Address climate crisis with economic, health justice: G7 Speakers

September 13, 2020


United Nations, Sept 13: Upon the conclusion of their annual meeting, the Group of Seven (G7) Speakers and heads of Parliament have agreed to focus on the need for strong international action to combat the disparities in health and financial security that have been highlighted by the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

They observed that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations this year were among the highest averages ever recorded.

"We, Speakers/Presidents of Parliament of the member states of the G7, affirm that the COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis require a robust and coordinated international response," said a joint declaration after the virtual G7 Speakers' meeting concluded on Saturday.

The meeting included participation from all G7 nations and the European Union.

"By passing legislation, by approving national budgets and by holding governments to account, Parliaments are a key element in the commitment of states to the well-being of our citizens and the environment.

"As leaders in the international community, we commit to act with urgency to provide a healthy, clean and sustainable environment for our children and grandchildren and generations to come.

"The world is reeling from COVID-19. As of September 12, 2020, there have been more than 28 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the disease has claimed the lives of more than 900,000 people across the world.

"The pandemic has disrupted the regular life of our citizens, disproportionately hurt our most vulnerable communities and at-risk populations, including women and children, and destabilized our economies.

"We declare that our response to COVID-19, including vaccine development and its equitable distribution, will be based on science and medicine, focused on wide access rather than profitability, and informed by the knowledge that the pandemic will continue until it is addressed worldwide," said the declaration.

"As G7 nations, we have a moral, scientific and economic duty to serve as the standard-bearer for this global commitment.

"Unfortunately, the climate crisis does not pause as governments address the pandemic. Our nations cannot choose to ignore the climate emergency while we address the immediate crisis presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Both the health and climate crises have and will continue to require unprecedented government action.

"As Parliaments develop legislation to rebound from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, clean energy and other climate investments can power short- and long-term economic recovery.

"The climate crisis is the existential threat of our time, jeopardizing the health and well-being of every family in every community around the world.

"Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in 2020 are among the highest averages ever recorded. The planet suffered through the second hottest year ever in 2019. As the earth heats up, climate-related impacts, including heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, and flooding, are worsening," it said.

The statement went on to say: "The great rivers of our world are beginning to dry up, depriving millions of water, food, jobs, transportation and commerce. The degradation of the oceans is also a great matter of concern as we stated in Brest last year.

"We shall also pay particular attention to environmental justice for economically vulnerable and frontline communities.

"Committing to fight against environmental injustice requires providing a healthy environment, equal opportunity and meaningful involvement in environmental decisions to all people, regardless of race, colour, gender, orientation, national origin, belief, or socio-economic condition.

"Climate policy can end the perpetuation of systemic inequalities.

"We reaffirm the central role played by parliaments in democratic life. Parliaments, which are the assemblies that bring together all the components of society, are the key institutions of democracy: parliaments represent the expression of the people through their legislative and oversight roles.

"We therefore call upon all parties to take action on the climate crisis in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

"We pledge that we will maintain contacts between parliaments to ensure a high level of mobilization concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate, the regular raising of questions linked to these crises and the dissemination of good practices.

"We believe that our parliaments must play a pivotal role in the response and recovery to COVID-19 and the fight to address the climate crisis with economic and environmental justice for all."

In the run-up to the G7 Speakers' meeting, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in a video message informed the participating nations that they should think of the whole world as interdependent and of the entire seven billion human beings as one human community.

"Global warming is very serious. Many people suffer. We must pay more attention," he said.

The participants comprised US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of Canada's House of Commons, Canada Anthony Rota, President of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli, President of French National Assembly Richard Ferrand, President of the German Bundestag Wolfgang SchAuble, President of Italy's Chamber of Deputies Roberto Fico, Speaker of Japan's House of Representatives Tadamori Oshima and Speaker of UK's House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle.


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October 17,2020


New Delhi, Oct 17: Marking a landslide victory in the New Zealand General Elections, incumbent Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to return for her second term as the head of the country. PM Jacinda Ardern, representing New Zealand's liberal labout party, is acing ahead to form for the first time a single party majority government in the country in decades. During her first term in the office, Ardern was in power with the support of the nationalist party.

Ardern’s liberal Labour Party had nearly double the support of its main challenger, the conservative National Party.

Labour was on the cusp of winning an outright majority in Parliament, something that hasn’t happened since New Zealand implemented a proportional voting system 24 years ago. Typically, parties must form alliances to govern, but this time Ardern and Labour may be able to go it alone.

"It's a landslide that looks like our vote is the best it has been since the 1940s," said Labour Minister David Parker. "It's a tremendous accolade first and foremost to the prime minister, but also to the wider Labour team and the Labour movement."

A record number of voters cast early ballots in the two weeks leading up to the election.

On the campaign trail, Ardern was greeted like a rock star by people who crammed into malls and spilled onto streets to cheer her on and get selfies with her.

Her popularity soared earlier this year after she led a successful effort to stamp out the coronavirus. There is currently no community spread of the virus in the nation of 5 million and people are no longer required to wear masks or social distance.

