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UN General Assemblyâs 69th general debate kicks off Wednesday
The United Nations General Assemblyâs annual high-level debate officially kicks off Wednesday, but this year, more than 120 leaders have already spent a day focusing on the existential threat of climate change and getting a head start on an agenda dominated by an unprecedented number of challenges facing the world today.
Yemen: UN Security Council hails new peace accord, warns against violent disruptions
Welcoming a recent peace pact signed between the Yemeni Government and its opponents, the United Nations Security Council today called for its full and immediate implementation, an immediate end to all attacks and threats, and the rapid formation of a new government.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrian Kurds live in fear of Islamist extremist violence â UN
With 138,000 Syrians having already fled to Turkey from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), United Nations officials today voiced grave concern for hundreds of thousands more who remained, living in fear of the sort of persecution perpetrated by ISIL against religious and ethnic minorities elsewhere.
On eve of Security Council summit, Ban calls for decisive action against terrorism
Ahead of tomorrowâs United Nations Security Council summit on foreign terrorist fighters, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling for decisive action in support of efforts to confront extremists.
Ban to convene meeting of world leaders on tackling Ebola outbreak
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced he will convene a meeting of world leaders this week on a response to the Ebola outbreak as new studies warn of an exponential climb in the coming weeks unless swift action is taken to control the spread of the virus.
Miliband vague on most EU issues but categorical on energy
Labour leader Ed Miliband addressed his party conference in Manchester this afternoon. While the focus was on âtogethernessâ, the NHS and his various encounters with members of the public with useful bits for his speech, there were a couple of mentions of the EU and related issues. On the topic he said:
âLet me say it plainly: Britainâs future lies inside not outside the European Union. And the way we reform the EU is by building alliances, not burning them. And itâs why all those who want to leave, including in the Conservative Party, are now a huge threat to the prosperity of our country.â
Miliband went on to add that he saw the need for EU reform in areas such as âthe economy, migration and other big issuesâ. He also cited the UKâs failed opposition to Jean-Claude Junckerâs Commission Presidency as evidence that UK Prime Minister David Cameron cannot achieve reform in Europe, since all countries simply believe he is pandering to his party.
Ultimately the EU section was a side note to the main messages of his speech. Once again there was no detail about exactly which reforms Labour would pursue with regards to the EU, no mention of whether a referendum would be held or not and only vague talk of alliance building with no clear message of how this would be achieved other than by not being the Conservative Party. He also glossed over the fact that the Labour Party ostensibly supported the anti-Juncker push by the UK and that the negotiations over Juncker seem to have resulted in the UK securing a prime post in the new Commission â one many thought they would never get.
Interestingly, there was a bit more detail at one of Open Europe’s fringe events with Shadow Europe Minister Gareth Thomas stating that he (and presumably his party) support a red card for national parliaments as well as a specialised European affairs committee to better scrutinise all EU legislation. Certainly commendable if they prove to be concrete Labour policy.
One final interesting point on substance from Miliband regarding energy:
â[We are] making a clear commitment to take the carbon out of our electricity by 2030.â
This is a pretty bold statement (although he did hint at something similar last year), which essentially says that all of the UKâs electricity consumption will be met by renewable sources in 2030. To put that into context current renewable share of electricity generation is around 16%, and is due to rise by to 30% by 2020 â that is if the UK meets its EU set targets (quite a big if at this point).
To achieve the current 2020 target, according to government impact assessment, the Renewables Directive costs Â£4.2bn per year over the course of a decade. Milibandâs target would essentially involve tripling the increase of renewables over the same timeframe up to 2030 â exactly how much would such a policy cost per year!? (Weâd hazard a guess atâ¦a lot). As the graph above from the National Grid shows, most forecasts expect the UK to still have a sizeable chunk of electricity generation from gas and coal, mostly due to the cost and complexity of overhauling the entire grid and the intermittent nature of renewables (note - we have an upcoming paper on these issues and more soon so stay tuned).
All of this also takes place in a context where carbon prices (via the EU ETS) and targets are set and negotiated at the EU level. Will Miliband unilaterally commit to such an approach when it seems likely few, if any, other EU members would sign up to it? We’ve highlighted before the potential conflict between Labour’s energy policy and the EU. Again, more detail needed but at least here there are some interesting questions to chew over.
Iraq: UN delivers food to over 1 million displaced people; refugee numbers rise sharply
Despite insecurity and the continuous movement of people, the United Nations said today it has reached more than one million people uprooted by violence across Iraq with food assistance, while also noting a sharp increase in refugees fleeing into neighbouring Jordan and Turkey.
Cross-border attacks force movement of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon â UN agency
The United Nations refugee agency announced today that it is stepping up efforts to move some 5,000 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon away from a border town amidst ongoing cross border attacks by insurgents.
Climate Summit: âAll hands on deckâ declares Ban, calling for leadership, concrete action
We are not here to talk, we are here to make history, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today told world leaders at an âunprecedented and important gatheringâ that aims to raise ambition, mobilize resources, and generate action towards a universal climate deal.
Thousands of children at risk of starvation in South Sudan, UNICEF warns
Thousands of children under the age of five are at risk of dying from malnutrition in South Sudan and 1.5 million people will be in crisis and emergency food insecurity levels from September through December, warned the United Nations Childrenâs Fund (UNICEF) today.