World News Blog
..for global affairs!
Worldblog.eu covers the latest world news - providing regional perspectives to current global affairs.
US leadership, support vital to host of global issues, UN chief stresses at White House
The United Nations counts on the leadership and support of the United States on a range of critical issues, from climate change and sustainable development to resolving crises such as those in Syria and Yemen, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, following a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama.
Donors urged to meet critical funding shortfall faced by UN agency assisting Palestinian refugees
Voicing concern over the financial situation confronting the United Nations agency assisting Palestine refugees, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on all donors to urgently ensure adequate and sustainable financing for vital services as soon as possible.
Millions left in need after funding shortage forces UN health agency to cut services in Iraq
The United Nations health agency was forced to suspend 84 per cent of frontline programmes in 10 governorates in Iraq in July due to insufficient funding, leaving almost three million people without access to urgently-needed healthcare services.
Burundi: UN condemns assassination attempt on leading human rights defender
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations human rights office have strongly condemned the assassination attempt on Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, a leading Burundian human rights defender who was shot and wounded by unknown assailants in the capital on Monday.
Why President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is an exaggeration
Today, President Obama’s EPA announced the final version of the Clean Power Plan, a policy designed to limit the level of global warming pollution coming from US power plants. This comes eight years after the Supreme Court ruled that EPA has the authority, and therefore obligation, to regulate the dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions now causing extreme weather events, sea level rise, and other problems related to our rapidly warming planet.
While the Clean Power Plan is an important step in federal regulations on climate pollution, it does not reach far enough.
On its own, the Clean Power Plan is depressingly insufficient and unambitious. And in the light of the Obama administration’s disastrous desire to expand extraction and export of federal coal, oil and gas, it looks even worse.
President Obama on Climate: More Than Just Marketing?
President Obama clearly wants to be seen as a climate champion, but this tepid EPA rule is one more indication that he may intend to lean more heavily on public relations than meaningful action. In light of his administration’s proactive expansion of coal, oil, and gas projects, climate legacy marketing may be a losing strategy. This marketing approach is clear from EPA’s own gross exaggeration of the impact of this rule.
The Obama administration has long played with numbers to create hype around the little it is doing on climate. One common trick is to change the base year used to calculate the impact of policies. In this case, EPA estimates the Clean Power Plan will result in a 32 percent reduction in carbon dioxide coming from power plants by 2030, based on 2005 levels. The problem with this estimate is that it is 2015 now and emissions have already fallen quite a lot. 2005 is the most convenient year to choose if you want to look good on climate policy since emissions may have never been higher.
While Obama’s government certainly deserves some credit for falling greenhouse gas emissions, it is deceptive to include the reduction in emissions before this rule is implemented as an illustration of its impact. In reality, the impact of this rule won’t be 32 percent but 20 percent â based on 2013 levels, the most recent year available from the EPA for carbon dioxide coming from power plants. We argue in our Energy [R]evolution reportâ and the graph below â that is possible to do much more in the power sector by 2030. EPA could more than triple the reductions achieved by this rule.
According to Greenpeace energy scenarios, the president’s Clean Power Plan falls well short of the emissions reductions possible from U.S. power plants by 2030. Graphic by Drew Fournier / Greenpeace.
What the Clean Power Plan Actually Does
The impact of the Clean Power Plan suffers from both timing and substance. With respect to timing, the implementation of the rule has now been pushed back to 2022. This means the Obama administration has decided it will not be a tool for meeting US commitments for 2020, nor really for 2025, which were announced in the context of international climate negotiations.
As far as substance, the Clean Power Plan is actually the finalization of two proposed rules â one for future power plants and one for existing power plants. The rule for existing sources of pollution is the only one that matters for actually reducing climate pollution from today, or from 2022 as it were. What is missing is a limit on any existing power plant’s emissions, since states are required to look at the average across ‘fleets’ of power plants. Interstate compliance will be allowed with as-yet non-existing trading regimes, which will be overseen by the states themselves, or industry if you’re a cynic. The rule for future power plants is about avoiding increases in emissions. What is missing is a limit on any one power plant’s emissions. Simply put, there is no required reduction in emissions from any type of power plant except future coal-fired units. Biomass is absent, while the limit for natural gas is effectively business as usual.
When it comes to the highest polluting fossil fuel â coalâ the limit on pollution is only theoretical, because there likely won’t be many more coal plants built in the United States, and second, because the EPA is promoting carbon capture for increasing oil extraction (CC-EOR) to deal with coal plant emissions. CC-EOR is presumed to be a stepping stone toward industrial development of carbon capture with permanent sequestration of carbon dioxide underground, but research commissioned by Obama’s own Department of Energy has concluded this strategy is dubious. CC-EOR is likely worse for the climate than doing nothing, as our recent report Carbon Capture Scam report discusses.
Opportunities Ahead for Climate Action
Fortunately for the President and the environment, he still has many opportunities to take stronger action on climate. The Clean Power Plan, while in need of improvement, is only one way that the US can contribute to stopping global warming. The administration still could choose to favor the climate when making decisions on drilling in the Arctic Ocean, expanding offshore drilling in ultra-deepwater, coal mining on public lands, permitting coal exports, permitting exports of liquid natural gas.
At international negotiations in Paris later this year, the President should not just join but encourage all countries to sign a legally binding agreement to reduce climate pollution. Obama’s State Department should arrive in Paris with an improved 2025 pollution commitment. Greenpeace analysis shows the US can cut almost 40 percent of its climate pollution by 2025 (under 2005 levels) while â compared with government forecasts of business as usual â increasing energy sector jobs and saving over a hundred billion per year in fuel costs.
