UN report says world is racing to well past warming limit as carbon emissions rise instead of plunge

AES Indiana Petersburg Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant, operates in Petersburg, Ind., on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. (AP)
AES Indiana Petersburg Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant, operates in Petersburg, Ind., on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 21 November 2023
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UN report says world is racing to well past warming limit as carbon emissions rise instead of plunge

AES Indiana Petersburg Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant, operates in Petersburg, Ind., on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023.
  • Through the end of September, the daily global average temperature exceeded 1.5 degrees Celsius above mid-19th century levels on 86 days this year, the report said

NEW YORK: Earth is speeding to 2.5 to 2.9 degrees Celsius (4.5 to 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit) of global warming since pre-industrial times, set to blow well past the agreed-upon international climate threshold, a United Nations report calculated.
To have an even money shot at keeping warming to the 1.5-degree Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) limit adopted by the 2015 Paris climate agreement, countries have to slash their emissions by 42 percent by the end of the decade, said the UN Environment Programme’s Emissions Gap report issued Monday. Carbon emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas rose 1.2 percent last year, the report said.
This year Earth got a taste of what’s to come, said the report, which sets the table for international climate talks later this month.
Through the end of September, the daily global average temperature exceeded 1.5 degrees Celsius above mid-19th century levels on 86 days this year, the report said. But that increased to 127 days because nearly all of the first two weeks of November and all of October reached or exceeded 1.5 degrees, according to the European climate service Copernicus. That’s 40 percent of the days so far this year.
On Friday, the globe hit 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees) above pre-industrial levels for the first time in recorded history, according to Copernicus Deputy Director Samantha Burgess.
“It’s really an indication that we are already seeing a change, an acceleration,” said report lead author Anne Olhoff of Denmark’s climate think tank Concito. “Based on what science tells us, this is just like a whisper. What will be in the future will be more like a roar.”
It’s dangerous already, said UNEP Director Inger Andersen.
“Temperatures are hitting new heights, while extreme weather events are occurring more and more often, developing faster and becoming much more intense,” Andersen said. The new report “tells us that it’s going to take a massive and urgent shift to avoid these records falling year after year.”
The 1.5-degree goal is based on a time period measured over many years, not days, scientists said. Earlier reports put Earth reaching that longer term limit in early 2029 without dramatic emission changes.
To keep that from happening, the countries of the world have to come up with more stringent goals to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and implement policies to act on those goals, Olhoff said.
In the past two years only nine countries have come up with new goals, so that hasn’t moved the needle, but some countries, including the United States and those in Europe, have put policies in place that slightly improved the outlook, she said.
The United States’ Inflation Reduction Act, which has $375 billion in spending on clean energy, by 2030 would reduce yearly emissions of carbon dioxide by about 1 billion metric tons, Olhoff said.
That sounds like a lot, but the world in 2022 spewed 57.4 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases. Current country pledges would trim that to 55 billion metric tons, and to limit warming to the 1.5 degree mark emissions in 2030 have to be down to 33 billion metric tons. That’s an “emissions gap” of 22 billion metric tons.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “the emissions gap is more like an emissions canyon — a canyon littered with broken promises, broken lives and broken records.”
That’s why the report said the chance of keeping warming at or under 1.5 degrees is about one-in-seven or about 14 percent, “very, very slim indeed,” Olhoff said.
If the world wants to settle for a warming limit of 2 degrees Celsius — a secondary threshold in the Paris agreement — it only has to trim emissions down to 41 billion metric tons, with a gap of 16 billion metric tons from now, the report said.
Because the world has already warmed nearly 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the mid-19th century, the report’s projections would mean another 1.3 to 1.7 degrees Celsius (2.3 to 3.1 degrees Fahrenheit) warming by the end of this century.
For two years countries have known they have to come up with more ambitious emission cuts targets if the world wants to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, but “none of the large emitters have changed their pledges,” said study co-author Niklas Hohne, a scientist at the New Climate Institute in Germany.
That’s why for the past few years the grim outlook from annual Emissions Gap reports barely changed, Olhoff said.
This year’s emissions gap report is accurate yet not surprising and the projected temperature range fits with other groups’ calculations, said Climate Analytics scientist Bill Hare, who wasn’t part of the report.
Guterres reiterated his call for countries to phase out the use of fossil fuels in time to keep the 1.5 degree limit alive, saying “otherwise we’re simply inflating the lifeboats while breaking the oars.”
“We know now that the impacts of climate change, of global warming of somewhere between 2.5 and 3 degrees Celsius are going to be massive,” Olhoff said in an interview. “It’s basically not a future I think anybody would want for their children and grandchildren and so forth. The good news, of course, is that we can act and we know what we have to do.”

