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China, Saudi Arabia must be part of new fund for climate loss and damage: Guilbeault

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OTTAWA — All big emitters — including China — must contribute to a new global fund to compensate developing countries for the losses and damages they incur from climate change, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said Friday.

The call, which originated in a proposal from the European Union, would shift traditional divides in global climate responsibilities between the wealthiest countries, which have historically emitted the largest amounts of greenhouse gases, and developing and emerging economies.

The developed world is usually required to do more to curb emissions, and to help finance those efforts in the developing world. It has been a massive problem getting buy-in for climate efforts in countries such as Canada and the United States, where some leaders say it’s unfair that China doesn’t have to do as much heavy lifting.

China, whose economy has only exploded in the last 25 years, is usually considered a developing country, as are some of the richest oil states, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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But Guilbeault said the state of the world is not what it was when the UN climate framework was signed 30 years ago in Brazil.

China wasn’t among the top 10 global economies in 1992. Now it’s number two. Three decades ago, its emissions accounted for about 12 per cent of the world’s annual total. In 2020, its share hit 31 per cent.

“So we can’t continue to pretend that we live in the world of 1992,” Guilbeault told reporters in a virtual news conference from Egypt Friday. “We have to realize that we live in the world of 2022.”

The issue is mainly about who will finance a new loss-and-damage fund that would essentially see wealthy countries compensating developing countries for the harms of climate change.

The COP27 climate talks in Egypt are the first UN climate negotiations to include efforts to create such a fund. Europe proposed that the lineup of countries required to contribute should expand beyond the traditional list and include countries such as China. Canada agrees.

“We believe that the funds should include all large emitters,” said Guilbeault.

He said he doesn’t necessarily think China’s contribution should be on par with other developed countries, but it should still have to give something.

The Association of Small Island States has also pushed for China and India to be included.

In a statement, a group of 24 countries that call themselves the “Like-Minded Developing Countries Group” accused Europe and Canada of trying to shift the burden for loss and damage off themselves.

The Chinese government has said that any contribution it makes must be voluntary.

Scott Moore, director of China programs and strategic initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, said China’s emissions have grown so much that there is diminishing credibility for the argument it is less culpable for climate change than countries that have been industrialized longer.

Data suggest the U.S. accounts for about one-fifth of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial era began, while China is second at about half that amount.

Canada sits in 10th place at 2.6 per cent of cumulative emissions.

But Moore, who worked extensively on the Paris climate agreement in 2015 when he served at the U.S. State Department, said the push to include China and others in the loss-and-damage contributions is a bit of a deflection.

“There is a reluctance, which has been there since the beginning, of rich countries like Canada, or other advanced industrial countries, to accept too much direct responsibility or liability for loss and damage,” he said.

“It’s a way to deflect and dilute the loss-and-damage claim.”

Canada’s call for China to do more comes as relations between the two countries are in shambles following years of diplomatic rows. It also comes as the two countries are preparing to jointly host negotiations towards restoring natural habitats and slowing species decline at a UN biodiversity summit in Montreal next month.

The loss and damage debate is among several outstanding issues still being negotiated as COP27 comes to a close in Sharm el-Sheikh.

The talks reached a frantic pace as parties tried to reach a final 2022 climate agreement to keep alive hope of limiting global warming. A consensus was elusive Friday, which was to be the final day of negotiations, and talks are now dragging into the weekend.

Some of the delay is being blamed on chaotic organization from Egypt, which as the COP27 president gets to oversee the talks. Egypt didn’t produce a draft text of the final agreement until Friday morning, almost a week later than usual.

It left the toughest decisions and final negotiations to the last minute, prompting one Canadian observer to describe the process as “3D chess played by tired, grumpy humans who just don’t want to be here.”

Julia Levin, national climate program manager for Environmental Defence in Canada, said the two-week COP27 event has been very frustrating.

“This is the worst organized COP ever,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2022.

