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Global Dispatches Live From UNGA — Day 1 | Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed | Climate Diplomacy Expert Yamide Dagnet

20. September 2021 - 23:09

The annual opening of the UN General Assembly is always one the most important weeks on the diplomatic calendar. This year the Global Dispatches podcast has partnered with the United Nations Foundation to provide listeners with news and expert analysis to give you the context you need to understand what is driving the diplomatic agenda at the United Nations during this key week.

We recorded today’s episode live at 4pm ET Monday afternoon September 20.

It has been a busy day at the United Nations. 

Leaders who are attending in person have begun to arrive in New York. This includes South Korean President Moon Jae-in who introduced his special envoys — South Korean K-Pop megastars BTS who performed during a special day-long event at the General Assembly in support of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Also today, the Secretary General convened a closed-door meeting with select international players to discuss climate change.

We have two guests for you today to discuss the key events on the first day of High Level Week.

First I interview the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Amina J Mohammed about her key priorities for this United Nations General Assembly and who previews the week ahead at the UN. 

Next I speak with Yamide Dagnet, director of climate negotiations at the World Resources Institute who explains the significance of the Secretary General’s closed-door meeting and identifies key moments for climate diplomacy this week. 

If you have 25 minutes and want to better understand what is driving diplomacy during #UNGA76, have a listen.

Subscribe to the podcast to access every episode as soon as it is released.


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The post Global Dispatches Live From UNGA — Day 1 | Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed | Climate Diplomacy Expert Yamide Dagnet appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What is Angela Merkel’s Legacy in International Affairs and Foreign Policy?

13. September 2021 - 18:00

Later this month, Angela Merkel will step down after having served as chancellor of Germany since 2005. Her time in office coincided with a number of major world events, including the global financial crisis; the 2015 refugee and migrant crisis; Brexit, Crimea, Trump, COVID, and much more.

Throughout it all, Angela Merkel has been the de-facto leader of the European Union.

On the line with me to discuss some of the significant moments in Angela Merkel’s 16 years as Chancellor of Germany is Constanze Stelzenmüller,  the Fritz Stern Chair on Germany and Transatlantic Relations at the Brookings Institution.

We kick off discussing some of Angela Merkel’s domestic policy legacies before having a longer conversation about her lasting impact on international affairs.

Subscribe to the podcast to access every episode as soon as it is released.


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The post What is Angela Merkel’s Legacy in International Affairs and Foreign Policy? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Global Dispatches Podcast at the 76th United Nations General Assembly

13. September 2021 - 4:30



Join the Global Dispatches Podcast at UNGA76 for a special week of programming.
  • Daily news from United Nations during High Level Week

 

  • Expert analysis to give you the context you need to understand what is driving the agenda at the 76th United Nations General Assembly

 

  • Taped Live every day during UN High Level Week, from Monday September 20th to Friday September 25. New episodes released every day by 6pm ET
Subscribe to the podcast to access every episode as soon as it is released.


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The post Global Dispatches Podcast at the 76th United Nations General Assembly appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What Happened At the United Nations on September 11, 2001

10. September 2021 - 16:45

Stephane Dujarric is a long serving United Nations spokesperson who on September 11th, 2001 was at his office at the United Nations when planes struck the World Trade Center. I’ve known Stephane Dujarric a long time and knew that he was in the building that day, but I’d not spoken about it with him until now.

He offers a grounds-eye view of what it was like to be at the United Nations that day, and as a long serving senior UN spokesperson he is able to give some perspective on how those attacks forever changed the United Nations.

 

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The post What Happened At the United Nations on September 11, 2001 appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What Comes Next for the United Nations in Afghanistan? | Mark Malloch Brown

7. September 2021 - 20:32

As Afghanistan enters a perilous and uncertain future, the United Nations has promised to “stay and deliver.” To be sure, the needs are immense. The country’s humanitarian emergency is worsening by the day. On September 1st, the top UN official remaining in Afghanistan warned that food supplies are running low, even as the UN resumes some humanitarian relief flights in parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the Security Council’s role in managing the political transition in Afghanistan is also unclear. One the one hand, the Council did pass a resolution on Afghanistan. On the other hand, the resolution did little more than call for the Taliban to give Afghans safe passage out of the country — and even so,  China and Russia abstained from the resolution.

