World’s largest private firms fail to set climate targets: report

World’s largest private firms fail to set climate targets: report
A 50 meter anamorphic field painting of a girl holding the Earth, created by artists from 'Sand In Your Eye' to mark Earth Day, adorns a hillside above Hebden Bridge, north west England on April 19, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 22 April 2024
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World’s largest private firms fail to set climate targets: report

World’s largest private firms fail to set climate targets: report
  • Several jurisdictions including the United Kingdom have adopted climate disclosure regulations

PARIS: Only 40 of the world’s 100 largest private firms have set net-zero carbon emissions targets to fight climate change, according to a report released Monday, lagging far behind public companies.
But for the world to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming 1.5 degree Celsius, all companies need to reduce their planet-heating emissions, the report by the group Net Zero Tracker noted.
The lack of market and reputational pressures on private firms compared to those publicly-listed, along with an absence of regulation are to blame for their slow uptake of climate commitments, John Lange of Net Zero Tracker told AFP.
“I think things are changing on all three of those fronts,” he added.
The report compared 200 of the world’s largest public and private companies based on their reported emissions reductions strategies and net-zero targets.
It found that only 40 of the 100 private firms assessed had net zero targets, compared to 70 of 100 publicly-listed companies.
Of the private companies that have set targets, just eight have published plans on how they will meet them.
“A pledge without a plan is not a pledge, it is a naked PR stunt,” the report said.
Only two firms — furnishing giant Ikea and US engineering giant Bechtel — ruled out using controversial carbon credits to achieve their net-zero goals, the report said.
Carbon credits allow businesses to offset their emissions by directing money toward a project that reduces or avoids emissions, such as protecting forests, but critics say they allow companies to keep polluting.
Meanwhile, none of the eight fossil fuel companies included in the report was found to have a net-zero target, compared with 76 percent of the sector’s largest public firms.
There was also little improvement in the figures compared with a previous analysis done in 2022, “despite a massive uptick in regulation around the world,” Lang said.
Several jurisdictions including the United Kingdom have adopted climate disclosure regulations.
Others have regulations on the horizon, with business hubs of California and Singapore requiring greenhouse gas emissions reporting from 2027.
The European Union also introduced two climate regulations — the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) — which will soon require thousands of large companies to report their climate impacts and emissions, and to take action to curtail them.
“We’re trying to get private firms to understand what’s coming for them,” Lang said.
The EU policies will have far-reaching effects in particular, targeting firms not only based in the bloc but those that may be headquartered elsewhere with branches or subsidiaries within the member states.
Yet two European private firms, including French hypermarket chain E. Leclerc, were singled out in the report for having set any emissions reduction targets.
E.Leclerc told AFP that the company has made efforts toward more sustainable practices like eliminating the use of single-use plastic bags, and is “committed to setting near-term company-wide emissions reduction targets.”
But with the enforcement of EU regulations looming, firms will not be able to “dodge” climate targets much longer, Sybrig Smit of the NewClimate Institute told AFP.
“It’s actually quite watertight. If companies want to do business in Europe, they are going to have to face the consequences,” she said.
The firms analyzed account for roughly 23 percent of the global economy, with the majority based in either China, the United States or EU states — the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, Lang said.
Any changes the firms make to meet new regulations will have substantial benefits for the environment.
“They have such a trickledown effect. Whenever such a big company is implementing something real, it will have a huge effect on the rest of the sector that they operate in,” Smit said.


Putin arrives in Uzbekistan on his 3rd foreign trip since re-election

Putin arrives in Uzbekistan on his 3rd foreign trip since re-election
Updated 27 May 2024
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Putin arrives in Uzbekistan on his 3rd foreign trip since re-election

Putin arrives in Uzbekistan on his 3rd foreign trip since re-election
  • The Kremlin leader has traveled abroad only infrequently since the start of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived Sunday in the capital of Uzbekistan where he is to hold talks with President Shavkay Mirziyoyev that are expected to focus on deepening the countries’ relations.

