Reduce meat consumption to curb global warming — U.N. report

Marje Pelayo   •   August 9, 2019   •   1431

Global meat consumption must fall to curb global warming, reduce growing strains on land and water and improve food security, health and biodiversity, a United Nations report on the effects of climate change concluded on Thursday (August 8).

Although the report stopped short of explicitly advocating going meat-free, it called for big changes to farming and eating habits to limit the impact of population growth and changing consumption patterns on stretched land and water resources.

Plant-based foods and sustainable animal-sourced food could free up several million square kilometers of land by 2050 and cut 0.7-8.0 gigatonnes a year of carbon dioxide equivalent, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said.

The IPCC met this week in Geneva, Switzerland to finalize its report which should help to guide governments meeting this year in Chile on ways to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Land can be both a source and sink of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming, and better land management can help in tackling climate change, the IPCC said.

But it is not the only solution and cutting emissions from all sectors is essential to quickly curtailing global warming.

Since the pre-industrial era, the land surface air temperature has risen by 1.53 degrees Celsius, twice as much as the global average temperature (0.87C), causing more heatwaves, droughts, and heavy rain, as well as land degradation and desertification.

Human use directly affects more than 70% of the global, ice-free land surface and agriculture accounts for 70% of freshwater use, the IPCC added in the report.

Agriculture, forestry and other land use activities accounted for 23% of total net man-made greenhouse gas emissions during 2007-2016. When pre- and post-production activity in the food system are included, that rises to up to 37%.

Last year the IPCC’s first special report warned that keeping the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), rather than the 2C target agreed under the Paris accord, required rapid change across society.

The IPCC warned of more disruption to global food chains as extreme weather becomes more frequent due to climate change and said environmental costs should be factored into food.

It projects a median increase of 7.6% in cereal prices by 2050, meaning higher food prices and an increased risk of hunger.

While an estimated 821 million people are undernourished, changing consumption habits have already contributed to about 2 billion adults being overweight or obese.

While forests can soak up heat-trapping gases from the atmosphere, desertification and deforestation can amplify warming due to the loss of vegetation cover and soil erosion.

Measures to cut emissions, such as the production of biofuels, biochar – made from biomass – as well as planting trees, will also increase demand for land conversion.

Reducing deforestation and forest degradation could result in a reduction of 0.4-5.8 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, the report said. (REUTERS)

(Production: Marina Depetris)

U.N. expert deems U.S. drone strike on Iran’s Soleimani an ‘unlawful’ killing

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020

The January U.S. drone strike in Iraq that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and nine other people represented a violation of international law, a U.N. human rights investigator said on Thursday (July 9).

The United States has failed to provide sufficient evidence of an ongoing or imminent attack against its interests to justify the strike on Soleimani’s convoy as it left Baghdad airport, said Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

The attack violated the U.N. Charter, Callamard wrote in a report calling for accountability for targeted killings by armed drones and for greater regulation of the weapons.

Callamard presented her findings to the Human Rights Council, giving member states a chance to debate what action to pursue. The United States is not a member of the forum, having quit two years ago.

Soleimani, leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, was a pivotal figure in orchestrating Iran’s campaign to drive U.S. forces out of Iraq, and built up Iran’s network of proxy armies across the Middle East. Washington had accused Soleimani of masterminding attacks by Iranian-aligned militias on U.S. forces in the region.

The Jan. 3 drone strike was the first known incident in which a nation invoked self-defence as a justification for an attack against a state actor in the territory of a third country, Callamard added.

Iran retaliated with a rocket attack on an Iraqi air base where U.S. forces were stationed. Hours later, Iranian forces on high alert mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger airliner taking off from Tehran.

Iran has issued an arrest warrant for U.S. President Donald Trump and 35 others over Soleimani’s killing and has asked Interpol for help, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said on June 29, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. (Reuters)

(Production: Cecile Mantovani)

Lacson blasts UN official for calling on Duterte not to sign Anti-Terror bill

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has criticized a United Nations official for urging President Rodrigo Duterte not to sign the controversial Anti-Terrorism Bill.

In a statement, Lacson expressed doubt that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet actually read the provisions of the measure which seeks to strengthen the country’s campaign against terrorism.

Bachelet, in a speech during the 44th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday, asked Duterte not to sign the bill, warning that its passage heightens concerns on the blurring of important distinctions between criticism, criminality and terrorism. She also warned of the measure’s potential “chilling effect” on humanitarian and human rights work.

Lacson questioned Bachelet’s statement since the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 was crafted based on the guidelines and standards set by the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) Resolution 1373.

“It was the UN that prodded the Philippines to strengthen its laws against terrorism. So, is this the United Nations going up against the United Nations?” the senator asked.

“The problem with the critics of the Anti-Terrorism Bill like the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and the others is that they criticize without even reading the bill itself,” he added.

Lacson said that Bachelet and others opposing the measure are only “jumping into the wagon of criticisms” and have let themselves be influenced by the “avalanche of misinformation” about the bill.

“There are people, learned as they are, merely jumped into the wagon of criticisms without thoroughly reading and understanding the provisions under the proposed measure,” he said.

“All the misinterpretations and misconceptions triggered by an avalanche of misinformation and disinformation that dominated the mainstream and social media platforms have unduly influenced their thinking,” he added.

Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism Bill despite oppositions from various groups.

Some people have been campaigning for the junking of the bill, which they claim can be used to silence the critics of the Duterte government.

Lacson, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, has repeatedly stressed that the bill seeks to stop terrorism and protect people from terrorists.

He also underscored that there is a difference between the “designation” of terrorist individuals, groups, organizations/associations, and “proscription” of terrorist organizations.

“Designation as defined under the bill is a purely administrative process intended to trigger the issuance of a “freeze order” by the Anti-Money Laundering Council,” he said.

“Proscription, on the other hand, needs court intervention that requires due notice and hearing by the Court of Appeals,” he added.

Lacson also reiterated that the bill is a good measure, constitutional, and one that is swift and effective in fighting terrorism.

The senator previously said that he would join protests should authorities commit abuses in implementing measure.

Malacañang earlier said that the bill is now under final review before the president decides if he will veto or sign it into law.

Locusts swarm across parts of India, attacking agricultural lands

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Huge swarms of locusts took over the skies of Northern and Central India on Monday (May 25) and Sunday (May 24), affecting agricultural lands.

The pests were mostly seen across large states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

On Sunday, actions were taken in the city of Mandsaur, in central India, to contain the swarm by spraying pesticides.

One of the deadliest pests for farms produce, locusts are known to destroy crops and vegetables, and whatever they find in their way, in search of food.

Animals also get affected by eating the same leaves as the locusts and can suffer from diarrhoea.

Locust swarms are not new in East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. But climate scientists say erratic weather linked to climate change has created ideal conditions for the insects to surge in numbers not seen in a quarter of a century.

If allowed to breed unchecked in favourable conditions, locusts can form huge swarms that can strip trees and crops over vast areas. (Reuters)

(Production: ANI, Hanna Rantala, Gabriela Boccaccio)

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