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Parliament In Sri Lanka Gets Dissolved, President Calls For Election

The U.S. State Department tweeted that it is deeply concerned by news the Sri Lanka Parliament will be dissolved

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Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena waves to supporters during a rally outside the parliamentary complex in Colombo, Sri Lanka. VOA

ri Lanka’s president dissolved Parliament and called for elections on Jan. 5 in a bid to stave off a deepening political crisis over his dismissal of the prime minister that opponents say is unconstitutional.

An official notification signed by President Maithripala Sirisena announced the dissolution of Parliament effective midnight Friday. It said the names of candidates will be called before Nov. 26 and the new Parliament is to convene Jan. 17.

Sri Lanka has been in a crisis since Oct. 26, when Sirisena fired his prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and replaced him with former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa. Both say they command a majority in Parliament and had been expected to face the 225-member house Wednesday after it was suspended for about 19 days.

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Sri Lanka’s sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe holds a copy of the constitution of Sri Lanka as he attends a media briefing at his official residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka. VOA

Foreign Minister Sarath Amunugama told The Associated Press Saturday that the reason for the president to dissolve Parliament was the need to go to the people to find a resolution to the crisis.

“On the 14th there was to be a lot of commotion and unparliamentary activities sponsored by the speaker,” Amunugama said. “The speaker was not planning to act according to the constitution and standing orders of Parliament.”

Sirisena’s supporters had been irked by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s announcement that he was going to call for a vote for either party to prove their support.

Miscalculation

“The dissolution clearly indicates that Mr. Sirisena has grossly misjudged and miscalculated the support that he might or could secure to demonstrate support in the Parliament,” said Bharath Gopalaswamy, director at U.S.-based analyst group Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. “At the end of the day, he is a victim of his own homegrown crisis.”

Sri Lanka, parliament
Sri Lankan civil rights activists hold placards during a demonstration outside the official residence of ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo, Sri Lanka. VOA

Wickremesinghe has insisted his firing is unconstitutional. He has refused to vacate his official residence and demanded that Parliament be summoned immediately to prove he had support among its members.

Tensions had been building between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, as the president did not approve of economic reforms introduced by the prime minister. Sirisena has also accused Wickremesinghe and another Cabinet member of plotting to assassinate him, a charge Wickremesinghe repeatedly denied.

Sirisena was critical of investigations into military personnel accused of human rights violations during Sri Lanka’s long civil war against a Tamil separatist group, which ended in 2009. Rajapaksa, who ruled as president from 2005 to 2015, is credited as a hero by the ethnic Sinhalese majority for winning the conflict. But he lost a re-election bid in 2015 amid accusations of nepotism, corruption and wartime atrocities.

Constitutional question

Wickremesinghe’s camp is likely to contest Sirisena’s move because of constitutional provisions stating a Parliament can’t be dissolved until 4 ½ years after its election. The current Parliament was elected in August 2015.

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Sri Lankan former President Mahinda Rajapakse addresses journalists at his residence in Colombo, Sept. 22, 2018. Rajapakse has been appointed the Sri Lanka’s new prime minister. VOA

“It’s totally unconstitutional,” said Harsha de Silva, a member of Wickremesinghe’s United National Party and a former minister. “Sirisena has relegated the constitution to toilet paper. We will fight this dictator to the end.”

The party said in a Twitter message that it will meet the elections commissioner to discuss the constitutionality of Sirisena’s move.

US urges caution

The U.S. State Department tweeted that it is deeply concerned by news the Sri Lanka Parliament will be dissolved, “further deepening the political crisis.”

Also Read: Once a Hostage, Sri Lankan Sailor Now Helps Battle Somali Pirates

“As a committed partner of Sri Lanka, we believe democratic institutions and processes need to be respected to ensure stability and prosperity,” the statement said.