On the line with me to the UN’s role in the new Afghanistan is Mark Malloch Brown. He is the President of the Open Society Foundations and had long career at the United Nations, including as administrator of the UN Development Program and as the Deputy UN Secretary General.

We kick off discussing the Security Council’s approach to Afghanistan, including some key questions in may face: like whether to deploy a peacekeeping mission and how to deal with the fact that many Taliban leaders are under Security Council sanction. We then have a broad discussion discussing the emerging contours of the UN’s role in Afghanistan.

If you have 25 minutes and want to learn what comes next for the United Nations and broader international community in Afghanistan, have a listen.

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The post What Comes Next for the United Nations in Afghanistan? | Mark Malloch Brown appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What Comes Next for Humanitarian and Development NGOs in Afghanistan?

2. September 2021 - 16:48

Zuhra Bahman was out of the country on a business meeting when the Taliban took control of Kabul.

She is the Afghanistan country director for Search for Common Ground, an NGO that engages in community based peace-building work. We caught up from Istanbul and I was eager to speak with her because it is very unclear to the entire international community the extent to which NGOs will be able to operate under Taliban rule.

As Zurha Bahman explains, she is eager to get back to her work and life in Afghanistan — but only if certain conditions are met. To that end, she is urging engagement with the Taliban to enable development and humanitarian NGOs to work in the country on behalf of the Afghan people.

If you have 25 minutes and want to hear directly from an Afghan NGO leader about how she plans to continue her work under Taliban rule, have a listen.

 

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The post What Comes Next for Humanitarian and Development NGOs in Afghanistan? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Eritrean Refugees in Tigray Are Trapped

30. August 2021 - 19:21

By Refugees International Senior Fellow  Dr. Sarah Miller, 

Being in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region right now is difficult for anyone. Famine, conflict, and sexual violence are prevalent, and communications and humanitarian aid are largely cut off. But the situation is particularly difficult for Eritrean refugees in Tigray, who seem to be taking fire from all sides.

Eritrean refugees in Tigray have been kidnapped, attacked, killed, raped, harassed, and threatened by nearly everyone party to the conflict: Eritrean troops, Ethiopian forces, Amharan militia, Tigrayan forces, and other groups. Many are now trapped in camps where they remain under threat, and aid groups are not able to reach them. UNHCR reports that healthcare is unavailable, and clean drinking water is running out. Last month Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker, the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Eritrea, called for increased protection for Eritrean refugees in Tigray, as well as in other parts of Ethiopia. Some 80,000 of them are now at risk.

Urgent action can help stave off the worst of the crisis. It is not too late. But time is running out.

Earlier this year, Eritrean troops razed the Hitsats and Shimelba refugee camps in Tigray, Ethiopia to the ground, leaving only “smoldering ruins” and “collapsed roofs.” In a short period of time, some 20,000 refugees from those camps were missing.

Some managed to flee on foot, eating leaves as they sought safety, while others were abducted back to Eritrea. Still others were raped or killed. The lucky ones turned up in Tigray’s southern refugee camps, or in other parts of Ethiopia, including Addis Ababa. Smaller numbers fled to Sudan’s newly erected refugee camps, where the rainy season is now underway, and assistance is limited.

However, with a shift on the battlefield in June, Eritrean refugees who found refuge in the southern camps are once again trapped and desperate, facing attacks, intimidation, and harassment. UNHCR reported that it was unable to reach the camp for weeks, and the last food distribution was carried out in the end of June. It only recently regained access on August 5. While it is working with Ethiopia’s Agency for Refugees and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) to construct a new camp elsewhere in Ethiopia, there are no guarantees for the safety of these Eritrean refugees. And an increasing ethnically charged tone to the conflict could mean more attacks on refugees.

Nearly all civilians in Tigray are suffering, and desperately need humanitarian assistance and access to their basic rights. Some 1.7 million have been internally displaced, and another 63,000 have fled to Sudan. Humanitarian access is still minimal, despite some 90 percent of people needing food aid and skyrocketing child malnutrition rates. Famine conditions have set in, leaving a staggering number of people—most of them children—at risk of starving to death. Conditions are being compared to the infamous 1984-5 famine, which took the lives of more than 1 million people and projected images of emaciated children around the world. Today, starvation is in fact being used as a weapon of war.

Amongst the widespread suffering, refugees are especially vulnerable. They fled persecution at home, and are now in a host state that is unwilling and unable to protect them, despite its obligations under domestic and international law. On top of this, refugees are less likely to have access to networks and opportunities that could help them cope with the crisis and lessen the negative impacts.

Several steps should be taken to help vulnerable Eritreans in Tigray. First, the international community must continue to press for full humanitarian access to Tigray, including consistent, unfettered access and delivery of aid to refugee camps. Without this, the famine will worsen and hundreds of thousands of lives will be lost.

Second, the government of Ethiopia, with the help of the international community, should ensure that all refugees are able to leave Tigray immediately. UNHCR and ARRA should work together to help refugees find intermediate and long-term solutions to the threats they face in Tigray and their displacement more broadly. This could include relocating to other parts of Ethiopia, be it camps or self-settlement options. But camps should not be the only option, and refugees should have a say in the solution to their displacement.

Third, the United States and other states participating in formal third country resettlement with UNHCR should provide formal resettlement places for especially vulnerable Eritrean refugees inside Tigray. UNHCR, the State Department, and others should create fast-track processes to screen, process, and bring these refugees out of harm’s way.

Tigray is running out of time. All civilians in Tigray need immediate access to assistance, but Eritrean refugees have particular needs. With famine setting in and violence continuing, the international community must do more to look out for this vulnerable group.

The post Eritrean Refugees in Tigray Are Trapped appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

“They Are Missing Our Side Of The Story” — An Afghan Human Rights Activist Speaks Out

25. August 2021 - 17:42

Zubaida Akbar is an Afghan human rights activist living in Washington, D.C. She is desperately trying to get vulnerable people out of the country, including a group of female journalists who are almost certainly marked for execution by the Taliban.

We kick off discussing what she is hearing from her friends in Kabul as people attempt to flee the Taliban’s retribution.  We then have a very heavy conversation about the tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan.

By and large there is a dearth of Afghan voices in western media right now – and I am very thankful to Zubaida Akbar for coming on the show to offer her perspective.  I’ll admit that I had a giant lump in my throat at the end of this conversation, but I think it is important that we in the media give voice to those who can bear witness to what is going on right now in Afghanistan.

 

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The post “They Are Missing Our Side Of The Story” — An Afghan Human Rights Activist Speaks Out appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Better Know The Climate Investment Funds

23. August 2021 - 7:19

Back in 2008, in the midst of both a global economic catastrophe and stalled progress on climate diplomacy, a unique multilateral platform called the Climate Investment Funds was born.

The G-8 created the Climate Investment Funds to support developing economies as they shifted to a less carbon intensive future. The Climate Investment Funds supports the development of clean energy markets and invests in projects and programs the enable clean energy transitions and adaptation to climate change.

The CEO of the Climate Investment Funds, Mafalda Duarte is on the podcast today to explain the significance of this multilateral platform to the common global effort to confront climate change.

I will admit not knowing much about this platform prior to this interview so I was very glad to bring their impactful work to a broader audience.  As Mafalda Duarte says in this episode, in the coming years developing economies will account for 70% of the world’s energy supply, so the choices that developing countries make today have a profound impact on our common climate goals.

 

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The post Better Know The Climate Investment Funds appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What Are the Latest Trends in Peace and Conflict Around the World? | Global Peace Index Founder Steve Killilea

19. August 2021 - 7:22

The Global Peace Index is an ambitious effort to measure peacefulness around the world using quantitative data. Now in its 15th year, the Global Peace Index has offered policymakers and analysts a useful way to measure key trends in peace and conflict.

A few weeks back, Institute for Economics and Peace released the 2021 Global Peace Index based on data from last year. Steve Killilea, founder and executive director of the Institute for Economics and Peace, is on the podcast to discuss the report’s findings and what it suggests about trends in peace and conflict around the world.

We kick off discussing how the data is collected before having a deeper conversation about the key findings from the new Global Peace Index.

 

 

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The post What Are the Latest Trends in Peace and Conflict Around the World? | Global Peace Index Founder Steve Killilea appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

How The Enduring Legacy of 9-11 Forever Shaped American Foreign Policy — For the Worse

12. August 2021 - 7:41

You can draw a line from  September 11 2001 to January 6 2021.

In the new book Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump  journalist Spencer Ackerman offers an intense examination of how a never ending war on terror became an embedded and malignant force in American civic life.

