Explainer: How will countries measure climate action at COP28? 

Explainer: How will countries measure climate action at COP28? 
View of Dubai's Expo City during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) Climate Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 30, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 30 November 2023
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Explainer: How will countries measure climate action at COP28? 

Explainer: How will countries measure climate action at COP28? 
  • In September, the United Nations offered an early stocktake assessment that revealed countries were far behind in meeting climate goals
  • It said action required “on all fronts” to keep global average temperature rise limited to 1.5 C beyond which irreversible climate impacts will occur

DUBAI: Countries will for the first time assess how far off track they are to curb global warming at this year’s COP28 climate change summit, a process known as the “global stocktake.” 

Governments will look at progress so far as well as what action is still needed to get the world on track. The aim is to yield a plan by the end of the two-week UN conference in Dubai. 

The assessment could become politically divisive as it sets the stage for the next few years of global action in cutting planet-warming emissions. 

WHY IS A GLOBAL STOCKTAKE IMPORTANT? 

Each country sets its own targets and policies for meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement’s overall goal of holding global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius of preindustrial times, and aiming for just 1.5 C of warming. 

Under the 2015 pact, countries must gauge their progress as of this year, and then every five years afterwards. Based on the results, countries may be pressed to set more ambitious climate policies or to contribute more financing to help developing countries adopt clean energy. 

This year’s stocktake could also offer important guidance as countries prepare to update their emissions-cutting targets again by 2025. For example, the stocktake could advise that CO2-cutting targets should cover a country’s entire economy, not just certain sectors. 

IS THE WORLD OFF COURSE IN MEETING CLIMATE GOALS? 

In September, the United Nations offered an early stocktake assessment that revealed countries were far behind in meeting climate goals. It said action was required “on all fronts” to keep the global average temperature rise limited to 1.5 C — the threshold beyond which scientists say more severe and irreversible climate impacts will occur. 

Despite a huge increase in the number of countries setting CO2-cutting targets since the Paris Agreement, current emissions plans still put the world on track to warm by at least 2.5 C, the UN estimates. 

Many countries also have yet to set strong enough short-term policies to steer their economies toward emissions targets for 2030 and 2050. 

The global average temperature has already warmed by 1.2 C since pre-industrial times, which is causing widespread drought along with more frequent deadly heat waves, wildfires and storms around the world. 

HOW WILL THE STOCKTAKE DRIVE CLIMATE ACTION? 

Before the stocktake has even started, countries are squabbling over the scope of future plans — including whether they should commit to phase out fossil fuel use, end investments in new coal power plants or triple renewable energy capacity within this decade. 

COP28 delegates will also need to decide if the stocktake should recommended action for specific sectors, such as the energy or manufacturing sectors. 

The UN’s report in September urged countries to cut CO2-emitting coal power by 67 percent to 82 percent from 2019 levels by 2030. 

The report also called for more finance to help poorer countries adopt clean energy, and noted that billions of dollars were still being invested in fossil fuels every year. 

The European Union wants the stocktake to produce “concrete policy signals” for countries to follow. 

Some developing countries have suggested the stocktake should focus on pressuring wealthy nations to do more, since they have contributed the most emissions to the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, diplomats said. 

“This is where we take stock and see where we are — where are the gaps between the targets and our ambitions, and the actual action. What then needs to be decided... what do we then do from here,” Dan Jorgensen, Denmark’s Global Climate Policy Minister, told Reuters. 


Biden calls Putin a ‘crazy SOB’ during San Francisco fundraiser

Biden calls Putin a ‘crazy SOB’ during San Francisco fundraiser
Updated 4 sec ago
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Biden calls Putin a ‘crazy SOB’ during San Francisco fundraiser

Biden calls Putin a ‘crazy SOB’ during San Francisco fundraiser
  • He had earlier said there is no doubt that the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Nalvany "was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did”
  • iden tends to go off script during election fundraisers and in recent months has dug into the Chinese government, the Republican Party, and US ally Israel for its bombing of the Gaza Strip

SAN FRANCISCO: President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “crazy SOB” during a fundraiser in San Francisco on Wednesday, warning there is always the threat of nuclear conflict but that the existential threat to humanity remains climate.

