COP27 | Leaders push for climate action, fossil tax at U.N. talks

November 08, 2022 09:13 pm | Updated 09:13 pm IST

Children sit inside a canoe with empty plastic bottles they collected to sell for recycling in the floating slum of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria on November 8, 2022. The COP27 U.N. Climate Summit is taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Children sit inside a canoe with empty plastic bottles they collected to sell for recycling in the floating slum of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria on November 8, 2022. The COP27 U.N. Climate Summit is taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. | Photo Credit: AP

World leaders are making the case for tougher action to tackle global warming on Tuesday, as this year’s international climate talks in Egypt heard growing calls for fossil fuel companies to help pay for the damage they have helped cause to the planet.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that humanity was on “a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator,” urging countries to “cooperate or perish.” He and leaders such as Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said it was time to make fossil fuel companies contribute to funds which would provide vulnerable countries with financial aid for the climate-related losses they are suffering.

The idea of a windfall tax on carbon profits has gained traction in recent months amid sky-high earnings for oil and gas majors even as consumers struggle to pay the cost of heating their homes and filling their cars.

For the first time, delegates at this year’s U.N. climate conference are to discuss demands by developing nations that the richest, most polluting countries pay compensation for damage wreaked on them by climate change, which in climate negotiations is called “loss and damage.” The U.S. mid-term elections were hanging over the talks Tuesday, with many environmental campaigners worried that defeat for the Democrats could make it harder for President Joe Biden to pursue his ambitious climate agenda.

Also hanging over the conference was the fate of one of Egypt’s most prominent jailed pro-democracy activists, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, who has been imprisoned for most of the past decade.

His family stepped up pleas for world leaders to win his release after he stepped up a longtime hunger strike. Abdel-Fattah stopped even drinking water on Sunday, the first day of the conference, vowing he is willing to die if not released, his family says. Egypt’s longtime history of suppressing dissent has raised controversy over its hosting of the annual conference, known as COP 27, with many international climate activists complaining that restrictions by the host are quieting civil society.

On Tuesday, more world leaders were to take the stage, including Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif of Pakistan, where summer floods caused at least $40 billion in damage and displaced millions of people.

After the speeches, the conference delegates will delve into negotiations on a range of issues — including for the first time on compensation, known as loss and damage. Some of the strongest pleas for action came so far from leaders of poor nations that caused little of the pollution but often get a larger share of the weather-related damage.

Nigeria’s Environment Minister Mohammed Abdullahi called for wealthy nations to show “positive and affirmative” commitments to help countries hardest hit by climate change. “Our priority is to be aggressive when it comes to climate funding to mitigate the challenges of loss and damage,” he said.

Leaders of poorer nations, joined by French President Emmanuel Macron, talked about the issue as one of justice and fairness. “Our part of the world has to choose between life and death,” Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan said.

“Africa should not pay for crimes they have not committed,” Central African Republic President Faustin Archange Touadera said, adding that rich nations were to blame for the climate problem.

“Climate change is directly threatening our people’s lives, health and future,” Kenyan President William K. Ruto said of the African continent, which he said is looking at $50 billion a year in climate change damage by 2050.

Ruto said Kenya is choosing to not use many of its “dirty energy” resources even though it could help the poor nation financially, and has instead opted for cleaner fuels. Loss and damage “is our daily experience and the living nightmare of millions of Kenyans and hundreds of millions of Africans,” Ruto said.

Seychelles President Wavel John Charles Ramkalawan said, “Like other islands, our contribution in the destruction of the planet is minimal. Yet we suffer the most.” He called on wealthier countries to assist in repairing the damage.

Meanwhile, the mother of the Egyptian activist Abdel-Fattah, Laila Soueif, called for world leaders, including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, to pressure the Egyptian government to free him.

“The Egyptian authorities are your friends and proteges not your adversaries. If Alaa dies you too will have blood on your hands,” she said in a video message on Facebook.

Soueif, a university professor, said she waited Monday outside the prison where Abdel-Fattah is held for a letter, but received nothing.

She was planning to go to the prison Tuesday, hoping for proof her son is alive.

Abdel-Fattah’s youngest siter, Sanaa Seif, is in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to raise the case of her brother and other jailed activists.

She is scheduled to speak about Egypt’s human rights record in an event along with the Secretary General of Amnesty International Agnes Callamard. Sunak said he raised Abdel-Fattah’s case in his meeting Monday with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Demonetisation deliberate move by ‘PayPM’ to help billionaire friends monopolise economy: Rahul 

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetisation, saying it was a deliberate move by “PayPM” to ensure two-three of his billionaire friends monopolise India’s economy.

The Congress has often used ‘PayCM’ and ‘PayPM’ jibe at the BJP to allege corruption under its rule at the Centre and in States. It is a play on the digital payment platform PayTM.

Gandhi’s attack came on the sixth anniversary of demonetisation. It was on this day in 2016 that Prime Minister Modi had announced the decision to withdraw ₹500 and ₹1,000 denomination notes with the ultimate aim of reducing corruption and black money in the economy.

