Disappointing UN climate talks leave ‘huge task’ for COP27 Egypt summit

Disappointing UN climate talks leave ‘huge task’ for COP27 Egypt summit
Egyptian fishermen raise their nets without fish along a beach in the Red Sea shore at Port Said city, northeast of Cairo, on May 27, 2022. (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
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Updated 18 June 2022

Disappointing UN climate talks leave ‘huge task’ for COP27 Egypt summit

Disappointing UN climate talks leave ‘huge task’ for COP27 Egypt summit
  • Tensions flare between rich and poorer, vulnerable nations
  • No major advances on climate finance, emissions reductions

CAIRO: A “disappointing” fortnight of UN talks in Bonn has left much work to be done just five months before a crucial climate summit, diplomats and analysts said, after negotiations failed to make concrete advances on efforts to tackle global warming.

At the closing session on Thursday, developing nations expressed disappointment over scant progress at the mid-year session on key issues, especially on setting up a finance facility to deal with rising losses from extreme weather and rising seas.
The lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) said the 39-member grouping had not received assurances that climate finance “will be delivered at scale or speed.”
“The climate emergency is fast becoming a catastrophe. Yet within these walls, the process feels out of step with reality,” said Conrod Hunte, UN ambassador for the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
The weak outcome from Bonn — which also saw no major steps forward on emissions cuts or toward a global goal to drive adaptation — leaves diplomats with a “huge task” before November’s COP27 summit in Egypt, said Alex Scott of think-tank E3G.
“It’s looking like negotiators have come without the political wiggle room to ... make sure that we get to COP27 with a real sense of progress,” E3G’s climate diplomacy leader told journalists.

Rifts
The talks in Bonn saw longstanding tensions flare between developing and developed countries over issues ranging from who should take more responsibility to reduce climate-changing emissions to how to pay to repair and avert “loss and damage.”
From the start, countries tussled over whether and how to put on the official UN agenda a dialogue on setting up a dedicated fund for loss and damage.
The issue was left undecided in Bonn, prompting outgoing UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa to call for “major political decisions” at COP27 on finance for loss and damage.
This — together with increased funding for adaptation and clean energy — “is crucial to build a more sustainable and resilient future,” she noted in a statement.
Harjeet Singh, a senior adviser with Climate Action Network International, said that for the first time many developed countries had in Bonn acknowledged the gap in providing finance to vulnerable countries to help them recover from climate change impacts they had little role in causing.
But rich nations — including the European Union, Switzerland and the United States — then went on to block discussion on a new finance facility and did not even allow developing countries to add it to the agenda for COP27, he noted.
“Instead of using empty words, rich countries must show (a) spirit of international cooperation and solidarity,” Singh told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Paris into practice
Espinosa said the focus was now on ensuring that the Egyptian COP, in the city of Sharm el-Sheikh, “could truly be the place where the important promises of the Paris Agreement are turned into reality.”
Countries kick-started discussions in Bonn on how to slash emissions faster and deeper to meet the tightest Paris accord goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit), and to assess their collective progress in doing so.
But there were divisions over how to push forward a program aimed at ratcheting up emissions reductions globally — with at-risk nations asking for it to continue until 2030, while some countries, such as China, wanted it to last just a year.
Wealthy governments also sought to have the mitigation program include major emerging economies but faced push-back from developing countries that have historically contributed less to carbon emissions.
David Waskow, director for international climate action at the US-based World Resources Institute, called on major polluters to strengthen their emissions reduction targets and on rich countries to deliver the funding needed for vulnerable nations to deal with the effects of a heating planet.
“Perhaps the most decisive outcome from these (Bonn) talks is that developed countries now realize that the chorus calling for solutions to loss and damage is only getting louder,” he said.
“Addressing this issue is a central measure of success for the UN climate summit in Egypt,” he added in a statement.

’Unconscionable’
Climate-vulnerable nations have long grappled with the slow pace of progress at UN negotiations, with their key demands — including more finance — going largely unmet.
A report by the Vulnerable Twenty Group (V20) on 55 economies hit hard by climate change — from Bangladesh to Kenya to South Sudan — this month found they had lost about $525 billion — or 20 percent of their wealth on average — in the last two decades due to the impacts of global warming.
Climate change-driven losses are already surging and are set to become much worse if measures to curb emissions from fossil fuel use worldwide are not dramatically stepped up, a flagship UN science report in February warned.
At the Bonn closing session, Switzerland said the talks had not seen sufficient progress on ambition to cut emissions to keep the 1.5C goal within reach, warning that this year “we may lose 1.5 degrees” — something “we simply can’t afford.”
Hunte of AOSIS called for high-emitting countries to submit stronger plans for emissions cuts by a UN deadline in late September, warning of a “code red” situation, with the world teetering on the edge of “overshoot into disaster.”
“Science must be the basis of our decision here yet we leave with a disappointing conclusion. This is an unconscionable way to negotiate with vulnerable countries,” he told delegates. s of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. 