 

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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UPEI students offered $1,500 to leave residence during Canada Games – CBC.ca

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Some UPEI students are earning extra money during the mid-semester break this year, simply by packing up and leaving campus. 

The 2023 Canada Winter Games Host Society offered $1,500 each to students living in Andrew Hall if they give up their residence rooms to make space for arriving athletes. 

The students have to leave a few days before the break starts, on Feb. 17, and can return March 7. They also had to give up their meal plan for the duration.

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Many athletes are staying at UPEI’s new 260-bed residence, built to meet accommodation requirements for the Games’ temporary athlete village.

But Wayne Carew, chair of the Games, said there are 120 more athletes coming than originally planned. 

A portrait of a man standing outside, wearing a jacket with the Canada Winter Games logo.
Organizers want the athletes all to stay on the UPEI campus so they can have ‘the experience of a lifetime,’ says Wayne Carew, chair of the 2023 Canada Winter Games Host Society. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“We ended up getting 44 rooms [in Andrew Hall] and that’s great,” said Carew.

He said the athletes staying at UPEI “are going to have a wild experience on the campus of the beautiful University of Prince Edward Island.” 

Carew said the costs of doing this are a “lot cheaper” than arranging accommodations elsewhere. But he said the main reason is to provide all athletes the same, “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.

“Where they live, the food and the camaraderie and the experience of a lifetime: that’s what they’ll remember in 20 years’ time about P.E.I.,” he said.

‘Pretty good deal’

Some students were eager to take the organizers up on their offer.

“I’m going away to Florida during the two-week break anyways. So I was like, ‘May as well let them use my room then,'” said Hannah Somers. 

Portrait of a man in a toque and a grey sweater standing in front of a residence hall.
UPEI student Benji Dueck is moving in with a friend during the Canada Games so he can get the $1,500 offer. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“It’s $1,500. Pretty nice,” said Benji Dueck, who agreed to vacate the room with his roommate.  “We’re moving out, living with a friend in the city. So, sounds like a pretty good deal to me.”

As part of the agreement, the students had to clear out their rooms. Canada Games organizers made arrangements so students could store their belongings.

But not all students thought it was a good deal.

Portrait of a woman in a black down jacket standing in front of a residence hall.
UPEI student Maria de Torres won’t be leaving residence during the Canada Games. ‘It’s just too hard to pack up. It’s just too hectic,’ she says. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“I’m not giving up my spot in Andrew Hall for $1,500,” said Maria de Torres. “It’s just too hard to pack up. It’s just too hectic. And since I’m an international student, I got a lot [of things] right now.”

Shelby Dyment is also staying in Andrew Hall. Dyment said she and her roommate are working as residence life assistants during the mid-semester break and she’s also doing directed study, so she has to stay on campus.

“There’s a lot of people doing it. It’s just for our situation it just wasn’t working for what we were doing,” she said.

In a statement, UPEI said that enough students had accepted the offer to host all the athletes. 

It said the host society made all the arrangements with the students, including paying for their incentives and arranging for storage.

Organizers expect about 3,600 athletes, coaches and officials to participate in the Games. The event will run from Feb. 18 to March 5.

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Germany won't be a 'party to the war' amid tanks exports to Ukraine: Ambassador – CTV News

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The German ambassador to Canada says Germany will not become “a party to the conflict” in Ukraine, despite it and several other countries announcing they’ll answer President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s pleas for tanks, possibly increasing the risk of Russian escalation.

Sabine Sparwasser said it’s a “real priority” for Germany to support Ukraine, but that it’s important to be in “lockstep” coordination with other allied countries.

“There is a clear line for Germany,” she told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, in an interview airing Sunday. “We do want not want to be a party to the conflict.”

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“We want to support, we want to do everything we can, but we, and NATO, do not want to be a party to the war,” she also said. “That’s I think, the line we’re trying to follow.”

