AS IT HAPPENED: Day three of COP26 sees world’s rich told to up their game in slowing climate crisis

AS IT HAPPENED: Day three of COP26 sees world’s rich told to up their game in slowing climate crisis
Sunak will unveiled proposals for financial institutions and listed companies in Britain to be required to publish net-zero transition plans. (AFP)
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Updated 04 November 2021

AS IT HAPPENED: Day three of COP26 sees world’s rich told to up their game in slowing climate crisis

AS IT HAPPENED: Day three of COP26 sees world’s rich told to up their game in slowing climate crisis

GLASGOW: Negotiators concluded the third day of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow on Wednesday, with discussions focused on finance.

British finance minister Rishi Sunak kicked off day three with a pledge to “rewire” the global financial system for net zero.

Sunak said London would also commit $136.19m to make climate finance more accessible to developing countries.
The morning announcement – that most of the world already knew the previous day – followed Tuesday’s run of news which saw world leaders reach agreements on deforestation and curtailing methane emissions.

Here are the highlights of the events of  day 3, Wednesday as they unfold (all times are GMT)

06.50pm: The UN climate conference urged sports organizations and teams worldwide to meet the environmental targets they signed up to.
FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, the NFL, the NBA and the New York Yankees are among nearly 300 signatories to the Sports for Climate Action Framework (S4CA) since the Paris climate agreement was reached in 2015.
“These organizations are now being challenged to reduce emissions 50 percent by 2030 at the latest and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040,” Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, said.
Members of S4CA also “commit to submitting plans to outline concrete actions that will be taken to implement 2030 targets” and publish annual updates, the UN said.

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US and UAE launch $4bn agricultural innovation initiative at COP26

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3.00pm: US climate envoy John Kerry, nearly three dozen large corporations including Apple and Amazon, and the World Economic Forum are launching an alliance to build a market for technologies that generate low levels of carbon dioxide.
The First Movers Coalition announced aims to help companies set their purchasing plans in a way that will “create new market demand for low-carbon technologies,” the World Economic Forum said.
Among the other companies involved in the coalition are aerospace company Boeing, cement company Holcim, and vehicle makers Volvo and Scania.

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02.00pm: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the establishment of the Sustainable Tourism Global Center in the Kingdom, which will gather government, academia and international organizations concerned with tourism to learn about sustainability and share best practices.
Speaking during a Saudi-chaired session on the third day of COP26 entitled “Making Tourism Part of the Solution,” Al-Khateeb discussed how the center will “help the tourism industry transition to net zero emissions and drive action to protect nature and support communities.”
David Livingston, adviser to US envoy for Climate John Kerry, said the center is a terrific contribution not just to Saudi Arabia’s green initiative and plan but also globally.
Livingston, who was recently in Riyadh for the Middle East Green Initiative Summit, said there is so much excitement in Saudi Arabia about the opportunities that exist in the green transition.

The special session was chaired by Felipe Calderon, former president of Mexico and chair of New Climate Economy and the World Resources Institute, and included other leaders.

 


John Denton, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce, said despite how much the real economy has suffered due to the COVID-19 and climate change, “the fact that Saudi Arabia has seen fit to focus on this very important value sector in tourism is critical.”

 

11.50am: US special envoy for climate John Kerry said that the talks in Glasgow have more energy and focus than previous rounds of climate negotiations in particular because of the strong presence and support of the private sector.
“I think we are going to have the greatest increase in ambition we’ve ever had, we probably do in these first 36 hours, and the real issue is going to be follow-up, working with them,” Kerry told a gathering of mayors from around the globe involved in climate initiatives at a local level.

11:00am: Asian Development Bank (ADB) launched a plan to speed the closure of coal-fired power plants in Indonesia and the Philippines to lower the biggest source of carbon emissions.
The proposal – announced at COP26 - called Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM), plans to create public-private partnerships to buy out the plants and wind them down within 15 years, far sooner than their usual life.

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UK plans to become world’s first net zero finance hub

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10:30am: IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the fund was working hard to support nations to adopt carbon pricing and that she was encouraged by the increasing adoption of it by members.
Georgieva said: “The shift in integrating carbon price is there and we are working very hard to support countries to take that shift.”

10.20pm: A spate of last-minute pledges from developed countries have made it possible but not certain that a target of $100 billion in climate financing could be reached in 2022, Germany’s state secretary for the environment said.
“We thought already three weeks ago that we would have all the pledges,” he said, adding: “But we saw even yesterday from Japan a very substantive announcement... So if we are lucky we can reach $100 billion in 2022 but definitely in 2023.”