Qatar Tourism launches program to upskill global travel partners

Qatar Tourism launches program to upskill global travel partners
Updated 17 sec ago

Qatar Tourism launches program to upskill global travel partners

Qatar Tourism launches program to upskill global travel partners
  • Focuses on various aspects of Qatar’s history, heritage, attractions, and experiences

DOHA: Qatar Tourism has launched a new interactive online training program to improve its global travel t partners’ knowledge of the country’s diverse offerings, and provide them with accredited qualifications, Qatar News Agency reported. 

The Qatar Specialist Program is part of Qatar’s comprehensive plan to transform the country into a world-class tourist destination. 

The program uses cutting-edge digital learning technologies to provide partners with the knowledge and tools they need to effectively promote and sell Qatar internationally.

“The Qatar Specialist Program is another step towards supporting the global travel trade industry in working alongside Qatar Tourism to help drive significant growth in annual international visitor arrivals and welcoming six million visitors a year by 2030,” Qatar Tourism’s International Markets chief Philip Dickinson said. 

The program focuses on various aspects of Qatar’s tourism industry, including history, heritage, attractions, and experiences. 

International partners who complete the entire course will be eligible for exclusive benefits such as insider tips, itineraries, and the most up-to-date information on accommodations and attractions.


Iran examining EU’s ‘final text’ at nuclear talks: state media

Iran examining EU’s ‘final text’ at nuclear talks: state media
Updated 8 min 41 sec ago

Iran examining EU’s ‘final text’ at nuclear talks: state media

Iran examining EU’s ‘final text’ at nuclear talks: state media
  • Talks aimed at reviving the agreement over Iran’s nuclear program resumed on Thursday in Vienna

TEHRAN: Iran said Monday it is examining a “final text” presented by the European Union at the negotiations in Vienna aimed at restoring a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
“As soon as we received these ideas, we conveyed our initial response and considerations... but naturally, these items require a comprehensive review, and we will convey our additional views and considerations,” state news agency IRNA quoted an unnamed foreign ministry official as saying.
The comments came after a European official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the EU has tabled the “final” version of the text, negotiations are finished, “and it will not be renegotiated.”
Talks aimed at reviving the agreement over Iran’s nuclear program resumed on Thursday in Vienna, months after they had stalled.
Iranian sources have suggested an International Atomic Energy Agency probe is a key sticking point in reviving the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
But the European official said: “That has nothing to do with” the JCPOA.
Iran on Sunday said the IAEA should “completely” resolve the issues related to questions over nuclear material at its undeclared sites.
The IAEA’s board of governors adopted a resolution in June, censuring Iran for failing to adequately explain the discovery of traces of enriched uranium at three previously undeclared sites.
The Iranian foreign ministry official added on Monday that, during the talks of the past few days, “we shared our positions with the other sides, and relative progress was made in some issues.”
He added that the negotiating team looks to “protecting the rights and interests of the Iranian nation” as well as “ensuring the benefits and guaranteeing the sustainable implementation of the other party’s obligations and preventing the repetition of US illegal behavior.”
The negotiations to revive the deal began in April 2021 before coming to a standstill in March.
The 2015 agreement gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program to guarantee that Tehran could not develop a nuclear weapon — something it has always denied wanting to do.
But the US unilateral withdrawal from the accord in 2018 and the reimposition of biting economic sanctions prompted Iran to begin rolling back on its own commitments.


Jordan government reiterates support to Yemen truce

Jordan government reiterates support to Yemen truce
Updated 08 August 2022

Jordan government reiterates support to Yemen truce

Jordan government reiterates support to Yemen truce
  • Jordan’s foreign minister added that the country has received ‘7,000 Yemenis since the start of the armistice’

DUBAI: Jordan’s foreign minister Ayman Safadi said on Monday that Amman is ‘committed to continuing its support for Yemen and enhancing its stability.’

Safadi, who spoke in a joint press conference with his Yemeni counterpart, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, said Jordan supports the truce in Yemen and ‘roads to Taiz must be opened.’

“A comprehensive agreement must be reached in Yemen in accordance to the Gulf’s references and initiatives,” he said.

Jordan’s foreign minister added that the country has received ‘7,000 Yemenis since the start of the armistice.’

Also speaking at the conference, bin Mubarak accused the Iran-backed Houthis of not abiding by a key element in the UN-brokered truce to reopen roads to the besieged city of Taiz saying the group was “running away” from its commitments.

He said the Houthis ‘imposed’ the war on the country after the militia’s failed uprising, laying a siege on Taiz and its residents for seven years using ‘minefields’.

Bin Mubarak confirmed his government's support to expand the truce into a ‘comprehensive political agreement.’

He said all nations are ‘facing the Iranian project’, which chose Yemen as its station.

Meanwhile, Safadi condemned the recent attacks in the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque during the meeting.

‘We are committed to the two-state solution,’ he said.

Bin Mubarak also announced an upcoming visit of Rashad Al-Alimi, the chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, to Jordan.


Gaza crossing opens as truce holds between Israel, Islamic Jihad

Gaza crossing opens as truce holds between Israel, Islamic Jihad
Updated 58 min 22 sec ago

Gaza crossing opens as truce holds between Israel, Islamic Jihad

Gaza crossing opens as truce holds between Israel, Islamic Jihad
  • Trucks passed from Israel through the Kerem Shalom goods crossing to southern Gaza

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories: Gaza’s sole power plant also restarted Monday after fuel trucks passed from Israel into the Palestinian enclave following the start of truce ending three days of deadly conflict, the electricity company said.

“The plant has started working to generate electricity,” Mohammed Thabet, spokesman for the company, told AFP. The plant had shut on Saturday after running out of fuel following Israel's closure of the goods crossing. 

An AFP journalist at the goods crossing to southern Gaza saw trucks loaded with fuel enter the enclave, ending a severe shortage which had prompted the only power station there to shut down Saturday.

The arrival of vital supplies follows the start of a cease-fire at 11:30 p.m. (2030 GMT) Sunday to stem the worst fighting in Gaza since an 11-day war last year devastated the Palestinian coastal territory. 

Gaza’s health ministry said 15 children were among 44 people killed in three days of intense fighting.

Despite a flurry of strikes and rocket attacks in the run-up to the truce, neither side had reported any major violations of the agreement overnight.

The Israeli military said roads would gradually reopen in the border area on Monday.

“It was decided to gradually lift the restrictions,” which have seen Israelis living near Gaza remain close to their bomb shelters, the army said.

US President Joe Biden welcomed the cease-fire and thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for his country’s role in brokering it.

UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland said in a statement: “The situation is still very fragile, and I urge all parties to observe the cease-fire.”

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office late Sunday thanked “Egypt for its efforts” as it agreed to the truce, but said that “if the cease-fire is violated,” Israel “maintains the right to respond strongly.”

Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed group designated as a terrorist organization by several Western nations, also accepted the truce but said it too “reserves the right to respond” to any aggression.

Starting on Friday, Israel had launched a heavy aerial and artillery bombardment of Islamic Jihad positions in Gaza, leading the militants to fire hundreds of rockets in retaliation.

In addition to those killed, Gazan health officials said 360 people had been wounded in the Palestinian enclave, which is run by the Islamist group Hamas.

A senior Israeli diplomatic official said Monday that “most of the civilians that were killed in Gaza were killed by Islamic Jihad rockets” that fell short or misfired.

Three people in Israel were wounded by shrapnel, while 31 others were lightly hurt while running for safety, emergency services said.

Islamic Jihad member Mohammad Al-Hindi said the cease-fire deal “contains Egypt’s commitment to work toward the release of two prisoners.”

They were named as Bassem Al-Saadi, a senior figure in the group’s political wing who was recently arrested in the occupied West Bank, and Khalil Awawdeh, a militant also in Israeli detention.

Gaza resident Nour Abu Sultan, 29, said the three days of conflict were “terrifying,” and that she had been unable to sleep during the “shelling and rockets, the sound of aircraft above us.”

Dalia Harel, a resident of the Israeli town of Sderot close to the Gaza border, said she was “disappointed” at news of a truce Sunday despite her five children being “traumatized.”

“We’re tired of having a military operation every year,” she said. “We need our military and political leaders to get it over with once and for all... we’re not for war, but we can’t go on like this.”

Islamic Jihad is aligned with Hamas but often acts independently. Hamas has fought four wars with Israel since seizing control of Gaza in 2007, including the conflict in May last year.

Israel has said it was necessary to launch a “pre-emptive” operation against Islamic Jihad, while the diplomatic official said the group had been planning an attack by sniper fire or with anti-tank missiles.

The army has killed senior leaders of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, including Taysir Al-Jabari and Khaled Mansour.

The senior Israeli diplomatic official said Islamic Jihad had been dealt “a very serious blow” which had “taken them back decades.”


Iran: Police arrest Afghan suspected of stabbing 10 to death

Iran: Police arrest Afghan suspected of stabbing 10 to death
Updated 08 August 2022

Iran: Police arrest Afghan suspected of stabbing 10 to death

Iran: Police arrest Afghan suspected of stabbing 10 to death
  • According to the report, the suspect was mentally unbalanced
  • Violent acts have escalated in recent years in Iran as the country’s economic conditions deteriorate

TEHRAN: Police in Iran arrested an Afghan man suspected of stabbing 10 other farm laborers to death following a quarrel over land, Iranian state media reported Monday. The rampage in a remote village in southeastern Iran was a rare such incident in the Islamic Republic.
The official IRNA news agency said four Iranians and six Afghans were killed, and one farm worker was wounded in the rampage on Sunday and was in hospital. According to the report, the suspect was mentally unbalanced.
A decades-long drought in Iran has caused increased disputes over water resources and land with better access to water. Hunting rifles are the only weapon that Iranians are allowed to possess legally.
Violent acts have escalated in recent years in Iran as the country’s economic conditions deteriorate amid crushing American sanctions that helped spark soaring inflation and increasing unemployment.
In May, an employee fired from one of Iran’s largest state-owned financial conglomerates went on a shooting rampage at his former workplace in western Iran, killing three people and wounding five before turning the gun on himself.
In 2016, a 26-year-old man gunned down 10 relatives and wounded four others.