Putin laid a wreath at a momument to Uzbekistan’s independence in Tashkent and held what the Kremlin said were informal talks with Mirziyoyev. The formal meeting of the presidents is to take place Monday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, quoted by news agencies, told Russian television that Russia was open to broader cooperation on gas supplies with Uzbekistan, saying “the possibilities here are very extensive.”

The visit is Putin’s third foreign trip since being inaugurated for a fifth term in May. He first went to China, where he expressed appreciation for China’s proposals for talks to end the Ukraine conflict, and later to Belarus where Russia has deployed tactical nuclear weapons.

Ahead of the Uzbekistan trip, Putin and Mirziyoyev discussed an array of bilateral cooperation issues, including trade and economic relations, the Kremlin said.

The Kremlin leader has traveled abroad only infrequently since the start of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest last March on suspicion of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. The Kremlin denies those allegations.

 

 


Armenians throng center of the capital to demand the prime minister’s resignation

Armenians throng center of the capital to demand the prime minister’s resignation
Updated 27 May 2024
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Armenians throng center of the capital to demand the prime minister’s resignation

Armenians throng center of the capital to demand the prime minister’s resignation
  • Movement leaders told the rally Sunday that they support Galstanyan becoming the next prime minister

YEREVAN, Armenia: Tens of thousands of demonstrators held a protest Sunday in the center of the capital of Armenia, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan after Armenia agreed to hand over control of several border villages to Azerbaijan.
The demonstration was the latest in a weekslong series of gatherings led by a high-ranking cleric in the Armenian Apostolic Church, Bagrat Galstanyan, archbishop of the Tavush diocese in Armenia’s northeast.
He spearheaded the formation of a movement called Tavush For The Homeland after Armenia in April agreed to cede control of four villages in the region to Azerbaijan. Although the villages were the movement’s core issue, it has expanded to express a wide array of complaints about Pashinyan and his government.
Movement leaders told the rally Sunday that they support Galstanyan becoming the next prime minister.
The decision to turn over the villages in Tavush followed the lightning military campaign in September in which Azerbaijan’s military forced ethnic Armenian separatist authorities in the Karabakh region to capitulate.
After Azerbaijan took full control of Karabakh, about 120,000 people fled the region, almost all of its ethnic Armenian population.
Ethnic Armenian fighters backed by Armenian forces had taken control of Karabakh in 1994 at the end of a six-year war. Azerbaijan regained some of the territory in fighting in 2020 that ended in an armistice that brought in a Russian peacekeeper force, which began withdrawing this year.
Pashinyan has said Armenia needs to quickly define the border with Azerbaijan to avoid a new round of hostilities.


Man accused in fiery liquid attacks on New York City subway riders

Man accused in fiery liquid attacks on New York City subway riders
Updated 27 May 2024
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Man accused in fiery liquid attacks on New York City subway riders

Man accused in fiery liquid attacks on New York City subway riders
  • While violent crime is rare in the city’s subway system, which serves about 3 million riders a day, some high-profile attacks this year have left some riders on edge

NEW YORK: A man set a cup of liquid on fire and tossed it at a fellow subway rider in New York City, setting the victim’s shirt ablaze and injuring him, police said Sunday.
The random attack happened on a No. 1 train in lower Manhattan on Saturday afternoon, city police said, adding that the suspect was in custody on an array of criminal charges. Authorities also charged the man in connection with a similar fiery assault on the subway in February.
The victim from Saturday, a 23-year-old man, was recovering at a hospital. He told the New York Post that he shielded his fiancee and cousin from the burning liquid and his shirt caught on fire. He said he slapped himself to put out the flames. Doctors told him he had burns on about a third of his body, he said.
“He had a cup,” the victim told the Post. “He made fire and he threw it all.”
While violent crime is rare in the city’s subway system, which serves about 3 million riders a day, some high-profile attacks this year have left some riders on edge. They include the death of a man who was shoved onto the tracks in East Harlem in March and a few shootings.
The suspect in Saturday’s assault, Nile Taylor, 49, was arrested a short time after it happened when police tracked a phone he allegedly stole from another subway rider to his location, authorities said. He was charged with assault, arson, illegal possession of a weapon and several other crimes.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Taylor had a lawyer who could respond to the allegations, or when he would be arraigned in court.
Authorities also announced on Sunday afternoon that Taylor was charged with attempted assault, reckless endangerment and arson in the February attack. Police say he threw a container with a flaming liquid at a group of people on a subway platform in the West 28th Street station. No one was injured.
Gov. Kathy Hochul in March announced that hundreds of National Guard members would be going into the subway system to boost security. City police said 800 more officers would be deployed to the subway to crack down on fare evasion.


Macron urges defense of democracy on state visit to Germany

Macron urges defense of democracy on state visit to Germany
Updated 27 May 2024
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Macron urges defense of democracy on state visit to Germany

Macron urges defense of democracy on state visit to Germany
  • Macron made his first stop a democracy festival in Berlin, where he warned of a “form of fascination for authoritarianism which is growing” in the two major EU nations

BERLIN: Emmanuel Macron began Sunday the first state visit to Germany by a French president in a quarter-century, bringing a plea to defend democracy against nationalism at coming European Parliament elections.
Macron made his first stop a democracy festival in Berlin, where he warned of a “form of fascination for authoritarianism which is growing” in the two major EU nations.
“We forget too often that it’s a fight” to protect democracy, Macron said, accompanied by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
If nationalist parties had been in power in Europe in recent years, “history would not have been the same,” he said, pointing to decisions on the coronavirus pandemic or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Steinmeier said: “We need an alliance of democrats in Europe.”
Macron “has rightly pointed out that the conditions today before the European elections are different from the previous election, a lot has happened,” he added.
The trip comes two weeks ahead of European Union elections in which polls are indicating a major potential embarrassment for Macron, with his centrist coalition trailing behind the far right.
It could even struggle to reach a third-place finish.
In Germany too, all three parties in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition are polling behind the far-right AfD in surveys, despite a series of scandals embroiling the anti-immigration party.
At a press conference, Macron said he would work to “unmask” France’s far-right National Rally (RN), saying that “nothing in their rhetoric holds water.”
“Unlike many, I’m not getting used to the idea that the National Rally is just another party. And so when it’s at the top of the surveys, I see this party and its ideas as a threat to Europe,” he said.
In a keynote address on foreign policy last month, Macron warned about the threats to Europe in the wake of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
“Our Europe, today, is mortal and it can die,” he said. “It can die, and this depends only on our choices.”
Ramping up his warning in Berlin, Macron urged Europeans “to go vote for the party that we back and a party that defends Europe.”
Hosting a state banquet later Sunday for Macron, Steinmeier also referred to the threat posed by Russia.
“Together we must learn again to better protect ourselves against aggressors, and to make our societies more resilient against attacks from within and without,” he said.
After the talks with Steinmeier, Macron is due to bring his message to Dresden in the former East German state of Saxony, where the AfD has a strong support base.
On Tuesday, Macron will visit the western German city of Munster and later Meseberg, outside Berlin, for talks with Scholz and a joint Franco-German cabinet meeting.
Beyond making joint appeals for the European elections, Macron’s three-day visit will seek to emphasize the historic importance of the postwar relationship between the key EU states.
France next month commemorates 80 years since the D-Day landings that marked the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany’s World War II occupation.
But all has not been smooth in a relationship often seen as the engine of the EU, and German officials are said to be uneasy at times about Macron’s perceived theatrical style of foreign policy.
Macron’s refusal to rule out sending troops to Ukraine sparked an unusually acidic response from Scholz that Germany had no such plans. Germany also does not share Macron’s enthusiasm for a European strategic autonomy less dependent on the United States.
But Macron sought to dismiss talk about discord, saying that coordination with Germany had been key over the years.
He cited agreements on sanctions against Russia over its war on Ukraine and action to spur European economic growth and innovation after the Covid pandemic.
“The Franco-German relationship is about disagreeing and trying to find ways of compromise,” said Helene Miard-Delacroix, specialist in German history at the Sorbonne university in Paris.
While Macron is a frequent visitor to Berlin, the trip is the first state visit in 24 years, since a trip by Jacques Chirac in 2000, and the sixth since the first postwar state visit by Charles de Gaulle in 1962.


