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COP27: Sharp Rise in Fossil Fuel Industry Delegates at Climate Summit

Cassandra Sherman



Image source, Getty Images

The number of delegates with links to fossil fuels at the UN climate summit has jumped 25% from the last meeting, analysis shared with the BBC shows.

Campaign group Global Witness found more than 600 people at the talks in Egypt are linked to fossil fuels.

That’s more than the combined delegations from the 10 most climate-impacted countries.

Around 35,000 people are expected to attend the COP27 summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

These conferences have always attracted significant numbers from the coal, oil and gas industries, who are keen to influence the shape of the debate.

At last year’s summit in Glasgow, a similar analysis of official attendance lists found 503 delegates connected to fossil fuels.

This year that figure has gone up to 636.

“COP27 looks like a fossil fuel industry trade show,” said Rachel Rose Jackson, from Corporate Accountability, one of a group of campaigners who released the data.

“We’re on a carousel of madness here rather than climate action. The fossil fuel industry, their agenda, it’s deadly. Their motivation is profit and greed. They’re not serious about climate action. They never have been and they never will.”

Image source, Getty Images

The researchers counted the number of individuals registered who were either directly affiliated with fossil fuel companies or attending as members of national delegations that act on behalf of the fossil fuel industry.

The data shows that this year, there are more fossil fuel lobbyists than total delegates from the ten countries most impacted by climate change, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Mozambique.

The biggest single delegation at COP27 is from the United Arab Emirates, who will host COP28 next year.

They have 1,070 people on the ground here, up from just 170 last year.

The analysis found that 70 of that delegation were connected to fossil fuel extraction.

Russia’s delegation has 33 lobbyists for oil and gas in their delegation of 150.

African lobbyists push to exploit reserves

“If you are not at the table, you’ll be on the menu”. That’s the view of Dr Omar Farouk Ibrahim, the head of the African Petroleum Producers Organisation, speaking to the BBC at COP27.

Image source, APPO

He said he was here to try and influence negotiators to support the development of oil and gas in Africa. He said there were 600m people across the continent who don’t have access to electricity.

He rejects the idea that Africa should forgo it’s large reserves of oil and gas in exchange for renewable technology and funding from the richer nations.

“We’ve been failed in the past. And there is no guarantee that they wouldn’t fail us again,” he told BBC News.

But rather than being a powerful influence, Dr Ibrahim says his group and others struggle to make an impact at the highest levels.

“I guarantee you, even if we are to pay to come here, they will not allow us to come because they don’t want the other voice heard.”

There is some evidence that the arguments being made by those in favour of oil and gas are having an impact.

There has been a “dash for gas” recently among some African nations, keen to exploit their resources at a time of increased demand in Europe and elsewhere.

Senegal is one of the African countries that wants to exploit its recently discovered reserves of gas.

Image source, Getty Images

“What is important for us is how can we use these resources to develop our country and reinforce our economy and to export it to emerging and developed countries,” said Idy Niang, from the Senegal delegation.

But others attending were clear that the climate situation was now so serious, there should be no room at any COP for those backing fossil fuels.

“If you want to address malaria, you don’t invite the mosquitoes,” said Phillip Jakpor, who’s from Nigeria and works with Public Participation Africa.

“As long as we have the fossil fuel lobby and machinery in full swing, we will not make progress and we have not made progress,” he told BBC News.

Additional reporting by Esme Stallard.

Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmcgrathbbc

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Three Women Among Dozen Publicly Flogged in Afghanistan – Taliban Official

Cassandra Sherman



Image source, Reuters

Twelve people, including three women, have been flogged in front of thousands of onlookers at a football stadium in Afghanistan.

The group were guilty of “moral crimes” including adultery, robbery and gay sex, a Taliban official told the BBC.

This is thought to be the second time in a month the Islamist group has carried out public lashings.

The move could signal a return to the hard-line practices seen in the previous Taliban rule in the 1990s.

Omar Mansoor Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman for Logar region in eastern Afghanistan, where the lashings happened, said that all three women were freed after they were punished. Some of the men were jailed, he said, but it is not clear how many.

The men and women received between 21 and 39 lashes each. The maximum number a person can receive is 39, another Taliban official said.

Nineteen people were also punished last week in a similar flogging in Takhar province in northern Afghanistan, reports say.

The flogging in Logar province comes a week after the Taliban’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, ordered judges to enforce punishments for certain crimes in line with the group’s strict reading of Islamic Sharia law.

This interpretation of Islamic law includes public executions, public amputations and stoning – although exact crimes and corresponding punishments have not been officially defined by the Taliban.

The supreme leader’s order is the latest sign that the Taliban is taking a tougher stance on rights and freedoms; after promising to rule more moderately when they took power last year.

During their rule from 1996-2001, the Taliban were condemned for regularly carrying out punishments in public, including floggings and executions at the national stadium in Kabul.

The government also vowed that they would not repeat the brutal repression of women; but since the group’s return to rule women’s freedoms have been severely curbed and a number of women have been beaten for demanding rights.

