The move seeks to end tax optimisation, in which global corporations — including big US tech firms such as Apple and Google parent Alphabet — shelter profits in countries with low-tax systems.

The OECD says a 15 percent global minimum corporate tax rate could add $150 billion annually to global tax revenues.

No new pledges are expected on Covid-19 vaccines at the summit.

G20 finance and health ministers meeting Friday said members would “take steps to help boost the supply of vaccines and essential medical products and inputs in developing countries and remove relevant supply and financing constraints.”

AFP

World Shudders At ‘Terrifying’ UN Climate Report

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 04, 2018 The “Palais des Nations”, which houses the United Nations Offices, is seen at the end of the flag-lined front lawn in Geneva. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

World leaders, green groups and influencers reacted Monday to a “terrifying” UN climate science report with a mix of horror and hopefulness as the scale of the emergency dawned on many.

US presidential envoy on climate John Kerry said the IPCC report, which warned the world is on course to reach 1.5C of warming around 2030, showed “the climate crisis is not only here, it is growing increasingly severe”.

Frans Timmermans, the European Union’s deputy climate chief said the 3,500-page report proved “it’s not too late to stem the tide and prevent runaway climate change”.

Britain’s Boris Johnson, whose government is hosting a crucial climate summit in November, said the assessment “makes for sobering reading”.

“I hope today’s IPCC report will be a wake-up call for the world to take action now, before we meet in Glasgow in November for the critical COP26 summit,” he said.

Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed said the document confirmed that climate vulnerable nations were “on the edge of extinction”.

– ‘Suicidal’ –

Saleemul Huq, director of Dhaka-based environmental think tank ICCCAD, said the IPCC report was “the final warning that bubble of empty promises is about to burst”.

He said it showed G20 countries needed to accelerate emissions cuts to ensure their economies are in line with the 1.5C target.

“It’s suicidal, and economically irrational to keep procrastinating,” said Huq.

Dorothy Guerrero, head of policy at Global Justice Now, said the report was a “terrifying warning of our future unless drastic action is taken.”

“There is no denying the science of the climate crisis,” she said.

“But policymakers refuse to face up to the fact that it is rooted in economics and a history of colonial exploitation.”

– Action –

Many interpreted the IPCC’s assessment as a clarion call to overhaul the fossil-fuel powered global economy.

“Where can we start? Almost everywhere,” said Katherine Hayhoe, chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy.

“Accelerating the transition to clean energy; reforming our most environmentally-damaging activities; and recalibrating financial flows to accelerate the economic transition.”

Climate wunderkind Greta Thunberg said the report was a “solid (but cautious) summary” of the state of the planet.

“It doesn’t tell us what to do,” she said on Twitter.

“It is up to us to be brave and take decisions based on the scientific evidence provided in these reports. We can still avoid the worst consequences, but not if we continue like today, and not without treating the crisis like a crisis.”

Ugandan climate justice activist Vanessa Nakate tweeted “Scientists warn time running out on the 1.5C target! World leaders must get serious about climate change!”

– Fossil fall guys –

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday’s report “must sound a death knell” for coal, oil and gas and warned that fossil fuels were destroying the planet.

Greenpeace was even more direct.

“Dear fossil fuel industry,” the charity said on Twitter. “We’ll see you in court.”

AFP

World Leaders Welcome US Transfer Of Power

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (2nd L) with husband Douglas Emhoff and US President-elect Joe Biden (R) with wife Dr. Jill Biden watch as a Covid-19 Memorial is lighted at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on January 19, 2021 to honor the lives of those lost to Covid-19. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)

 

Several world leaders said they were looking forward to Wednesday’s transfer of power in the United States, where Democrat Joe Biden will be sworn in as president after four turbulent years under Donald Trump.

– European Union –

Top EU officials voiced relief that they would soon have a friend in the White House again.

“Let’s build a new founding pact for a stronger Europe, for a stronger America and for a better world,” said Charles Michel, president of the European Council.

“This time-honoured ceremony on the steps of the US Capitol will be a demonstration of the resilience of American democracy,” added European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“And the resounding proof that, once again, after four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House.”