Lithuania’s President Nauseda re-elected in vote marked by Russia fears

Lithuania’s President Nauseda re-elected in vote marked by Russia fears
Updated 27 May 2024
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Lithuania’s President Nauseda re-elected in vote marked by Russia fears

Lithuania’s President Nauseda re-elected in vote marked by Russia fears
  • Electoral commission count showed that Nauseda won 76 percent of votes with 80 percent of ballots counted after polls closed
  • Electoral commission count showed that Nauseda won 76 percent of votes with 80 percent of ballots counted after polls closed

VILNIUS: Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda won re-election on Sunday in a vote marked by defense concerns over neighboring Russia, official results showed.

The count published by the electoral commission showed that Nauseda won 76 percent of votes with 80 percent of ballots counted after polls closed in the second-round vote.
Voters “have handed me a great mandate of trust and I am well aware that I will have to cherish this,” Nauseda, 60, told journalists in Vilnius.
“Now that I have five years of experience, I believe that I will certainly be able to use this jewel properly, first of all to achieve the goals of welfare for all the people of Lithuania,” he said.
His opponent, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, conceded defeat in comments to reporters and congratulated Nauseda.
The Lithuanian president steers defense and foreign policy, attending EU and NATO summits, but must consult with the government and parliament on appointing the most senior officials.
While the candidates agree on defense, they share diverging views on Lithuania’s relations with China, which have been strained for years over Taiwan.
Both candidates agree that the NATO and EU member of 2.8 million people should boost defense spending to counter the perceived threat from Russia, and to that end the government recently proposed a tax increase.

Vilnius fears it could be next in the crosshairs if Moscow were to win its war against Ukraine.
Lithuania is a significant donor to Ukraine, which has been battling Russia since the 2022 invasion. It is already a big defense spender, with a military budget equal to 2.75 percent of GDP.
It intends to purchase tanks and additional air defense systems, and to host a German brigade, as Berlin plans to complete the stationing of around 5,000 troops by 2027.
Pensioner Ausra Vysniauskiene said she voted for Nauseda.
“He’s an intelligent man, he speaks many languages, he’s educated, he’s a banker,” the 67-year-old told AFP.
“I want men to lead, especially when the threat of war is so big.”

Simonyte, the 49-year-old candidate of the ruling conservatives, was running for president again after losing to Nauseda in the last presidential ballot.
The uneasy relationship between Nauseda and Simonyte’s conservatives has at times triggered foreign policy debates, most notably on Lithuania’s relations with China.
Bilateral ties turned tense in 2021, when Vilnius allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy under the island’s name — a departure from the common diplomatic practice of using the name of the capital Taipei to avoid angering Beijing.
China, which considers self-ruled Taiwan a part of its territory, downgraded diplomatic relations with Vilnius and blocked its exports, leading some Lithuanian politicians to urge a restoration of relations for the sake of the economy.
Nauseda sees the need to change the name of the representative office, while Simonyte pushed back against it.

But voters also cited personal differences between the candidates, as well as economic policy and human rights.
Simonyte drew support from liberal voters in bigger cities and traditional conservative voters.
A fiscal conservative with liberal views on social issues, she notably supports same-sex partnerships, a controversial issue in the predominantly Catholic country.
“I would like to see faster progress, more openness... more tolerance for people who are different from us,” she said when casting an early vote.
Nauseda, who maintains a moderate stance on nearly all issues, has established himself as a promoter of the welfare state, with conservative views on gay rights.