TOKYO, June 11 -- Japan's Cabinet approved Tuesday a plan to reduce greenhouse emissions to zero in the second half of the 21st century, as part of the country's strategy to fight global warming.
Renewable energy such as solar and wind will be the mainstay of Japan's energy use to achieve the goal, though coal-fired power plants will remain operational, a policy criticized by some energy experts as insufficient to cut carbon dioxide emissions significantly. Japan plans to present the strategy to the United Nations by late June when it hosts the Group of 20 summit, as required under the Paris Agreement. The 2015 climate accord aims to keep the rise in average global temperatures to an ideal 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. Japan and Italy are the only nations among the Group of Seven countries that have not presented a strategy.
"Action against climate change is not a cost to the economy but a growth strategy toward the future," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday. "We will create a virtuous cycle and lead the paradigm shift of the world's climate policy." The strategy will also rely on nuclear power generation, even as concerns remain about the safety of nuclear plants after the 2011 Fukushima crisis. It calls for greater use of hydrogen to reduce dependency on nuclear power to the "lowest use possible" and developing advanced technology to improve power generation efficiency. A draft plan at a panel tasked with compiling the strategy urged scrapping all coal-fired plants in the long term. But the idea was dropped after meeting strong opposition from certain panel members from the business sector, drawing criticism from some environmental organizations. Under the long-term energy plan, the government aims to have renewables account for 22 to 24 percent, fossil fuels 56 percent and nuclear power 20 to 22 percent of the country's electricity generation in 2030.
HANGZHOU, June 3 -- Despite the progress China has made in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the country still faces great challenges in meeting its climate change targets, a senior official said.
Xie Zhenhua, China's special representative on climate change, made the comment at a forum in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on Sunday during the annual general meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development. In 2018, China's carbon intensity was more than 48 percent below that of 2005, meeting its goal to cut carbon emissions by 40 to 45 percent by 2020. The ratio of energy from non fossil fuel in the national primary energy structure increased to 14.3 percent, Xie said. The country plans to further bring down the intensity metric by 60 to 65 percent and increase the ratio of nonfossil fuel to 20 percent by 2030. Xie said China still needs to improve systems and establish supportive policies. "It needs strenuous effort," he said. As the largest developing country in the world, China has always listed sustainable development as a national strategy and has been proactively tackling climate change, Xie said.
"President Xi Jinping has emphasized on various occasions that China is tackling climate change willingly and not because others demand it. Coping with it is an inherent requirement in the country's sustainable development, and also part of China's duty as a responsible major power," he said. Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said 2019 is a year that represents both opportunity and urgency to act.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a special report in October 2018 on the impact of global warming of 1.5 C above preindustrial levels, highlighting a number of effects that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5 C. Limiting warming to 1.5 C, instead of 2 C for example, could result in 420 million fewer people being exposed to severe heat waves, the report said.
"While our window of opportunity is closing fast, it is still open. And we have an opportunity. China has shown that we can defend the blue skies that we take for granted with a combination of political will, strong public participation and better enforcement of environmental laws," Msuya said. "Last year, UN Environment released a report outlining 25 simple and cost-effective policy measures that can help people in the Asia-Pacific region to reduce air pollution. The switch to electric mobility, of which China is the undisputed world leader, is one of them," Msuya said. Zou Ji, president of Energy Foundation China and a special adviser to the council, said China has the potential to help other developing countries reduce their carbon dioxide emissions via the Belt and Road Initiative and South-South cooperation. "The experiences and technologies China has accumulated over decades of development can be valuable for other developing countries to explore the green and low-carbon development paths suitable to them," he said.
Established in 1992, the council is a high-level international advisory body comprising officials and experts from both China and overseas who provide policy advice to the Chinese government. The general meeting will last from Sunday to Wednesday.
VIENNA, June 1 -- 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg does not go to school for a year after the summer, so that she can fully commit herself to fighting climate change.
She said that during a climate action in Austria. She wants to go to the United Nations climate summit in New York in September and also wants to visit the global climate conference in Chile in December. Her family has told the German news agency DPA that they are investigating how to cross the Atlantic Ocean the fastest. She wants to sail because she doesn't want to fly because of her conviction.
With her weekly school strike, Thunberg inspired young people all over the world to play truant for a better climate. Thousands of climate jugglers also participated in a protest march several times in the Netherlands. That so many young people play truant for the climate, Thunberg calls the leaders a sign. "It indicates that something is very wrong. And it is also not going well. Global emissions are still rising. We are doing far too little about this emergency situation. Time is running out and therefore I have decided to take a one-year sabbatical "said Thunberg in Vienna.
LONDON, May 31 -- The reports stating that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was subjected to psychological torture in Great Britain needs clarifying,
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her official Facebook page. Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, said that WikiLeaks founder Assange is showing symptoms of having been exposed to psychological torture for a number of years in the United Kingdom in a commentary with The Times newspaper published on Friday. “That’s really something. Look at what the freedom fighters and human rights activists are actually doing. We are waiting for official explanations from the [United] Kingdom,” she concluded.