– Iran –

President Hassan Rouhani did not miss the opportunity to hail the departure of “tyrant” Trump, with Tehran repeatedly calling on Washington to lift sanctions imposed over its nuclear drive.

READ ALSO: Biden Plans Immediate Orders On Immigration, COVID-19, Environment

Biden’s administration wants the United States back in the landmark Iran nuclear accord which Trump withdrew from, conditional on Tehran’s return to strict compliance.

A “tyrant’s era came to an end and today is the final day of his ominous reign,” Rouhani said.

“We expect (the Biden administration) to return to law and to commitments, and try in the next four years, if they can, to remove the stains of the past four years.”

– NATO –

NATO said it hoped to boost transatlantic ties under Biden.

“We look forward to working with President-elect @JoeBiden to further strengthen ties between the #UnitedStates & #Europe, as we face global challenges none of us can tackle alone,” the military alliance’s chief Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

– Britain –

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was looking forward to “working closely” with Biden.

Johnson, who has faced criticism over his close relationship with Trump, cited a host of policy areas in which he hoped to collaborate with Biden.

“In our fight against Covid and across climate change, defence, security and in promoting and defending democracy, our goals are the same and our nations will work hand in hand to achieve them,” he said in a statement.

– Russia –

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev called for Russia and the United States to repair their strained ties.

“The current condition of relations between Russia and the United States is of great concern,” Gorbachev said in an interview with state-run news agency TASS.

“But this also means that something has to be done about it in order to normalise relations,” he said.

“We cannot fence ourselves off from each other.”

AFP

World Leaders Condemn ‘Assault On Democracy’ At US Capitol

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. PHOTO: ALEX EDELMAN / AFP

 

World leaders and governments expressed shock and outrage at the storming of the US Capitol in Washington by supporters of President Donald Trump.

– Germany –

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday she was “furious and saddened” by the events and said Trump shared blame for the unrest.

“I deeply regret that President Trump has not conceded his defeat, since November and again yesterday,” she said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on Trump supporters to “stop trampling on democracy.”

– Britain –

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Twitter condemned the “disgraceful scenes in U.S. Congress. The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power”.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab added in his own tweet: “The US rightly takes great pride in its democracy, and there can be no justification for these violent attempts to frustrate the lawful and proper transition of power.”

– Israel –

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the “rampage at the Capitol yesterday was a disgraceful act and it must be vigorously condemned.”

“I have no doubt that… American democracy will prevail. It always has,” added Netanyahu, who has repeatedly called Trump Israel’s best-ever friend in the White House.

– European Union –

The EU’s foreign policy chief condemned an “assault on US democracy”.

“In the eyes of the world, American democracy tonight appears under siege,” Josep Borrell tweeted.

Calling the action an “assault on US democracy, its institutions and the rule of law”, he added: “This is not America. The election results of 3 November must be fully respected.”

– France –

French President Emmanuel Macron said: “We will not give in to the violence of a few who want to question” democracy.

In a video posted on his official Twitter account, he added: “What happened today in Washington is not American”.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also condemned “a serious attack on democracy”.

– Russia –

Russian officials pointed to the storming of the US Capitol as evidence of America’s decline, with Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the Russian upper house’s foreign affairs committee, saying it showed US democracy was “limping on both feet”.

“The celebration of democracy has ended. It has, unfortunately, hit rock bottom, and I say this without a hint of gloating,” Kosachyov said in a post on Facebook.

His counterpart in the lower house, Leonid Slutsky, said “the United States certainly cannot now impose electoral standards on other countries and claim to be the world’s ‘beacon of democracy’.”

– Poland –

Polish President Andrzej Duda, a close Trump ally who did not congratulate Biden on his victory until more than a month after the election, described the events as “an internal issue for the United States”.

“Poland believes in the power of American democracy,” he added on Twitter.

– Iran –

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the chaos unleashed on the US Capitol “shows above all how fragile and vulnerable Western democracy is”.

“We saw that unfortunately the ground is fertile for populism, despite the advances in science and industry,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast by state television. “I hope the whole world and the next occupants of the White House will learn from it.”

– Canada –

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, our closest ally and neighbour.”

– Australia –

Australian PM Scott Morrison condemned the “very distressing scenes” in the US.

