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Climate summit: UN chief tells all countries to declare a climate emergency or face ‘catastrophic’ results | Climate News

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Climate summit: UN chief tells all countries to declare a climate emergency or face 'catastrophic' results | Climate News

The UN secretary general has called on all countries to declare a climate emergency or face “catastrophic” results.

Dozens of world leaders spoke at the virtual Climate Ambition Summit on Saturday – from the smallest nation’s worst-hit by climate change to the world’s worst polluters.

Nations at the UN summit were urged to “stop the assault” on the planet and increase their ambition on cutting the greenhouse gases that drive climate change.

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‘We’re not mung bean-munching eco freaks’

United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres warned leaders the world was heading for a “catastrophic” 3C of warming, as he urged them to declare a state of climate emergency in their countries until they become carbon neutral.

Just 38 countries have done so already.

The online summit was set up to keep pressure on countries to make ambitious carbon reduction plans, after last month’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) climate talks were postponed a year due to the pandemic.

It is exactly five years since the Paris Agreement, when signatories pledged to try to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

Scientists widely agree any warming above this guardrail will have increasingly drastic effects.

Many countries set out plans to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 during the talks, as well as ratcheting up short-term goals to drastically reduce greenhouse gasses in the next decade.

Boris Johnson, co-hosting the event, said: “We’re doing this not because we are hair-shirt wearing, tree-hugging, mung bean-munching eco freaks – though I’ve got nothing against any of those categories – mung beans are probably delicious.

“We’re doing it because we know that scientific advances will allow us collectively as humanity to save our planet and create millions of high skilled jobs as we recover from COVID.”

Britain has already said it will reduce its emissions by 68% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

File photo dated 04/02/20 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) and Sir David Attenborough during the launch of the next COP26 UN Climate Summit at the Science Museum, London. December 13th 2020 marks the first anniversary of Mr Johnson's General Election win.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sir David Attenborough during the launch of the next COP26 UN Climate Summit

Promises made at the summit include new targets on renewables by China and India.

President Xi Jinping pledged to more than double China’s existing wind and solar capacity. He’s already said China will be net zero by 2060.

Pakistan said it would end construction of new coal power plants and Canada announced an increase in carbon tax.

Barbados and the Maldives pledged to be net zero within 10 years.

The Pope pledged that Vatican City – the world’s smallest state – would be net zero by 2050.

He said: “The current pandemic and climate change affect, above all, the lives of the poorest and most fragile.

“In addition to adopting some measures that cannot be postponed any longer, a strategy is needed to reduce net emissions to zero.”

The commitments made in Paris are due to be updated by the end of this year with new NDCs – or nationally determined contributions.

Saturday’s virtual summit was designed to encourage others not taking part to step up and start to build momentum in the 12-month countdown to next year’s COP26 summit.

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All nations must declare a ‘climate emergency’

It is being co-hosted by the United Nations, the UK, and France.

John Murton is the government’s COP26 envoy and is responsible for co-ordinating UK diplomacy in relation to COP26.

He told Sky News: “We’re showcasing the most ambitious countries in this sphere of climate action so we can say ‘look this is what best practice looks like’ and encourage other countries to come forward with similarly ambitious plans ahead of COP26 next year.

“We’re closing the gap, bending the curve and bringing ourselves closer to achieving Paris. We need to accelerate that change but we’re making progress.”

The UN says to limit temperature rise to 1.5C, as set out in the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the world needs to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6% every year between now and 2030.

Some analysis shows that if all current pledges are met warming can be limited to just above 2C – which would place levels within striking distance of the Paris goals.

Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement made America a notable absentee from the summit along with Australia.

But there is great anticipation about the promises and impact of the US President-elect Joe Biden.

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<a href='https://news.sky.com/story/divided-states-podcast-insurrection-impeachment-inauguration-12189011' target='_blank'>Insurrection, impeachment, inauguration</a>

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<a href='https://news.sky.com/story/divided-states-podcast-insurrection-impeachment-inauguration-12189011' target='_blank'>Insurrection, impeachment, inauguration</a>

<a href='https://news.sky.com/story/divided-states-podcast-insurrection-impeachment-inauguration-12189011' target='_blank'>Insurrection, impeachment, inauguration</a>

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COVID-19: Second variant from Brazil ‘likely’ already in the UK, SAGE scientist says | World News

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COVID-19: Second variant from Brazil 'likely' already in the UK, SAGE scientist says | World News

The second of two new coronavirus variants from Brazil is likely to already be in the UK despite the government imposing a travel ban, a leading epidemiologist has warned.

Eight cases of the first variant, which has a small number of mutations, have been identified in the UK.

The second, which has been detected in the Brazilian city of Manaus and in travellers arriving in Japan, has not been detected in the UK so far.