This is one of the most important foreign policy books of a generation. Spencer Ackerman, on the podcast today, is a Pulitzer Prize and National Magazine Award winning reporter who has worked for WiredThe GuardianThe Daily Beast and is now the publisher of the Forever Wars newsletter on Substack.

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The post How The Enduring Legacy of 9-11 Forever Shaped American Foreign Policy — For the Worse appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

How a Rivalry Over Yemen’s Currency is Fueling the Civil War

9. August 2021 - 7:27

The crisis in Yemen is compounded by the odd circumstances of Yemen’s currency, the Rial. Yemen has two rival central banks. In the north of the country, where Houthi Rebels ousted the internationally recognized government, there is the central bank in the Capital Sana’a. In the south of the country, the internationally recognized government set up a new central bank in the city of Aden.

These banks have their own priorities and fiscal policies — and were set up, in part, to help defeat the other and control the Yemeni Rial.

The result has been runaway inflation, particularly in the South.

The constant devaluing of the Rial is having a major impact in the humanitarian crisis in Yemen — which is already the worst in the world. The cost of food is increasingly out of reach for ordinary Yemenis where millions are on the brink of famine.

On the line with me to explain how Yemen came to have two rival central banks, and the impact this rivalry is having on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is Annelle Sheline, a Research Fellow Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. We discuss how the central bank rivalry fits into larger conflict dynamics in Yemen and what the international community can do to revive diplomacy to help end this crisis.

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The post How a Rivalry Over Yemen’s Currency is Fueling the Civil War appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

A Coup Puts Tunisia in Political Crisis

5. August 2021 - 16:18

On July 25th, Tunisian President Kais Saied fired the prime minister, dismissed parliament, and assumed dictatorial powers. This was a self-coup in which the President invoked an emergency clause in the constitution allowing him to rule by decree.

The move came as a shock to outsiders.

Tunisia was long considered the lone success story of the Arab Spring. It was where the Arab Spring began in 2011 and it was the only country to emerge from the upheaval as a functioning democracy. The Tunisian civil society groups that helped peacefully broker a political consensus around the country’s democratic transition even won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.

But as my guest today Tarek Megirisi explains, Tunisians by in large have grown increasingly wary of this political system. It has not delivered for them — and it is in this context that Kais Saeid — a relative newcomer to Tunisian politics — was able to seize power.

Tarek Megirisi is a Senior Policy Fellow at European Council on Foreign Relations and we kick off this conversation with a discussion of Kais Saeid’s unique background before having a longer conversation about the domestic and international implications of this power grab in Tunisia.

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The post A Coup Puts Tunisia in Political Crisis appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

How The Fight for Women’s Rights Became So Polarized at the United Nations

2. August 2021 - 15:56

At the United Nations debates over gender equality, reproductive health and women’s rights were not always as polarized as they are today. When I started covering the United Nations as a journalist in the early 2000s the feminist movement (broadly speaking) was in ascendence and very much driving discussions around gender issues at the UN. To be sure, when certain debates arose more traditionally conservative or religiously oriented members of the United Nations would insert themselves — but the momentum was clearly not in their favor.

This is not as much the case today. According to my guest today, Jelena Cupac, that is because of the ascendence of a transnational network of conservative anti-feminist NGOs operating at the United Nations.  Jelena Cupac is a PHD with the Berlin Social Science Center. She is the co-author with Irem Ebeturk of an article in the academic journal International Affairs  “Backlash advocacy and NGO polarization over women’s rights in the United Nations” which examines how this network of conservative NGOs has been able to influence debates over women’s rights at the United Nations.

In this conversation Jelena Cupac, explains how and why conservative anti-feminist organizations began to organize at the United Nations and what impact their unique style of advocacy has had on on progress towards gender equality, reproductive health and LGBT rights at the United Nations.

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The post How The Fight for Women’s Rights Became So Polarized at the United Nations appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Can Congress Rein in the Forever Wars With the New “National Security Powers Act?” | Senator Chris Murphy

29. Juli 2021 - 17:17

United States Senator Chris Murphy wants to radically reign in the President’s ability to use military force abroad. Chris Murphy is a Democrat from Connecticut and with Independent Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont Republican Senator Mike Lee from Utah is a co-sponsor of the new National Security Powers Act. 