“We condemn these acts of violence and look forward to a peaceful transfer of Government to the newly elected administration in the great American democratic tradition,” he tweeted.

– New Zealand –

Jacinda Ardern tweeted: “Democracy – the right of people to exercise a vote, have their voice heard and then have that decision upheld peacefully should never be undone by a mob.”

The PM added her country’s thoughts were with everyone “devastated” by the events in Washington, adding: “what is happening is wrong.”

– NATO –

“Shocking scenes in Washington, DC,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg tweeted. “The outcome of this democratic election must be respected.”

– The Netherlands –

“Horrible images from Washington D.C. Dear @realDonaldTrump, recognise @JoeBiden as the next president today,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Twitter.

The plain-speaking Rutte once during a visit to the White House in 2018 interrupted Trump with a loud “no” when Trump made an assertion about EU-US trade.

– Ireland –

Irish premier Micheal Martin, who has invited the Irish-American Biden to visit his ancestral homeland early in his presidency, tweeted his condemnation.

“The Irish people have a deep connection with the United States of America, built up over many generations. I know that many, like me, will be watching the scenes unfolding in Washington DC with great concern and dismay,” Martin said.

– India –

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Trump ally who has heaped praise on the outgoing US president in the past, said he was “distressed to see news about rioting and violence” in Washington.

“Orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue. The democratic process cannot be allowed to be subverted through unlawful protests,” the Hindu nationalist leader tweeted.

– Greece –

“Extremely troubled by the violence and horrible events taking place in Washington D.C. American democracy is resilient, deeply rooted and will overcome this crisis,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a tweet.

– Turkey –

“We are following with concern the internal developments happening in the US,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

“We call on all parties in the US to maintain restraint and prudence. We believe the US will overcome this internal political crisis in a mature manner.”

– Austria –

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in a tweet that “this is an unacceptable assault on democracy. A peaceful and orderly transfer of power must be ensured.”

– Czech Republic –

“The looting and violence at the US Senate are not a good example for countries where democracy is fighting hard for a place in the sun,” Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said in a tweet. “Given the emotions sparked by the US presidential election, we could expect today’s session to be far from ordinary. Where were the police and the Senate bodyguards…?”

– Denmark –

“Extremism, violence, polarisation and violence is never the way forward. Terrible pictures from Washington. May democracy be brought back to working again,” Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Facebook.

– Spain –

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted that “Yesterday’s attack on the Capitol has only succeeded in reaffirming the principles we share. Spain will work with the United States for a more just world and the triumph of democracy over extremism.”

– Slovenia –

Slovenia’s right-wing Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who backed Trump and who has yet to congratulate Biden on his victory, tweeted: “All should be very troubled by the violence taking place in Washington D.C.”

“We hope American democracy is resilient, deeply rooted and will overcome this crisis. Democracy presupposes peaceful protest, but violence and death threats —from Left or Right— are ALWAYS wrong.”

– Fiji –

Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama — who led a coup in 2006 and was accused of assaulting an opposition lawmaker in 2019 — added his condemnation.

“The violent scenes we saw in Washington today are an affront to democracies around the globe. True and genuine democracy is a precious treasure that no nation should ever take for granted,” he tweeted.

AFP

World Leaders Demand Free COVID-19 Vaccine For All

Scientists are at work in the VirPath university laboratory, classified as “P3” level of safety, on February 5, 2020. JEFF PACHOUD / AFP.

 

World leaders past and present insisted on Thursday that any eventual COVID-19 vaccines and treatments should be made available to everyone, free of charge.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan were among more than 140 signatories of a letter saying any vaccine should not be patented while the science should be shared between nations.

The World Health Assembly, the policy-setting body of the UN’s World Health Organization, holds its annual general meeting next week.

The signatories called on the WHA to rally behind the cause.

“Governments and international partners must unite around a global guarantee which ensures that, when a safe and effective vaccine is developed, it is produced rapidly at scale and made available for all people, in all countries, free of charge,” the letter said.

“The same applies for all treatments, diagnostics, and other techlogies for COVID-19.”

The letter was signed by Senegalese President Macky Sall and Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo.