However, Professor John Edmunds has said he would it “unusual” if the second variant was not present here.

Profressor Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In terms of the South African one, we had imported cases already by the time we put in additional restrictions for South African travellers.

“For the Brazilian one… I don’t think there is evidence that we’ve imported cases of the Manaus strain, as far as I’m aware at least, but it is likely that we probably have quite honestly.

“We are one of the most connected countries in the world so I would find it unusual if we hadn’t imported some cases into the UK.”

The government banned flights from South America, Portugal and Cape Verde on Thursday after the emergence of the new variants, having previously banned travel from South Africa because of a new coronavirus mutation.

In addition, all quarantine-free travel into the UK will be suspended on Monday in a bid to keep out other variants.

The new policy means arrivals from every destination will need to self-isolate for 10 days, or receive a negative result from a coronavirus test taken at least five days after they enter the UK.

Labour accused the government of “closing the door after the horse has bolted”, saying the announcement was too late to have stopped the arrival of “worrying” strains.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds told ministers to get a “comprehensive plan and to act in a proper, strategic way, not in the short-term chaotic way we’ve seen over the past twelve months”.

But aviation minister Robert Courts insisted that the new action amounted to “toughening up already tough requirements”.

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said there would be lots of new coronavirus variants this year but the current vaccines should protect against the strains circulating in the UK.

He said that new variants were being detected early, and stressed: “If indeed we do need to make new vaccines we will be able to stand those up really quickly.”

More than 3.2 million people have now received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine in the UK – around double the number compared to last week.

The government has set a target of vaccinating 15 million of the most vulnerable people in the UK by mid-February.

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But Prof Edmunds cautioned against removing coronavirus restrictions at that point, saying to do so would be a “disaster” that would place “enormous pressure” on the NHS.

He said: “I think it would be a disaster if we removed restrictions in, say, the end of February when we have gone through this first wave of the vaccination.

“First of all vaccines aren’t ever 100% protective, and so even those that have been vaccinated would be still at some risk.

“Secondly, it is only a small fraction of the population who would have been vaccinated and if you look at the hospitalisations at the moment, about half of them are in the under 70s, and they are not in the first wave to be vaccinated.

“If we relaxed our restrictions we would immediately put the NHS under enormous pressure again.”

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Keeping track of kids lost to lockdown

In other developments:

  • The global death toll from COVID-19 has passed two million, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University in the US
  • Boris Johnson said 45% of the over-80s and almost 40% of care home residents have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
  • Government scientists put the latest reproductive number – the R rate – for the UK at 1.2 to 1.3, for data examined up to 11 January

Elsewhere in the UK, toughened lockdown restrictions have come into force in Scotland – with new rules on takeaway food and drink, and the end of non-essential click-and-collect services.

In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced new measures for supermarkets due to “significant evidence” that coronavirus is spreading among customers and staff.

And in Northern Ireland, Stormont health minister Robin Swann said it was “highly unlikely” restrictions will be eased when their six-week lockdown ends.

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Uganda presidential election: Incumbent Yoweri Museveni declared winner | World News

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Bobi Wine's trademark red beret has become a symbol of opposition to longtime President Yoweri Museveni.

Yoweri Museveni has been declared the winner of the Uganda presidential election with 58.64% of the total votes, according to the country’s electoral commission.

The incumbent will now serve a sixth term as president of the east African nation following some of the worst pre-election violence since the 76-year-old took office in 1986.

His man opposition, singer Bobi Wine, has alleged vote rigging throughout the process and had strong support in urban centres where frustration with unemployment and corruption remains high. He won 3.48 million votes, or 34.8% of the total, according to the commission.

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Opposition candidate Bobi Wine was assaulted and arrested several times during the election campaign

Mr Wine and other opposition candidates were often harassed, and more than 50 people were killed when security forces halted riots in November after he was arrested.

Although Mr Museveni holds on to power, at least 15 of his cabinet ministers including the vice president were voted out, with many losing to candidate’s from Mr Wine’s party, according to local media.

Mr Wine, real name Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, claimed victory on Friday and said he had video evidence of vote-rigging and insisting “every legal option is on the table” to challenge the election results.

He was beaten up and arrested several times during the election campaign but was never convicted of any charge. He later wore a flak jacket and said he feared for his life.

On Saturday, Mr Wine said his home in the capital Kampala had been surrounded by soldiers and the military was now allowing him to leave.

The army’s deputy spokesman, Deo Akiiki, told Reuters security officers were assessing threats to Mr Wine if left his home.

Monitoring of the elections has been hit by the arrest of independent observers and the denial of accreditation for members of the UN observer mission.

Tibor Nagy, the top US diplomat for Africa, tweeted on Saturday that “Uganda’s electoral process has been fundamentally flawed”, adding that the “US response hinges on what the Ugandan government does now”.

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