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World seals landmark climate accord, marking turn from fossil fuels

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World seals landmark climate accord, marking turn from fossil fuels
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


PHUKET: The global climate summit in Paris forged a landmark agreement on Saturday, setting the course for a historic transformation of the world’s fossil fuel-driven economy within decades in a bid to arrest global warming.

After four years of fraught U.N. talks often pitting the interests of rich nations against poor, imperiled island states against rising economic powerhouses, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius declared the pact adopted, to the standing applause and whistles of delegates from almost 200 nations.

“With a small hammer you can achieve great things,” Fabius said as he gaveled the agreement, capping two weeks of tense negotiations at the summit on the outskirts of the French capital.

Hailed as the first truly global climate deal, committing both rich and poor nations to reining in rising emissions blamed for warming the planet, it sets out a sweeping, long-term goal of eliminating net manmade greenhouse gas output this century.

“It is a victory for all of the planet and for future generations,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who led the U.S. negotiations in Paris.

“We have set a course here. The world has come together around an agreement that will empower us to chart a new path for our planet, a smart and responsible path, a sustainable path.”

View galleryProtestors with a giant silver baloon which symbolizes …
Protestors with a giant silver baloon which symbolizes carbon emissions stand behind a banner with t …
It also creates a system to encourage nations to step up voluntary domestic efforts to curb emissions, and provides billions more dollars to help poor nations cope with the transition to a greener economy powered by renewable energy.

Calling it “ambitious and balanced”, Fabius said the accord would mark a “historic turning point” in efforts to avert the potentially disastrous consequences of an overheated planet.

For U.S. President Barack Obama, it is a legacy-defining accomplishment that, he said at the White House, represents “the best chance we have to save the one planet that we’ve got.”

The final agreement was essentially unchanged from a draft unveiled earlier in the day, including a more ambitious objective of restraining the rise in temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, a mark scientists fear could be a tipping point for the climate. Until now the line was drawn only at 2 degrees.

In some ways, its success was assured before the summit began: 187 nations have submitted detailed national plans for how they will contain the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, commitments that are the core of the Paris deal.

While leaving each country to pursue those measures on its own, the agreement finally sets a common vision and course of action after years of bickering over how to move forward.

View gallerySteam rises from the cooling towers of the Electricite …
Steam rises from the cooling towers of the Electricite de France (EDF) nuclear power station at Noge …
Officials hope a unified stance will be a powerful symbol for world citizens and a potent signal to the executives and investors they are counting on to spend trillions of dollars to replace coal-fired power with solar panels and windmills.

“This agreement establishes a clear path to decarbonize the global economy within the lifetimes of many people alive today,” said Paul Polman, the CEO of consumer goods maker Unilever and a leading advocate for sustainable business practices. Polman said it will “drive real change in the real economy”.

TOO MUCH, OR NOT ENOUGH?

While some climate change activists and U.S. Republicans will likely find fault with the accord – either for failing to take sufficiently drastic action, or for overreacting to an uncertain threat – many of the estimated 30,000 officials, academics and campaigners who set up camp on the outskirts of Paris say they see it as a long-overdue turning point.

Six years after the previous climate summit in Copenhagen ended in failure and acrimony, the Paris pact appears to have rebuilt much of the trust required for a concerted global effort to combat climate change, delegates said.

“Whereas we left Copenhagen scared of what comes next, we’ll leave Paris inspired to keep fighting,” said David Turnbull of Oil Change International, a research and advocacy organization opposed to fossil fuel production.

View galleryProtesters hold posters and banner as they demonstrate …
Protesters hold posters and banner as they demonstrate during a rally held the day before the start …
Most climate activists reacted positively, encouraged by long-term targets that were more ambitious than they expected, while warning it was only the first step of many.

“Today we celebrate, tomorrow we have to work,” European Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said.

From the outset, some criticized the deal for setting too low a bar for success. Scientists warned that the envisaged national emissions cuts will not be enough to keep warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the last major climate deal reached in 1997, the Paris pact will also not be a fully legally binding treaty, something that would almost certainly fail to pass the U.S. Congress.

In the United States, many Republicans will see the pact as a dangerous endeavor that threatens to trade economic prosperity for an uncertain if greener future. Some officials fear U.S. progress could stall if a Republican is elected president next year, a concern Kerry brushed aside.

DESTINIES BOUND

After talks that extended into early morning, the draft text showed how officials had resolved the stickiest points.

In a win for vulnerable low-lying nations who had portrayed the summit as the last chance to avoid the existential threat of rising seas, nations would “pursue efforts” to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), as they had hoped.

“Our head is above water,” said Olai Uludong, ambassador on climate change for the Pacific island state of Palau.

While scientists say pledges thus far could see global temperatures rise by as much as 3.7 degrees Celsius (6.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the agreement also lays out a roadmap for checking up on progress. The first “stocktake” would occur in 2023, with further reviews every five years to steadily increase or “ratchet up” those measures.

It softened that requirement for countries with longer-term plans extending to 2030, such as China, which had resisted revisiting its goal before then.

And for the first time, the world has agreed on a longer-term aspiration for reaching a peak in greenhouse emissions “as soon as possible” and achieving a balance between output of manmade greenhouse gases and absorption – by forests or the oceans – by the second half of this century.

