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Raise Ambition Of Climate Targets By 2020: Vulnerable Nations

The more than 40 heads of state, government and delegation also constituted the first global gathering of leaders of nations most threatened by climate change.

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Climate Change Fuels California Fires. Flickr
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Leaders at the Climate Vulnerable Forum on Thursday called on world’s governments to raise the ambition of their climate targets by 2020 in order to save vulnerable nations threatened by warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Chairing the first-of-its kind online Virtual Summit of more than 40 government leaders, President Hilda C. Heine of the Marshall Islands said: “Today we make history together. We are showing that more can be done with tools and means on hand than we might think.

“We are demonstrating that we can succeed in breaking from the past to face a new future.”

Hurricane, climate change
Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey overflow from Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston, Texas, VOA

Through the summit’s “Jumemmej Declaration”, the forum’s leaders committed to strengthening their national climate efforts by 2020 in order to pressure world governments to act.

“Jumemmej” is a Marshallese word of seafaring origin calling for vigilance to keep a watch against threats.

The carbon-free summit brought together leaders of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), which represents many of the countries most threatened by climate change.

During the 24-hour online event, which featured interactive debates and live statements from leaders around the world, the Marshall Islands also announced a new and enhanced climate target, or Paris Agreement NDC, highlighting the conviction of the most vulnerable “to move from words to action”.

Drought, Climate change
A farmer stands on cracked earth that three weeks earlier created the bottom of a reservoir on his farm, in Groot Marico, South Africa. VOA

President Emmanuel Macron of France responded to the plea of the vulnerable nations in his statement to the Virtual Summit.

“In 2020 our countries should present new, more ambitious national contributions and increase the pace of their implementation. France will stay on course,” adding “we must raise our ambitions.”

“Decisions that affect our survival are being taken now” said President Heine, while referring to findings of the October Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on 1.5 Degrees which indicated that surpassing this level of warming would create unmanageable and existential risks.

“We invite all nations, and all non-state actors, to rise with us and join our Jumemmej

Climate change, Australia
The coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Georgia. VOA

Declaration. We need the world to be on watch with us — we need to see each other through the storm together.”

Speaking at the summit, United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said: “Climate Change is still moving faster than we are. As those witnessing its impacts cannot afford any more delays. The world counts on all nations to ensure that the next month’s climate conference in Poland is a success. We need ambitious climate action now.”

Also Read: New Carbon Capture Technology Now Able To Fight Climate Change: Experts

Speaking at the Virtual Summit, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet highlighted that “states must strengthen their mitigation commitments and nationally determined contributions, this is a human rights obligation.”

The more than 40 heads of state, government and delegation also constituted the first global gathering of leaders of nations most threatened by climate change. (IANS)

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Journalists Around The World Faced Intimidation and Prison in 2018: Report

Tuesday, Time magazine selected journalists who have been targeted for doing their work, the “guardians” of truth, as their Person of the Year.

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A man holds a poster showing images of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman (L), dubbed "assassin," and of journalist writer Jamal Khashoggi, dubbed "martyr," during a prayer service for Khashoggi, in Istanbul, Turkey. VOA

A multipronged crackdown on the press continued throughout 2018, the Committee to Protect Journalists concludes in a report published Thursday.

Imprisonment, intimidation and allegations that journalists produce “fake news” surged in 2016, when U.S. President Donald Trump won the election, CPJ found.

Trump has been a vocal critic of the press, often chastising journalists as “very dishonest people.”

The number of journalists in jail dipped 8 percent, from 272 in 2017 to 251 this year. But that doesn’t mean the situation has improved, Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, told VOA.

The numbers fluctuate and may not reflect every imprisoned journalist. They also remain markedly higher than just a half decade ago.

ethiopian PM, Jail
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks during a media conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Oct. 29, 2018. VOA+

More importantly, targeting a single journalist can have far-reaching repercussions.

“The effects are not only, obviously, [on] the journalists themselves and their families and their colleagues, but we really are talking about the effect on citizens as a whole,” Quintal said.

CPJ’s report highlighted several bright spots.

In Ethiopia, which has experienced dramatic reforms under new leader Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, no journalists are currently known to be imprisoned, for the first time in 14 years.

Improvements in some countries, however, don’t necessarily rub off on others.

“Unfortunately, neighboring Eritrea remains the highest jailer of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa, with 16 journalists in jail as we speak,” Quintal said.

Worldwide, report author Elana Beiser, CPJ’s editorial director, singled out China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia as troublespots, highlighting how wide-ranging efforts to silence journalists have become.

In sub-Saharan Africa, Quintal’s region of focus, Cameroon, where seven journalists are in jail, is a new country of concern. At least four of those journalists faced false news charges in what Quintal called “a huge, huge setback.”

Times, Jail
Jamal Khashoggi on the cover of Times as the ‘Person of they Year”

Overall, more than two dozen journalists have been charged with publishing false news, mainly in Africa.

Accusations and imprisonments can propel self-censorship, with profound effects on citizens’ right to information.

“When you see your colleagues being put in jail, when you see them accused of so-called fake news, when they’re being arrested on false news charges,” Quintal said, “it does, obviously, have a chilling effect.”

Quintal herself was targeted, along with colleague Muthoki Mumo, in Tanzania last month.

Despite having an invitation letter from the Media Council of Tanzania, the two, both former journalists, were detained and interrogated.

Quintal, from South Africa, and Mumo, from Kenya, were kept in custody for five hours.

“We were lucky because we were able to leave Tanzania,” Quintal said, contrasting her experience to journalists in the country who have gone missing or continue to face intimidation.

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Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. VOA

“The abusive nature of what happened to us showed the world the true nature of what is going on in Tanzania at the moment,” she added.

Quintal and Mumo’s case was unusual. Governments tend to target their own citizens, and journalists imprisoned by their governments make up 98 percent of cases, CPJ concluded. They also found that 13 percent of journalists in jail are women, an 8 percent increase from 2017.

Despite worrying signs, there is room for optimism, Quintal said.

When new leaders come to power, she said, human rights and press freedoms can improve very quickly.

Also Read: Facebook Rolls Out New Tool that Lets Journalists Examine Political Ads

Quintal pointed to The Gambia as one example, where the new president, Adama Barrow, has created space for journalists to work without fear of reprisal.

Tuesday, Time magazine selected journalists who have been targeted for doing their work, the “guardians” of truth, as their Person of the Year. (VOA)