If President Obama truly wants to be remembered as a climate leader, these are the types of ambitious moves he needs to make.
Kyle Ash is the Senior Legislative Representative for Greenpeace USA.
Pacific tuna fishing is out of control
Out in the Pacific Ocean thousands of fishing vessels are working around the clock to pull tuna out of the sea as fast as they can.
A Taiwanese longline fishing vessel, just one of thousands of tuna boats fishing the Pacific Ocean.
It’s a global business, and it’s big business, turning over billions of dollars a year, with millions of people employed in catching the tuna that millions of others rely on for sustenance and survival.
Unfortunately, the way these businesses operate is putting the whole system at risk. They are out of control. Pillaging the Pacific Ocean, they are taking too many fish, breaking laws and international agreements, and raiding the waters of small coastal nations.
Recent stories of labour abuse, terrible bullying, slavery and human trafficking are exposing serious problems in global fisheries. Similar stories - too many to ignore - are starting to emerge from the tuna fleet.
Longliners catching albacore for the canned tuna markets of the West can be like floating sweatshops, taking young men desperate for work away from their families, locking them into contracts that can last for years, and saddling them with debt if they try to break those contracts early.
Out on the high seas, with no means of escape, it must seem to some of these young fishermen as if they are serving a prison sentence. And with less than 1% percent of fishing activity by longline fleets witnessed by on board independent observers in the Western Central Pacific, there is no one to turn to and nowhere to go. It is the perfect environment for exploitation — a captive workforce.
Last week, Greenpeace released a series of videos linking bullying and labour abuse to Pacific tuna boats. The stories of violence and exploitation we have heard from tuna fishermen are heartbreaking.
Adding to this bleak picture, many longliners transship their catches while still at sea to refrigerated cargo ships, which means the fishing boats can stay at sea for years.
High-seas transshipping is an enabler of both human rights and environmental abuses. It’s the fisheries equivalent of money laundering, where illegal or ‘dirty’ fish can enter the supply chain and become impossible to differentiate from the ‘clean’.
It also means that Pacific nations miss out on the revenue and jobs that would come with processing and packing those fish ashore. Pacific Purse seine fleets are banned from transshipping catches at sea. The practice should now be made illegal for tuna longlining ships as well.
While the costs of human rights abuse and environmental crime cannot be compared, they are both driven by the greed of an industry that is out of control. If we fix one, we fix the other.
Like too many other industries, tuna is dominated by big business working in the interests of the few, using cheap or free labour, and catching fish in the high seas commons that should belong to all of us. If we fail to act now, fishermen will continue to be exploited by an industry that is degrading tuna stocks and harming our oceans.
For tuna, at least, there is an easy remedy. While stocks of bluefin and bigeye tuna are in serious trouble, albacore and skipjack are at the point where, if changes are made to fishing practices today, we can ensure there are enough fish for tomorrow. Fished sustainably, tuna can continue to feed and employ people across the globe, and protect the coastal communities who rely on them for survival.
Boys fish from a small boat in the lagoon of Arno Atoll, Marshall Islands, Pacific Ocean.
It’s not an impossible vision. The last thing tuna-eaters want is the bitter taste of worker abuse or environmental devastation in their tuna salads or sashimi. We know that because Greenpeace’s tuna guides are among our most popular information resources. People often find it shocking when they learn of the ocean and human destruction that goes into a can of tuna.
As consumers, we can give the big corporations a push in the right direction and overcome their resistance to change. By choosing to buy sustainable tuna we can tell the industry that we are not prepared to support the destruction of our oceans or the exploitation of workers.
As a form of protest it’s as easy as it gets. Every time a shopper reaches for a can of sustainably sourced tuna on a supermarket shelf it sends a message to the fishing industry that it’s time to change.
Tuna fisheries are global fisheries. If we can get them right we can create a model for the oceans; to feed and employ people and protect the health of our planet.
Right now the Rainbow Warrior is sailing the Pacific Ocean and its crew is focused on putting the tuna industry in the spotlight. But back on land we can all play an important role in helping to create change at sea.
Next time you visit a supermarket or a sushi bar, consider using the power of your wallet to tell the tuna industry that there is no place for ocean devastation and human rights abuse on our plates or in our lunchboxes.
Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International.
UN envoy on Yemen presses on towards political solution with meetings in Cairo
The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen met with officials in Cairo as part of the ongoing efforts to reach a political solution to a conflict that has led to just over 1,900 civilian deaths since fighting erupted in March and caused almost 100,000 people to flee the country.
Would Brexit leave the UK better placed to tackle the Calais crisis?
With the Calais crisis likely to dominate the headlines throughout the summer, Open Europe’s Pawel Swidlicki examines whether arguments that the EU is principally at fault have any merit.
The post Would Brexit leave the UK better placed to tackle the Calais crisis? appeared first on Open Europe.
UN chief welcomes climate change plan unveiled by President Obama
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the Clean Power Plan formally unveiled today by President Barack Obama, saying it shows the determination of the United States to address global warming while also saving money and growing the economy.
Central African Republic: Security Council condemns attacks that killed peacekeeper
The members of the Security Council condemned today in the strongest terms the attacks against a convoy of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), which were perpetrated on Sunday in Bangui and resulted in the death of one peacekeeper.