Russian President Vladimir Putin backed away on Monday from Russia's earlier pledge to swiftly ratify a key UN pact on curbing global warming -- a plan that will collapse without its backing. \nDelegates at a World Climate Change Conference said it was too early to talk of the possible death of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol despite Moscow's long indecision. \nPutin even joked that a warmer climate might save Russians money on fur coats. \nPressure mounted on Putin to push through the pact with French President Jacques Chirac saying future relations between the EU and the Russian Federation depended on it. Putin told 940 delegates at the start of the five-day talks, to which UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent a message urging a Russian "Yes," that Moscow was "closely studying and examining this question" of Kyoto. \n"This is part of a complex of difficult and unclear problems. A decision will be taken when this work is finished," Putin said, giving no timetables. Under the pact's terms, Kyoto can only enter into force if Russia ratifies. \nRussian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said at the Earth Summit a year ago in Johannesburg that Moscow's parliament was expected to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in the "very near future." Russian officials have attached strings in recent weeks, including guarantees of economic benefits. \nKyoto seeks to rein in emissions of gases like carbon dioxide from fossil fuels burnt in factories and cars that are blamed for blanketing the planet and driving up temperatures, raising sea levels and causing heatwaves, floods, droughts and tornadoes. \nRussia will have no problem reaching emissions goals because of the collapse of its Soviet-era heavy industry. But a US pullout from Kyoto in 2001 has undermined what might have been an US$8.0 billion annual market for Russia, selling surplus emissions quotas abroad. \nRussia is the world's No. 2 oil exporter behind Saudi Arabia. Oil prices could be hit by any shift towards renewable energies like solar or wind power. Kyoto has strong backing from the EU, Russia's main trading partner. \nAnnan, in a message to the conference, called Kyoto a "vital first step in tackling global challenges of global warming" and said that "our children and grandchildren" would not understand inaction now. \n"I join people throughout the world in eagerly awaiting ratification by the Russian Federation, which will bring the protocol into force and further galvanize global action," he said. \nIn a letter to Putin, Chirac said the pact "would underline Russia's determination to accept all the responsibilities of a large modern country towards future genera-tions." It would give the partnership between the Russian Federation and the EU "greater legitimacy" in the fields of energy and environmental protection, he added. \n"I therefore see in it an essential element to the constitution of the common economic area we decided to create in St Petersburg," Chirac said, referring to plans for a common European economic space. \nJoke Waller-Hunter, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change which oversees Kyoto, told Putin she had hoped Russia would set a date for ratification. \nAfter criticisms of foot-dragging, Putin told delegates in unprepared remarks: "People say we are a northern country and a temperature 2 to 3 degrees warmer would not be scary, maybe it would be good. \n"You would have to spend less money on fur coats and other warm things," he said, adding that farm output would rise. \nBut he also said that Russia realized that climate change would cause damage from droughts to floods around the world. Moscow's overall decision would take account of "social, economic and ecological" disruptions, he said. \nKyoto aims to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases by developed nations by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008 to 2012 and will only take force after states accounting for 55 percent of emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, have ratified the pact. \nSo far, nations representing 44 percent of emissions have ratified but Moscow's 17 percent gives it a veto. The US had a 36 percent share but pulled out, arguing Kyoto was too costly and wrongly excluded developing nations.
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable