World leaders discuss ways to help developing nations avoid climate disaster on day two of COP27

(L to R) Sheikh Meshal Al- Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, crown prince and deputy emir of Kuwait; Saudi climate envoy Adel Al- Jubeir; Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi; and Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al- Khalifa join other world leaders and officials for a group picture at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh on Tuesday. (AFP)
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Updated 06 December 2022
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World leaders discuss ways to help developing nations avoid climate disaster on day two of COP27

  • Wealthy nations should pay reparations to poorer states who produce negligible emissions, climate summit told  
  • Saudi envoy for climate affairs Adel Al-Jubeir says solutions need to be based on logic and science, not emotions

SHARM EL-SHEIKH: African and Caribbean leaders demanded more funding and technical support from wealthier nations in the battle against global warming in a range of speeches at the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt, or COP27.

Speaking at COP27 in the Red Sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said the entire African continent is now experiencing the effects of climate change. 

Ramaphosa said Africa should build its adaptive capacity but also urged multilateral cooperation to achieve sustainability goals. 

“Multilateral support is out of reach for a majority of the world’s population due to lending policies and conditionality. We need a clear road map to deliver on the Glasgow decision to double adaptation financing by 2025,” said Ramaphosa, referring to last year’s COP26 summit in Scotland. 

At the opening of this year’s conference, participating nations agreed to include the issue of “loss and damage” in the main agenda for the first time ever. 

Acknowledging loss and damage would see cash-rich polluters pay reparations to poorer states who make negligible contributions to emissions but still face unavoidable damage from climate change due to worsening floods, droughts and rising sea levels. 

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the summit, Adel Al-Jubeir, the Saudi envoy for climate affairs, stressed that the response to climate change must be based on science and not emotions.




Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley called for a 10 percent tax on oil companies to fund loss and damage. (AFP)

“Saudi Arabia has always maintained that discussions with regard to climate change need to be based on logic and science, rather than emotions, because we believe that there are solutions to these challenges. If we put our minds together and put our resources together and implement them, I would say that Saudi Arabia’s actions speak for themselves.” 

Addressing the issue of renewable energy, Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom’s dedication to becoming the world’s largest exporter of green hydrogen demonstrates its commitment to environmental well-being.

“We plan on being the largest exporter of green hydrogen in the world. We want to make sure that we not only contribute but that we contribute effectively to dealing with the challenges of global change,” he said. 

He added that the launch of the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives are necessary actions taken to support action on climate change.

“Saudi Arabia has taken the lead in mobilizing the region through its Middle East Green Initiative, which is the most ambitious project in the world with regard to combating desertification and planting trees and shrubs in order to reduce carbon and increase oxygen production.” 

Al-Jubeir also said the Kingdom has launched more than 60 initiatives to deal with environmental challenges, such as turning waste into energy, greening cities, and protecting and preserving 30 percent of the country’s land for natural habitat.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Climate Change Initiative, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said policies to fight global warming must be coordinated with non-governmental organizations.

He said the scientific community was playing a key role in the initiative — something that marked it out from other organizations. 

“Despite the primary responsibility of states and governments in this regard, other non-governmental parties must play complementary and supportive roles based on their responsibility and work towards the principles of cooperation and participation,” said El-Sisi.

“What distinguishes the initiative (for) which we are meeting today from other initiatives and efforts is the scientific component that it encompasses, which is indispensable if we seek to align our climate change efforts with the best available science.” 

El-Sisi said the region has witnessed severe climatic events in recent years, from forest fires to floods and torrential rains, which resulted in many human and financial losses. 

“We have faith in the countries that can undertake this initiative within the framework of coordinating policies directed at climate change,” he said. 

“This is a region that, as you know, is one of the most affected regions of the world by the consequences of climate change and its devastating effects at all levels,” he added. 

African and Caribbean leaders nevertheless argued that their nations need urgent financial assistance in order to face climate challenges. 

In his COP27 address, Evariste Ndayishimiye, president of Burundi, said it is vital that African nations are given sufficient funding to help accelerate the energy transition. 

“Burundi appeals to the UN and international financial institutions to create innovative financial mechanisms. These mechanisms should contain green bonds and large-scale financial guarantees,” he said. 

Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo called for a “radical restructuring of global financial architecture.” 

He added: “No one will win if Africa loses.”

Meanwhile, Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, told delegates that reparations would help the world achieve its climate goals. 

“Loss and damage should not be viewed through controversial lenses; it should be considered a decarbonization accelerator,” he said.