If enacted, this legislation would give Congress far more say in matters of war and peace than it currently enjoys. This includes placing strict limits on the ability of the executive branch to conduct military operations abroad without Congressional approval; increased Congressional oversight on international arms sales; and reforming how the President is able to declare a national emergency.

This legislation poses important Constitutional questions about the proper role of Congress vs the Executive Branch in US foreign policy. It also signals an increased bi-partisan exasperation about the unrestrained use of military force around the world — by Presidents of both parties — since 2001.

If enacted the National Security Powers Act would, in practice, sharply curtail the never-ending “war on terror” and serve as a restraint against what is now an ever-expanding list of places around the world in which the US has conducted military operations since 2001.

Senator Chris Murphy is back on the podcast today to describe the problem he sees this legislation as helping to solve; and why he thinks increased Congressional oversight over war powers is important for renewing and sustaining American Democracy.

 

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The post Can Congress Rein in the Forever Wars With the New “National Security Powers Act?” | Senator Chris Murphy appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Kashmir is on the Brink

26. Juli 2021 - 22:56
In March 2020, when countries around the world started imposing COVID-19 lockdowns Kashmir was just emerging from a lockdown of its own. Several months prior, in August 2019 the government of India revoked the special status that Kashmir had enjoyed since the partition of India in 1947. This sparked mass protests, violence and a heavy handed government response — including curfews and an internet shutdown. But just as restrictions were slowly being lifted in the early part of 2020, COVID emerged and the Indian government opted to invoke COVID to impose new restrictions on the people of Kashmir. This includes new citizenship laws and restrictions on press freedom. My guest today, Adnan Bhat is a journalist in Kashmir who has documented how COVID-19 has served as a pretext to advance policies that abrogate the rights of people in Kashmir.  His article on this was published as part of the Stanley Center’s “Red Flags or Resilience Series?” that uses journalism to explore the connections between the coronavirus pandemic and the factors for risk and resilience to mass violence and atrocities around the world. This episode is produced in partnership with the Stanley Center. To view Adnan Bhat’s article and other stories in this series please visit https://resilience.stanleycenter.org/ Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post Kashmir is on the Brink appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Why Femicide is on the Rise in Mexico

23. Juli 2021 - 19:31
Unique among countries in the world, Mexico considers Femicide as a crime distinct from homicide. Simply put, Femicide — which is sometimes referred to as “feminicide”–  is the crime of murdering a woman or girl on account of her gender. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, the documented numbers of Femicide in parts of Mexico have skyrocketed. This includes a part of the State of Mexico, near Mexico City, known as The Periphery. It is here that my guest today, Caroline Tracey, has reported on the increased frequency of Femicide and actions that local groups are taking to fight back against this trend. Caroline Tracey is a writer and doctoral candidate in geography at the University of California-Berkeley.  Her article was published as part of the Stanley Center’s “Red Flags or Resilience Series?” that uses journalism to explore the connections between the coronavirus pandemic and the factors for risk and resilience to mass violence and atrocities around the world. Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public This episode is produced in partnership with the Stanley Center. To view Caroline Tracey’s article and other stories in this series please visit https://resilience.stanleycenter.org/  

The post Why Femicide is on the Rise in Mexico appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The Head of COP 26 Alok Sharma Previews His Agenda For the Major Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland

21. Juli 2021 - 20:07

This November, the United Kingdom will host COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. This will be the most signifiant moment in international climate diplomacy since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Just four months ahead of this monumental climate summit, the president of COP26 Alok Sharma sat down with several media organizations affiliated with Covering Climate Now. UN Dispatch is a member of this collaborative and we are able to republish two key stories, printed below.

 

Rich nations “must consign coal power to history” – UK COP26 president

LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) – Climate change talks this year aimed at keeping global warming in check need to consign coal power to history, the British president of the upcoming United Nations’ conference said on Wednesday.

Britain will host the next U.N. climate conference, called COP26, in November in Glasgow, Scotland.

The meeting aims to spur more ambitious commitments by countries following their pledge under the Paris Agreement in 2015 to keep the global average temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius this century. The measures are aimed at preventing
devastating and extreme weather events such as heatwaves, colder winters, floods and droughts.

“I’ve been very clear that I want COP26 to be the COP where we consign coal power to history,” Alok Sharma, UK president for COP26, told journalists in an interview with Reuters and other partners of the global media consortium Covering Climate Now.

