COP27 agrees ‘loss and damage’ deal to support vulnerable nations

By Philip Andrew Churm with AFP

COP27 summit  –  Copyright © africanews
AFP

The United Nations COP27 climate summit has approved the creation of a special fund to cover the damages suffered by vulnerable nations affected by global warming.

The two-week talks have switched from fears the whole process could collapse, to hopes of a major breakthrough on a fund for climate “loss and damage”.

Delegates applauded after the fund was adopted early on Sunday 20 November following days of marathon negotiations over the proposal.

Senior Coordinator of the African Group on Loss and Damage, Alpha Kaloga, said it was an important step.

“Today is a symbolic day, it is a symbolic day in terms of the impact that this decision will have on the future. 

“Developing countries have been fighting for 30 years to have a fund, to have recognition of the losses and damages associated with climate change. 

“Today, in the morning, when I left [the hotel] at 2am, I didn’t think we were going to get this deal. And there was understanding from everyone. The deal we have is a deal that reflects the collective will of all the countries.”

An informal coalition of “high ambition” countries called for strong language on cutting emissions, moving away from planet-heating fossil fuels and to reaffirm the 1.5C goal.

The European Union even threatened Saturday to walk out rather than having a “bad” decision.

The talks still need to approve a range of decisions and a final COP27 statement including a call for a “rapid” reduction of emissions in order to meet the ambitious goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

Tasneem Essop from the Climate Action Network said: “It is a huge achievement to get an agreement to establish loss and damage fund after 30 years of small island states vulnerable countries, developing countries, trying to get this on the agenda. Now, sitting here at the COP27 to get this agreed to, is the result of a collective struggle.”

Zambia’s Minister of Green Economy and Environment, Collins Nzovu: “Collins Nzovu, added: “Excited. Very, very excited. This is a very positive result from 1.3 billion Africans. Very exciting because for us, success in Egypt was going to be based on what we get from loss and damage.”

The deal on loss and damage originally struggled to make it onto the negotiation agenda.

Attention now turns to whether the summit will agree on a final statement.

Scientists say limiting warming to 1.5C is a far safer guardrail against catastrophic climate impacts, with the world currently far off track and heading for around 2.5C under current commitments and plans.

China-Africa media seminar focuses on cooperation

By CGTN Africa

CMG Media Corporation Forum

A China-Africa media seminar has gathered dozens of scholars and media professionals from across Africa to explore new avenues for media cooperation on Wednesday in Nairobi, Kenya.

It’s part of the annual CMG Africa event “Our Media Partners: CMG Media Corporation Forum”.

Participants also shared their insights on how to build a China-Africa community with a shared future at the event titled “China and the World Embarking on a New journey”.

Media industry players from across Africa follow proceedings during the CMG Media Corporation Forum, held in Nairobi

COP27 leaders urged to fight climate disinfo

People walk past a sign showing the logo of the COP27 climate conference at the green zone of the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt’s Red Sea resort city of the same name, on Novmeber 14, 2022. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

Staff Writer, Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Sharm el Sheikh – Campaigners on Tuesday urged leaders at the COP27 summit and big tech companies to formally crack down on climate disinformation that undermines efforts to limit the deadly impacts of global warming.

In an open letter, they called on COP27 delegates to adopt a common definition of climate disinformation and misinformation and work to prevent it.

They called on the bosses of seven digital giants, including Facebook, Google and Twitter, to implement tough polices to stop false climate information spreading on their platforms as they did for Covid-19.

“We cannot beat climate change without tackling climate misinformation and disinformation,” they wrote.

“While emissions continue to rise, humanity faces climate catastrophe, yet vested economic and political interests continue to organise and finance climate misinformation and disinformation to hold back action.”

They demanded “swift and robust global action from COP decision-makers and tech platforms to mitigate these threats”.

The letter was signed by 550 groups and individuals, including former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres and diplomat Laurence Tubiana, one of the architects of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which is the current basis for global targets to curb climate change.

Misinformation is false information that may be shared in good faith. Disinformation is spread with intent to deceive.

The letter accompanied a survey released Tuesday of how widely false climate information is believed in six big countries.

It found that large shares of the population in Australia, Brazil, Britain, Germany, India and the United States believed false claims about human-caused climate change.

It said at least 20 percent of those surveyed in each country believed that current global warming is natural and not caused by humans.

The human causes of global warming are unequivocally documented in reports by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“There is a big gap in public perception and the science on issues as basic as whether climate change exists or whether it is mainly caused by humans,” Tuesday’s survey said.

“This perception gap weakens the public mandate for climate action and undermines the negotiations to achieve the goals of the Paris climate agreement.”

The survey was carried out using YouGov panels of respondents and published by two climate content watchdogs, Climate Action Against Disinformation and the Conscious Advertising Network.

Ethiopia combatants sign deal to start implementing truce

Field Marshal of the Ethiopian National Defence Force and Chief of General Staff of Ethiopia Birhanu Jula, and Tadesse Werede Tesfay, the Commander-in-Chief of the Tigray forces, together with former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, attend the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces, laying out the roadmap for implementation of a peace deal, in Nairobi, Kenya November 12, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Ayenat Mersie, Reuters News

NAIROBI – The Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces on Saturday signed an agreement laying out the roadmap for implementation of a peace deal that both sides reached in South Africa this month.

Representatives from the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have been meeting in Nairobi since Monday to reach agreement on various aspects related to the implementation of the peace pact signed in Pretoria.

Saturday’s declaration is expected to boost efforts by the African Union mediators to resolve a two-year conflict that has killed thousands and displaced millions in the Horn of Africa country.

It will facilitate unhindered humanitarian access, provide security guarantees to aid workers, ensure the protection of civilians and establish a joint committee to oversee implementation, mediators said.

The deal will be put into effect “immediately”, mediator Olusegun Obasanjo told a news conference before the signing.

BOTH SIDES COMMITTED

Both sides said they were committed to the declaration, stressing it was the only way to restore peace and stability.

“We will fully dedicate ourselves to implementing the Pretoria agreement and this declaration,” said Birhanu Jula, a senior Ethiopian military official and one of the government representatives at the talks.

Ethiopian military officials and TPLF had reached an agreement on the disarmament of TPLF fighters and entry of the Ethiopian military into the Tigrayan capital of Mekele, the federal government said in a statement issued after the signing.

Disarmament will start on Nov. 15, the declaration, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, showed.

The role of Eritrea, which has not participated in the talks, remains concerning, analysts say. Its troops have fought in the conflict on the side of the Ethiopian army.

“Disarmament of heavy weapons will be done with the withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF (federal military) forces from the region,” the declaration signed on Saturday said, without specifically naming any foreign forces.

Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One of TPLF’s representatives, General Tadesse Werede, said the declaration on implementation had given them hope that the suffering of the people in Tigray would end.

Asked if it included accountability for war crimes, Uhuru Kenyatta, another mediator and former president of Kenya, said that would come “when the guns are silenced and the dire humanitarian situation is addressed”.

“There shall be severe sanctions against anyone who commits atrocities against civilians,” he said.

The two sides agreed to a permanent cessation of hostilities in an unexpected diplomatic breakthrough in South Africa on Nov. 2.

Immediate humanitarian access will be welcome relief in a region where hundreds of thousands face famine conditions.

On Friday Ethiopia’s government said international aid was “allowed and ready” to move into Tigray.Agencies were preparing to send an aid convoy to Alamata in southern Tigray next week, and working out the final details for getting aid to other areas, a senior humanitarian official in Ethiopia told Reuters on Saturday.

(Reporting by Ayenat Mersie, Additional reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Writing by Duncan Miriri and Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Clelia Oziel and Christina Fincher)

US President meets Egyptian counterpart, expresses support for Egypt’s water rights

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 11, 2022. The Egyptian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

Mohamed Samir, Daily News Egypt

Sharm El-Sheikh – US President Biden met with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on the margins of the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. President Biden expressed support for Egypt’s water rights.

He also expressed United States’ solidarity with Egypt in the face of the global economic and food security challenges caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.

US President raised the importance of human rights and respect for fundamental freedoms. Al-Sisi said that Egypt has taken several steps to improve human rights conditions, launching a national strategy for human rights and the Egyptian national dialogue as well as the Presidential Pardon Committee.

President Biden congratulated President Al-Sisi on hosting COP 27, and the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to accelerating global efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

President Biden and President Al-Sisi also emphasized their mutual commitment to the multifaceted US-Egypt strategic partnership.

President Biden expressed the United States’ solidarity with Egypt in the face of the global economic and food security challenges caused by the Russia-Ukraine war, as well as his support for Egypt’s water rights.

The two leaders also consulted on regional security challenges, opportunities to de-escalate conflicts, and the decades-long US-Egypt defense partnership.

Egypt dissident Abdel Fattah’s family demands proof of life

This handout image provided by the UAE Ministry Of Presidential Affairs shows Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delivering a speech at the leaders summit of the COP27 climate conference at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt’s Red Sea resort city of the same name, on November 7, 2022. (Photo by Hamad AL-KAABI / UAE’s Ministry of Presidential Affairs / AFP)

Staff Writer, Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Cairo, Egypt: The family of Egypt’s jailed dissident Alaa Abdel Fattah, who is refusing food and water, demanded information on his health Wednesday amid what they said were “rumours of force-feeding”.

International concern has mounted since Abdel Fattah, 40, escalated his months-long hunger strike by also declining liquids since Sunday, the start of the UN climate summit COP27 hosted by Egypt.

His UK-born mother Laila Soueif has made daily trips this week to the Wadi al-Natroun prison, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Cairo, but has received no update or proof of life.

The activist’s sister Mona Seif said their mother was back at the prison Wednesday “to try and get any letter or anything that proves Alaa is alive, conscious, and has not been exposed” to any more “violations”.

The dissident’s aunt, novelist Ahdaf Soueif, tweeted that “we cannot explain two days without letters” and said that the family was concerned about “rumours of force-feeding and of sleep-inducing drugs”.

She demanded that the British-Egyptian activist be moved to Cairo’s largest state hospital, the Qasr al-Aini University Hospital, and given access to lawyers and British embassy officials.

Abdel Fattah, a veteran pro-democracy and rights campaigner, is serving a five-year prison sentence for “spreading false news” by sharing a Facebook post about police brutality.

The United Nations, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have all voiced concern and called for his release.

The only update in recent days has come from Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the COP27 president.

Shoukry told multiple media at the summit that Abdel Fattah — whose dual citizenship Cairo does not recognise — has access to “all the necessary care in prison”.

Macron said after meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi Monday that he had received an assurance that Cairo is “committed to ensuring” Abdel Fattah’s health “is preserved” and that the situation will be resolved “in the coming weeks and months”.

But Soueif, the aunt, said that “the prison hospital is probably not equipped to care for the rare case of a patient who has been living for six months on 100 calories a day” in his hunger strike.

Activists at COP27 have posted widely on Twitter under the hashtag #FreeAlaa, and several speakers have ended with the words “you have not yet been defeated” — the title of the jailed activist’s book.

Human rights groups estimate that some 60,000 political prisoners are held in Egypt, many of them in brutal conditions and overcrowded cells, accusations which Cairo rejects.

World leaders open climate talks in Egypt

By Christine Maema

World leaders gathered in Egypt’s Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday for the United Nation’s annual summit on climate change.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi makes opening remarks at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

In his opening remarks, Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi described planet Earth as “a world of suffering” and asked, “Is it not high time today to put an end to all this?”

“There is no time to slip back. There is no space for hesitation,” El-Sisi said adding that for the sake of future generations, it was a last chance for everyone to meet their responsibilities.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres addresses World Leaders at 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, for his part, warned that the world was on the “highway to climate hell”.

Guterres also said that climate change is the defining issue of our century.

“It is unacceptable, outrageous and self-defeating to put it on the back burner,” he said.

The UN chief warned that the world was fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos “irreversible.”

“Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish,” he said. “It is either a Climate Solidarity Pact, or a Collective Suicide Pact.”

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said climate change affects stability and security in the world.

He issued an “open invitation to find practical solutions to address losses and creating sustainable economic growth for all humanity.”

“The future of future generations depends on the steps we take today,” he stressed.

COP27 puts climate compensation on agenda for first time

The item was adopted to the agenda in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Sunday, as world leaders arrived for the negotiations scheduled to run through Nov 18.

Participants walk outside of the Sharm El Sheikh International Convention Centre before the COP27 climate summit opening in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt November 6, 2022. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Gloria Dickie, Reuters News

SHARM EL-SHEIKH – Delegates at the the U.N.’s COP27 climate summit in Egypt agreed to discuss whether rich nations should compensate poor countries most vulnerable to climate change for their suffering.

“This creates for the first time an institutionally stable space on the formal agenda of COP and the Paris Agreement to discuss the pressing issue of funding arrangements needed to deal with existing gaps, responding to loss and damage,” COP27 president Sameh Shoukry told the opening plenary.

The item was adopted to the agenda in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Sunday, as world leaders arrived for the negotiations scheduled to run through Nov. 18.

Much of the tension at COP27 is expected to relate to loss and damage – funds provided by wealthy nations to vulnerable lower-income countries that bear little responsibility for climate-warming emissions.

At COP26 last year in Glasgow, high-income nations blocked a proposal for a loss and damage financing body, instead supporting a new three-year dialogue for funding discussions.

The loss and damage discussions now on the agenda at COP27 will not involve liability or binding compensation, but they are intended to lead to a conclusive decision “no later than 2024,” Shoukry said.

“The inclusion of this agenda reflects a sense of solidarity for the victims of climate disasters,” he added.

(Reporting by Gloria Dickie, editing by Wiliam James, William Maclean and Barbara Lewis)

Ethiopian government, TPLF agree to cease hostilities

By Halligan Agade

The Ethiopian government and the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) agreed on Wednesday to cease hostilities, a dramatic diplomatic breakthrough two years into a war that has killed thousands, displaced millions and left hundreds of thousands facing famine.

Redwan Hussien Rameto, Representative of the Ethiopian government, and Getachew Reda, Representative of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (both seated), sign a peace agreement between the two parties during a press conference regarding the African Union-led negotiations to resolve conflict in Ethiopia, on Wednesday, November 2, in Pretoria, South Africa. /AP

Delegates from both sides signed the agreement in the South African capital Pretoria, just over a week after formal peace talks mediated by the African Union began there.

“The two parties in the Ethiopian conflict have formally agreed to the cessation of hostilities as well as to systematic, orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament,” said Olusegun Obasanjo, head of the African Union mediation team, at a ceremony.

Obasanjo, a former Nigerian president, said the agreement also included “restoration of law and order, restoration of services, unhindered access to humanitarian supplies, protection of civilians, especially women, children and other vulnerable groups”.

An agreement had not been expected so soon. Earlier on Wednesday, the African Union had invited media to what it described as a briefing by Obasanjo. It was only when the event began, about three hours behind schedule, that it became clear a truce was about to be signed.

“This moment is not the end of the peace process. Implementation of the peace agreement signed today is critical for its success,” said Obasanjo, adding that this would be supervised and monitored by a high-level African Union panel.

Ethiopian government representative Redwan Hussien, who is Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s National Security Adviser, said all parties should be true to the letter and spirit of the agreement.

In response, Tigray delegate Getachew Reda, a spokesman for the regional authorities, spoke of the wide scale death and destruction in the region and said it was his hope and expectation that both parties would honor their commitments.

(with inputs from Reuters)

Children and elderly targets of SA violence – Ramaphosa

Grace Kuria , BBC News

Gender-based violence and femicide cases continue to rise in South Africa as “violent” men in the country are targeting children and elderly women, the country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, said.

“We have in recent times seen a spate of rapes and killings of elderly women, our mothers and grandmothers that are meant to be respected and treated with dignity,” Mr Ramaphosa added.

He was speaking during the second presidential summit on Gender Based Violence and Femicide.

According to the president, data from the South African Police Service shows that sexual offences and rape increased by 13% between 2017-18, and 2021-22.

Murders of women and children are also on the rise, he said.

“Between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022 there was a 52% increase in the murder of women, and 46% increase in the number of children murdered,” Mr Ramaphosa said, calling on men to end such crimes.

“These barbaric acts are a shameful indictment of the men of this country.”

He however highlighted some gains from the last presidential summit in 2018, including 83 courts being upgraded to sexual offences courts.