Former presidents and prime ministers among the signatories included Shaukat Aziz, Jan Peter Balkenende, Jose Manuel Barroso, Gordon Brown, Helen Clark, Felipe Gonzalez, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Aleksander Kwasniewski, Mary McAleese, Olusegun Obasanjo and Juan Manuel Santos.

READ ALSO: Fresh Test For Wuhan As Cluster Sparks Mass COVID-19 Screening

The letter comes amid fury in France after pharmaceutical giant Sanofi said it would reserve first shipments of any COVID-19 vaccine for the United States.

The French multinational’s chief executive Paul Hudson said the United States would get first dibs because its government was helping to fund the vaccine research.

His comments drew outrage Thursday from officials and health experts.

The letter ahead of the WHA said it was not the time to leave the task of resolving the pandemic to market forces or let the interests of wealthy companies and governments come before the need to save lives.

African Union Chairperson Ramaphosa said: “As the countries of Africa, we are resolute that the COVID-19 vaccine must be patent-free, rapidly made and distributed, and free for all.

“Nobody should be pushed to the back of the vaccine queue because of where they live or what they earn.”

AFP

Youths Protest Globally, Call On World Leaders To Push For Climate Change

Students hold up placards and shout slogans during the “Fridays For Future” movement on a global day of student protests aiming to spark world leaders into action on climate change on March 15, 2019. LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

Tens of thousands of young people skipped school across the globe on Friday and marched through the streets on a global day of student protests aiming to push world leaders into action on climate change.

Classrooms in capitals from Bangkok to Berlin, Lagos to London were expected to be empty, as the ambitious organisers of the student strike hoped to stage 1,000 demos in more than 100 countries.

Students flooded into the streets across Europe and Asia carrying placards that read “There is no planet B”, “You’re destroying our future” and “If you don’t act like adults, we will.”

Despite 30 years of warnings about dire impacts, carbon dioxide emissions hit record levels in 2017 and again last year.

READ ALSO: World Leaders Appeal For ‘Urgent Action’ On Environment

Loading the atmosphere with greenhouse gases at current rates, scientists agree, will eventually lead to an uninhabitable planet.

In Stockholm, Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg who inspired the protests, was thronged by journalists and several dozen protesters, one carrying a banner declaring “Make the Climate Greta Again”.

“I don’t think I was really behind this movement, I think it was already there and just needed a spark to light up,” she told Swedish public television station SVT.

“We are living through an existential crisis that has been ignored for decades and if we do not act now it may be too late,” said Thunberg, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her activism.

In Delhi, one of the world’s most polluted cities, 200 students took part in a colourful protest, waving ribbons, juggling and performing stunts with hoops.

“We have to make a choice whether we want to sit and be indifferent or do something for our planet,” said 16-year-old student Srijani Datta, who also issued a warning to the world’s politicians.

“Most of us are 16-17 and we are going to turn 18 soon. We are going to be eligible for voting. As voters we will show we care about climate change. If you can’t give us that (fresh air and water), you will not get our votes.”

In Sydney, 18-year-old Charles Rickwood, warned that if nothing is done, Australia’s famous Great Barrier Reef could be destroyed.

“Especially if current trends in the environment continue, we’ll see the one, two degrees increase in our ocean then it will simply become unsustainable and we could lose the entire Great Barrier Reef,” he told AFP.

‘The youth are rising up’ –

However, the demos attracted mixed reactions from politicians.

In Australia, Education Minister Dan Tehan said the strike was “not something that we should encourage.”

And Germany’s Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said students should be in school — even as crowds of youngsters took to the streets across the country.

“Climate now, school later,” said one placard. “”I believe more in unicorns than in the will of politicians to save the planet,” said another.

However, the budding activists received encouragement from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who said it was important for the young generation to send a message.

“We hear you and we’re getting on with setting a path for carbon neutrality,” the 38-year-old leader said in a statement.

“Please keep bringing as many people as you can with you because we simply won’t achieve our goals alone.”

In famously hard-working South Korea, demonstrations only began once lessons finished for the day.

“It’s hard for students to skip school in order to participate in this climate strike,” said organiser Jeong Juwon, 25.

“In South Korea, exam results are very important and it’s a big burden, and also the unemployment crisis is at its worst.”

In the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, students circulated a petition to be submitted to the government demanding concrete measures to tackle climate change.