Ardern, 40, won the top job after the 2017 election when Labour formed an alliance with two other parties. The following year, she became only the second world leader to give birth while in office.

She became a role model for working mothers around the world, many of whom saw her as a counterpoint to President Donald Trump. And she was praised for her handling of last year’s attack on two Christchurch mosques, when a white supremacist gunned down 51 Muslim worshippers. She moved quickly to pass new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons.

In late March this year, when only about 100 people had tested positive for COVID-19, Ardern and her health officials put New Zealand into a strict lockdown with a motto of “Go hard and go early.” She shut the borders and outlined an ambitious goal of eliminating the virus entirely rather than just trying to control its spread.

With New Zealand having the advantage of being an isolated island nation, the strategy worked. The country eliminated community transmission for 102 days before a new cluster was discovered in August in Auckland. Ardern swiftly imposed a second lockdown in Auckland and the new outbreak faded away. The only new cases found recently have been among returning travelers, who are in quarantine.

The Auckland outbreak also prompted Ardern to postpone the election by a month and helped increase the early voter turnout.

The National Party’s leader, Judith Collins, is a former lawyer. She served as a minister when National was in power and prides herself on a blunt, no-nonsense approach, a contrast to Ardern’s empathetic style. Collins, 61, was promising sweeping tax cuts in response to the economic downturn caused by the virus.

In the election, voters also had a say on two contentious social issues — whether to legalize marijuana and euthanasia. Polls taken before the election indicated the euthanasia referendum was likely to pass while the marijuana vote remained uncertain. The results of both referendums will be announced Oct. 30.


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October 28,2020


Philadelphia, Oct 28: The second day of protests in Philadelphia turned violent on Tuesday as protesters clashed with the police, ransacked stores and attacked a reporter covering the unrest, following the killing of a black man on Monday.

Journalists covering some of the lootings have described chaotic scenes they said appeared to be void of any police coverage, reported Fox News.

The police took to Twitter late Tuesday to announce there were about 1,000 looters in the area of Castor and Aramingo streets alone.

According to Fox News, videos showed stores with items strewn in aisles and looters carrying out kitchen appliances and other items. Many stores were boarded up, but crowds still managed to break through windows.

Furthermore, Elijah Schaffer, a reporter, who was covering the looting at a store called Five Below, was reportedly seen on video getting pummeled inside a store by a group of protesters.

"I'm going to go to the hospital, I think, to get stitches because it is just absolutely painful. But this is what's happening in the current state over the killing of Walter Wallace," he said in a video posted on Twitter.

The Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management asked residents from certain neighbourhoods to remain indoors due to the "widespread demonstrations that have turned violent with looting."

The city has been gripped with gripped by violence after police officers shot and killed a 27-year-old Black man a day earlier who they said refused to drop his knife as he "advanced towards" them.

The man was identified as Walter Wallace Jr. A part of the incident was caught on video.

According to Fox News, the police and city officials issued swift statements following the incident and promised an investigation, but their assurances did little to assuage many in the city who see the shooting as another example of a Black man being killed by police when they say the situation could have been diffused.

The United States has seen widespread protests against killings of black people this year.

The 'Black Lives Matter' movement had gained momentum after the death of an African-American man named George Floyd in May this year, following a police officer, later identified as Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee on Floyd's neck as suggested by the viral videos.


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October 30,2020


Paris, Oct 30: Social networking platform Twitter on Thursday removed former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's tweet, for violating its rules banning the glorification of violence, shortly after a violent knife attack in Nice, which left three people dead.

The tweet sparked an angry outburst on social media with many users calling out the former Malaysian prime minister.

Cedric O, France's Secretary for Digital Sector also condemned the post and urged Twitter to suspend the account of the former Malaysian prime minister and said in a tweet: "If not, Twitter would be an accomplice to a formal call for murder."

"I just spoke with the Managing Director of Twitter France. The account of former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad must be immediately suspended. If not, Twitter would be an accomplice to a formal call for murder," Cedric O tweeted.

Twitter first labelled the tweet with a disclaimer stating that the posting violated its rules but was being left up because it was in public interest. The networking site later completely deleted the tweet but left the remaining of the Twitter thread intact.

This comes following French President Emmanuel Macron's criticism of radical Islam after a school teacher, was beheaded by an 18-year-old for showing cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed in class.

In a series of 13 tweets, Mahathir Mohamad posting from his personal Twitter handle lashed out at Macron for not being "civilised" and for being "very primitive in blaming the religion of Islam and Muslims for the killing of the school teacher".

France's Secretary of State's remarks comes after another attack was witnessed on Thursday where a knife-wielding man killed two women and a man at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice and injured several others. The police detained the attacker and launched an investigation on terrorism grounds.

The attack in Nice was followed by a knife-stabbing attempt in France's southeastern city of Avignon and another one at the French Consulate in Saudi Arabia.

A few days ago, Samuel Paty, a school teacher, was beheaded by an 18-year-old teenager on the outskirts of Paris after he showed cartoons depicting the Prophet during a lesson. Paty was posthumously granted France's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur, and commemorated in the national ceremony at the Sorbonne University in Paris.



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