Defence Minister Anita Anand announced this week Canada will send four Leopard 2 battle tanks — with the possibility of more in the future — to Ukraine, along with Canadian Armed Forces members to train Ukrainian soldiers on how to use them.

Canada first needed permission from Berlin to re-export any of its 82 German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. After a meeting of 50 defence leaders in Germany earlier this month, it was unclear whether Germany would give the green light.

But following what German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called “intensive consultations,” Germany announced on Jan. 25 it would send tanks to Ukraine, and the following day, Canada followed suit. It is now joining several other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Poland, which are sending several dozen tanks to Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week the tanks would allow Ukraine to “significantly strengthen their combat capabilities.”

“It demonstrates also the unit and the resolve of NATO allies in partners in providing support to Ukraine,” he said.

Meanwhile Sparwasser said Germany is “walking that fine line” of avoiding steps that could prompt escalation from Russia, while supporting Ukraine, and staying out of the war themselves.

“I think it’s very important to see that Germany is very determined and has a real priority in supporting Ukraine in its struggle for freedom and sovereignty,” Sparwasser said. “But we also put a high priority on going it together with our friends and allies.”

Sparwasser said despite warnings from Russia that sending tanks to Ukraine will cause an escalation, Germany is within international law — specifically Article 51 of the United Nations Charter — to provide support to Ukraine.

“Ukraine is under attack has the right to self defence, and other nations can come in and provide Ukraine with the means to defend itself,” Sparwasser said. “So in international law terms, this is a very clear cut case.”

She added that considering “Russia doesn’t respect international law,” it’s a more impactful deterrent to Russia, ahead of an expected spring offensive, to see several countries come together in support of Ukraine.

With files from the Associated Press

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COVID: Canada retaining Evusheld – CTV News

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While Health Canada says it is “aware” of the U.S. decision to withdraw the emergency use of Evusheld, a drug by AstraZeneca used to help prevent COVID-19 infection— the agency is maintaining its approval, citing the differences in variant circulation between Canada and the U.S.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Jan. 26 that its emergency use authorization of the drug was pulled due to its inefficacy in treating “certain” COVID-19 variants.

The FDA stated in a release on its website that as the XBB.1.5. variant, nicknamed “Kraken”, is making up the majority of cases in the country, the use of Evusheld is “not expected to provide protection” and therefore not worth exposing the public to possible side effects of the drug, like allergic reactions.

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In an email to CTVNews.ca, Health Canada said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration pulled the drug as the main variant of concern in the U.S. is XBB.1.5.

“Dominant variants in the [U.S.] may be different from those circulating in Canada,” the federal agency said in an email. “The most recent epidemiological data in Canada (as of January 1, 2023) indicate that BA.5 (Omicron) subvariants continue to account for more than 89 per cent of reported cases.”

On Jan. 6 the FDA said in press release that certain variants are not neutralized by Evusheld and cautioned people who are exposed to XBB.1.5. On Jan. 26, the FDA then updated its website by saying it would be limiting the use of Evusheld.

“Evusheld is not currently authorized for use in the U.S. until further notice by the Agency,” the FDA website states.

On Jan. 17, Health Canada issued a “risk communication” on Evusheld, explaining how it may not be effective against certain Omicron subvariants when used as a preventative measure or treatment for COVID-19.

“Decisions regarding the use of EVUSHELD should take into consideration what is known about the characteristics of the circulating COVID-19 variants, including geographical prevalence and individual exposure,” Health Canada said in an email.

Health Canada says Evusheld does neutralize against Omicron subvariant BA.2, which according to the agency, is the dominant variant in many communities in Canada.

The drug was introduced for prevention measures specifically for people who have weaker immune systems and are unlikely to be protected by a COVID-19 vaccine. It can only be given to people 12 years and older.

“EVUSHELD is not a substitute for vaccination in individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination is recommended,” the agency’s website reads.

Health Canada says no drug, including Evusheld, is a substitute for vaccination.

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