Paris climate agreement: World leaders slam Trump decision

World leaders on Thursday condemned President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.

Although the president said he is willing to work for a better deal, France, Italy and Germany said in a joint statement that the accord can not be re-negotiated.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni urged allies to "speed up" efforts to fight against climate change and said they would do more to help poorer countries.

Paris City Hall was illuminated in green Thursday night following Trump's announcement.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter to criticize Trump's decision, saying his country is "deeply disappointed."

"We are all custodians of this world, and that is why Canada will continue to work with the U.S. at the state level, and with other U.S. stakeholders, to address climate change and promote clean growth," Trudeau said in a statement.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's office said she "expressed her disappointment" in a phone call with Trump, and "stressed that the U.K. remained committed to the Paris Agreement."

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the decision "irresponsible."

Prime Minister of Denmark Lars Rasmussen said it was a "sad day for the world."

The European Union's top climate change official echoed Rasmussen's sentiments, calling it "a sad day for the global community."

"The EU deeply regrets the unilateral decision by the Trump administration to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement," European Union Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said in a statement.

Former Mexican president Vincente Fox unleashed a tweetstorm, saying Trump has "surrendered the hopes and future of a nation."

“He’s declaring war on the planet itself,” Fox added.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel also weighed in: "I condemn this brutal act. ... Leadership means fighting climate change together. Not forsaking commitment."

The 197-member climate agreement requires every country to establish ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gasses. But those targets are largely voluntary, and Trump has already made clear that he views environmental regulations as an obstacle to his goal of creating jobs and ensuring energy independence.

Under the terms of the agreement, the earliest a nation can formally withdraw is November, 2020 — the same month Trump will run for re-election.

Earlier Thursday, Russia said it supported the Paris deal. "President (Vladimir) Putin signed this convention in Paris. Russia attaches great significance to it," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a call with reporters, the Independent reported.

"At the same time, it goes without saying that the effectiveness of this convention is likely to be reduced without its key participants," he said.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang promised to work with the EU to uphold the Paris climate accord, saying there is a "global consensus" and an "international responsibility” to fight climate change, the Associated Press reported.

"China in recent years has stayed true to its commitment,” he said in Berlin, referring to the Paris climate deal. China has been actively promoting the Paris agreement and was one of the first countries to ratify it, he said.

 

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US Exit From Paris Climate Deal 'Stunning Abdication' of Leadership - Pelosi

US President Donald Trump's reported decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement is an abdication of American leadership on the global stage, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, Axios reported that Trump allegedly decided to exit from the Paris climate agreement.

"President Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord is a stunning abdication of American leadership and a grave threat to our planet’s future," Pelosi stated.

Trump smiles as he is introduced to speak to U.S. military troops and their families at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Saturday, May 27, 2017, in Sigonella, Italy.

Pelosi noted that walking away from the agreement aimed at curbing climate change would mean that Trump is denying science, taking away safeguards that protect US health and environment, and threatening national and global security.

Trump will also ensure that other countries will receive the investments in clean energy that could bring jobs to the United States, Pelosi added.

Trump said on Wednesday that he will reveal his decision on whether the United States will remain in the Paris Climate Agreement in the next few days. But according to US media reports, he will withdraw the country from the historic accord.

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‘Trump’s only ideology is ‘me’, deeply authoritarian & very dangerous’ – Noam Chomsky

World-famous linguist, philosopher and political thinker Noam Chomsky has described US President Donald Trump’s ideology simply as ‘me’, adding that while it’s not fascist, it’s still “deeply authoritarian and very dangerous.”

However, there is no other option in the eyes of the people, Chomsky added in his interview to BBC.

“What is the alternative to Trump? The democrats gave up on the working class 40 years ago. It’s not their constituency, no one in the political system is. The Republicans claim to be, but they are basically their class enemy. However they can appeal to people on the basis of claims ‘We're gonna help you economically, even when we kick you in the face’?”

 
Noam Chomsky © Majed Jaber

In his book, Chomsky branded the Republican Party as “the most dangerous organization on Earth,” and when asked to explain, he pointed out that it’s about something they refuse to admit exists.

“Trump will do damage to the world, and it's already happening. The most significant aspect of the Trump election is not just Trump, but the whole Republican Party as they are departing from the rest of the world on climate change, a crucial issue, an existential threat,” Chomsky said.

He called the denial “an astonishing spectacle,” in which “the US, alone in the world, not only refuses to participate in efforts to deal with climate change, but is dedicated to undermining them. And it’s not just Trump – every single Republican leader is the same and it goes down to local levels.”

And US popular opinion isn’t exactly of any help, according to Chomsky.

“Roughly 40 percent of the population think it can't be a problem, because Jesus is coming in a couple of decades.”

Isn’t Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) more of a threat? It would seem so, but Chomsky isn’t sure about that.

