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The good and bad news for the planet after the latest UN climate talks

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The latest round of United Nations climate talks closed in the early morning hours on Sunday, November 20 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, overshooting their Friday deadline but finally reaching an agreement on the thorniest outstanding issue: paying for climate change damages.

The meeting, known as COP27, ended with an agreement to create a fund to compensate less wealthy countries already suffering destruction stemming from rising average temperatures. The meeting also secured more commitments to cut methane pollution and a renewed, desperate call to keep the planet from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), one of the targets of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. (COP27 stands for the 27th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.)

“We have literally exhausted all of our efforts here at COP27 to bring home the climate action commitments our vulnerable people desperately need,” said Molwyn Joseph, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, a group representing 39 island countries at the meeting, in a statement. “Today, the international community has restored global faith in this critical process that is dedicated to ensuring no one is left behind.”

But the agreement, called the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan, only secured tepid language around limiting the causes of climate change, namely burning fossil fuels. And critical details about how countries are expected to meet their commitments were left unresolved.

More than 35,000 people from every country in the world gathered at the two-week meeting to take this tiny step forward, but it was hard-fought, and the challenge remains in putting all the promises made into action.

All the while, global greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, the planet’s temperature continues climbing, and the window for keeping warming in check is almost closed. “The world is bending the curve of greenhouse gas emissions downward, but these efforts remain woefully insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C,” UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell told attendees. The COP climate negotiation process once again failed to bring the world in line with this goal, but the commitments secured so far have closed the gap further than ever.

While the agenda was narrower than in previous climate meetings, this year’s negotiations were particularly fraught. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered a global spike in energy prices, igniting rampant inflation and sapping the will to invest more to deal with climate change. Some countries, like Germany, actually increased their fossil fuel consumption this year.

Even as the conference was going on, major players experienced huge political changes back home. The midterm election in the United States, the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter, led to a divided legislature, throttling the potential for more climate legislation. Brazil’s President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva received a hero’s welcome at COP27 after defeating Jair Bolsonaro, who presided over a massive spike in deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. Then on Friday, US climate envoy John Kerry tested positive for Covid-19.

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Many delegates also sharply criticized the host country Egypt for its continued detention of political prisoner Alaa Abd el-Fattah, who was on a hunger strike during the meeting. He ended his strike Thursday after collapsing, but remains in prison.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Samih Shukri makes a speech as part of the UN climate summit COP27 held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on November 18, 2022.

Representatives from every country met at COP27 to negotiate details on how they will limit climate change.
Mohamed Abdel Hamid/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

With so many other issues directly or indirectly on the table, it’s remarkable anything got done on climate change at all. On the sidelines, delegates signed smaller deals to end deforestation and invest in clean energy. Wealthy countries also negotiated a massive $20 billion deal to help Indonesia transition toward cleaner energy.

But on the whole, few countries committed to stepping up their efforts further to curb greenhouse gases. And those commitments are growing further divorced from their actions, as global emissions remain at record highs.

COP27 finally got a deal on the tricky issue of paying for climate change damages, but it’s weak and vague

Compared to past climate meetings, COP27 was unusual in that so much of the discussion revolved around one main topic: how to pay for the loss and damages caused by climate change. It’s an acrimonious issue that has derailed past meeting and has remained unresolved for years.

Wealthy countries have burned the most fossil fuels and produced most of the greenhouse gases heating up the planet today, but the damage from that warming — things like heat waves and sea level rise — is more directly harming poorer countries who contributed little to the problem. The United States accounts for the largest historical share of greenhouse gas emissions.

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At COP27, more 190 countries agreed to establish a fund for loss and damage, built on a previous proposal known as the Warsaw International Mechanism.

“This represents a significant step forward in the global fight against the climate emergency,” Achim Steiner, administrator of the UN Development Programme, in a statement.

However, the language is vague, with no guidance on how much money the fund needs, who needs to pay in, and who is eligible for compensation. Wealthy countries have already failed to meet a commitment to provide $100 billion per year in financing to developing countries for climate-related projects. These are contentious questions, and the discussion will have to continue at the next COP.

