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Biden faces high expectations at UN climate talks
By Laurent Thomet and Kelly Macnamara
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt (AFP) Nov 11, 2022

Lula to travel to Egypt for climate summit
Bras´┐Żlia (AFP) Nov 10, 2022 - Brazil's president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Thursday he would travel to Egypt to take part in the COP27 global climate summit next week to meet international leaders.

"I will travel to Egypt on Monday. I will have more conversations with world leaders in a single day than (Jair) Bolsonaro did in four years," Lula said during a meeting with legislators in Brasilia, in a dig at the current president, whom he beat in last month's election.

The Workers' Party (PT) leader did not specify which leaders he would meet with.

He was invited to the summit in Sharm el-Sheikh by Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

"We will reposition Brazil at the center of international geopolitics," added Lula, 77.

He said his re-election after two previous mandates from 2003-2010, was generating much "expectation" in the world after he defeated the far-right Bolsonaro in a tight run-off in October.

In the first three years under Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic, average annual deforestation in the Amazon rainforest increased 75 percent on the previous decade.

Lula has made environmental protection a key part of his platform and has vowed to achieve "zero deforestation."

He is due to assume the presidency for his third term on January 1.

When COP27 ends on November 18, Lula will travel to Portugal to meet President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister Antonio Costa, according to Brazilian media.

Top museums issue statement against eco-attacks on paintings
Madrid (AFP) Nov 10, 2022 - Dozens of the world's top museums issued a joint declaration on Thursday saying environmental activists who attack paintings "severely underestimate" the damage that could be caused.

Protesters have attacked numerous masterpieces across Europe in recent weeks to protest the lack of action against climate change.

They have glued themselves to a Francisco Goya in Madrid, thrown soup at Vincent van Goghs in London and Rome, and mashed potatoes on a Claude Monet.

"The activists responsible for (these attacks) severely underestimate the fragility of these irreplaceable objects, which must be preserved as part of our world cultural heritage," said the statement.

It was spearheaded by the Prado in Madrid, and signed by the directors of more than 90 world-renowned museums including the Guggenheim in New York, Louvre in Paris and Uffizi in Florence.

"As museum directors entrusted with the care of these works, we have been deeply shaken by their risky endangerment," the statement said.

"We will continue to advocate for direct access to our cultural heritage. And we will maintain the museum as a free space for social communication."

US President Joe Biden flies into UN climate talks in Egypt on Friday armed with major domestic achievements against global warming but under pressure to do more for countries reeling from natural disasters.

Biden will only spend a few hours at COP27 in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, three days after US midterm elections that have raised questions about what the result could mean for US climate policy.

The US leader's climate agenda was given a major boost this year when Congress passed a landmark spending bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $369 billion for clean energy and climate initiatives.

But at COP27, talk has been dominated by the need for wealthy nations to stop stalling on helping developing countries green their economies and prepare for future impacts -- as well as calls to provide financial help for the damage already being caused by climate-induced catastrophes.

"The world needs the United States to be a climate leader in our fight for climate justice," prominent Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate told AFP.

"The message is for President Biden to stand with the people on the planet and the coming generations," said the 25-year-old Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.

Biden is attending COP27 three days after 100 other world leaders addressed the summit.

A senior US official said Biden was heading to Egypt "with historic momentum" on the back of the spending bill and his goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 52 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

So far at the Egypt talks, US climate envoy John Kerry has presented a public-private partnership aimed at supporting the transition to renewable energy in developing nations and based on a carbon credit system.

The plan has been panned by activists wary of firms using these to "offset" their carbon emissions.

- Climate-sceptic Republicans -

Biden also may have a chance to revive cooperation with China when he meets President Xi Jinping during G20 talks next week, with another US official saying he would seek to discuss how to "advance our work together on climate change".

Beijing cut off climate talks with Washington after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August.

Cooperation between the world's two biggest polluters has been crucial to global efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But with Republicans apparently poised to retake the House of Representatives, part of Biden's climate agenda could take a hit. Democrats have a chance to retain the Senate.

Biden pledged to contribute $11.4 billion to a $100 billion per year scheme through which rich countries will help developing ones transition to renewable energies and build resilience against climate change.

But Democrats would have to rush it through Congress before climate-sceptic Republicans take office in January.

"We're going to be pressing for passage of the appropriations bills," US lawmaker Kathy Castor, who chairs a special climate crisis committee in the House, told AFP.

