Climate activists march outside UN talks in Qatar

Updated 01 December 2012
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Climate activists march outside UN talks in Qatar

DOHA: A few hundred people marched in a peaceful demonstration yesterday for “climate justice” in Doha, where negotiators from nearly 200 countries are debating about how to slow global warming.
Waving banners saying “Stop climate change” and “Arabs reduce emissions,” the well-behaved crowd marched along the Qatari capital’s Corniche, a waterfront walkway lined by gleaming skyscrapers.
Khalid Mohannadi, one of the organizers, noted that “it’s not a protest, it’s a march for peace.”
The march was billed as the first environmental rally ever in the wealthy emirate, which is hosting the two-week UN talks aimed at forging a global deal to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.
Many of those taking part in the March said Arab leaders need to look beyond the political turmoil in the region and address the broader challenge of climate change.
“Governments always talk about economy and stabilizing the country, but you can’t talk about that without talking about climate change, because the Arab region is one of the most impacted regions,” said Sarah Rifaat, an Egyptian activist.
Dangerous warming effects could include flooding of coastal cities and island nations, disruptions to agriculture and drinking water, and the spread of diseases and the extinction of species.
The vast majority of climate scientists say human activity — primarily emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation — is to blame for the rise in global temperatures seen in recent decades.
Both rich and poor countries say emissions have to be reduced, but don’t agree on how to divide the burden. That dispute and other disagreements have slowed talks on crafting a new global climate treaty, which was originally planned for adoption in 2009 but has now been postponed until 2015.
“We think the Western countries are not serious about cutting emissions,” said Dorchas Moeketsi, a climate activist from the African country of Lesotho. “Their actions are our survival. If they act positively, then we survive; negatively, we perish.”
The UN talks are set to shift into higher gear next week, when environment and climate ministers arrive to discuss reining in emissions before the new treaty takes effect and climate financing to help poor countries develop clean energy and adapt to the impact of climate change.


Rebels set to leave new area outside Damascus

Updated 13 min 49 sec ago
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Rebels set to leave new area outside Damascus

DAMASCUS: Rebels were expected to leave a new area outside the Syrian capital Saturday, state media said, after a new deal was reached between opposition fighters and the Russia-backed regime.
The agreement is the latest in a string of deals that have seen opposition fighters and civilians bussed out of former opposition strongholds near Damascus.
“An agreement has been reached in the area of Eastern Qalamun providing for terrorists to exit Al-Ruhayba, Jayrud and Al-Nasiriya starting from” Saturday, state news agency SANA said late Friday, using its usual term for rebels.
The town of Al-Ruhayba lies some 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Damascus.
Under the deal, fighters would hand over heavy and medium-size weapons as well as ammunition depositories, before heading to northern Syria, SANA said.
They would be transferred to the rebel-held northern town of Jarabulus in Aleppo province and to the neighboring province of Idlib, which is the last in Syria to remain largely outside regime control.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor relying on sources inside Syria, said buses had entered the East Qalamun area after the deal was reached between the rebels and the Russia-backed regime.
The regime is pushing to secure the capital after it announced its full reconquest last week of what was the last major rebel bastion outside Damascus.
Eastern Ghouta was emptied of rebels after a nearly two-month deadly assault on the enclave and several Russia-brokered deals that saw tens of thousands of people transported on buses to Syria’s north.
Earlier this week, a deal was inked that saw around 5,000 people including 1,500 fighters exit Dumayr, a town just to the south of Al-Ruhayba.
After retaking Eastern Ghouta, the regime has also turned its sights on the southern districts of the capital where Daesh has a presence.
Regime forces have bombarded the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp on the southern edge of Damascus in recent days in a bid to dislodge Daesh fighters.
Syria’s conflict has killed 350,000 people and displaced millions more since it broke out in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.