 


Cruise ship rescues 68 migrants heading for Spain’s Canaries, five dead

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Cruise ship rescues 68 migrants heading for Spain’s Canaries, five dead

Cruise ship rescues 68 migrants heading for Spain’s Canaries, five dead
Bulk carrier Philipp Oldendorff sighted the boat adrift 440 nautical miles (815 km) south of the island of Tenerife
Insignia cruise ship was diverted to the area to pick up the survivors, the Coast Guard said

MADRID: A luxury cruise ship has rescued dozens of migrants who were trying to reach the Spanish Canary Islands in a fishing boat that had stalled in rough seas killing five people, Spanish authorities and the cruise operator said on Thursday.
The archipelago has become the main point of entry to Spain for illegal migrants from Africa in recent years, and the route is also the deadliest. Migration rights group Walking Borders said last week that nearly 5,000 migrants died at sea on that route in the first five months of 2024.
Bulk carrier Philipp Oldendorff sighted the boat adrift 440 nautical miles (815 km) south of the island of Tenerife on Wednesday and provided first assistance to the migrants, while the Insignia cruise ship was diverted to the area to pick up the survivors, the Coast Guard said in a statement.
The Insignia, which is owned by Miami-based Oceania Cruises, also managed to recover three bodies from the boat, but bad weather prevented the recovery of another two bodies so the ship left a locating device to facilitate the search.
The small luxury cruise ship with a 670-passenger capacity is undertaking a 180— day trip around the world that started in January. It was expected to reach Tenerife at 7 a.m. (0600 GMT) on Friday.
“Safety of life at sea is of paramount importance for all seafarers,” said a spokesperson for Oceania Cruises, which is owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
“We can confirm that the Insignia rescued 68 people from a vessel in distress between Cape Verde and Tenerife, brought them onboard for medical assistance and provided food, drinks, clothing and a safe place to rest,” the spokesperson added.
A Spanish coast guard vessel was en route from the Canary Islands on Thursday to meet the Insignia and then locate the shipwreck.


A luxury cruise ship has rescued dozens of migrants who were trying to reach the Spanish Canary Islands in a fishing boat that had stalled in rough seas killing five people, Spanish authorities and the cruise operator said on Thursday. (Reuters/File)

Illegally brewed liquor kills at least 34 with dozens hospitalized in southern India

Illegally brewed liquor kills at least 34 with dozens hospitalized in southern India
Updated 12 min 27 sec ago
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Illegally brewed liquor kills at least 34 with dozens hospitalized in southern India

Illegally brewed liquor kills at least 34 with dozens hospitalized in southern India
  • People died after consuming alcohol tainted with methanol in Tamil Nadu, says chief minister
  • District official says number of those in critical condition keeps changing, death toll could rise

NEW DELHI: At least 34 people have died and dozens hospitalized after drinking illegally brewed liquor in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, local media reported on Thursday.

The state’s chief minister M K Stalin said the 34 died after consuming liquor that was tainted with methanol, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

The incident occurred in the state’s Kallakurichi district, where more than 100 people are being treated in various hospitals, top district official M S Prasanth said. He added that the number of those who are in critical condition keeps changing, suggesting that the death toll could rise.

Ambulances, doctors and specialists from nearby areas were deployed to the district.

Government officials earlier said several people who were vomiting and had stomach pain were admitted to hospitals Wednesday, triggering a police investigation.