Coal is the most polluting energy source if emissions are not captured and stored underground. While that technology lags, most coal units around the world produce not only carbon dioxide emissions, responsible for global warming, but other pollutants harmful to human health.

The Group of Seven (G7) nations have pledged to scale up technologies and policies that accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity, including ending new government support for coal power by the end of this year, but many countries still finance and plan to build new coal plants.

After catastrophic floods swept across northwest Europe last week and as wildfires continue to rage across southern Oregon in the United States, energy and climate ministers of the Group of 20 rich and emerging nations (G20) will meet this week in Italy to try to increase emissions cuts and climate finance pledges.

“I think the G7 has shown the way forward,” Sharma said, adding that island nations he has visited this year such as in the Caribbean, want the biggest emitters of the G20 to follow suit.

A tracker run by groups including the Overseas Development Institute shows the G20 has committed at least $296 billion for fossil fuel energy support since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, and $227 billion for clean energy.

“Many of these countries are already very ambitious in terms of abating climate change. But for it to make a difference in terms of the weather patterns that are hitting (countries), they need the biggest emitters to step forward and that’s the message that I’m going to be delivering at the G20,” he added.

One of the biggest challenges facing the UK COP26 Presidency will be to persuade countries to commit to more ambitious emissions-cut targets and to increase financing for countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Long-held disagreements over the rules which will govern how carbon markets should operate will also need to be overcome. The rules, under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, are regarded by many countries as a way of delivering climate finance.

“I’ve said to ministers that we need to move beyond people restating their long-held positions. I think we have to find a landing zone,” Sharma said.

  —

Tackle climate change with same urgency shown to pandemic, Says Sharma

Tagline: This story originally appeared in The Times of India and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

By Sunil Warrier & Manka Behl

Four months from now, all eyes will be on world leaders slated to meet in Glasgow to discuss measures to combat climate change. The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, is anticipated to be the most important meeting to battle rising temperatures, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, wildfires and other catastrophic events.

Ahead of the international climate talks and the G20 ministerial meet on environment, climate and energy which is scheduled on July 22-23 in Naples, British MP Alok Sharma, who is also the COP26 president, speaks exclusively to TOI and other partners of the global media consortium Covering Climate Now on grappling issues — right from lack of progress on climate finance, limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degree Celsius, the comeback of the United States in the Paris climate accord and his discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on India’s progress.

 

Excerpts from the interview:

 The main polluting nations are yet to meet their goals, both in mitigation and finance. India has been telling the world that it is on track to meet its Paris Agreement goal. As president of COP26, how will you bridge this trust deficit?

 

I agree that trust is a vital commodity in climate negotiation, and it is incumbent on the donor nations to deliver that trust by showing a clear delivery roadmap for the $100 billion a year. Everyone knows that climate change does not recognize borders. And so, my message to every country is: Please come forward with ambitious 2030 emission reduction targets which are then aligned with net zero by the middle of the century. The overarching message that I would like to come out of COP26 is that we have credibly done enough as well to keep 1.5 degrees Celsius (global warming) within reach. I am not saying to developing nations that they must curb their development. The issue is how you do that in a green way.

 

 

Are you happy with the progress made by India?

 

When in India a few months ago, I had very constructive discussions. I also met Prime Minister Modi. And I know that in a climate biodiversity loss, these are issues that he personally cares very deeply about. I have been incredibly impressed by the work that has been done on clean energy transition in India. And obviously India’s goal of setting up 450 gigawatts of renewables by 2030 also points the way to how India will take part in this clean energy transition. My ask of every country is the same.

 

 

Keeping in mind the impact of burning of coal on not just environment and climate change, but also public health, would you advise India now to say a complete no to coal?

 

International investors are increasingly reluctant to invest in coal power. They have understood that they may well end up in some years with stranded assets. And they’re seeing that actually the prices of renewables — solar, offshore wind — have been coming down significantly. I think the market will help drive the movement in terms of the clean energy transition. One of the reasons that in the UK we were able to have such a rapid growth in our offshore wind sector is because we deployed various revenue mechanisms. It meant that the private sector was able to invest and could get a return. And that’s what then led the scaling up of investments.

 

 

Have you interacted with India’s new environment minister Bhupender Yadav? How difficult is it for a new environment minister to come into COP and get a hang of climate change?