“This is the last existential threat. It is climate. We have a crazy SOB like that guy Putin and others and we always have to worry about nuclear conflict, but the existential threat to humanity is climate,” Biden told a small group of donors.
Biden has previously cursed “son of a bitch” at others. In January 2022, he was caught on the hot mic using the same term of abuse against a Fox News White House reporter.
Biden tends to go off script during election fundraisers and in recent months has dug into the Chinese government, the Republican Party, and US ally Israel for its bombing of the Gaza Strip.
Biden’s verbal attacks against Putin have also sharply intensified at the White House and on the campaign trail. Last week, the US President blamed Putin and “his thugs” for the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
“We don’t know exactly what happened, but there is no doubt that the death of Nalvany was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did,” Biden said at the White House after Russian prison officials announced that Navalny had died.
The Kremlin has denied involvement in Navalny’s death and said Western claims that Putin was responsible are unacceptable.
Biden and Putin remain deeply at odds over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago, over which Russia has been sanctioned by the United States and other Western nations. Biden’s reactions have put a further chill into already bitter US-Russian relations.
On Tuesday, Biden said the US will announce a major package of sanctions against Russia over Navalny’s death and the Ukraine war.
Biden’s expected Republican opponent in November, former President Donald Trump, has expressed admiration for Putin both during his 2017-2021 White House tenure and afterward. However, he also recently compared himself to Navalny, implying that they both had faced politically motivated prosecutions.
“I don’t know where the hell this comes from,” Biden said on Wednesday reacting to Trump comparing himself to Navalny.


US heads back to the Moon — with a commercial spaceship

US heads back to the Moon — with a commercial spaceship
Updated 16 min 4 sec ago
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US heads back to the Moon — with a commercial spaceship

US heads back to the Moon — with a commercial spaceship
WASHINGTON: One giant leap for the private sector?
A Houston-based company is set Thursday to attempt to land America’s first spaceship on the Moon in more than 50 years, as part of a new fleet of NASA-funded commercial landers intended to pave the way for astronauts to return to Earth’s celestial neighbor later this decade.
If all goes well, Intuitive Machines will guide its hexagon-shaped robot Odysseus to a gentle touchdown near the lunar south pole at 2230 GMT.
Flight controllers are expected to confirm landing around 15 seconds after the milestone is achieved, with the event live streamed on the company’s website.
As it approaches the surface, Odysseus will shoot out an external “EagleCam” that captures images of the lander in the final seconds of its descent.
A previous moon shot by another US company last month ended in failure, raising the stakes to demonstrate private industry has what it takes to repeat a feat last achieved by NASA during its Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University told AFP that the US was rebuilding its capacity to explore the Moon after its decades-long absence.
“There’s often a prejudice that says, we did it in the past, why can’t we do it now?” said Pace, a former member of the National Space Council.
“Each generation has to learn how to do things,” he added. “You have a leg up, you understand the technology, the problems and so forth. But that’s all in books. That’s not flight tests. That’s not flight experience, where you know it in your fingertips.”


Odysseus launched on February 15 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and boasts a new type of supercooled liquid oxygen, liquid methane propulsion system that allowed it to race through space in quick time.
Its destination, Malapert A, is an impact crater 300 kilometers (180 miles) from the lunar south pole.
NASA hopes to eventually build a long-term presence and harvest ice there for both drinking water and rocket fuel under Artemis, its flagship Moon-to-Mars program.
Instruments include cameras to investigate how the lunar surface changes as a result of the engine plume from a spaceship, and a device to analyze clouds of charged dust particles that hang over the surface at twilight as a result of solar radiation.


The rest of the cargo was paid for by Intuitive Machines’ private clients, and includes 125 stainless steel mini Moons by the artist Jeff Koons.
NASA paid Intuitive Machines $118 million to ship its hardware under a new initiative called Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS), which it created to delegate trucking services to the private sector to achieve savings and stimulate a wider lunar economy.
The first, by Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic, launched in January, but its Peregrine spacecraft sprung a fuel leak and it was eventually brought back to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.
Spaceships landing on the Moon have to navigate treacherous boulders and craters and, absent an atmosphere to support parachutes, must rely on thrusters to control their descent. Roughly half of the more than 50 attempts have failed.
Until now, only the space agencies of the Soviet Union, United States, China, India and Japan have accomplished the feat, making for an exclusive club.