“The planet is heating up, the youth are rising up,” they chanted.

 ‘Slacktivists’ 

Wellington university student Josie Mason, 20, said she was “excited by the fact that youth are being heard and are making a stand right now.”

“They call our generation the ‘slacktivists’ because it’s really easy to say you’re going to an event on a Facebook page or like something but not really do anything,” she said.

The Paris treaty calls for capping global warming at “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) but the planet is currently on track to heat up by double that figure.

The UN’s climate science panel warned in October that only a wholesale transformation of the global economy and consumer habits could forestall a catastrophe.

In Hong Kong, activists dressed up as polar bears and sharks to highlight the damage done to the environment by climate change.

“The main thing we want people to realise is that we are not only asking the Hong Kong government to do more, it is also people themselves who need to do more,” said Zara Campion, 17, co-organiser of the strike.

Delhi resident Shagun Kumari, 13, told AFP: “My eyes hurt from pollution. My shirt gets dirty from dust. I want fresh air that won’t harm my lungs and clean water to drink so that I don’t keep falling sick.”

Fellow Indian protester Datta noted: “If the children and youth don’t care then in a country like India you can’t make this happen.”

AFP

World Leaders Appeal For ‘Urgent Action’ On Environment

From L) French president Emmanuel Macron, Kenya president Uhuru Kenyatta and DR Congo president Felix Tshisekedi listen during the One Planet Summit on March 14, 2019, in Nairobi.
Ludovic MARIN / AFP

 

World leaders gathered in Kenya on Thursday to lend political muscle to UN environment talks, calling for “urgent action” to slow the destruction of natural habitats and accelerate funding for green development.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta were among several heads of state in Nairobi for the fourth UN Environment Assembly — a vast gathering of ministers, legal experts, charities and business leaders.

The assembly aims to push countries to commit to slashing pollution and widening renewable energy, recycling and conservation.

But it lacks the legal teeth to compel nations to act, and there is no prospect of it reaching a binding international action plan this week.

READ ALSO: US, NGOs Call For Concerted Action On Marine Wildlife Conservation

“Current global statistics are quite sobering and projections for future generations are dire and demand urgent action,” Kenyatta told delegates.

“Climate change continues to be a major threat to sustainable development worldwide. And its impact places a disproportionately heavy burden on the poor and vulnerable.”

Thursday’s One Planet Summit, also in Nairobi, saw a number of pledges for green investment in Africa — a continent experiencing some of the worst impacts of climate change despite producing a tiny percentage of global greenhouse-gas emissions.

“We need to act. We must put environment and biodiversity at the heart of the economy,” Macron said.

Earth is already experiencing fallout from its fossil fuel addiction, with climate change driving more frequent droughts, floods and superstorms fuelled by warmer, rising seas.

Pollution from toxic and non-toxic materials is having a dire effect on global health, the UN said this week.

At least eight million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year, breaking up into micro-fragments that enter the marine food chain.

Macron was in Kenya — the first-ever visit there by a French head of state — a day before a global wave of school strikes by students demanding that governments act over the environment.

“Young people are telling us ‘you’re not going fast enough’. And they’re right because we have been too slow,” Macron said.

“We all have to move: governments, big business, citizens.”

AFP

World Leaders React To Disputed DR Congo Vote Result

(file photo) Democratic Republic of Congo’s opposition politician Felix Tshisekedi attends a press conference in Geneva, following the designation of a joint candidate for the upcoming presidential elections. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Foreign leaders reacted cautiously to the outcome of DR Congo’s presidential election Thursday, with many choosing not to congratulate the declared winner and appealing for disputes to settled peacefully.

Provisional results from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s much-troubled election granted victory to opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi.

But his opposition rival Martin Fayulu immediately cried foul, branding the results “an electoral coup”.

The Independent National Election Commission (CENI) gave Tshisekedi 38.57 percent of the vote, just ahead of Fayulu with 34.8 percent.

President Joseph Kabila’s preferred successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, came a distant third with 23.8 percent.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all sides “to refrain from violence and to channel any eventual electoral disputes through the established institutional mechanisms,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

African Union leader Moussa Faki Mahamat was similarly circumspect.