 

I tweeted out a congratulations to him when he was appointed. I’m looking forward to him participating in our ministerial meeting. I think he’ll be doing so virtually. In terms of any new portfolio, you need time to get used to it. But, as I understand from Mr Yadav’s profile, he is someone who has a deep understanding of environmental issues.

 

 

What do you take from the pandemic as a lesson to combat climate emergency?

 

We want world leaders to apply the same sense of urgency to the challenge of climate change as they have indeed done to dealing with the global pandemic. Also, in relation to COP26, one of the issues of concern is how delegates from other countries, who would have not been able to get vaccinated by the time of the meet, will travel. So, we have announced that the UK, working with the UN and other partners, will ensure that all accredited delegates who are not able to get a vaccine in their home country will be supported and vaccinated. It’s vitally important that we hold this event physically. At the end of the day, this is a negotiation among almost 200 countries of the world, and that’s why we need to do this physically. We hope to ensure that COP26 is for the delegates as well as for the people of Glasgow.

 

 

Was it a setback that COP could not be held in 2020 due to Covid?

 

There have been positives over the last year since UK accepted COP presidency. The US administration has come back into accepting the Paris Agreement under its President Joe Biden. It means the country is back in the frontline to fight climate change. Yet, despite Covid, climate change didn’t take time off: Last year was the hottest year on record, comparable to 2016 and the last decade was the hottest on record. And that’s why it’s vital that the world comes together in November so that we can reach an agreement and say with credibility that we’ve kept 1.5 alive.

 

 

Have COP events become like a talk show and are governments viewing each other with deep suspicion?

 

I have travelled to 30 countries in recent months and will continue to travel more despite Covid. I will attempt to build trust and a relationship, that’s going to be vital. My four goals from COP26 are: The overarching ambition of keeping 1.5 within reach, financial support from developed nations for developing countries, those with adaptation plans to come forward and closing off really important issues from the Paris rulebook itself.

 

 

What are the other key issues expected to be negotiated at COP26?

 

Even before we reach Glasgow in November, all countries need to thrash out many things. I am hoping to make good progress during the meeting this week. The five key areas of discussion would be adaptation, finance, loss and damage, Article six and 1.5 degrees C. The politicians need to know what is at stake and the need to compromise. This next decade is going to be decisive in determining the future for our planet when it comes to climate and biodiversity. And I always say that for a child born today, their future as far as the future of the planet is concerned will be set before that child completes primary education. It is as dark as that.

 

 

How do countries view climate activism? There are many youths who are in the forefront of protests.

 

As COP president, I take the work done by climate activists very seriously. This is the first COP where we’ve set up a civil society and youth advisory group of people from across the world who worked with my officials on crafting COP. Ahead of the meeting in March, we took advice and views from civil society and youth activists as well. Every visit I do, I try and meet, and hear their views. The reality is that very often climate activists are holding a mirror up to world leaders. And we need that. At COP26, we’re going to have a Youth Agenda Day focused on the views of youth and of issues around education. Italy (COP26 partner) is hosting a climate event in Milan ahead of COP (called pre-COP26 Summit). Around 400 young people from around the world, young climate activists will come together and present their views to ministers.

 

UN climate science scientists have said that the 1.5 degrees Celsius target requires steep global emissions cuts. But there is still some disagreement around whether the target should be 1.5 or 2 degrees.

 

We just need to step back a little bit and look at what it is that the world agreed to in Paris in 2015. World leaders came together and said that we should do everything we could to keep average global temperature rises to below two degrees and closer to 1.5 degrees. And that’s why we talk about the overarching aim of fix for us collectively, to be able to say that we kept 1.5 within reach. Now, the science tells us that we are over one degree average global temperature rises across the world, and we are seeing the impact of that on a daily basis around the world. In Europe, we have seen the very tragic flooding that’s taking place in Germany. Across the world, we are seeing the impacts of climate change and every fraction of a degree makes a difference.

 

 

Climate finance will be one of the key issues in COP26, specifically the $100 billion commitment. While figures cited by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the UK government revealed that the figure totalled to $79 billion, Oxfam has found it to be around $20 billion, taking into consideration the vague accounting and different definitions for where the money is coming from. How is that shortfall going to be made up? Which countries need to pledge more?