The logic behind a loss and damage fund is that while climate change could get worse in the future, it’s already causing destruction now. Island countries, for instance, are facing sea level rise while other developing countries are suffering from problems like drought worsened by rising temperatures. Climate change has already rendered parts of the world unlivable and by 2030, loss and damage from warming could cost the world anywhere from $290 billion to $580 billion a year, according to one estimate from the 2021 climate summit. Much of that will be borne by developing countries.

That was especially evident this year. Pakistan suffered extensive flooding that left one-third of the country underwater, fueled by rapidly melting glaciers. India and Pakistan also baked under a massive heat wave this spring. In Africa, droughts afflicted the eastern part of the continent while floods drenched western and central regions. These disasters brought huge humanitarian and economic burdens.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif told attendees the floods caused $30 billion in damage. “This all happened despite our very low carbon footprint, and yet we became a victim of something with which we had nothing to do,” he said.

A sign reading “climate reparations” outside the COP27 venue in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Climate activists held demonstrations in front of the COP27 venue to protest the negative effects of climate change, as the UN climate summit continues in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on November 18, 2022.
Mohamed Abdel Hamid/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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That’s why many developing countries are so intent on getting more money through the loss and damage mechanism, which can serve as a form of reparations.

But wealthy countries like the US have long resisted such a program. They worry it would open the door to liability claims, putting them on the hook for more money over time. Instead, they prefer to fund programs that look forward, helping developing countries adapt to climate change and reduce emissions, while avoiding any language that assigns responsibility for climate change.

What else happened at COP27?

A big agenda item at the meeting was the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to cut human-caused methane emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030, compared to 2020 levels. It was initially launched at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, and since then more than 150 countries have signed on. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, but it tends to come from distinct sources, mainly leaks from natural gas production. That’s unlike carbon dioxide, which is emitted when anything burns. As a result, targeting methane emissions could potentially lead to greater climate benefits at lower costs. If met, the methane pledge on its own could avert 0.2°C of warming by 2050 (0.36°F).

The five largest methane emitters in the world are China, India, the United States, Russia, and Brazil, accounting for half of the global share. The US and Brazil have signed on. China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua made a surprise announcement of new efforts to curb methane at COP27, but stopped short of signing the pledge.

Environmental campaigners are now arguing that a promise is not enough and that countries need to draft a treaty to phase down methane. “We need a binding global methane agreement inspired by the world’s most successful climate treaty — the Montreal Protocol,” Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said in a statement.

Another big development was a $20 billion financing deal between Indonesia — one of the world’s largest coal consumers — and a group of wealthy countries including Japan, the US, Canada, the UK, and Germany. The deal was announced at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, which was taking place concurrently with COP27, and it’s the largest effort to date to persuade a developing country to give up coal. It echoes the $8.5 billion clean energy finance deal with South Africa announced at the last COP.

Activists protest and demand phasing out of fossil fuels on the final day of the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

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Activists at COP27 called for a phaseout of all fossil fuels, but some countries are resistant.
Dominika Zarzycka/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

President Joe Biden also announced new US funding commitments for international climate change projects, but the US has struggled to meet its existing promises. Biden last year promised more than $11 billion for global climate finance by 2024, but Congress only approved $1 billion. With the House now under Republican control, the prospect of any more money going abroad has grown dimmer. The US has also proposed more investment in nature-based solutions, but was vague about the details.

COP27 also fleshed out more details about international carbon credit trading, but failed to achieve a full agreement on the rules. Under Article 6 of the Paris climate agreement, countries can trade carbon emissions credits and offsets to help meet their climate goals. But credits and offsets are only as good as the accounting behind them, and few have actually delivered the emissions reductions that were promised. Establishing rules around these markets is tricky and the negotiation will resume at COP28 in Dubai.

As for fossil fuels, the COP27 agreement calls for “accelerating efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies,” but not the outright end of coal, oil, and natural gas burning as activists and some delegates demanded.

“I wish we got fossil fuel phase out,” said Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, the climate envoy from the Marshall Islands. “The current text is not enough.”

The COP process remains deeply flawed and frustrating

The inherent problem of international climate negotiations is that limiting rising temperatures requires everyone to act aggressively — and quickly — but no one can force anyone else to do anything. The commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions are self-imposed. And the rules around meeting these targets are established by consensus, so major oil producers like Saudi Arabia and countries like Tuvalu, losing land to sea level rise, have to agree.