"Hopefully Republicans in the Congress will not block it," she said.

- 'Loss and damage' -

The United States has also for years resisted attempts to establish a "loss and damage" fund in which rich polluters would compensate developing nations for the destruction from climate-related disasters.

Emerging countries successfully put the issue on the official COP27 agenda and fraught negotiations are likely before the talks end on November 18.

Biden will also use the trip to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and discuss the human rights situation in the country, where the case of jailed dissident Alaa Abdel Fattah was raised by other leaders earlier this week.

Ahead of his trip, the White House expressed "deep concern" for the jailed British-Egyptian activist, who is on a hunger strike.

After COP27, Biden will head to an ASEAN regional summit in Cambodia at the weekend before travelling to Indonesia for G20 talks.

World needs US 'to be climate leader', Ugandan activist
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt (AFP) Nov 10, 2022 - Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate on Thursday urged US President Joe Biden to help those most affected by the ravages of global warming, a day before his arrival for UN climate talks in Egypt.

Nakate, a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations' children's fund UNICEF, urged Biden to listen to climate science and those "on the frontlines of this crisis".

She also called for fossil fuels to be phased out and funding to help vulnerable countries cope with accelerating climate impacts.

"The world needs the United States to be a climate leader in our fight for climate justice," the 25-year-old told AFP in an interview at the COP27 climate conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

"The message is for President Biden to stand with the people on the planet and the coming generations."

Inspired by Sweden's Greta Thunberg, Nakate -- who founded the Rise Up Climate Movement in her native Uganda -- has become a prominent voice among global youth fighting for climate action and justice.

Although she is unlikely to meet the US president in person during his fleeting trip to the two-week climate talks, Nakate urged Biden to summon the "political will" to support communities most affected by the snowballing impacts caused by a warming world.

This year alone has seen a barrage of extreme heat waves and crop-withering droughts across the world, while catastrophic floods have swept Pakistan and Nigeria.

Floods had also ripped through Nakate's own region in Uganda, she said.

"When you look at all these crises that are happening and they are just around you in your community, you have no choice but to come here and believe that another world is not only necessary but it's also possible," she said.

- 'Cannot eat coal' -

Thunberg has snubbed the UN talks in Egypt -- billed as an "Africa COP" -- over concerns about restrictions for campaigners.

But Nakate said she had been compelled to attend because of the growing harm suffered by people in the global south, adding that activists were using social media and interviews in the press to keep up the pressure on leaders.

She said it was more important than ever "to hold our leaders accountable and to remind them that we cannot eat coal, we cannot drink oil and we cannot breathe gas".

In a world gripped by energy, food and inflation crises -- fuelled by climate impacts, the war in Ukraine, and the pandemic -- the challenges of soaring prices are too often seen only through the eyes of wealthier nations, Nakate said.

"In countries like Uganda, many people are being impacted and suffering because, as the fuel prices rise, transportation rises, food prices rise as well," she said, adding that many people "just don't know how to keep up with it".

She called for the international community to step up investments that address energy poverty in Africa and support the shift to renewable power.

"If there is no climate finance to support that transition, many of our countries are being pressured into taking money from fossil fuel companies so that they can lift their communities out of energy poverty," she said.

In her role for UNICEF, Nakate has recently visited communities affected by the devastating drought in the Horn of Africa, where millions are on the brink of starvation, including children.

These tragedies can reverberate for many years throughout an individual's life, even generations, Nakate said.

But she noted that Biden and the other world leaders who have travelled to Egypt this week should understand that their positive actions also have the potential to echo into the future.

"I've heard of something called the butterfly effect, whereby just one thing that may seem like a small action can end up affecting the lives of so many people," she said, adding that leaders have a choice whether their effect is positive or negative.

"If it's to be positive, then one action right now will benefit not only our generation, but also the coming generations," she said.

Related Links
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Scorched Earth: Ukraine war takes heavy toll on climate too
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt (AFP) Nov 10, 2022
The Ukraine war has shown the heavy toll military conflict takes not just on people but also on the planet, say experts at the UN climate summit in Egypt. From the emissions caused by diesel-powered tanks, fighter jets and missile blasts to urban and forest fires and massive waves of refugees, the conflict has also spewed out huge amounts of greenhouse gases. "This is a field of significant emissions and nobody has really dealt with this problem," said Axel Michaelowa, head of the University of ... read more

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