Later that day, Stalin, the chief minister, said in a post on social media platform X that those involved in the crime have been arrested, and action has also been taken against officials who failed to prevent it. “Such crimes that ruin the society will be suppressed with an iron fist,” he added.

Deaths from illegally brewed alcohol are common in India, where the poor cannot afford licensed brands from government-run shops. The illicit liquor, which is often spiked with chemicals such as pesticides to increase potency, has also become a hugely profitable industry as bootleggers pay no taxes and sell enormous quantities of their product to the poor at a cheap rate.

In 2022, more than 30 people died in eastern India’s Bihar state after allegedly drinking tainted liquor sold without authorization. Earlier that same year, at least 28 died from drinking altered liquor in Gujarat state. And in 2020, at least 120 people died after drinking tainted liquor in India’s northern Punjab state.


Romania to send Patriot missile system to Ukraine

Romania to send Patriot missile system to Ukraine
Updated 26 min 29 sec ago
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Romania to send Patriot missile system to Ukraine

Romania to send Patriot missile system to Ukraine
  • “Council members decided to donate a Patriot system to Ukraine in close coordination with allies,” the Supreme Council of National Defense said
  • NATO countries have been reluctant to send them because they want to protect their own airspace

BUCHAREST: NATO member Romania announced Thursday that it would send a Patriot missile system to Ukraine, which Kyiv has requested to help its fight against Russia’s invasion.
“Considering the significant deterioration of the security situation in Ukraine... council members decided to donate a Patriot system to Ukraine in close coordination with allies,” the Supreme Council of National Defense said in a statement.
The donation was made “on the condition that our country continues negotiations with allies, in particular the US, with a view to obtaining a similar or equivalent system” to protect its own air space, it added.
The country, which borders Ukraine, also needed “a temporary solution to cover the operational vulnerability thus created,” it added.
While Kyiv is calling for more Patriot missile systems, NATO countries have been reluctant to send them because they want to protect their own airspace.
Germany recently announced it would transfer a third Patriot air-defense system to Ukraine, while the United States is expected to send a second battery to Kyiv, according to US media reports.
Romania signed a $4-billion deal for seven Patriot batteries with the US in 2017, the biggest defense acquisition in its history.
Two of the four systems it has received so far are fully operational.
Romania has been providing military help to Kyiv in the war with Russia, but has refused to reveal the scale of the support, citing security concerns.
It has also pledged to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 jets in a regional hub inaugurated in November 2023, although the timeline for that program remains unclear.


Rutte seals NATO top job after lone rival drops out

Rutte seals NATO top job after lone rival drops out
Updated 42 min 11 sec ago
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Rutte seals NATO top job after lone rival drops out

Rutte seals NATO top job after lone rival drops out
  • Rutte is expected to be formally named by NATO’s 32 nations in the coming days and should take over when current chief Jens Stoltenberg’s term ends on October 1
  • Romania’s security council on Thursday announced Iohannis had formally withdrawn and that the country backed Rutte