It makes for a slow and tense negotiation process. And as the COP meetings have grown in profile over the years, they’ve become a more difficult forum to make progress on climate change. The meetings have developed a festival-like atmosphere with actors and musicians stopping by to lend their celebrity to the cause. But the resulting agreements from recent meetings have become narrower and weaker, leaving few happy.

Plenary Session of the UNFCCC COP27 climate conference on November 20, 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

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The COP27 meeting, like many before, dragged on well past its deadline.
Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who famously sailed across the ocean to attend a COP meeting in order to avoid the greenhouse gas emissions of flying, decided not to attend COP27. Neither did the leaders of China and India, the largest and third-largest greenhouse gas emitters. But fossil fuel companies sent more representatives than ever.

This year, even representatives from developing countries were calling to develop more of their fossil fuel resources as frustration mounts with the unmet commitments from wealthier countries for international clean energy financing.

But without everyone working together, there is little hope of slowing the warming of the planet, and the UN climate negotiations are one of the few venues where representatives from different countries can sit down face to face, eye to eye, and hammer out difficult details of how they will curb climate change and adapt to it. It’s necessary, but clearly, it’s not enough.


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Exclusive: Today in Supreme Court History: January 26, 1832 – TalkOfNews.com

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Today in Supreme Court History: January 26, 1832

#Today #Supreme #Court #History #January

1/26/1832: Justice George Shiras Jr.’s birthday.

Justice George Shiras Jr.

The post Today in Supreme Court History: January 26, 1832 appeared first on Reason.com.

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Exclusive: Liberals Are Mad That McCarthy Named MAGA Republicans to Subcommittees on COVID and Government Weaponization – Good – TalkOfNews.com

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Liberals Are Mad That McCarthy Named MAGA Republicans to Subcommittees on COVID and Government Weaponization – Good

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced members named to two select subcommittees – one investigating the origins of COVID and another looking into the weaponization of the federal government – and Democrats are livid over the addition of certain MAGA lawmakers.

“The government has a responsibility to serve the American people, not go after them,” McCarthy said in a statement.

“The Members selected to serve on these subcommittees will work to stop the weaponization of the federal government and will also finally get answers to the Covid origins and the federal government’s gain of function research that contributed to the pandemic,” he added.

McCarthy notes that the weaponization subcommittee is necessary because congressional Democrats and the Biden administration engaged in a “dangerous pattern of the government being used to target political opponents while they neglected their most basic responsibilities.”

RELATED: Conservative Victory: Dan Crenshaw Loses Race To Chair Homeland Security Committee to Freedom Caucus Member Green

MAGA Members Named to House Select Subcommittees

A couple of names that showed up on the House select subcommittees raised the ire of Democrats, particularly those associated with the MAGA movement.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) continued reaping the fruits of a kinship with McCarthy that would make Frank Luntz blush, being named to the COVID-19 subcommittee.

Greene celebrated the appointment, stating her intention to investigate the role of gain-of-function research, the Democrat “authoritarian” lockdowns, the ineffective vaccines forced on the American people, and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s role.

Greene will also be sitting on the House Homeland Security and Oversight Committees.

Also named to the COVID subcommittee is former White House physician Ronny Jackson (R-TX), who has consistently challenged President Biden to undergo a mental fitness evaluation.

Jim Jordan (R-OH) will chair the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government after being rejected by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on the January 6th panel.

RELATED: White House Terrified of MAGA Republicans Being Named to Committees Investigating Biden Administration

Liberals Aren’t Happy

Liberals on social media responded with outrage over MAGA Republicans representing their constituents on the select subcommittees.

Because see, it would be better to have completely partisan sham committees like the January 6th debacle.

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Democratic Congressman Don Beyer dismissed both panels as “devoted to conspiracy theories.”

This is fine by us, since these days “conspiracy theories” mostly just means “the media hasn’t admitted it yet.”

House Judiciary Democrats lambasted McCarthy for having “sold out our democracy to empower MAGA extremists.”

Richard Stengel, a former Obama administration official, also took the dismissive ‘conspiracy theory’ path.