“Demonetisation was a deliberate move by ‘PayPM’ to ensure 2-3 of his billionaire friends monopolise India’s economy by finishing small & medium businesses,” Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.

The Congress on Tuesday alleged that demonetisation was independent India’s “greatest organised loot” and demanded a white paper from the Modi government on the move.

“On this day in 2016, the Modi govt arbitrarily demonetised Rs 500 & 1000 notes. The government failed in its objective to make India a digital, cashless economy as the currency with public stands at a new high of 30.88 lakh crores as of 21 October – almost 72% higher than 6 years ago,” the Congress said in a tweet from its official Twitter handle.

Trump to make ‘big announcement’ on November 15 in Florida 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday he will be making a “big announcement” next week as he teased a third presidential run while campaigning on the eve of the final day of voting in this year’s midterm elections.

“I’m going to be making a very big announcement on Tuesday, November 15 at Mar-a-Lago,” Trump said before a cheering crowd in Vandalia, Ohio, Monday night, where he was holding his final rally of the midterm season to bolster Senate candidate J. D. Vance.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in support of the campaign of Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance at Wright Bros. Aero Inc. at Dayton International Airport on November 7, 2022, in Vandalia.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in support of the campaign of Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance at Wright Bros. Aero Inc. at Dayton International Airport on November 7, 2022, in Vandalia. | Photo Credit: AP

Trump explained that he wanted “nothing to detract from the importance of tomorrow,” even after he had sparked a frantic effort to hold him off after he had told people he was considering officially launching his next campaign Monday night at the rally.

Trump has been increasingly explicit about his plans to seek another term, saying in recent days that he would “very, very, very probably” run again and would be formalising his intentions “very, very soon.”

“I will probably have to do it again but stay tuned,” he said Sunday night in Miami. “Stay tuned to tomorrow night in the great state of Ohio.”

Republican officials and some people in Trump’s orbit had been urging him for months to wait until after the midterms were over to launch, in part to avoid turning the election into a referendum on him and to shield him from potential blame should Republicans not do as well as the party hopes on Tuesday.

But Trump has been eager to move forward, hoping to piggyback off expected Republican wins after endorsing nearly 300 candidates, as well as to stave off potential challengers like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and others who have indicated they will run. Indeed, the date of Trump’s announcement — November 15 — is the same day former Vice President Mike Pence will be releasing a book that is seen as part of his own potential campaign rollout.

Trump’s announcement comes as he confronts a series of escalating legal challenges, including several investigations that could lead to indictments. They include the probe into hundreds of documents with classified markings that were seized by the FBI from his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, as well as ongoing state and federal inquiries into his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U. S. Capitol has also subpoenaed Trump and last month issued a letter to his lawyers saying he must testify, either at the Capitol or by videoconference, “beginning on or about” November 14 and continuing for multiple days if necessary.

Trump won Ohio, once considered a bellwether, by 8 points in both 2016 and 2020. The state also proved an early test of his endorsement power when his decision to back Vance in the state’s hyper-competitive Senate primary vaulted the political newcomer to victory in a crowded Republican field.

Vance, an author, venture capitalist and onetime Trump critic, is part of a new generation of Republican leaders who have embraced Trump’s “American First” positions, including his isolationist foreign policy and focus on immigration.

Imran Khan assassination bid | Police in Pakistan’s Punjab province finally register FIR 

Police in Pakistan’s Punjab province on Tuesday registered an FIR in the assassination attempt on former Prime Minister Imran Khan, days after the incident, and named the assailant who was taken into custody as the prime accused in the case.

The move comes after the Supreme Court on November 7, 2022 ordered the provincial government to file an FIR in the assassination bid on Khan within 24 hours.

The FIR named the assailant, Naveed Mohammad Basheer, as the prime accused. However, it does not mention the names of Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and a senior Pakistan Army official Major General Faisal Naseer, three people who Khan had accused of hatching a plot to assassinate him.

“We are going to challenge the FIR in the apex court,” a senior leader of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party Fawad Chaudhry said.

The delay in getting a case registered in Punjab province, which has PTI at the helm, has raised eyebrows. “I wonder if I, being the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, can’t get an FIR registered regarding an attack on me, what will happen to the common man,” he said. On Sunday, Khan said that an FIR has not been registered on the botched “assassination attempt” on his life as authorities are refusing to file the case unless he removes an Army general’s name from the complaint.

Punjab police said it has registered the FIR on the direction of the Supreme Court and nominated the suspect, Naveed, under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, and Section 302, 324, and 440 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

In Brief

Former Union Minister Prakash Javadekar and BJP MP C.M. Ramesh have been appointed as chairpersons of Rajya Sabha’s ethics and housing committees, respectively. Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar reconstituted several committees and appointed their chairpersons, according to notifications issued by the Secretariat of the Upper House. BJD MP Sujeet Kumar has been appointed as chairperson of Rajya Sabha’s petitions committee, and DMK MP M Thambidurai of panel on government assurances, while BJP MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa will chair the parliamentary panel on papers laid on the table. BJP’s chief whip in the Rajya Sabha Laxmikant Bajpayee will chair the Committee on Subordinate Legislation.

Evening Wrap will return tomorrow.

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