09:50am: UN climate envoy Mark Carney called for more blended finance facilities to mobilize private finance to help the developing world access climate finance, saying the money was there.
“We need blended finance facilities that don’t mobilize fractions of private capital for the public dollar but multiples ... in double digits. There are facilities that are being developed that can do this, we need to scale them dramatically,” he said.

“The money is here but that money needs net zero aligned projects and there’s a way to turn this into a very, very powerful virtuous circle and that’s the challenge.”
09:23am: British finance minister Rishi Sunak pledged to “rewire” the global financial system for net zero, saying London will also commit £100 million ($136.19 million) to make climate finance more accessible to developing countries.
Outlining Britain’s strategy over the next five years, he said London would also support a new capital markets mechanism to issue billions of new green bonds.

“Six years ago Paris set the ambition, today in Glasgow we are provided the investment we need to deliver that ambition,” he added.

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UK tells private sector it must invest big to save planet

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09:00am: US climate envoy John Kerry said that current commitments on cutting carbon emissions meant the world had a 60 percent chance of capping a rise in the average temperature at 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Speaking at a breakfast event with world mayors, he said with the most recent commitments made at COP26, around 65 percent of global GDP was now covered by implementable climate change plans.
“But that means 35 percent isn’t. And we can’t do it without that 35 percent.” 

08:00am: China flagged it is targeting a 1.8 percent reduction in average coal use for electricity generation at power plants over the next five years, in a bid to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The target was announced by China’s economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission.
NDRC’s statement did not refer to the UN event, which Chinese President Xi Jinping is not attending and offered no additional pledges in a written response.

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China targets 1.8% cut in average coal use at power plants by 2025

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London’s Met Police arrest 13-year-old over terror allegations

London’s Met Police arrest 13-year-old over terror allegations
Updated 18 May 2022

London’s Met Police arrest 13-year-old over terror allegations

London’s Met Police arrest 13-year-old over terror allegations
  • The boy is accused of sharing Islamist extremist material online, a spokesperson said
  • In 2021, a record 11 percent of all terrorism arrests in the UK were of minors under the age of 18

LONDON: A 13-year-old boy has been arrested in the UK over alleged terror offenses, according to London’s Metropolitan Police.
The Independent reported that the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is one of the youngest people ever detained in Britain in connection with terrorism allegations.
He was arrested in London on May 18 on suspicion of distributing terrorist material and later released on bail.
“The investigation relates to the alleged sharing of extreme Islamist material online,” a Met Police spokesperson said.
“Officers will work closely with partners from safeguarding agencies as the investigation continues.”
In 2021, a record 11 percent of all terrorism arrests in the UK were of minors under the age of 18.
Cmdr. Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “While it is still very rare for such a young person to be arrested for a terrorism offense, in recent times we have seen a worrying increase in the number of teenagers being drawn into terrorism.
“This particular investigation remains ongoing but, more broadly, we work closely with a whole range of partners to try and protect and divert young, vulnerable people away from extremism and terrorism.”
 


Belarus introduces death penalty for ‘attempted’ terrorism

Belarus introduces death penalty for ‘attempted’ terrorism
Updated 18 May 2022

Belarus introduces death penalty for ‘attempted’ terrorism

Belarus introduces death penalty for ‘attempted’ terrorism
  • Belarus is the only country in Europe that continues to carry out executions despite calls for a moratorium
  • Lukashenko signed a law on the possibility of the death penalty for an attempted terrorist act

