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Syed Akbaruddin pledges India’s ‘steadfast support’ to poorer countries

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United Nations: India’s newly-minted Permanent Representative, Syed Akbaruddin,on Tuesday, pledged India’s steadfast support to poorer countries on issues that matters to them and said it would  give them special consideration.

Speaking at a meeting of the Group of 77, he said: “India will be resolute in pushing for developing country’s unity and will spare no effort to give special consideration to the interests of our brothers and sisters from LDCs (Least Developed Countries), SIDS (Small Island Developing States) and LLDCs (Land-locked Developing  Countries). They can count on our steadfast support on issues of concern to them.”

Group of 77 or G-77 is the largest inter-governmental organization at the UN and it  advocates for its economic interests and promotes cooperation among the  members. From 77 members at its founding in 1964, it has grown to 134  members. The meeting was held here for the ceremonial transfer of the chairmanship of the organization of developing countries from South Africa to Thailand.

Referring to Agenda 2030, the ambitious program of sustainable  development goals adopted at the UN summit last September, Akbaruddin said, “If 2015 was a year of negotiation and deliberation, 2016 should be a time of consolidation and implementation.”

Asserting that the focus during the implementation phase should be on the priorities and needs of the developing countries, he said, “The  founding principles of the Group of 77 — equity, solidarity and unity, rooted as they are in our collective aspiration to help our people  achieve a life of dignity — are even more relevant.”

Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said his chairmanship’s priority would be pushing for the effective implementation of Agenda 2030. “In  line with our theme, we will seek to pursue inclusive development, allowing for the active involvement of all stakeholders,” he said.

He added that it was important to ensure that the “commitments made by  developed countries to developing countries are duly honored”.

India redoubled its outreach to small island developing countries and  land-locked developing countries. Last year, it hosted the second summit of the 14-nation Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) in Jaipur and New Delhi. India announced enhanced wide-ranging cooperation, including in space and information and communications technology. (Arul Louis, IANS)

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Australia Rejects U.N. Climate Report, Continues Using Coal

Australia is the world's driest inhabited continent.

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Australia, Coal
The Liddell coal-fired power station is seen in the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney, Australia. VOA

Australia is rejecting the latest U.N. report on climate change, insisting coal remains critical to energy security and lowering household power bills.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its report released Monday that global greenhouse gas emissions must reach zero by the middle of the century to stop global warming exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The authors warned that if warming was allowed to reach two degrees, the world would be on course toward uncontrollable temperatures.

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

They made special mention of coal, insisting that its use for power generation would have to fall to between zero and two percent of current usage.

The report has received a lukewarm response by Australia’s center-right government. It has said it has no intention of scaling back fossil fuel production because without coal, household power bills would soar.

Canberra also insists it is on target to meet its commitments under the Paris agreement, which attempts to unite every nation under a single accord to tackle climate change for the first time ever.

Australia earns billions of dollars exporting coal to China and other parts of Asia, while it generates more than 60 percent of domestic electricity.

Queensland, Australia
FILE – A dead tree stands near a water tank in a drought-stricken paddock located on the outskirts of the southwestern Queensland town of Cunnamulla in outback Australia, Aug. 10, 2017. (VOA)

Australia’s Environment Minister Melissa Price believes the IPCC report exaggerates the threat posed by fossil fuel.

“Coal does form a very important part of the Australian energy mixer and we make no apology for the fact that our focus at the moment is on getting electricity prices down,” Price said. “Every year, there is new technology with respect to coal and what its contribution is to emissions. So, you know, to say that it has got to be phased out by 2050 is drawing a very long bow.”

Australia has some of the world’s highest per capita rates of greenhouse gas pollution. A recent government report showed a failure to reduce levels of greenhouse gas pollution. The survey said that between January and March this year, Australia had its most elevated levels of carbon pollution since 2011.

Coal, Australia
Workers operate machines at a coal mine at Palaran district in Samarinda, Indonesia (VOA)

Conservationists argue Australia is doing too little to protect itself from the predicted ravages of a shifting climate.

Also Read: Use Every Resources To Help in Climate Change: Scientists

Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent. Scientists warn that droughts, floods, heat waves, brush fires and storms will become more intense as temperatures rise, with potentially disastrous consequences for human health and the environment, including the Great Barrier Reef. (VOA)