BUCHAREST: Outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday clinched the race to become the next head of NATO at a pivotal time for the alliance, after sole challenger Romanian President Klaus Iohannis pulled out.
The veteran politician, 57, is expected to be formally named by NATO’s 32 nations in the coming days and should take over when current chief Jens Stoltenberg’s term ends on October 1.
Rutte will come in at a perilous moment for the Western allies as Russia’s war in Ukraine drags on and Donald Trump battles to reclaim the presidency in the United States come November.
After staking his claim for the job last year following the collapse of his coalition, staunch Ukraine backer Rutte quickly won the support of heavyweights the United States, Britain, France and Germany.
But he had to use all the diplomatic skills gleaned during almost 14 years in charge of the Netherlands to win over hold-outs led by Turkiye and Hungary.
Rutte overcame Turkish reticence with an April visit to Istanbul, before finally sealing a deal with Hungary’s Viktor Orban at a European Union summit this week.
That left the last sticking point as Iohannis, whose surprise bid had ruffled feathers among allies banking on a smooth appointment for Rutte ahead of a NATO summit in Washington next month.
Romania’s security council on Thursday announced Iohannis had formally withdrawn and that the country backed Rutte.
Rutte will have a lot on his plate when he assumes the reins from Norway’s former premier Stoltenberg, who led the alliance through its most consequential decades since the end of the Cold War.
Just weeks after his four-year term is expected to start, voters in the United States will go to the polls in a crunch vote to chose between incumbent Joe Biden and Trump.
The prospect of the volatile former president returning to the Oval office has rattled allies fearful that he could weaken superpower Washington’s role as Europe’s ultimate security guarantor.
Trump fueled those fears on the campaign trail by saying he would encourage Russia to attack NATO countries not spending enough on their own defense.
Like Stoltenberg, Rutte won plaudits for his careful handling of Trump during his first term in power — when the ex-reality TV star reportedly even mulled pulling the United States out of NATO.
“I think Mark Rutte is a very strong candidate,” Stoltenberg said on a visit to Washington Tuesday. “He has a lot of experience as prime minister. He’s a close friend and colleague.”
While Trump’s return could pose one major challenge — to NATO’s east Rutte will face the far more pressing menace from Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin’s forces are currently on the front foot in Ukraine after more than two years of brutal conflict, and the NATO chief will have a key role marshalling aid from Kyiv’s weary backers.
At the same time Rutte will have to ensure the alliance is ready to defend against any potential future attack from Moscow — if, or more likely when, Putin is able to rebuild his forces.
Part of that will involve corralling European allies to spend more on defense — a key demand from Trump, and other US leaders.
This week NATO announced that 23 out of its 32 member countries had hit the alliance’s target of spending two percent of their gross domestic product on defense.
Dubbed “Teflon Mark” for his ability to remain in power for so long in the Netherlands, Rutte will become the fourth Dutchman to lead NATO since it emerged from the ashes of World War II to confront the Soviet Union.
The bicycling conservative threw his country’s economic weight behind Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s 2022 invasion — leading efforts to deliver F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv.
While NATO countries along the alliance’s eastern flank had pushed for one of their own to get the NATO job, Rutte’s backers insist he is fully aware of the threat posed by Russia.
Among the most formative events during his time in charge of the Netherlands was the 2014 shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine, with 196 Dutch among the 298 killed, that was blamed of Moscow-backed fighters.


Danish PM’s suspected attacker ordered held until July 4

Danish PM’s suspected attacker ordered held until July 4
Updated 55 min 3 sec ago
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Danish PM’s suspected attacker ordered held until July 4

Danish PM’s suspected attacker ordered held until July 4
  • “The court has decided that the suspect will remain in custody until July 4,” a court official said
  • The man has denied responsibility and says he has no recollection of what happened

COPENHAGEN: The man accused of assaulting Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on a public square earlier this month will remain in custody until July 4, a Copenhagen court ruled on Thursday.
The 39-year-old Polish man is suspected of punching Frederiksen on June 7 as she walked in central Copenhagen, leaving her with a minor whiplash injury.
“The court has decided that the suspect will remain in custody until July 4,” a court official told AFP, following a hearing that lasted less than an hour.
The man, who was arrested immediately after the incident, has denied responsibility and says he has no recollection of what happened.
Frederiksen, 46, underwent a medical examination afterwards and was diagnosed with a “contusion on her right shoulder and a minor whiplash injury,” according to her office.
A medical certificate was presented to the court on Thursday.
Frederiksen and several witnesses have been questioned in the ongoing investigation, police said.
In police questioning, relayed to the court on Thursday, Frederiksen said the man approached her and uttered something incomprehensible, then hit her on the shoulder with a closed fist, Danish news agency Ritzau reported on Thursday.
According to prosecutor Line Steffensen, the man was drunk and had stolen alcohol from a grocery store just prior to his encounter with the prime minister.
Steffensen said the man had been arrested on several occasions for shoplifting since moving to Denmark five years ago.
Frederiksen became Denmark’s youngest ever prime minister when she was elected in 2019, aged 41. She won re-election in 2022.
She said after the attack that she was “shaken” and did not take part in the final day of campaigning for the EU election.