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US Way Behind The Paris Climate Agreement Pledge: Report

The state of California just passed a bill committing to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. Other announcements are expected.

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Developed countries are being urged to honour Paris Agreement. Flickr
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The United States will fall well short of its 2025 greenhouse gas reduction target for the betterment of the climate unless major additional steps are taken, according to a new report.

While U.S. states, cities and companies have promised to step up their efforts to fight climate change as the Trump administration pulls back, the report finds their actions will not be enough to meet the emissions reduction pledge the United States made in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

But the report outlines steps that can get the United States “within striking distance of the Paris pledge.”

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropy is releasing the study, entitled “Fulfilling America’s Pledge,” to coincide with a major conference on global action to tackle climate change taking place in San Francisco.

Under the Paris agreement, the United States promised to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2025.

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The U.S. flag flies on a towboat as it passes a coal-fired power-plant on the Ohio River. VOA

U.S. emissions were down 12 percent in 2016, the latest data available.

Economic forces are helping push emissions down, the study notes, regardless of President Donald Trump’s intention to pull the United States out of the agreement and his administration’s efforts to roll back climate regulations. Coal-fired power plants are closing faster than ever, despite Trump’s support for the industry, and renewable energy continues to expand rapidly.

However, many states, cities and businesses remain committed to the Paris agreement. If this “coalition of the willing” were a country, the report says, it would be the world’s third-largest economy.

Their actions currently put U.S. emissions on track to drop by 17 percent by 2025. However, that falls far short of the Paris pledge.

 

The report lists 10 “high-impact, near-term, and readily available” strategies to accelerate progress. They include speeding up the transition from coal to renewable energy; increasing electric vehicle use; improving building efficiency; and stopping leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

 

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The Eiffel tower is illuminated in green with the words “Paris Agreement is Done,” to celebrate the Paris U.N. Climate Change agreement in Paris. VOA

 

These steps would bring U.S. emission reductions to 21 percent.

If that “coalition of the willing” takes bigger steps — “within realistic legal and political limits” — the report says reductions could reach 24 percent.

Also Read: Sports Betting Now Legal in USA

The Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco this week is a venue to announce new actions. The state of California just passed a bill committing to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. Other announcements are expected. (VOA)

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Advanced Technology Required To Tackle Online Sex Trade and Trafficking: Analysts

At least 40 million people are victims of modern slavery worldwide.

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People opposed to child sex trafficking rally in Washington. VOA

The online sale of sex slaves is going strong despite new U.S. laws to clamp down on the crime, data analysts said Wednesday, urging a wider use of technology to fight human trafficking.

In April, the United States passed legislation aimed at making it easier to prosecute social media platforms and websites that facilitate sex trafficking, days after a crackdown on classified ad giant Backpage.com.

The law resulted in an immediate and sharp drop in sex ads online but numbers have since picked up again, data presented at the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s annual Trust Conference showed.

“The market has been destabilized and there are now new entrants that are willing to take the risk in order to make money,” Chris White, a researcher at tech giant Microsoft who gathered the data, told the event in London.

Google, Web summit, sexual misconduct, trafficking
Google employees fill Harry Bridges Plaza in front of the Ferry Building during a walkout, Nov. 1, 2018, in San Francisco. Hundreds of Google employees around the world briefly walked off the job in a protest against what they said is the tech company’s mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against executives. VOA

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Backpage.com, a massive advertising site primarily used to sell sex — which some analysts believe accounted for 80 percent of online sex trafficking in the United States — was shut down by federal authorities in April.

Days later, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), which introduced stiff prison sentences and fines for website owners and operators found guilty of contributing to sex trafficking, was passed into law.

The combined action caused the number of online sex ads to fall 80 percent to about 20,000 a day nationwide, White said.

The number of ads has since risen to about 60,000 a day, as new websites filled the gap, he said.

In October — in response to a lawsuit accusing it of not doing enough to protect users from human traffickers — social media giant Facebook said it worked internally and externally to thwart such predators.

 

Trafficking
This April 6, 2018, file photo shows a screenshot of Backpage.com on the day that federal authorities seized the classified site as part of a criminal case. VOA

 

Using technology to continuously monitor and analyze this kind of data is key to evaluating existing laws and designing new and more effective ones, White said.

“It really highlights what’s possible through policy,” added Valiant Richey, a former U.S. prosecutor who now fights human trafficking at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), echoing the calls for new methods.

Law enforcement agencies currently tackle slavery one case at a time, but the approach lacks as the crime is too widespread and authorities are short of resources, he said.

As a prosecutor in Seattle, Richey said his office would work on up to 80 cases a year, while online searches revealed more than 100 websites where sex was sold in the area, some carrying an average of 35,000 ads every month.

Also Read: Sexual Misconduct Cases Will Be Handled Better: Google

“We were fighting forest fire with a garden hose,” he said. “A case-based response to human trafficking will not on its own carry the day.”

At least 40 million people are victims of modern slavery worldwide — with nearly 25 million trapped in forced labor and about 15 million in forced marriages. (VOA)