Az-Zahra Hussein, his daughter, said in a Facebook post her father will be released "with precautionary measures", and will soon be transferred to a police station from the prison. Gamal Eid, the executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, said under Egyptian law Hussein must be freed within 24 hours. "This is a final court ruling but the problem is that security forces tend to delay releases when they do not like those freed," said Eid, adding in some previous cases the execution of the release order took several months. The journalist has been in custody since 2016 without formal charges, trial or conviction. Hussein was accused of "incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos", allegations he and Al Jazeera Media Network deny. Nasr told Anadolu news agency the Cairo Criminal Court rejected the prosecutors' appeal on Thursday. "This case shows the misuse of pre-trial detention as a form of punishment in Egypt," said Eid. He said there are at least 20,000 people currently in detention without charge in Egypt for political reasons. Hundreds of them have already exceeded the legal two-year pre-trial term, he added. Since the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Al Jazeera Media Network has been portrayed as Egypt's national enemy for its coverage of the group. Many of its reporters have been arrested on grounds of spreading lies and supporting "terrorists" - a reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organisation.
Hussein's detention was in violation of both Egyptian and international laws, with the former setting 24 months as the maximum period for pre-trial detention. Egyptian authorities have repeatedly renewed his two-year detention. He was arrested on December 20, 2016, by Egyptian authorities upon his arrival in Cairo to visit his family. In February, the United Nations called Hussein's jailing "arbitrary detention", saying the "appropriate remedy would be to release Mr Hussein immediately". In 2013, Egypt also arrested and later imprisoned Al Jazeera's Abdullah Elshamy, Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste on charges of spreading "false news" - cases that were widely condemned by international media outlets and many politicians. All have since been freed. Ibrahim Helal, former editor-in-chief of Al Jazeera Arabic, was sentenced to death in absentia for purportedly endangering national security. Several other colleagues have also been charged in absentia, such as journalists Sue Turton and Dominic Kane.
BEIRUT, April 26 -- The U.S.-backed assault to drive Islamic State from its Syrian capital Raqqa in 2017 killed more than 1,600 civilians, 10 times the toll the coalition itself has acknowledged, Amnesty International and the monitoring group Airwars reported.
Amnesty and Airwars, a London-based group set up in 2014 to monitor the impact of the U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State, spent 18 months researching civilian deaths including two months on the ground in Raqqa, they said. “Our conclusive finding after all this is that the U.S.-led coalition’s military offensive (US, UK and French forces) directly caused more than 1,600 civilian deaths in Raqqa,” they said. They said the cases they had documented probably amounted to violations of international humanitarian law and called for coalition members to create a fund to compensate victims and their families. The coalition has previously said it takes great care to avoid civilian casualties and that it investigates accusations that it has done so.
Islamic State seized Raqqa in early 2014 during its lightning advance through Syria and Iraq in which it built a self-proclaimed caliphate characterized by summary executions of opponents. Its mass killing and enslavement of minorities was described as genocide by the United Nations. The group, which controlled a third of both Syria and Iraq in 2014, has since been driven from all the territory it controlled by military campaigns waged by an array of enemies including the Syrian and Iraqi governments, the United States, its European allies and their rivals Russia and Iran. It was defeated by U.S.-backed fighters in its last Syrian stronghold this year. Despite no longer controlling territory, it is still seen as a threat to launch attacks around the world. An international coalition led by Washington has given military support to both the Iraqi government and a Syrian militia, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF captured Raqqa in October 2017 after a five month offensive backed by U.S.-led air strikes and special forces. Amnesty said last year that there was evidence coalition air and artillery strikes in Raqqa had broken international law by endangering the lives of civilians, but until now had not given an estimate of the death toll during the battle. Reuters reporters in Raqqa during and after the campaign said that bombardment had caused massive destruction in the city, laying waste to entire districts.
TRIPOLI, April 20 -- Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Libya's capital, Tripoli, on Friday after US President Donald Trump praised Libya's Khalifa Haftar amid a military assault by the renegade general to seize the capital.
A White House statement said Trump and Haftar spoke by phone on Monday "to discuss ongoing counterterrorism efforts to achieve peace and stability in Libya". On April 4, Haftar and his forces launched an offensive against the country's internationally recognised government, which is based in Tripoli. In their phone call, Trump "recognised Field Marshal Haftar's significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya's oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya's transition to a stable, democratic political system." It was unclear why the White House waited several days to announce the phone call. Trump's praise for Haftar was seen in Tripoli as a reversal in US policy on Libya, as earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded an immediate halt to Haftar's offensive.
Reports from Tripoli, said news of the conversation caused anger in the capital with residents perceiving the call as a show of support by Trump for Haftar's offensive. "People are very angry, thousands of people have come out here on the main streets and squares especially in Tripoli and they are calling on the international community to stop the military aggression by Haftar forces," he said. At least 2,000 people took part in Friday's protest in Tripoli's Martyrs' Square to protest the push on Tripoli by Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA). Abdelrizaq Musheirib, a protester criticised Trump's call to the commander, telling Reuters news agency: "The call has no meaning but we will respond to it." The LNA launched the military campaign against Tripoli on April 4, saying it wanted to "cleanse" the country's western region of "remaining terrorist groups". Analysts say the offensive is threatening to reignite a full-blown civil war in the oil-rich country, which has been mired in chaos since the NATO-backed toppling of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The fighting on the outskirts of the city has killed at least 213 people and wounded more than 1,000 people, the World Health Organization said on Friday. More than 25,000 have been displaced, according to the United Nations. Haftar backs a rival administration in eastern Libya that refuses to recognise the authority of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj.
TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI, April 8 -- Eastern Libyan forces tried to push toward the center of Tripoli on Monday after their easy desert advance hit a tougher urban phase, with deaths and displacements mounting despite Western appeals for a truce and a return to a peace plan.
Renewed war in Libya - splintered since Muammar Gaddafi’s 2011 fall - threatens to disrupt oil and gas supplies, trigger more migration to Europe, and wreck U.N. hopes for an election. The eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) forces of Khalifa Haftar, a former officer in Gaddafi’s army, said 19 of their soldiers had died in recent days as they closed in on the internationally recognized government in Tripoli.
The United Nations said 2,800 people had been displaced by clashes and many more could flee, though some were trapped. The LNA has conducted air strikes on the south of the city as it seeks to advance into the center from a disused airport. But the government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj has armed groups arriving from nearby Misrata to help block the LNA. It reported 11 deaths without saying on which side. Al-Serraj, 59, who comes from a wealthy business family, has run the Tripoli government since 2016 as part of a U.N.-brokered deal boycotted by Haftar.
His LNA, allied with a parallel eastern administration based in Benghazi, took the oil-rich south of Libya earlier this year before its surprisingly fast push toward the coastal capital. While that advance was straightforward through sparsely populated areas, taking Tripoli is a far bigger challenge. The violence has thrown into disarray a U.N. plan for an April 14-16 conference to plan elections as a way out of the anarchy that has gripped Libya since the Western-backed toppling of Gaddafi eight years ago. The European Union joined the United Nations, United States and G7 bloc in calling for a ceasefire, a halt to Haftar’s advance and return to political negotiations.
MOSCOW, April 6 -- Russia supports UN efforts to normalize the situation in Libya through elections and a constitutional reform, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper published on Saturday.
"We support the effort of the UN special envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, to put into practice his roadmap for normalizing the situation in Libya through free and fair general elections and a constitutional reform," he said. "We hope that the pan-Libyan conference in Ghadames, to be convened by the [UN] special envoy in mid-April, would help to achieve some progress toward implementing the goals [of Libyan settlement]," Lavrov said.
Situation in Libya escalated during the visit of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Currently, the country has two governments: Tripoli’s Government of National Accord, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and recognized by the international community, and the interim Cabinet of Abdullah Al-Thani, who is acting in the country’s east together with the elected parliament and supported by the Libyan National Army of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. On Thursday, Haftar announced the launch of an offensive on Tripoli to retake the capital from terrorists and armed groups. The army is advancing to the capital now and, as some media reported, has already approached the city’s outskirts. Meanwhile, al-Sarraj ordered all military units subordinate to him to be on alert and to use force if necessary "to defend the civilian population and critical facilities."
In the meantime, the Al-Hadath television channel said that at a meeting with Antonio Guterres in Benghazi on Friday, Haftar notified the UN Secretary General that he would not negotiate with terrorists but would liberate Libya’s capital from them. According to the sources cited by the TV channel, Guterres asked Haftar to abide by generally recognized rules for military operations and by the international laws.
THE HAGUE, March 28 -- Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has filed an appeal against the verdict made by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals on March 20, tightening his sentence from 40 years behind bars to life imprisonment.
The appeal was made public by the Mechanism’s press service on Thursday. The document lists eight grounds for filing an appeal and contains the demand to invalidate the previous court decision. "The Majority erred in law by violating President Karadzic’s right to appeal when itself imposing a life sentence, rather than remanding the issue of the appropriate sentence to the Trial Chamber."
"Each error of law invalidated the decision to impose a life sentence and occasioned a miscarriage of justice. The relief sought is an order vacating the life sentence and remanding the matter to a Trial Chamber for re-sentencing," the document states. Karadzic trialKaradzic, the former leader of the Bosnian Serbs, spent 13 years as a fugitive before being captured by Serbian intelligence services in a Belgrade suburb in July 2008. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) launched a trial against him in October 2009. In March 2016, Karadzic was found guilty on 10 out of 11 counts, particularly concerning the Srebrenica massacre, and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Karadzic’s defense earlier requested that his 40-year prison sentence be overturned and the case be reviewed. In response to the appeal, the court has increased Karadzic’s sentence to life in prison on March 20.