“Is ISIS dedicated to destroy the prospects for organized human existence? What does it mean to say is Not only we're not doing anything about climate change, but we're trying to accelerate the race to the precipice. Doesn't matter whether they genuinely believe it or not, if the consequence of that is, let's use more fossil fuel, let's refuse to subsidize developing countries, let's eliminate regulations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions — if that's the consequence, that's extremely dangerous."

 
Noam Chomsky. © PeoplePowerTelevision

“Trump's only ideology is ‘me’, it’s not Hitler or Mussolini, but deeply authoritarian and very dangerous,” the philosopher concluded.

The process happening in the US is universal, though, and is taking place worldwide, Chomsky told BBC, due to “a massive assault on the large part of the population, an assault on democracy” which led to “not just anger, but contempt for centrist institutions.”

“A large part of the population feels that they are just not responsive to them,” and Chomsky enumerates the results of this: Trump, Brexit, Le Pen.

Nevertheless, Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the French presidential election is “by no means the end to the populism in Europe,” he said. In fact, “Macron is an example of populism, because he came from the outside, because the institutions have collapsed. The vote for him was substantially the vote against Le Pen.”

Last, but not least, Chomsky spoke out on WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange, calling his persecution and threats against him to be “completely wrong.”

“What’s keeping him in prison – and in fact he is in prison [holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London] – is the threat that the United States will go after him. Same thing that’s keeping [security whistleblower Edward] Snowden in Russia. And he is right to worry about it and it is the threat that is wrong.”

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World Bank's Credibility at Stake if Climate Change Ignored

World Bank (WB) President Jim Yong Kim said: ''if we turn our backs on science and ignore climate change, we would lose all our credibility,'' prior to his meeting with the IMF.

At a press conference before the Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, Kim pointed out that climate change mitigation and adaptation projects would continue to be a priority.

'The science of climate change has not changed with a particular election, and I do not see it is going to do so in the future,' he said in reference to US President Donald Trump and his doubts about global warming.

On several occasions Trump expressed his decision to revert some of the environmental regulations established by former President Barack Obama, as well as reducing his contribution to the WB, an institution to which the United States is the main shareholder.

At the press conference, IMF President Christine Lagarde stated that there was room for improvement in the global trading system. However, it should be done cooperatively.

Lagarde's statements are in opposition to the trade policy promoted by Trump to encourage isolation in favor of the economy of his country.

Lagarde proposed working on how to make trade fairer and more efficient, which should include a balanced field without resorting to protectionist measures.

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Climate change: ‘human fingerprint’ found on global extreme weather

Global warming makes temperature patterns that cause heatwaves, droughts and floods across Europe, north America and Asia more likely, scientists find.

The fingerprint of human-caused climate change has been found on heatwaves, droughts and floods across the world, according to scientists.

The discovery indicates that the impacts of global warming are already being felt by society and adds further urgency to the need to cut carbon emissions. A key factor is the fast-melting Arctic, which is now strongly linked to extreme weather across Europe, Asia and north America.

Rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have long been expected to lead to increasing extreme weather events, as they trap extra energy in the atmosphere. But linking global warming to particular events is difficult because the climate is naturally variable.

The new work analysed a type of extreme weather event known to be caused by changes in “planetary waves” – such as California’s ongoing record drought, and recent heatwaves in the US and Russia, as well as severe floods in Pakistan in 2010.

Planetary waves are a pattern of winds, of which the jet stream is a part, that encircle the northern hemisphere in lines that undulate from the tropics to the poles. Normally, the whole wave moves eastwards but, under certain temperature conditions, the wave can halt its movement. This leaves whole regions under the same weather for extended periods, which can turn hot spells into heatwaves and wet weather into floods.

This type of extreme weather event is known to have increased in recent decades. But the new research used observations and climate models to show that the chances of the conditions needed to halt the planetary waves occurring are significantly more likely as a result of global warming.

“Human activity has been suspected of contributing to this pattern before, but now we uncover a clear fingerprint of human activity,” said Prof Michael Mann, at Pennsylvania State University in the US and who led the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Large scale wind patterns are largely driven by the temperature difference between the poles and the tropics. But global warming is altering this difference because the Arctic is heating up faster than lower latitudes and because land areas are heating up faster than the oceans.

Recent changes in the Arctic are particularly striking, with record low levels of ice cover and extremely unusual high temperatures. “Things in the Arctic are happening much faster than we expected,” said Prof Stefan Rahmstorf, also at PIK.

“It is not just a problem of nature conservation or polar bears, it is about a threat to human society that comes from these rapid changes,” he said. “This is because it hits us with increasing extreme events in the highly populated centres in the mid-latitudes. It also affects us through sea level rise, which is hitting shores globally. So these changes that are going on in the Arctic should concern everyone.”

Other climate research, called attribution, is increasingly able to calculate how much more likely specific extreme weather events have been made by global warming. For example, the heatwave in south-eastern Australia in February was made twice as likely by climate change, while Storm Desmond, which caused heavy flooding in the UK in 2015, was made 40% more likely.