“It is important that any disagreement over the proclaimed results, notably that they did not reflect voters’ wishes, be resolved peacefully, by turning to the relevant laws and through political dialogue between the parties involved,” he said.

His statement notably did not congratulate Tshisekedi, whose victory has been met with accusations that he had struck a deal with outgoing President Joseph Kabila.

In contrast, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, one of the key players on the continent, urged interested parties to “refrain from speculation and allow CENI to complete the process”.

The European Union said it was waiting for the verdict of election monitors.

“We have also noted that these results have been contested by part of the opposition,” said EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic.

“In the meantime, we call on all political actors in DRC to abstain from any kind of act of violence and allow for the democratic process to continue,” she said.

France, however, broke ranks to challenge the official result.

“It really seems that the declared results … are not consistent with the true results,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told CNews television.

“On the face of it, Mr Fayulu was the leader coming out of these elections,” he said.

The DRC’s Catholic Church, he argued, had reached the same conclusion after garnering data from its 40,000 election observers across the country.

The church itself has so far only said that the official results did not reflect the data its observers collected from polling stations.

It has not published the name of the candidate that, in its view, was the true victor.

AFP

President Buhari Joins Other World Leaders At Opening Of COP24 Summit

President Muhammadu Buhari with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres and the Polish President, H.E Andrzej Duda at the venue of the COP24-KATOWICE 2018 of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland. PHOTO: Sunday Aghaeze/State House.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday joined other world leaders at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland for the ceremonial opening of the summit.

The Summit is the 24th session of the conference of the parties under the un framework convention on climate change, otherwise known as cop24.

President Buhari is expected later during the conference to deliver a national statement highlighting Nigeria’s commitment to addressing climate change by implementing the goals set out as part of the nation’s contributions.

READ ALSO: Buhari Arrives In Poland For Climate Change Conference

The conference is expected to finalise the rule book in the implementation of the Paris agreement on climate change reached in December 2015 in France.

President Buhari is attending the summit with several top government officials including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama; the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; and Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibrin.

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State and Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State are also in Poland with the President.

World Leaders Welcome Saudi Prince At G20, Avoiding Isolation

L-R) Brazil’s President Michel Temer, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US President Donald Trump line for the family photo during the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires, on November 30, 2018. Ludovic MARIN / AFP

 

World leaders welcomed Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday at the G20 summit, showing he was no pariah less than two months after the kingdom killed a dissident journalist.

The 33-year-old heir apparent was seen chatting with US President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka and shaking hands with French President Emmanuel Macron at the start of a two-day meeting of the world’s top economies in Buenos Aires.

Prince Mohammed and Russian President Vladimir Putin both grinned broadly and shook hands robustly as leaders converged for a group photo.

British Prime Minister Theresa May also said she would meet Prince Mohammed.

She said she would press the crown prince both on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen, where millions are on the brink of starvation in what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“The Saudi Arabians need to ensure that their investigation is a full investigation, that it’s credible, that it’s transparent, and that people can have confidence in the outcome of it, and that those responsible are held to account,” May told Sky News.

Macron told reporters before meeting the prince that he will “no doubt” mention the death of Khashoggi, a US-based contributor to The Washington Post who was killed when he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The killing has sparked widespread outrage but Western powers have pledged to maintain close relations with Saudi Arabia, a top oil producer and buyer of US weapons.

Trump, in an exclamation-heavy statement before the summit, said it did not matter whether Prince Mohammed knew about Khashoggi’s death and that Saudi Arabia was important for business and for its hostility to Iran.

The US Senate nonetheless moved this week to end support for the Saudi-led war against rebels in Yemen amid outrage over attacks on civilian sites including a school bus and hospitals.

AFP

Buhari Attends Dinner For Visiting Heads Of State In Paris

President Buhari arriving the welcoming Dinner in honour of visiting Heads of State in Paris on 10th Nov 2018.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday attended a dinner in honour of visiting Heads of State in Paris, the capital of France.

Buhari joined other world leaders to join other world leaders to commemorate the centenary anniversary of the Armistice signed on November 11, 1918, between the Allied Forces and Germany in the forest of Compiegne in France to end the First World War.

He also met with the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres and other world leaders in discussing contributions towards global peace while underscoring the imperative of collective action.

See photos below: