US cities, states defy Trump, still back Paris climate deal

Former New York Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, left, speaks with Fiji prime minister and COP president Frank Bainimarama, beside him, and California Governor Jerry Brown, right, in the US Climate Action Center at the COP 23 Fiji UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Updated 11 November 2017

US cities, states defy Trump, still back Paris climate deal

BONN, Germany: A group of US states, cities, businesses and universities said Saturday they are still committed to curbing global warming even as US President Donald Trump’s administration is walking away from the Paris climate accord.
But the alliance, which has an economy larger than Japan and Germany combined, says it won’t be able to achieve the necessary cut in greenhouse gas emissions without some efforts at the federal level.
“It is important for the world to know, the American government may have pulled out of the Paris agreement, but the American people are committed to its goals, and there is nothing Washington can do to stop us,” former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a global climate meeting in Bonn, Germany.
Gov. Jerry Brown of California echoed those comments.
“In the United States, we have a federal system, and states have real power as do cities. And when cities and states combine together, and then join with powerful corporations, that’s how we get stuff done,” he said.
His speech was briefly interrupted by anti-coal and anti-fracking protesters, who held up banners and shouted “We’re still in! Trump’s still out!“
The group calling itself “America’s Pledge” said states, cities and private groups have been taking considerable steps to reduce emissions by promoting renewable energy use and climate-friendly transportation systems.
“This is a pledge, and it’s a pledge that you can cash, because it’s real,” Brown said. “We are doing real stuff in California.”
In a report, however, the group said that “we cannot underscore strongly enough the critical nature of federal engagement to achieve the deep decarbonization goals the US must undertake after 2025.”
Daniel Firger, one of the report’s contributors, said it was intended to show that many in the US aren’t prepared to wait for Trump to change his mind on climate change again or wait for the next administration to tackle the issue.
“The good news around Trump’s announcement to withdraw is that it has galvanized a groundswell of bottom-up support from all corners of the US economy,” Firger told The Associated Press.
Cities, regions and businesses in other nations around the world could look to the group for inspiration and support, he said, noting that the lessons learned by local authorities and businesses in the US could be applied elsewhere.
Also Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her weekly podcast that every country needs to pitch in to keep global temperatures from rising.
Merkel also said it’s the responsibility of the industrial countries to develop environment-friendly technologies that are future-oriented, but “don’t lead to a loss of jobs.”
“We don’t gain anything if steel mills, aluminum plants and copper mills leave our countries and go somewhere else where environmental regulations are less strict — because then we haven’t made any gains for world climate,” she said.


Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

Updated 20 February 2020

Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was ‘shocked, saddened and devastated’ by the tragedy
  • A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns

SYDNEY: An ex-rugby league player is suspected of murdering his three children and estranged wife in Australia by burning them alive inside their car, in what police described as one of the most horrific incidents they have encountered.

Officers said 31-year-old Hannah Clarke died in a Brisbane hospital on Wednesday just hours after her three children aged three, four and six were found dead in the car on a suburban street.

Her husband, Rowan Baxter, who also died, allegedly approached the vehicle and doused it with petrol before setting it alight, The Australian newspaper reported.

The paper said Clarke jumped from the burning car and rolled on the ground, saying “he’s poured petrol on me.”

Officials said she was rushed to hospital with severe burns following the “horrific” incident but later succumbed to her injuries.

Baxter, a 42-year-old former rugby league player for the New Zealand Warriors, was believed to be in the burning vehicle but got out and died on a footpath.

Queensland Police detective inspector Mark Thompson said Thursday that Baxter died as a result of burns and a self-inflicted wound.

“Information that’s to hand has led us to believe that the Baxter children and Hannah Clarke were killed and I don’t believe there’s any suspicious circumstances around the death of Rowan Baxter,” he said.

Clarke’s sister-in-law, Stacey Roberts, set up a fundraiser to pay for funeral costs and support Hannah’s parents, who she said had “exhausted themselves to try and help Hannah escape this monster.”

“All those who knew Hannah or had even just met her once would know how much of a beautiful soul she was. Her children (were) her life,” Roberts posted on Facebook.

The page has so far raised almost Aus$100,000 ($67,000).

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was “shocked, saddened and devastated” by the tragedy, which has led to an outpouring of grief on social media.

“Hannah and her three children were so senselessly and maddeningly murdered in what has occurred in a terrible act of violence and it just grieves our hearts terribly today,” he said.

Natasha Stott Despoja, a former senator and chair of anti-violence group Our Watch, called for stronger action to address violence against women in Australia, which she described as a “national emergency.”

“I know people want change, people are angry & sad today,” she tweeted. “How long before we stop this slaughter in our suburbs?“

A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson said.

The emergency responders who attended the scene have been stood down from their duties and will receive support, he added.