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What is COP28 and why is it important

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DUBAI, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) — More than 70,000 delegates from around the globe will gather here in the next two weeks for COP28, the United Nations (UN) conference tasked with addressing one of the most pressing challenges facing planet Earth, namely climate change.

Here are some key facts about COP28 and why it is of critical importance for humanity.

WHAT IS COP28?

COP28 stands for the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In the three decades since the Rio Summit and the launch of the UNFCCC, the conference of the parties has convened every year to determine ambitions and responsibilities related to climate change, as well as assess climate measures.

The previous session, COP27, was held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. An agreement to establish a “loss and damage” fund then was hailed as a major breakthrough.

COP21 in 2015 led to the Paris Agreement, the landmark climate treaty that mobilizes collective action to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celcius above pre-industrial levels.

The upcoming event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), will last from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 as leaders from governments, businesses and civil societies meet to seek concrete solutions to climate change.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Climate disasters across the world this year have warned us once again of the urgency to address climate change.

In July, the world’s hottest month on record, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the era of global warming has ended and “the era of global boiling has arrived.”

COP28 will be a milestone moment as it will respond to the first-ever Global Stocktake of the Paris Agreement.

As a mechanism created under the Paris Agreement, the Global Stocktake requires that countries assess their climate measures every five years. The outcome provides input for new nationally determined contributions of parties.

Reports on the stocktake so far have shown that while the Paris Agreement has spurred action on climate change, current policies and promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions are not sufficient.

As delegates in the UAE will assess how far off track they are from meeting the promises to stop global warming, COP28 is expected to be a pivotal opportunity to correct course and accelerate action.

THEMATIC PROGRAMS

Dubai is hosting COP28 in its Expo City, and there are two main sites for the events — the Blue Zone and the Green Zone.

The UN-managed Blue Zone is open to accredited delegates and it hosts formal negotiations as well as the World Climate Action Summit and country pavilions.

The Green Zone managed by the COP28 UAE Presidency offers a platform to non-accredited delegates from youth groups, NGOs, the private sector and indigenous groups to have their voices heard.

Scheduled thematic programs cover key climate-related issues including fast-tracking a just, orderly and equitable energy transition and delivering funds for climate action.

Events that focus on putting nature, lives and livelihoods at the center of climate action and mobilizing for the most inclusive COP are also on the agenda.

STICKING POINTS

It is hoped that COP28 will help keep alive the goal of limiting long-term global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celcius, as was agreed in the Paris Agreement.

Achieving this goal depends largely on an effective transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy sources.

However, countries remain divided over how to tackle the unsustainable use of fossil fuels and the pace of shifting to green energy sources will be a hot topic for discussion and negotiation.

In the meantime, while the need to provide financial assistance to nations most vulnerable to and most impacted by the effects of climate change has been agreed upon, the fulfillment of financial commitments remains incomplete.

At COP28, climate finance and the transfer of “loss and damage” funds will likely be another thorny issue.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Iraqi Shiite militia says calm with U.S. forces ‘temporary tactic’

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The leader of an Iraqi Shiite militia said Sunday that the current period of calm among Iraqi armed groups in their conflict with the U.S. forces is a “temporary tactic” and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq has not abandoned its support for the Palestinians.

Akram al-Kaabi, secretary general of the Iranian-backed al-Nujaba Movement, said in a statement that the current calm is only a tactic for repositioning and deployment. “It is only the calm before the storm.”

He said that the Islamic Resistance in Iraq “is an essential part in the battle to confront the Zionist aggression (the Israeli military campaign) and its supporter America against the Gaza Strip.”

Al-Kaabi also said that there is high-level coordination between different “open fronts” against the Americans and Israelis in the region, stressing that “any calm on one front and ignition on another is an intentional, purposeful and coordinated strategy.”

“Although the Islamic resistance did not reject the government’s negotiations to schedule the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, we affirm that the U.S. occupier is a liar, a deceiver and an arrogant one,” the statement said.

Days after fighting broke out between the Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip on October 7, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq launched rocket, drone and mortar attacks on military bases housing U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.

On January 27, Iraq and the U.S. began the first round of dialogue to discuss ending the U.S.-led international coalition’s mission in Iraq, but later three U.S. soldiers were killed in an attack on a U.S. base near Jordan’s border with Syria. The U.S. said the attack was carried out by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella term for pro-Iran Shiite Islamic armed groups in Iraq.

The death of the U.S. soldiers prompted the U.S. forces to retaliate by striking some headquarters of Iranian-backed armed groups affiliated with the Iraqi paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces, killing and wounding dozens of them.

Later, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq suspended their attacks on U.S. bases to pave the way for the Iraqi government to hold negotiations with the U.S.-led coalition to end their presence in Iraq.

