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World ‘way off course’ to prevent climate catastrophe: UN chief

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Katowice (Poland), Dec 3: The world is “way off course” in its plan to prevent catastrophic climate change, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Monday as the COP24 summit officially opened in Poland.

After a string of damning environmental reports showing mankind must drastically slash its greenhouse gas emissions to avert runaway global warming, Guterres told delegates: “We are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough”.

Political leaders are in the Polish coal city of Katowice for the two weeks of talks to revive the landmark Paris 2015 deal on climate change – amid dire warnings about a lack of action.

 

Minister Richard Bruton represented Ireland the opening ceremony. Speaking from the conference, Bruton said he “completely” agrees with the UN Secretary General’s comments.

“The decisions we take now will define the next century. I recently received Government approval to develop an all of Government plan to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change,” said  Bruton.

” Guterres’ comments underline what we are seeking to do and highlight the urgency of this work.”

Representatives of some of the most powerful countries and biggest polluters are conspicuous by their absence, as the United States has said it is leaving the UN process and China was not expected to send any top politicians.

To maximise the chances of success, technical talks began yesterday, a day earlier than planned, with delegates from nearly 200 nations haggling over how to implement the broad promises of the Paris deal on moving away from fossil fuels.

The talks in Katowice have been billed as the most important UN conference since the landmark Paris accord, as they precede an end-of-year deadline to agree a “rule book” on how to enforce action to limit global warming to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.

Expectations for the Polish talks are low: the atmosphere of political unity built in Paris has been shattered by a wave of populist governments that place national agendas before collective action.

The host nation Poland remains committed to coal, the most polluting of fossil fuels, calling for a “just transition” to allow communities dependent on fossil fuel help in changing their lifestyle.

The riots in Paris at the weekend, partly in protest at higher fuel taxes, also illustrate the conundrum: How do political leaders introduce policies that will do long-term good for the environment without inflicting extra costs on voters that may damage their chances of re-election?

Delegates at the talks said the biggest issues were likely to include finance and the level of scrutiny associated with monitoring individual nations’ emissions.

The UN has a goal to raise $100 billion every year from 2020 for climate action. To inject momentum, the World Bank Group today said it would provide a further $200 billion over five years from the start of the next decade.

Other attempts to inject urgency into the Polish talks will include an intervention from British broadcaster and environmentalist David Attenborough, as well as the roughly 25 heads of state and government who are attending.


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Not holding simultaneous elections will impact voter turnout in LS polls: Experts

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Mar 19: Not holding Assembly and Parliamentary polls together is likely to impact the overall voter turnout in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in the valley, claim valley based experts in politics.
This year many new parties have come to the fore and the Centre is likely to enhance its deployment of forces in Kashmir to ensure “violence free elections.”
However with spontaneous disturbance across the valley coupled with delaying of the Assembly elections by the Centre, the experts claim a major proportion of the people are likely to keep away from casting their votes.
“Parliamentary election in Kashmir usually invite low voter turnout. Had it been both Lok Sabha and General Assembly elections held together in the state the voter turnout could be expected higher. As of now, we don’t see chances of any major turn out in voting ahead especially in Kashmir,” said Prof Gul Muhammad Wani who teaches Political Science at Kashmir University.
Wani expressed doubt over the participation of newly formed parties in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
“I am not sure if these smaller parties will field their candidates. Even if their leaders file nomination, people won’t vote for them in huge proportion compared to the two main political parties of Kashmir (NC and PDP),” Wani said.
“Many parties will use this election to mobilise people for the upcoming assembly elections,” he said.
In 2014 LS polls, 49.7 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Jammu and Kashmir. Barring Jammu, people mostly in Kashmir prefer to choose boycott over ballot as only 11.46% voter turnout was recorded in summer capital.
In 2017 by-polls, the turnout in Srinagar dipped further to only seven percent as violence and killing gripped the valley on poll day.
Prof Noor Ahmad Baba, another expert in politics, claims the parliamentary elections in Kashmir won’t be a “bigger affair” as he believes that there are less “reaction” votes from the valley.
“In other states people vote to express their dissent, which is not in case of Kashmir. Some people will vote here positively. The turnout is expected to be higher in Assembly polls ahead,” he said.
Prof Baba said the emergence of new parties too won’t woo many people to cast their vote for them.
“These new parties won’t have much impact immediately. Sajad Lone has no appeal outside Baramulla and Shah Faesal too can’t make a bigger difference. However, if NC and Congress form an alliance then some may come out to vote,” he said.

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Slow repair work halts cross-LoC trade in Uri

Traders fear losses in crores

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Mar 19: The Cross-LoC trade in Uri has hugely suffered due to snail-paced repair work on the Kamaan Post Bridge, traders rued on Tuesday.
As per them, around 116 trucks are stuck at Uri road in north Kashmir while 24 others are stranded at Traders Federation Center Salamabad. The stranded trucks are carrying delicate items including fruits and vegetables which cannot be preserved for long course of time.
Aggrieved over the losses, the Cross-LoC Traders Association claimed that the delicate goods in stranded trucks have been damaged due to the delay.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, Hilal Turki, chairman, Cross-LoC Traders’ Association, said the items in the trucks have almost “perished” as around two weeks have passed since the repairing work started.
“The losses might be in crores as there are 140 trucks stranded. We have written to the Director General of Police to seek the intervention for speedy repairing of the bridge,” he said.
In a letter to government authorities, the association stated: “Our traders mostly deal with fresh items and the value of those items is in millions of rupees, here we would like to bring in your kind notice that most of the products come from all over the country and as such our loaded fresh trucks remain in transit for a week or more due to this uncomfortable situation our traders are desperately waiting for speedy repairing of Kamaan Pull so that heavy losses can be saved.”
Earlier on March 9, police communicated to the concern authorities that due to the sustained use of Kaman Aman Setu for cross-LoC trade for a long period, the bridge has suffered some damages which requires immediate repair to prevent further deportation.
“Inspection of the bridge was carried out on March 8, 2019, which indicated that the bridge needs urgent repairs and maintenance to ensure its longevity. The repair would require minimum 10-15 days,” he said.
However, around two weeks after, the repair work is still on at a very slow pace.
Riyaz Malik, SDM, Uri told The Kashmir Monitor that the resurfacing work in Kamaan Post bridge is going on. “Trade is suspended since then as work is going on and it will take 10-15 more days to allow traffic on the bridge. We have advised the traders to get the items down some where in Srinagar,” Riyaz said.
Cross-LoC trade and the bus service between India and Pakistan were suspended last month too, in backdrop of the Pulwama suicide attack in which 49 CRPF personnel were killed.

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Centre misusing NIA to target Kashmiris: Soz

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Srinagar, Mar 19: Alleging that Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre was misusing National Investigation Agency (NIA) to target Kashmiris, senior Congress leader Prof Saifuddin Soz on Tuesday said this will be useless and counter-productive.
The former union minister supported chairman of Hurriyat (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who has asked NIA to question him in Srinagar as he cannot travel Delhi for security reasons.
In a statement here this afternoon, Prof Soz said, “I give credence to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s stand that he should be questioned anywhere in Srinagar and not asked to travel to NIA headquarters in Delhi”.

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