US candidate Haley sides with court ruling that embryos are babies

US candidate Haley sides with court ruling that embryos are babies
Updated 43 min 37 sec ago
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US candidate Haley sides with court ruling that embryos are babies

US candidate Haley sides with court ruling that embryos are babies

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said on Wednesday that she believed frozen embryos created through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) were babies, endorsing a controversial ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court.
That state’s high court said that frozen embryos in test tubes should be considered children, rattling doctors and patients in reproductive medicine as well as raising legal questions, US media reported after Friday’s decision.
Haley, in an interview with NBC News, sided with the Alabama court.
“Embryos, to me, are babies,” Haley said. “When you talk about an embryo, you are talking about, to me, that’s a life. And so I do see where that’s coming from when they talk about that.”
The former South Carolina governor said she had her son after using artificial insemination, a different procedure which does not involve embryos in a lab.
Haley is the last major 2024 Republican presidential challenger to frontrunner Donald Trump. The two will face off a third time on Saturday in her home state of South Carolina, with Haley again trailing in opinion polls but refusing to drop out.
Trump has not publicly mentioned the Alabama ruling. A representative for his campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ruling was greeted by widespread shock in Alabama, which has one of the nation’s strictest abortion laws, according to news reports, with patients confused about whether to proceed with IVF and others wondering whether to move their embryos.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham paused in-vitro fertilization after the state supreme court ruling, due to fear of prosecution and lawsuits, a hospital representative said.
“This is exactly the type of chaos that we expected when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for politicians to dictate some of the most personal decisions families can make,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday.
The Alabama ruling was the latest involving reproductive services after the US Supreme Court in 2022 overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had recognized women’s constitutional right to abortion.
Republican candidates this election cycle largely steered clear of the abortion issue. The party’s underwhelming performance in the 2022 midterm elections was seen as voter backlash against the Roe v. Wade ruling.
Haley, the only Republican woman in the 2024 race, has urged Republicans to focus on finding consensus, rather than faulting those who favor abortion rights.
Trump has taken credit for appointing three right-wing justices to the Supreme Court, securing the majority needed to overturn Roe in the first place. But he has also avoided saying whether he would sign a national ban into law.


Ukrainian soldiers expect more assaults after Russian forces capture eastern town

Ukrainian soldiers expect more assaults after Russian forces capture eastern town
Updated 22 February 2024
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Ukrainian soldiers expect more assaults after Russian forces capture eastern town

Ukrainian soldiers expect more assaults after Russian forces capture eastern town
  • The capture of Avdiivka, after months of little change in the front lines, indicated a change of momentum as the second anniversary of the Russian invasion nears

NEAR AVDIIVKA, Ukraine: Ukrainian soldiers dug in around new positions outside of Avdiivka say Russian forces who captured the eastern Ukrainian town last week are pressing on toward nearby towns and villages.
“It doesn’t end with them taking Avdiivka. They continue assaulting (our positions),” said Andriy, a Ukrainian drone pilot of the 47th Mechanized Brigade, sitting quietly in a darkened area.
“After Avdiivka, the villages nearby are next. And then, Myrnohrad and Pokrovsk, the nearest larger towns.”
Russian forces secured Avdiivka after months of bombardment reduced the town to rubble. It was Russia’s biggest battlefield victory since its forces captured Bakhmut in May 2023.
The capture of Avdiivka, after months of little change in the front lines, indicated a change of momentum as the second anniversary of the Russian invasion nears. President Vladimir Putin says Russian troops will push further into Ukraine.
Russian forces, Andriy said, have “a lot of manpower. There is lots of shelling. And KABs (guided aerial bombs) still bomb us as they used to. Well, perhaps there is a little less, but still a lot.”
A member of the unit launches an FPV (First Point View) drone from a wooded area and, wearing goggles, controls its trajectory on a monitor.
The whine of the drone eventually turns into a slight thud, indicating that an explosion has occurred. The drone flies headlong into a dugout.
Andriy and his fellow unit member, identifying himself as Huk, follow the progress of drones.
Footage shows the vast coke and chemical plant on the edge of Avdiivka, once one of Europe’s largest, and the area around it. Two blurred figures, Russian soldiers, are seen walking through an open area.
Maksym Zhorin, Deputy Commander of Ukraine’s Third Assault Brigade, wrote on Telegram on Wednesday: “The situation on the Avdiivka front is quite clear. The Russians will advance as far as their strength allows, depending on who among them survives.”
Andriy and Huk harbor no illusions of what lies ahead.
“It seems like things are calmer, but they are continuing their attempts to capture Lastochkyne. They are moving toward it,” Huk says, referring to a village to the northwest.
“I think they are now taking a small break to gather their forces so as to continue attacking us.”
Neither is demoralized by the decision to move out of the town, once home to 32,000 people. But some relief would be welcome.
“What will happen further? I don’t know. I just live day by day, or at least I try to,” Andriy said.
“We will keep working. That it our duty. And first of all, we are waiting to be replaced. We would like at least part of our ranks to rotate out. We don’t just want our ranks to be replenished.”