“We must establish a loss and damage response fund here. The adoption of the agenda item is just one step. We look forward to the establishment of funds by 2024.” 

He also added that humanity needs collective action to reduce harmful emissions and criticized fossil fuel companies. 

Browne, who was speaking on behalf of the 39-nation Alliance of Small Island States, also called for a windfall tax on oil companies to compensate developing countries for the damage caused by climate change-induced natural disasters.

“It is about time that these companies are made to pay a global COP carbon tax on these profits as a source of funding for loss and damage,” said Browne. 

“While they are profiting, the planet is burning.”




South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said the entire African continent is now experiencing the effects of climate change. (AFP)

On Monday, Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados, called for a 10 percent tax on oil companies to fund loss and damage.

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Climate Change Initiative, Abdul Latif Rashid, president of Iraq, said the time has come to take action on the climate.

“I think we have enough information, knowledge (and) technology to tackle these problems,” he said, highlighting the need for all countries to support an implementation plan and to provide solutions. 

“It will take time to implement and secure the required finance. There are direct and indirect factors affecting climate, such as increase in population, which directly affects climate change,” said Rashid. 

“We must get new systems with new technologies...to limit water waste in the future,” he added.

Nicos Kouyialis, the Cypriot minister of agriculture, said the Middle East region has been classified by the scientific community as a global climate change hotspot, adding that coordinated action is necessary. 

“Action based on sound scientific knowledge is necessary to address climate change issues in the Middle East region,” he said. 

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades concurred, adding: “I have no doubt that we will act with urgency, collaborate and coordinate, to ensure a better environment for the future.”

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek prime minister, said energy security remains a primary concern. “We spoke with Abdel Fattah El-Sisi about energy projects to ensure a more efficient energy transfer, not only for use in the region, but for export to the European market,” said Mitsotakis. 

Meanwhile, Bisher Al-Khasawneh, Jordan’s prime minister, pointed to the repercussions on the environment, food and population due to climate change. 

“They are increasing daily and foretelling a catastrophe in the future,” he said. “That is why we must start an initiative to confront these consequences of climate change. 

“Jordan pledges to abide by and take all measures for comprehensive solutions and to ensure green growth while implementing our national ambitions.” 

Decoder

What is COP27?

COP27 is the 2022 edition of the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. It started Nov. 6 and will continue until Nov. 18. It is the 27th edition of the yearly COP, short for "Conference of the Parties". Attending the meeting are heads of state, ministers, and various participants from 197 countries and international institutions. This year's meeting hopes to build on what had been achieved so far in the earlier meetings. Specifically, negotiators will work to keep the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. Special emphasis is on Africa, one of the most vulnerable regions in the world, with some 20 million people facing food insecurity in east Africa alone because of drought, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),


Palestinian president issues ‘categorical rejection’ of Israeli PM’s post-war plan

Updated 12 sec ago
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Palestinian president issues ‘categorical rejection’ of Israeli PM’s post-war plan

  • Netanyahu wants Israel to retain security control over Palestinian areas and make reconstruction dependent on demilitarization
  • Abbas charged that the plan confirmed the Israeli government’s intentions to recolonize the Gaza Strip

CAIRO: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has stressed “categorical Palestinian rejection” of the principles announced in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s so-called post-war plan for Gaza.

Netanyahu wants Israel to retain security control over Palestinian areas and make reconstruction dependent on demilitarization.

His plan, which brings together a range of well-established Israeli positions, underlines Netanyahu’s resistance to the creation of a Palestinian state which he sees as a security threat.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit has received a written message from Abbas which calls for a global conference to adopt a comprehensive peace plan with international guarantees and a timeline for implementation of the ending of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Abbas has called on the league to support Palestine in obtaining full membership of the UN.

The message urged countries that have not yet recognized Palestine to do so.

Aboul Gheit received Ambassador Muhannad Al-Aklouk, representative of Palestine to the bloc, at the headquarters of the general secretariat, and Al-Aklouk had brought a message from Abbas.

Jamal Rushdi, a spokesperson for the Arab League chief, said that the president’s message included a categorical Palestinian rejection of the principles announced by the Israeli prime minister for the so-called “day after of the war.”

The message included a warning of the danger of those principles — especially the denial of the existence of the Palestinian people, and insisting on imposing Israeli sovereignty on the land extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

Abbas charged that the plan confirmed the Israeli government’s intentions to recolonize the Gaza Strip and perpetuate the occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem through plans to build thousands of settlement units.

Rushdi said that the message warned that the goal of the Israeli government was not only to undermine the chances of peace based on the two-state solution, but also to intensify ethnic cleansing and displacement of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

The president’s message included the affirmation that the Gaza Strip is an integral part of the State of Palestine.

The Palestinian Authority is ready to assume the responsibilities of governance in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, and is prepared to work toward establishing security and peace, as well as stability, in the region within the framework of a comprehensive peace plan.

The message called on the Arab League’s chief to continue working for a ceasefire; the provision of humanitarian aid; the return of displaced people to their homes in the north; the prevention of their displacement; and a halt to Israel’s expansionist plans and practices in the Gaza Strip.

Aboul Gheit confirmed to Al-Aklouk that he would continue to work to achieve all the goals highlighted in the president’s message — most notably an immediate ceasefire, working to bring aid in urgently and sustainably, and standing with full force against the displacement plan.

Aboul Gheit stressed that stopping the war remained a fundamental priority for the Arab League and its member states.

He reiterated that the Palestinians, Arabs, and the world always rejected the displacement plan.

Aboul Gheit pointed out that addressing the humanitarian catastrophe caused by Israeli aggression could not be achieved in isolation from a settlement aiming at the emergence of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

He emphasized that the Palestinians were capable of governing themselves.

Aboul Gheit added that the continuation of the occupation was no longer possible and that the two-state solution remained the only formula capable of achieving security, peace, and stability between Palestinians and Israelis in the region and the world.


Israel says it’s still reviewing access to Al Aqsa mosque during Ramadan

Updated 29 February 2024
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Israel says it’s still reviewing access to Al Aqsa mosque during Ramadan

  • Al Aqsa, Israel’s third-holiest shrine, is a focus of Palestinian statehood hopes
  • Israeli controls on access have often stoked political friction, especially during Ramadan

JERUSALEM: Israel is reviewing possible curbs on access to Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem over the upcoming Ramadan fasting month, a government spokesperson said after media reports that the far-right minister for police might be overruled on the issue.
Al Aqsa, Israel’s third-holiest shrine, is a focus of Palestinian statehood hopes. The site is also revered by Jews as vestige of their two ancient temples. Israeli controls on access have often stoked political friction, especially during Ramadan.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said last week there would be a quota for members of Israel’s 18 percent Muslim minority who wish to take part in peace prayers at Al Aqsa.
That would compound the clampdown Israel has already placed on Palestinians since the Hamas’ cross-border rampage from the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, codenamed “Al Aqsa Flood,” which triggered the ongoing Gaza war.
But Israel’s top-rated Channel 12 TV reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would overrule Ben-Gvir.
“The specific issue of prayer on the Temple Mount, in Al Aqsa, is currently still under discussion by the cabinet,” government spokesperson Avi Hyman said in a briefing on Thursday.
He added that a final decision would take security and public health, as well as the freedom of worship, into account.
A Ben-Gvir spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. On Wednesday, Ben-Gvir posted on X that any attempt to override his authority would amount to a “capitulation to terror,” and urged Netanyahu to deny the Channel 12 report.


Two killed in Turkish drone strike on YBS fighters in northern Iraq

Updated 29 February 2024
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Two killed in Turkish drone strike on YBS fighters in northern Iraq

  • Two YBS fighters were in their vehicle in the Sinjar area when the drone strike hit them

MOSUL, Iraq: A Turkish drone strike in northern Iraq on Thursday killed two fighters from the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), a militia affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Iraqi security sources said.
Two YBS fighters were in their vehicle in the Sinjar area when the drone strike hit them, two security sources told Reuters.
There has been a long-running Turkish campaign in Iraq and Syria against militants of the PKK, YBS and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which are all regarded as terrorist groups by Ankara.


Iran election seen as legitimacy test for rulers as dissent grows

Updated 29 February 2024
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Iran election seen as legitimacy test for rulers as dissent grows

  • Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called voting a religious duty
  • Parliament has no major influence on foreign policy or Iran’s nuclear agenda
DUBAI: Iran holds a parliamentary election on Friday seen as a test of the clerical establishment’s popularity at a time of growing dissent over an array of political, social and economic crises.
The vote will be the first formal gauge of public opinion after anti-government protests in 2022-23 spiralled into some of the worst political turmoil since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Critics from inside and outside the ruling elite, including politicians and former lawmakers, say the legitimacy of Iran’s theocratic system could be at stake due to economic struggles and a lack of electoral options for a mostly young population chafing at political and social restrictions.
Iran’s top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called voting a religious duty. He accused the country’s “enemies” — a term he normally uses for the United States and Israel — of trying to create despair among Iranian voters.
The commander of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami, said on Wednesday that “each vote is like a missile launched at the enemy’s heart.”
But Iranians still have painful memories of the handling of nationwide unrest sparked by the death in custody of a young Iranian-Kurdish woman in 2022, which was quelled by a violent state crackdown involving mass detentions and even executions.
Economic hardships pose another challenge. Many analysts say that millions have lost hope that Iran’s ruling clerics can resolve an economic crisis fomented by a combination of US sanctions, mismanagement and corruption.
While establishment supporters will likely vote for hard-line candidates, widespread public anger at worsening living standards and pervasive graft may keep many Iranians at home.
Prices for basic goods like bread, meat, dairy and rice have skyrocketed in past months. The official inflation rate stands at about 40 percent. Analysts and insiders put it at over 50 percent.
The US 2018 withdrawal from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers, and its reimposition of sanctions, have hit Iran’s economy hard. Efforts to revive the pact have failed.
Reformists shun ‘meaningless’ vote
Iranian activists and opposition groups are distributing the Twitter hashtags #VOTENoVote widely on social media, arguing that a high turnout will legitimize the Islamic Republic.
With heavyweight moderates and conservatives staying out of Friday’s race and reformists calling it an “unfree and unfair election,” the vote will pit hard-liners and low-key conservatives against each other, all proclaiming loyalty to Iran’s Islamic revolutionary ideals.
The interior ministry said 15,200 candidates will run for the 290-seat parliament, with a vetting body called the Guardian Council approving 75 percent of initially registered hopefuls.
The unelected Guardian Council, made up of six clerics and six legal experts generally within Khamenei’s orbit, has the authority to scrutinize laws and election candidates.
Ballots will mostly be counted manually, so the final result may not be announced for three days, although partial results may appear sooner.
On the same day, Iranians also vote for the Assembly of Experts, which appoints and can dismiss the supreme leader. The 88-member clerical body rarely intervenes directly in policy but is expected to help choose the 84-year-old Khamenei’s successor.
Parliament has no major influence on foreign policy or Iran’s nuclear agenda. These are determined by Khamenei who holds the utmost authority in the country’s unique dual system of clerical and republican rule.
Polling has projected turnover of about 41 percent, while former lawmaker Mahmoud Sadeghi said on Monday that surveys showed the participation could be as low as 27 percent, significantly lower than 42 percent in a 2020 parliamentary vote.
Discredited after years of failed attempts at widening political and social freedoms, the pro-reform opposition suffered further unpopularity in 2022 when protesters scorned its mantra of gradual change.
The Reform Front coalition has said it will not take part in the “meaningless” election but has not boycotted the vote.

Israel strikes kill Hezbollah fighter near Syria-Lebanon border: monitor

Updated 29 February 2024
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Israel strikes kill Hezbollah fighter near Syria-Lebanon border: monitor

  • Israel rarely comments on individual strikes but has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran to expand its presence in Syria

Beirut: Israel killed a Hezbollah fighter in a strike on Syria, close to the Lebanese border, also hitting near Damascus Thursday, a war monitor said, hours after similar attacks.
Hezbollah holds sway over Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria, as well as some regions on the other side of the border including Qusayr, the target of Thursday’s strike.
“An Israeli drone strike on a truck killed a Hezbollah fighter in the Qusayr area near the Syrian-Lebanese border,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
At the same time, Israeli strikes targeted Syrian air defense and radar sites near Damascus, said the Britain-based monitor with a network of sources inside Syria.
An AFP correspondent in Damascus heard faraway explosions.
Syrian state media did not report the strikes.
Hezbollah and other Iran-backed groups have been fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces following the eruption of civil war.
Since Syria’s war began in 2011, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes against its northern neighbor, primarily targeting pro-Iran forces, among them Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Syrian army.
But the strikes have multiplied during the almost five-month-old war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
On Wednesday evening, Israel struck near Damascus, killing two Syrian pro-Hezbollah fighters, the Observatory had said.
Last week, an Israeli strike on a truck in Syria near the Lebanese border killed two Hezbollah members, also according to the Observatory.
Israel rarely comments on individual strikes but has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran to expand its presence in Syria.
Syria’s war has claimed the lives of more than half a million people and displaced millions since it broke out in March 2011 with Damascus’s brutal repression of anti-government protests.