The ‘Weaponization’ subcommittee, Stengel claims, is “a body that creates rather than investigates conspiracy theories and which will eventually undermine itself.”

We literally just watched the January 6th sham create highly directed and produced filmography rather than evidence, doctored actual evidence, created conspiracy theories, and admitted they wanted to tell people what they should believe.

If Democrats are mad about MAGA Republicans serving on committees to provide a counterpoint to Democrat and media lies, then McCarthy is most definitely doing the right thing.

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Exclusive: Why older mass shooters like the California gunmen are so rare – TalkOfNews.com

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Why older mass shooters like the California gunmen are so rare

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The gunmen in both of the recent shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, California, had an unusual profile compared to most perpetrators of violent crime: They were both senior citizens.

The Monterey Park gunman, who killed 11 and injured nine before fatally shooting himself, was 72. The Half Moon Bay gunman, who killed seven people before he was arrested in what police have characterized as an act of workplace violence, is 66.

Mass shooters of that age are rare, especially those with no prior criminal record, as was the case with the Half Moon Bay gunman. (The Monterey Park gunman had one arrest in 1990 for illegal possession of a firearm.) According to data from the National Institute of Justice, mass shooters between 1966 and 2021 were on average 34 years old, and those over the age of 60 accounted for a little over 3 percent of all mass shootings, which are defined as shootings in which four or more people are killed.

The notion that people “age out of crime” is one of the most well-documented phenomena in the field of criminology. The California shootings should be seen as exceptions to that principle, not as nullifying examples, according to Ashley Nellis, co-director of research for the Sentencing Project, which advocates for criminal justice reform.

“The predictability of age is probably the most reliable point of data that we have about people who commit violent crime. Young people are just substantially more likely, and by extension, older people are substantially unlikely, to commit crime,” Nellis said. “It’s certainly a cautionary note to anybody who would be jumping to make policy based on these two events.”

Research has repeatedly shown that criminal activity increases throughout teen years, reaches its highest point at age 17, the oldest that someone can be charged with a juvenile crime, and subsides thereafter throughout life. Property crime peaks at a slightly younger age than violent crime. But even chronic offenders would be statistically likely to stop committing crime by around the age of 40, Nellis said.

There are a lot of theories as to why that might be. Typical milestones associated with getting older, like graduating or getting married, may put people on a trajectory that veers away from criminality. Brain development isn’t complete until the mid-20s, hindering decision-making that might lead to crime and risky behavior. Young people have less financial security, and people in poverty are more likely to commit crimes. Some crimes might be physically demanding, and older people just might not have the strength to carry them out.

But both gunmen in the California shootings buck the archetype of a violent criminal, and their motives still aren’t entirely clear. Investigators have said that the Monterey Park shooter frequented the dance studio where he killed his victims and that the Half Moon Bay gunman, who lived and worked as a forklift driver at a mushroom farm, was angry at the coworkers he shot. Previously, there have been mass shooters as old as 70, including a gunman who opened fire at a church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, and killed three people last June.

Though age can sometimes factor into the decision to impose a less harsh sentence on young offenders, the Half Moon Bay shooter’s advanced age won’t have any bearing on the length of his sentence, as is standard practice in the US.

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He will be charged with seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, with a special circumstance allegation of multiple murder and sentencing enhancements for each count because of his use of a firearm, the San Mateo County district attorney announced Wednesday. If convicted on those charges, he could be facing up to life in prison without the possibility of parole. (He won’t face the death penalty, given that California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, placed a moratorium on executions in the state in 2019.)

Life sentences without parole have become increasingly common in the US over the last few decades. But Nellis argues the age of older offenders like the Half Moon Bay shooter should be considered a mitigating factor when making sentencing decisions — especially given that the use of executive clemency to release them early has become nonexistent, as she writes in a 2022 report.

“Regardless of age, somebody who does commit an act of violence like this is likely to be rehabilitated, be reformed, be ready to return to society within 10 years,” she said.

Recidivism is unlikely among older people, according to data from the US Sentencing Commission, and keeping them in prison comes at a high taxpayer cost, which includes health care bills that balloon at the end of life. It’s difficult to say how much those who’ll decide the fate of the Half Moon Bay suspect will take that data into account; his initial arraignment is Wednesday.

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