It also requires rich nations to maintain a $100 billion a year funding pledge beyond 2020, and use that figure as a “floor” for further support agreed by 2025, providing greater financial security to developing nations as they wean themselves away from coal-fired power.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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World

Argentine football legend Diego Maradona dies at age 60

Caitlin Ashworth

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Argentine football legend Diego Maradona dies at age 60 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: FIFA

Argentine football legend Diego Maradona died yesterday at 60 years old. Maradona, known as one of the greatest football players of all time, suffered from a heart attack.

Maradona scored the famous “Hand of God” goal and the “Goal of the Century” in the World Cup 1986 quarter-finals, defeating England 2-1. Maradona, then captain, was known for inspiring to win the World Cup in 1986. He represented Argentina in 4 World Cups, scoring 34 goals in 91 appearances.

President of Argentina Alberto Fernandez declared 3 days of national mourning following Maradona’s death.

“You took us to the top of the world. You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of them all… Thank you for having existed, Diego. We’re going to miss you all our lives.”

Many in the football community across the world posted photos and statements on social media following Maradona’s death. The Argentina national football team posted a photo on Twitter of Maradona holding the World Cup and said “You are eternal in every heart in world football.”

Argentine football player Lionel Messi posted a photo of himself and Maradona on Instagram.

“A very sad day for all Argentines and football… He leaves us, but does not leave, because Diego is eternal… I keep all the beautiful moments lived with him and I send my condolences to all his family and friends.”

Former football player Gary Lineker, who scored a goal for England in the World Cup 1986 quarter-finals game against Argentina, said Maradona is the greatest player of all time.

“By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time… After a blessed, but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God.”

SOURCES: BBC | AFP

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Thailand

BBC names Thai protest leader Panusaya in global list of 100 most inspiring women

Maya Taylor

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BBC names Thai protest leader Panusaya in global list of 100 most inspiring women | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The BBC has named prominent Thai pro-democracy activist, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, aka, “Rung”, as one of the world’s 100 most inspiring and influential women of 2020. The BBC’s “100 Women of 2020” list singles out women around the world who are driving change in challenging times. Panusaya is one of 3 Thai women to be listed.

As the leader of protest group, the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, she came to international attention at a Bangkok rally in August, when she read out the group’s controversial 10 point manifesto calling for reform of the Monarchy – a taboo topic never publicly discussed. Her nomination follows the news that a Grammy Music executive has filed a charge of lèse-majesté against her.

The other 2 Thai women to make the list are Kotchakorn Voraakhom and Cindy Sirinya Bishop. Kotchakorn is an urban landscape architect, who promotes the importance of green and public spaces in urban environments. Her aim is to transform vast, sprawling cities into more liveable spaces, while protecting them from the impact of climate change. The BBC describes her as someone who started by prising apart the “cracked pavement” of Bangkok’s cityscape to let new ideas come through.

BBC names Thai protest leader Panusaya in global list of 100 most inspiring women | News by The Thaiger

Cindy Sirinya Bishop is the UN Women Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Gender Equality through Education, Communities and Governments. She is a TV host, actress, and model, known for her campaigns to end violence against women. She came to prominence in 2018, when she created the movement #DontTellMeHowToDress. The campaign was a response to authorities in Thailand telling women they shouldn’t dress provocatively during the Songkran period if they wanted to avoid being sexually assaulted.

Other women shortlisted by the BBC for the 2020 list include Sarah Gilbert, who is leading the research into the Covid-19 vaccine at Oxford University, Sanna Marin, the leader of Finland’s all-female coalition government, and Michelle Yeoh, a Malaysian actress, who the BBC notes is one of very few Asian actresses to enjoy a successful career in the US.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

No vaccine, no flight – Qantas will require international travellers to be vaccinated

The Thaiger

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No vaccine, no flight – Qantas will require international travellers to be vaccinated | The Thaiger

Qantas, Australia’s national airline, is announcing a new requirement that all international travellers will need to have a vaccination against Covid-19 in a move that could become the norm for the world’s airline industry. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the Australian flag carrier would implement the measure once a coronavirus vaccine was made available to the public.

“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travellers that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft.”

“Whether you need that domestically, we will have to see what happens with Covid-19 in the market but certainly, for international visitors coming out (to Australia) and people leaving the country, we think that is a necessity.”

Joyce says the new rule is likely to become a standard practice by all airlines worldwide as many governments are now working to introduce electronic vaccination passports. Vaccination requirements are already widely used around the world for those wishing to enter certain countries, with many countries wanting travellers show they have been inoculated against yellow fever if they are coming from regions where that disease could be acquired.

The International Air Transport Association has also announced it is in the “final stages” of developing a digital health pass that it says can be used to record Covid-19 tests or vaccinations and will “support the safe reopening of borders.”

“We are bringing this to market in the coming months to also meet the needs of the various travel bubbles and public health corridors that are starting operation.”

Australia’s borders have been closed since March to help stop the spread of the virus, which has taken the lives of more than 1 million people worldwide. The country has even limited its own citizens arrivals from abroad by implementing a weekly quota that has left thousands stranded overseas. Qantas has grounded more than 200 planes and let go 8,500 staff members as it attempts to offset a US 1.9 billion loss.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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