The Human Consciousness Now...Our World in the Midst of Becoming...to What? Observe, contemplate Now.
Dipti Bhatnagar, Climate Justice & Energy Co-coordinator for Friends of the Earth International, and Susann Scherbarth, Climate Justice & Energy Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, argue that the commitments made by the world's governments so far are well below what science and climate justice principles tell us is urgently needed to avoid hitting climate tipping points.
âPoor and rural communities are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. It is them â who did the least to create this problem â who are suffering the most from itâ. Photo credit: UN Photo/Tim McKulka
- World governments expect to agree to a new global treaty to combat climate change in Paris in December. As the catastrophic impacts of climate change become more evident, so too escalates the urgency to act.
Mar. 31 should have marked a major milestone on the road to Paris, yet only a handful of countries acted on it. Unfortunately, the few plans that were announced before that date show that our leaders lack the ambition to do what it takes to tackle the climate crisis.
National plans for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will most likely form the basis of the Paris agreement. These plans â known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) â are meant to indicate a government’s self-stated commitment to solve the global climate crisis through domestic emission reductions as well as through support for the poorest and most vulnerable countries.
This architecture will result in an agreement that is weaker than each country being legally mandated to reduce emissions based on their fair share, determined through science and equity.
Yet, even with this architecture, the idea was that national governments would declare these plans by the end of March so that they could then be scrutinised.
Only six pledges had been received by the United Nations by the deadline â from the European Union, the United States, Norway, Mexico, Russia and Switzerland. These nations, with the notable exception of Mexico, are among the worst historical carbon emitters, yet these pledges do not reflect that immense historical responsibility and do not show any real willingness to address the scale of the climate crisis.
The commitments are well below what science and climate justice principles tell us is urgently needed to avoid hitting climate tipping points. The European Union announced target to cut emissions by âat least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030â is merely re-hashed from last yearâs announcement.
The United States has cobbled together a plan for a meagre reduction of 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels, by 2025. If these insignificant pledges are an indication of what is to come, we are on track to a world which will be 4-6Â°C warmer on average. To put this into context, the climate impacts we are facing today are the consequence of a planet which is only 0.8Â°C warmer than it was.
Two women hugging at a Day Against Homophobia in Havana organised by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community. Credit: Jorge Luis BaÃ±os/IPS
- In addition to other forms of discrimination, lesbian and bisexual women in Cuba face unequal treatment from public health services. Their specific sexual and reproductive health needs are ignored, and they are invisible in prevention and treatment campaigns for women.
Many lesbian and bisexual women are afraid of gynaecological instruments and procedures which they experience as particularly distasteful given their sexual orientation. Many are unaware of their risks of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STI) and postpone attending gynaecology appointments in order to avoid questions about their love life, activists and health experts told IPS.
Dayanis Tamayo, a 36-year-old education specialist who lives in Santiago de Cuba, 862 kilometres from Havana, feels that health professionals are judgmental when they discover that her partner is a woman. They make lesbophobic comments and give her disapproving looks.
âSometimes I get by unnoticed because I donât fit the stereotype of a butch lesbian, but otherwise I always feel judged,â said Tamayo, who is engaged in research at Universidad de Oriente.
Recent studies back up Tamayoâs statement, pointing to prejudice against lesbian and bisexual women among the countryâs health personnel, and ignorance about their particular sexual health needs.
Cuban psychiatrist Ada Alfonso presented a report on âSalud, malestares y derechos sexuales de las lesbianasâ (Lesbiansâ sexual health, illnesses and rights) at the 2014 Cuban Day Against Homophobia. She said that when they go to see the doctor, these women are asked more about their sexual experiences than about their reason for seeking treatment.
âIf we look at womenâs health through the lenses of inequality, the gap between lesbians and heterosexuals in regard to health services has a lesbophobic subtext hidden behind the discourse on âsocial needsâ,â said Alfonso, an expert with the National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX).
In her view, social pressure on women who are not heterosexual, amounting to homophobia, causes various forms of psychological and sexual malaise.