MOSCOW: Belarus has introduced the death penalty for attempts to carry out acts of terrorism — charges faced by exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who on Wednesday joined the United States in denouncing the decision.
Belarus — a close ally of Russia that has supported its military offensive in Ukraine — is the only country in Europe that continues to carry out executions despite calls for a moratorium.
“Lukashenko signed a law on the possibility of the death penalty for an attempted terrorist act,” Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported on Wednesday, citing an online government portal for legal information in Belarus.
It said the law would come into force 10 days after its publication.
Two years ago, Belarus faced historic protests against the re-election of strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the ex-Soviet country with an iron fist for more than two decades.
Thousands of activists were arrested in the crackdown and the key leaders of the opposition movement are now either jailed or in exile.
Among them is Tikhanovskaya, a political novice who ran against Lukashenko in the August 2020 polls in place of her jailed husband.
She now leads the Belarusian opposition from exile in Lithuania, while her husband Sergei Tikhanovsky is serving 18 years in prison on what supporters say are politically motivated charges.
Last March, Belarusian prosecutors charged Tikhanovskaya in absentia with “preparing acts of terrorism as part of an organized group,” according to Belarusian state news agency Belta.
Tikhanovskaya on Wednesday denounced the decision of the “lawless regime” to expand the use of the death penalty, saying it targeted anti-government activists.
“This is a direct threat to activists opposing the dictator and the war,” Tikhanovskaya tweeted.
“I urge the international community to react: sanction lawmakers and consider any tools to prevent the political killings,” she added.
The United States condemned the legislation, calling it a desperate move by Lukashenko to retain power.
“These actions are those of an authoritarian leader desperate to cling to power through fear and intimidation,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Belarus and its leadership are already under a litany of Western sanctions over its handling of the opposition protests and over its support for Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.
But many opposition activists remain behind bars in Belarus awaiting trial.
On Wednesday, a Belarusian court in the north-western city of Grodno started a closed-door hearing in the case against 12 activists accused of “preparing acts of terrorism,” according to Belarusian rights group Vyasna.
Among them is veteran activist Nikolai Avtukhovich, who has already served more than seven years in prison. The 59-year-old faces other charges, including treason.
The activists are accused of setting a policeman’s home and car on fire, and burning another policeman’s car in the autumn of 2020.
Capital punishment in Belarus — carried out by shooting — is highly secret and there are no official statistics.
The country’s last known death sentence was carried out against Victor Pavlov, who was arrested in January 2019 on suspicion of murder and larceny, according to the UN Human Rights Committee.
The committee had called for his execution to be halted while it examined his allegations of torture in detention but said in March that his family had been informed it had taken place, without any information about when he was executed.
Pavlov was the 15th person executed in Belarus since 2010 while their case was still pending before the committee, it said.


Kabul mediates between Pakistani Taliban and Islamabad, cease-fire agreed until May 30

Kabul mediates between Pakistani Taliban and Islamabad, cease-fire agreed until May 30
Updated 18 May 2022

Kabul mediates between Pakistani Taliban and Islamabad, cease-fire agreed until May 30

Kabul mediates between Pakistani Taliban and Islamabad, cease-fire agreed until May 30
  • Last truce between militants and government ended in December 2021
  • Pakistani Taliban have fought for years to overthrow government in Islamabad

PESHAWAR: Pakistan’s local Taliban outfit, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, on Wednesday announced a cease-fire agreement with the government until May 30 after Kabul mediated talks, the Afghan Taliban government said.

The TTP,  a separate movement from the Afghan Taliban, have fought for years to overthrow the government in Islamabad and rule with their own brand of Islamic law. In December 2021, the group declared an end to a month-long cease-fire, accusing the government of breaching terms, including a prisoner release agreement and the formation of negotiating committees.

Following the breakdown of talks between the two sides, the Pakistan army resumed operations against the banned outfit early this year, after which the TTP announced the launch of its Al-Badar operation on March 30 to target law enforcement agencies.

There has since been a surge in militant attacks in tribal districts and southern regions of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan.

“Talks were held in Kabul between the government of Pakistan and the Taliban Movement of Pakistan with the mediation of the Islamic Emirate (Afghan Taliban government),” Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet on Wednesday, adding that “in addition to making significant progress on related issues during the talks, a temporary cease-fire was also agreed upon.”

In a separate post, Mujahid said the Kabul government “strives for the goodwill of the negotiating process, and wishes both sides tolerance and flexibility.”

Separately, the TTP said in a statement that a 32-member committee of Mehsud tribesmen and another 16-member committee of elders from the Malakand division had held meetings with the TTP’s peace committee on the directives of the Pakistan government.

“Facilitated by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, talks are being held between the committees of the government of Pakistan and the Tehrik-e-Taliban,” the statement read.

The two committees recommended in the meetings that both sides declare a cease-fire as long as peace talks were taking place.

“Keeping in view their demand, both sides agreed to a cease-fire till May 30,” the banned outfit said.

Hassan Khan, a senior journalist and analyst, told Arab News the modus operandi of latest peace talks was “totally different” from past negotiations due to the involvement of tribal elders and the government’s committee.

“This time there is a lot of pressure on the TTP, both from the Afghan government and the involvement of the tribal jirgas. I think peace talks between Pakistan and the TTP will yield some results this time around if both sides keep following up on their negotiations,” Khan said.