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Ukraine War: Zelensky Denounces Russian ‘terror’ in UN Address

Cassandra Sherman



Image source, Getty Images

President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of “crimes against humanity” after a bombardment caused blackouts across Ukraine.

At least six civilians were killed in the barrage, and officials were forced to shut down three nuclear reactors due to power outages.

Neighbouring Moldova also experienced blackouts, but it was not directly hit.

With winter setting in, Moscow has stepped up strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

Officials say Russia’s missile strikes on energy stations has caused “colossal” damage and left more than half of the country’s power grid in need of repair.

Addressing an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council in New York, Mr Zelensky said the latest strikes had forced “millions of people to stay without energy supplies, without heating, without water” as temperatures started to drop below zero.

“That’s the Russian formula of terror,” he told delegates in New York via video link.

On Wednesday, an air-raid alert was issued across Ukraine, followed by reports of explosions in a number of locations – including in the capital Kyiv and in the Western city Lviv.

In the southern Zaporizhzhia region, a newborn baby was killed when a missile hit a maternity unit, emergency services said.

General Valeriy Zaluzhniy – the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces – said 67 cruise missiles were launched by Moscow, with air defences successfully intercepting 51 projectiles.

But the attack has caused significant damage to infrastructure across the country.

In Kyiv, parts of the city were left without water and completely without power. By nightfall Mayor Vitali Klitschko said at least 80% of residents remained without power or water.

Most thermal and hydro-electric power plants were forced to shut down as well, Ukraine’s energy ministry said.

Shortly before the fresh reports from Kyiv and Lviv, officials said southern Ukraine had come under renewed assault.

The governor of the Mykolaiv region warned of “many rockets” arriving from the south and east.

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Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov did not comment on the attacks during a visit to the Armenian capital Yerevan, but he pledged that the “future and the success of the special operation (Moscow’s term for its war in Ukraine) are beyond doubt”.

Moscow has said that attacking Ukraine’s power grid could weaken its ability to fight and drive its leaders to the negotiating table.

But French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter that such strikes against “civilian infrastructure” constituted a war crime, following similar comments from the US.

Blackouts in Moldova

More than half of Moldova was left without electricity, deputy prime minister Andrei Spinu wrote on Twitter. He said the attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has caused a “massive blackout”.

Within a few hours power was restored in much of the capital, Chisinau, where a third of the Moldovan population lives.

Moldova also experienced widespread power cuts as a result of strikes on Ukraine on 15 November, Mr Spinu said. Mobile networks were also badly affected.

Energy policy analyst Sergiu Tofilat said that because Moldova and Ukraine were connected to the European grid in March, one of the connection points on the power line between Moldova and neighbouring Romania shut down automatically if Ukraine was hit to protect the system: “We reconnect once Ukraine has assessed the damage.”

In response to the outages, Moldovan President Maia Sandu said Russia had “left Moldova in the dark”.

“Russia’s war in Ukraine kills people, destroys residential blocks and energy infrastructure with missiles…” she wrote on Facebook. “But the electricity supply can be restored. We will solve the technical problems and we will have light again. All state institutions are working in this direction.”

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G20: Xi Accuses Trudeau of Leaks to Media About China-Canada Relations

Cassandra Sherman



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China’s Xi Jinping has been filmed accusing Justin Trudeau of leaking meeting details, days after they held talks at the G20 summit in Bali.

President Xi told the Canadian PM, via a translator, this was inappropriate and accused him of lacking “sincerity”.

He was likely referring to reports that Mr Trudeau discussed alleged Chinese espionage and interference in Canadian elections at the sit down.

The talks, which happened behind closed doors, were the pair’s first in years.

In the footage, filmed by journalists at the now finished gathering of world leaders, President Xi and Mr Trudeau can be seen standing close to each other and conversing via a translator.

“Everything we discussed has been leaked to the papers and that is not appropriate,” the Chinese leader told Mr Trudeau in Mandarin.

It captures a rare candid moment of President Xi, whose image is normally carefully curated by Chinese state media.

After smiling and nodding his head, the Canadian PM responded by saying “in Canada we believe in free and open and frank dialogue and that is what we will continue to have”.

“We will continue to look to work constructively together but there will be things we disagree on,” he added.

Before Mr Trudeau could finish, President Xi cut his counterpart off and asked that he first “create the conditions” – eventually shaking Trudeau’s hand and walking away.

The short but revealing exchange highlighted tensions between China and Canada, running high since the detention of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 and Beijing’s subsequent arrest of two Canadians on spying charges. All three were later released.

But tensions recently resurged following the arrest of Yuesheng Wang, a public utility worker at Hydro-Quebec, who was charged with espionage.

Mr Wang “obtained trade secrets to benefit the People’s Republic of China, to the detriment of Canada’s economic interests,” Canadian police said in a statement.

At the time, Mr Trudeau and President Xi were at the G20 summit on the Indonesian island of Bali.

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