Alfonso interviewed women in several of the islandâs provinces. She found that ethical deficiencies in the system are leading women to postpone clinical tests until they can see a doctor who has been recommended, or a health professional sharing their own sexual orientation.
In this column, Fernando Cardim de Carvalho, economist and professor at the Federal University of RÃo de Janeiro, looks at the political and economic context within which newly re-elected President Dilma Rousseff is operating and argues that Brazil is living through a very dangerous period, with neither the government nor the parliamentary opposition led by leaders that the population trusts.
- Even moderately well-informed analysts knew that the Brazilian economy was in dire straits as President Dilma Rousseff initiated her second term in office in January.
Unlike her predecessor, Luiz InÃ¡cio Lula da Silva (2003-2011), Rousseff had not the same luck with the situation of the international economy. But also, unlike Lula, Rousseff showed herself a poor saleswoman for Brazilian goods and an even poorer manager of domestic economic policy.
Fernando Cardim de Carvalho
There was a strong suspicion that economic policy, especially in the last two years of her first term, had been conducted in ad hoc ways and that serious adjustments would be needed to steer the economy back to working condition anyway. Still, the situation seemed to be even worse than most analysts feared.
More than 12 million people inside Syria are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Credit: European Commission DG ECHO/CC-BY-ND-2.0
- When United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stood before 78 potential donors at the Bayan Palace in Kuwait Tuesday, his appeal for funds had an ominous ring to it: the Syrian people, he remarked, “are victims of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.”
Four out of five Syrians live in poverty, misery and deprivation, he said.
And the devastated country, now in its fifth turbulent year of a seemingly never-ending civil war, has lost nearly four decades of human development.
- The lead author of a United Nations water report has spoken out about media depictions of his findings, denying the report lays out a âdoom and gloomâ scenario.
The United Nations World Water Development Report 2015, released on Mar. 20 in conjunction with World Water Day, lays out a number of troubling findings.
The report predicts a world water shortage of 40 percent by 2050, largely due to a forecasted 55-percent rise in water demand, spurred by increased industrial demands.
It is estimated 20 percent of the worldâs aquifers are over-exploited, and that shortages may lead to increased local conflicts over access to water. Water problems may also mean increased inequality and barriers to sustainable development.
Despite the grim outlook, the reportâs lead author, Richard Connor, laid out a different picture at the U.N. headquarters in New York Monday.
âMost of the media attention [on the report] has focused on one message, a bit of a doom and gloom message, that there is a looming global water crisis,â Connor told a U.N. press briefing.
- Showing a âcommendable determination to register their vote and choose their leaders,â Nigerians by the hundreds of thousands lined up at polling stations across the country to select the next president and National Assembly of their country, U.S. and British witnesses to the hotly-contested presidential polls observed.
In a joint statement by the British Foreign Secretary and the U.S. Secretary of State, the observer governments âwelcomed the largely peaceful vote on March 28.â
Concerns over the possibilities of fraud were quietly swept away when the national election commission called the winner of the countryâs presidential poll as Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Buhari edged out his rival by around two million votes. A phone call from the defeated president, Goodluck Jonathan, reached Buhariâs headquarters about five minutes before five with congratulations on the victory.
After 35 of the 36 statesâ vote totals were tallied, Buhari appeared to have captured 14.9 million votes compared to Jonathanâs 12.8 million.
The massive balloting and collection was marred by missteps as the new voter cards failed, sensitive materials were snatched, election officials were held captive, and protestors were tear-gassed.
Driven by solar and wind, world investments in renewable energy leapt in 2014. Photo credit: JÃ¼rgen from Sandesneben, Germany/Licensed under CC BY 2.0
- Driven by solar and wind, world investments in renewable energy reversed a two-year dip last year,Â brushing aside the challenge from sharply lower oil prices and registering a 17 percent leap over the previous year to stand at 270 billion dollars.
These investments helped see an additional 103Gw of generating capacity â roughly that of all U.S. nuclear plants combined âaround the world, making 2014 the best year ever for newly-installed capacity, according to the 9th annualÂ “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investments” report from the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) released Mar. 31.