Earlier, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and two other lawmakers wrote to Sirisena warning that actions circumventing the democratic process could impact U.S. assistance, including a planned five-year aid package from the Millennium Challenge Corporation worth hundreds of millions of dollars. (VOA)

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Carbon Emissions from World’s 20 Biggest Economies Rising

The report is the most comprehensive review of G20 countries' climate performance, mapping achievements and drawbacks in their efforts

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Carbon Emissions, World, Economies
These findings are detailed in the new Brown to Green Report 2019 published by the Climate Transparency partnership, an international research collaboration. Pixabay

Carbon emissions from the world’s 20 biggest economies, including India, are rising, and the countries have to increase their emission targets that will put them on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a report by Climate Transparency said on Monday.

To keep the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees goal within reach, G20 countries will have to increase their 2030 emission targets by 2020 and significantly scale up mitigation, adaptation and finance over the next decade.

The report also said that none of the G20 countries have plans that will help them achieve the target.

These findings are detailed in the new Brown to Green Report 2019 published by the Climate Transparency partnership, an international research collaboration.

Carbon Emissions, World, Economies
To keep the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees goal within reach, G20 countries will have to increase their 2030 emission targets by 2020 and significantly scale up mitigation, adaptation and finance over the next decade. Pixabay

The report is the most comprehensive review of G20 countries’ climate performance, mapping achievements and drawbacks in their efforts to reduce emissions, adapt to climate impacts and green the financial system.

Many of the current 2030 climate targets under the Paris Agreement (Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs) are too weak, with about half of the G20 countries projected to meet or overachieve their inadequate NDCs.

There is plenty of room for enhanced ambition among all G20 countries.

“Among the G20 countries, India has the most ambitious NDC. However, it still needs real action now to prepare the different sectors for stringent emission reductions,” The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) Programme Director (Earth Science and Climate Change) R.R. Rashmi said.

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Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in G20 countries shot up by 1.8 per cent in 2018 due to rising energy demand, the report said.

Energy supply is not getting cleaner: despite a more than five per cent rise in G20 total renewable energy supply in 2018, the share of fossil fuels in the G20 energy mix remains at 82 per cent.

In 2018, G20 emissions in the power sector increased by 1.6 per cent. While renewables now account for 25.5 per cent of power generation, this is not sufficient to outweigh the growth of emissions from fossil fuel sources.

Coal needs to be phased out by 2030 in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and by 2040 globally, said the report.

Carbon Emissions, World, Economies
The report also said that none of the G20 countries have plans that will help them achieve the target. Pixabay

G20 transport emissions increased by 1.2 per cent in 2018. Low-carbon fuels accounted for less than six per cent of the fuel mix. They need to increase roughly 10 times by 2050 to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

G20 countries need to scale up their policies to ban new fossil fuel cars by 2035 at the latest, reduce emissions from freight transport to net-zero by 2050 and shift towards non-motorised and sustainable public transport.

Cutting government subsidies to the aviation sector, taxing jet fuel and using revenues to invest massively in new carbon free fuels would leverage huge emissions reductions and health benefits.

Also G20 emissions in the building sector grew more than in any other sector in 2018 (4.1 per cent). Retrofitting existing buildings challenges all G20 and especially OECD countries. New buildings have to be near zero-energy by 2020-25 to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.

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According to the report, G20 countries still provided more than $127 billion in fossil fuel subsidies in 2017. Subsidies have shown a decrease in nine G20 countries (partly due to falling fuel prices), but subsidies for natural gas infrastructure and production have remained stable or increased in many countries (despite lower prices).

“Just one year before the critical deadline the findings give us hope that countries will find the political will to commit to higher emission reduction targets in 2020 as they promised under the Paris Agreement,” said Alvaro Umana, the Co-Chair of Climate Transparency and former Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica.

In the power, India is currently investing most in renewable energy, while Brazil and Germany are the only G20 countries with long-term renewable energy strategies.

Brazil leads with 82.5 per cent renewables, while Saudi Arabia, South Korea and South Africa lag behind with shares of only 0-5 per cent.

A coal phase-out plan is needed in Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and the US.

In transport, Canada, France, Japan and Britain are leading in banning the sale of fossil fuel-based cars.

The emission intensity of the industry sector is the highest in Russia, India and China. At the same time, India and China are among the G20 countries with the most progressive energy efficiency policies. (IANS)