Brazil condemns ‘paralysis’ on Gaza, Ukraine at tense G20 meeting

Brazil condemns ‘paralysis’ on Gaza, Ukraine at tense G20 meeting
Updated 22 February 2024
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Brazil condemns ‘paralysis’ on Gaza, Ukraine at tense G20 meeting

Brazil condemns ‘paralysis’ on Gaza, Ukraine at tense G20 meeting
  • “Multilateral institutions are not properly equipped to deal with the current challenges, as has been demonstrated by the Security Council’s unacceptable paralysis on the ongoing conflicts” in Gaza and Ukraine, Vieira says

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil criticized the “paralysis” of the UN Security Council on the wars in Gaza and Ukraine as it opened a G20 meeting Wednesday where the international community’s deep divisions were on display.
The outlook is bleak for progress on the thorny agenda of conflicts and crises gripping the planet as foreign ministers from the world’s biggest economies gather in Rio de Janeiro for the Group of 20’s first high-level meeting of the year.
Opening the two-day meeting, which featured US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Brazil’s top diplomat, Mauro Vieira, said the explosion of global conflicts shows international institutions like the United Nations are not working.
“Multilateral institutions are not properly equipped to deal with the current challenges, as has been demonstrated by the Security Council’s unacceptable paralysis on the ongoing conflicts” in Gaza and Ukraine, Vieira said, adding the situation was costing “innocent lives.”
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell for his part warned multilateralism “is in crisis.”
The Security Council has failed to act on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, held in check by Russian veto power, and has struggled to find a response to the war in Gaza, with Israel’s ally the United States using its veto to block calls for a ceasefire, most recently Tuesday.
Brazil, which took over the rotating G20 presidency from India in December, has voiced hopes the group could be a forum to make progress on such questions.
But that likely took a hit when Lula ignited a diplomatic firestorm Sunday by accusing Israel of “genocide,” comparing its military campaign in the Gaza Strip to the Holocaust.
The comments drew outrage in Israel, which declared him persona non grata, and could overshadow any bid to de-escalate the conflict via the G20.
Blinken, who met Lula Wednesday in Brasilia before heading to the G20, “made clear we disagree with (his) comments,” a senior State Department official told journalists.
The secretary of state and Brazilian leader had a “frank exchange” in their more than 90-minute meeting at the presidential palace, the official said.
More than four months after the Gaza war started with Hamas fighters’ unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which has vowed to wipe out the Islamist group in retaliation, there is little sign of progress toward peace.
The outlook is similarly grim on Russia’s war in Ukraine, which also has G20 members divided as the second anniversary of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion approaches.
Despite a push by Western countries to condemn the invasion, the G20’s last summit ended with a watered-down statement denouncing the use of force but not explicitly naming Russia, which maintains friendly ties with India and Brazil, among other members.
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said he planned to use the Rio meeting to “call out Russia’s aggression” directly to Lavrov, as Britain announced sanctions on six Russian officials over opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s death in prison last week.
Lavrov — who will meet Lula in Brasilia Thursday, according to a Brazilian official — meanwhile lashed out at the West for “pumping Ukraine full of arms.”
“Neither Kiev nor the West have shown the political will to resolve the conflict,” he told Brazilian newspaper O Globo.
Blinken voiced pessimism on the current chances for diplomacy on Ukraine in his meeting with Lula. “We don’t see the conditions for it right now,” a US official said.
Brazil also wants to use its G20 presidency to push the fights against poverty and climate change.
There will also be space for bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the gathering — though a Blinken-Lavrov encounter looks unlikely, given soaring tensions.
The pair last met in person at a G20 gathering in India in March 2023.
Founded in 1999, the G20 brings together most of the world’s biggest economies.
Originally an economic forum, it has grown increasingly involved in international politics.
A Brazilian government source said that after recent G20 struggles for consensus, the hosts axed the requirement that every meeting produce a joint statement — with the exception of the annual leaders’ summit, scheduled for November in Rio.