On Tuesday, security forces killed two TTP commanders in a shootout in North Waziristan, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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Three decades later, convict in former Indian PM Gandhi assassination freed

Three decades later, convict in former Indian PM Gandhi assassination freed
Updated 18 May 2022

Three decades later, convict in former Indian PM Gandhi assassination freed

Three decades later, convict in former Indian PM Gandhi assassination freed
  • Gandhi was killed by an ethnic Tamil suicide bomber while campaigning in an election in the southern Indian town of Sriperumbudur in 1991
  • His killing was seen as an act of retaliation after he sent Indian peacekeepers to Sri Lanka in 1987

NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the release of A.G. Perarivalan, who was convicted of involvement in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
Gandhi was killed by an ethnic Tamil suicide bomber while campaigning in an election in the southern Indian town of Sriperumbudur in May 1991. His killing was seen as an act of retaliation after he sent Indian peacekeepers to Sri Lanka in 1987.
Perarivalan was convicted in 1991 of purchasing the batteries used to detonate the bomb that killed Gandhi.
In May 2021, the Tamil Nadu state government allowed Perarivalan to leave on parole, using a provision in the Tamil Nadu Prison manual.
The Supreme Court took a lenient view of Perarivalan, saying he was 19 years old at the time of arrest and had been jailed for over 30 years, including 16 years on death row and 29 years in solitary confinement.
Speaking to the Indian Express newspaper on Wednesday, Perarivalan recalled years spent in a cramped 6 feet (1.8 m) by 9 feet (2.7 m) cell during his time in solitary confinement.
“A room in which I had nothing but empty walls to look at,” he said, describing obsessively counting bricks on the wall, measuring the door and bolts and imagining smells he craved.
Six others people, including a woman, are still in jail and are awaiting a verdict in the case.
The court said Perarivalan was released after considering his “satisfactory conduct in jail and during parole” and “chronic ailments.”
Gandhi’s widow, Sonia, is head of India’s main opposition Congress party while their son, Rahul, has been leading its campaign for elections. A Congress party spokesman said on Wednesday the party was deeply saddened by the court’s decision.
Many in the state of Tamil Nadu celebrated the verdict as a victory for human rights.
“My best wishes and warm welcome to Perarivalan who is set to fully breathe the air of liberation after more than 30 years of imprisonment,” Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin tweeted.


Sri Lankan police arrest ruling party MPs over deadly attacks on protesters

Sri Lankan police arrest ruling party MPs over deadly attacks on protesters
Updated 18 May 2022

Sri Lankan police arrest ruling party MPs over deadly attacks on protesters

Sri Lankan police arrest ruling party MPs over deadly attacks on protesters
  • Detectives detained SLPP MPs Milan Jayathilake, Sanath Nishantha and four other high-ranking officials on Tuesday
  • Suspects allegedly involved in deaths of demonstrators from the ‘Gota go gama’ and ‘Myna go gama’ movement who seek change in crisis-hit nation

COLOMBO: Two Sri Lankan ruling party lawmakers have been arrested on charges of involvement in attacks on anti-government protesters, a top police official said on Wednesday.

For over a month, citizens have been protesting across Sri Lanka, demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his prime minister brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, whom they blame for the country’s worst economic crisis.

The prime minister resigned last week, after supporters of the Rajapaksas attacked demonstrators in Colombo. The violence left nine people dead and wounded nearly 300, leading to days of unrest.

The two lawmakers from President Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party were arrested, after a criminal investigation, on Tuesday evening and have been remanded by the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s court until May 25.

“As a result of the investigations, the detectives arrested SLPP MPs Milan Jayathilake and Sanath Nishantha on Tuesday,” Senior Superintendent of Police Nihal Thalduwa told Arab News.

He added that another four high-ranking officials were also detained “over their involvement in the attacks on the ‘Gota go gama’ and ‘Myna go gama’ peaceful protest sites.”

“Gota go gama” and “Myna go gama” are popular slogans among protesters. “Gota” is a reference to President Rajapaksa, while “Myna” to his ex-PM brother. The “go gama,” literally “go village,” is a call on them to leave and go home.

Thalduwa said 883 people have been arrested over the violence that shook the island nation between May 9 and May 11, leading to the deployment of troops in many parts of the country to impose a curfew that was only lifted on Wednesday morning.

Protesters continued to demonstrate outside the president’s office in Colombo, demanding he resign, as the country is struggling with its worst financial crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

Acute shortages of food, fuel, and essential medicines have been accompanied by record inflation and long power cuts for the past few months.

The new prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was appointed last week, said in a televised speech on Monday evening that the country urgently needed about $75 billion to help provide the nation with essential items, but its treasury was struggling to find even $1 billion.