 

There are a number of issues when it comes to finance. The first is that we need to deliver on the $100 billion a year. The OECD report has stated that in 2018, we have got to just under $80 billion. All the G7 nations have stepped forward and said that they are going to put more money on the table. While the UK is doubling its climate finance commitment, we have also seen new money on the table from Japan, Germany and Canada. We need all the other donors to step forward with more financing. There are going to be opportunities between now and COP26 for countries to come forward and make those additional announcements. This is something that the developing countries will very much want to see — a solid delivery plan on how we are going to get the $100 billion and by what point over the next two years. For the developing nations, this is a totemic figure which has now become a matter of trust. Also, while the hundred billion is vitally important, what we need to do is to ensure that we are mobilizing trillions from the private sector alongside this commitment. We need to make a route for private investors to be able to invest in developing countries, in climate-resilient infrastructure, clean energy transition and ensuring that they can get a return.

 

 

Is the money being allocated appropriately between mitigation and adaptation?

 

I certainly do not want to see adaptation as the poor cousin of mitigation, which it currently is. So, we do want to see more money being channelled into adaptation. And I think the access to finance is also vitally important.

 

 

You now have a US administration back at the table, a rich partner. Give us a sense of the strategy of trying to extract some money out of that partner to facilitate what we have just been talking about.

 

I am very pleased that we have an administration that is back on the frontline in the fight against climate change. And I think it was particularly telling that one of the first executive orders that the new president, President Biden, signed was on rejoining the Paris agreement. I think this was a real message for the world. The US is back, and the US is going to work alongside other countries in tackling climate change. Of course, there’s been more money that is being put on the table from the US and that’s welcome. What the US does is going to be vitally important. 

 

 

How should one read into UK not giving foreign financial aid?

 

At the UN General Assembly Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that we would be doubling our international climate finance commitment. And in the last week, he has reaffirmed that. We are urging other countries to do the same. The UK remains a global leader overall when it comes to supporting countries around the world — we will be spending around 10 billion pounds this year.

 

 

What do you consider your biggest challenge as president of COP26?

 

I think the biggest challenge is ensuring that we are persuading countries to come forward with ambitious commitments. As I said, we have seen progress. We have gone from 30% of the world covered by net zero target to 70%. We have seen ambitious indices from a range of countries, but we need that from everyone. If you look at some of the most ambitious countries in terms of cutting emissions, in terms of going carbon neutral, those are the countries that are on the frontline of climate change. And we owe it to them, and we owe it to future generations to get this right.

 

The post The Head of COP 26 Alok Sharma Previews His Agenda For the Major Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What is Driving the Protests, Looting and Riots in South Africa?

19. Juli 2021 - 16:53

Protest, looting, and riots have plunged South Africa into a deep crisis. Scores of people have been killed in this unrest which was sparked by the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma on July 7th.

At time of recording, the government was dispatching 25,000 troops to bring order–and unprecedented military mobilization in the post-apartheid era.

On the line with me from Johannesburg is journalist Geoffrey York, the Africa Bureau Chief for The Globe and Mail. We kick off discussing the circumstances that lead to former president Jacob Zuma being sent to prison, and how and why his jailing sparked protests in key provinces of South Africa. We then discuss what this unrest reveals about inequality, poverty, joblessness and state failure in South Africa.

If you have 20 minutes and want to better understand why South Africa is experiencing this major unrest, have a listen.

 

Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post What is Driving the Protests, Looting and Riots in South Africa? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

A Crisis Mounts in Africa’s Only Absolute Monarchy, Eswatini (Formerly Known As Swaziland)

15. Juli 2021 - 18:24

Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) is a small country in Southern Africa nestled on the border between South Africa and Mozambique. It is notably Africa’s only absolute monarchy. The king effectively rules by decree, with no meaningful checks or balances.

Today, the country in in the midst of its most intense and significant protests against that monarch in recent history. The monarchy’s response was violent, with many protesters killed and disappeared. The internet was shut down for over a week. Many of the protest leaders are now in hiding, even as pro-democracy protests continue.

On the line with me from Harare, Zimbabwe is journalist Mako Muzenda. We kick off with a discussion of the nature of Eswatini’s monarchy before having a broader discussion about these unprecedented protests.

If you have 20 minutes and want to understand why ongoing pro-democracy protests in Eswatini are of global importance, have a listen.

 

Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post A Crisis Mounts in Africa’s Only Absolute Monarchy, Eswatini (Formerly Known As Swaziland) appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

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