Global warming: Humans responsible for 60% loss of sea ice, study shows

That human activity is a cause of global warming and changing temperatures is a fact that cannot be debated, but until now, scientists had little clue as to what was the extent of damage due to human intervention.

That human activity is a cause of global warming and changing temperatures is a fact that cannot be debated, but until now, scientists had little clue as to what was the extent of damage due to human intervention. A paper published in Nature, based on model simulations of different climate conditions, shows that humans may be responsible for 50-70% change in climate conditions, leading to melting of ice at the Arctic sea. Although the study absolved humans for air flow changes, 70% of which, it said, is due to natural variability, it pointed that 60% of sea ice decline since 1979 was caused by summer-time changes in atmospheric circulation.

While the study is expected to change how we observe climate change, it will also get us to alter our future predictions. With Arctic ice depleting fast—in January it was 1.26 million square kilometres, which was 8.6% below the 1981–2010 average—global warming would need coordinated action from governments. Policy turns in the US—Republicans have presented a bill in the Congress to do away with the country’s Environmental Protection Agency—will end up harming the environment. With global warming accompanying industrialisation, countries would need a concerted approach to tackle its ill-effects.

Arctic circle could become completely free of sea ice even if global warming limited to two degrees Celsius

Loss of sea ice could have 'catastrophic' effects on the weather in much of the northern hemisphere and speed up global warming.

The Arctic Ocean could become free of sea ice for the first time in 100,000 years even if action is taken to keep global warming to within two degrees Celsius, scientists have warned.

The region has experienced much sharper rises in temperature in recent decades that the rest of the world with temperatures in winter in Spitsbergen an astonishing 8 to 11C higher than the average between 1961 and 1990.

And this is believed to be having a significant effect on the weather in much of the northern hemisphere, increasing the number of dangerous storms. One leading expert has warned it could have a “catastrophic” effect on the Earth’s climate.

The loss of sea ice, which reflects much of the energy from sunlight, will also increase the rate of global warming.

In a paper in the journal Nature Climate Change, Dr James Screen and Dr Daniel Williamson, of Exeter University, looked at the likelihood of the ice disappearing almost completely if temperatures rose by 1.5C or 2C.

The Paris Agreement on climate change spoke of keeping global warming below 2C and as close to 1.5C as possible – in order to avoid levels considered particularly dangerous – but the world is currently on track to hit anything from 2.6C to 3.1C by the end of the century.

The researchers wrote: “We estimate there is less than a one-in-100,000 chance of an ice-free Arctic if global warming stays below 1.5C, and around a one-in-three chance if global warming is limited to 2C. 

“We suppose then that a summer ice-free Arctic is virtually certain to be avoided if the 1.5C target of the Paris Agreement is met. 

“However, the 2C target may be insufficient to prevent an ice-free Arctic.”

The Arctic will be considered ice-free if it falls to below a million square kilometres. This would mean the sea around the North Pole would be clear with the remaining ice found mainly in the small islands and inlets off the north coasts of Russia and Canada, where the effect of the land, which gets colder than the sea, is more pronounced.

In September last year, Arctic sea ice fell to about 4.1 million square kilometres, the second lowest figure, compared to about 3.4 million in 2012, according to the US National Snow & Ice Data Centre.

Antarctic sea ice is currently at record low levels with 2.14 million square kilometres, compared to the average of 3.16 million between 1981 and 2010.

In December, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the situation was changing so quickly it was “outpacing our ability to understand and explain” what was happening.

They suggested the word “glacial” should not be used to mean something happening slowly but as a term for something that was “rapidly diminishing”.

Pollution Kills 1.7 Million Children Each Year: WHO

Generva: Each year, environmental pollutants lead to the death of an estimated 1.7 million children under five, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a new report on Monday.

The causes include unsafe water, lack of sanitation, poor hygiene practices and indoor and outdoor pollution, as well as injuries.

The new numbers equate to these pollutants being the cause of one in four deaths of children one month to five years old, CNN reported.

"A polluted environment is a deadly one -- particularly for young children," Margaret Chan, the WHO director-general, said in a statement.

"Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water."

Infants exposed to indoor or outdoor air pollution, including secondhand smoke, have an increased risk of pneumonia during childhood as well as an increased risk of chronic respiratory diseases -- such as asthma -- for the rest of their lives, the report stated.

The global body also highlighted the increased risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer from exposure to air pollution.

However, new report highlights that the most common causes -- diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia -- of child death are preventable through interventions like insecticide-treated bed nets, clean cooking fuels and improved access to clean water, are already available to the communities most affected, reports CNN.

Other potential pollution prevention solutions mentioned in the report are removing mould and pests from housing, removing lead paint, ensuring sanitation and good nutrition at schools and using better urban planning to create more green spaces in cities.

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