Source(s): CGTN

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U.S., UK launch new wave of strikes against Yemen’s Houthis

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The U.S. and the UK carried out a fresh wave of strikes on Saturday against 18 Houthi targets in Yemen, according to a joint statement, following weeks of attacks on Red Sea shipping by the Iran-backed group.

The strikes “specifically targeted 18 Houthi targets across eight locations in Yemen associated with Houthi underground weapons storage facilities, missile storage facilities, one-way attack unmanned aerial systems, air defense systems, radars and a helicopter,” said the joint statement.

It was co-signed by Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand, who gave unspecified “support” to the new round of strikes, the second this month and fourth since the Houthis began their attacks on ships in the region.

“The Houthis’ now more than 45 attacks on commercial and naval vessels since mid-November constitute a threat to the global economy, as well as regional security and stability and demand an international response,” the statement said.

Houthi-run Al-Masirah television reported “a series of raids on the capital Sanaa,” while AFP correspondents in the Houthi-controlled city in western Yemen said they heard several loud bangs.

“The United States will not hesitate to take action, as needed, to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways,” Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said in a separate statement after the strikes.

“We will continue to make clear to the Houthis that they will bear the consequences if they do not stop their illegal attacks, which harm Middle Eastern economies, cause environmental damage, and disrupt the delivery of humanitarian aid to Yemen and other countries.”

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree was defiant, vowing in a social media statement that the group would “confront the American-British escalation with more qualitative military operations against all hostile targets in the Red and Arab Seas.”

The UK Ministry of Defense said four Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s targeted “several very long-range drones, used by the Houthis for both reconnaissance and attack missions,” on Saturday at a site north-east of Sanaa.

Saturday’s operation comes after several merchant vessels were struck this week in the region, including the fertilizer-filled Rubymar, whose crew had to abandon ship after it was hit Sunday and began taking on water.

Apart from the joint operations with Britain, the United States has also carried out unilateral strikes against Houthi positions and weaponry in Yemen and downed dozens of missiles and drones in the Red Sea.

Source(s): CGTN

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Gaza ceasefire talks underway in Paris as air strikes continue

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Gaza truce talks were underway in Paris on Friday, marking the most serious push in weeks to halt the fighting in the battered Palestinian enclave and see Israeli and foreign hostages released.

Reuters reported that the talks had begun, with Israel’s head of the Mossad intelligence service meeting separately with each party – Qatar, Egypt and the United States, according to an anonymous source.

“There are budding signs of optimism about moving forward toward the start of serious negotiations,” the source was quoted as saying. Egypt’s Al Qahera TV News also reported that the talks had commenced.

An official from Hamas stated that the militant group had concluded ceasefire talks in Cairo and was now awaiting the outcome of the weekend talks with Israel mediated by others.

Mediators have intensified efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza, aiming to prevent an Israeli assault on the Gaza city of Rafah, where more than a million displaced people are sheltering at the southern edge of the enclave.

Israel has threatened to attack the city if no truce agreement is reached soon. Washington has urged its close ally not to proceed, warning of vast civilian casualties if an assault on the city occurs.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met with Egyptian mediators in Cairo this past week to discuss a truce, marking his first visit since December.

Two Egyptian security sources confirmed that Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel would head to Paris for talks with the Israelis after wrapping up discussions with Haniyeh on Thursday. Israel has not publicly commented on the Paris talks, which are expected to continue through the weekend.

Reuters reported that the militant group did not offer any new proposals at the talks with the Egyptians but was waiting to see what the mediators would bring back from their discussions with the Israelis, citing a Hamas official who requested anonymity.

Ceasefire outline emerged from earlier talks

The last time similar talks were held in Paris, at the start of February, they produced an outline for the first extended ceasefire of the conflict, approved by Israel and the United States. Hamas responded with a counterproposal, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu then rejected as “delusional.”

Hamas, believed to still be holding more than 100 hostages seized in the October 7 attack on Israel that triggered the conflict, insists on their release only as part of a truce that includes an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Israel, on the other hand, refuses to withdraw until Hamas is eradicated.

Late on Thursday, Netanyahu presented his security cabinet with an official plan for Gaza once the fighting stops. He emphasized that Israel expects to maintain security control over the enclave after destroying Hamas and also sees no role there for the Palestinian Authority (PA) based in the West Bank.

Washington favors a role for a reformed PA.

Two Palestinian officials familiar with the negotiations stated that Hamas has not changed its stance in the latest push to reach a deal and still demands that a truce end with an Israeli pullout.

“Israel’s position and its response to mediation has been negative and this poses many obstacles towards reaching an agreement,” senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan said on Friday during a press conference in Beirut.

“Netanyahu is procrastinating… He does not care about the release of his hostages, but rather uses this issue as a card to achieve his goals,” Hamdan said.

At least 29,514 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza since October 7, the Gaza health ministry said on Friday.

Source(s): CGTN

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