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Hillary Clinton arrives in India to breathe life into ties

News4u-News Desk-KOLKATA: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in India on Sunday with hopes of reinvigorating a relationship seen as losing steam despite efforts to bring the world’s two largest democracies closer.

Clinton will be wading into a row over Iran, which is sending a trade delegation this week to New Delhi despite US threats to slap sanctions on countries that buy the Islamic republic’s oil.

Clinton’s final stop on a three-nation tour follows a tense visit to China defusing a crisis over a dissident and a stop in Bangladesh where she urged the country’s polarised politicians to unite in the push for development.

The veteran politician arrived in Kolkata, where she will tour monuments and meet citizens in her latest bid to use her personal popularity as a diplomatic tool.

Clinton said that she saw ample progress in relations with India, pointing to rising trade and cooperation in areas from education to clean energy.

“I think it’s like any relationship — there is progress in some areas that we are very heartened by, and there is more work to be done,” Clinton told reporters before her arrival.

“But that’s the commitment that we make when we say to another country, we want to be your partner,” she said.

The United States and India, which had uneasy relations during the Cold War, started to reconcile in the late 1990s under former president Bill Clinton and reached a milestone when his successor George W. Bush championed a deal that ended India’s decades of isolation over its nuclear programme.

But champions of the relationship have begun to voice disappointment, with US businesses upset that India’s parliament has not passed legislation they seek to enter the nuclear and retail sectors.

India has bristled at a US law that would impose sanctions on banks from countries that buy oil from Iran due to concerns over Iran’s contested nuclear programme.

Only EU nations and Japan have so far been given exemptions to the law which starts on June 28.

India has been reducing oil imports from Iran, but is highly dependent on foreign energy and has historically enjoyed friendly relations with Tehran.

TP Sreenivasan, a former Indian ambassador to the United Nations, said that expectations for the US-India relationship had not been met but that Clinton had the advantage of being considered a friend of New Delhi.

The visit “comes at a useful time as there is a certain amount of strain in relations that needs to be rectified,” he said.

“The relationship has lost momentum partly because… both are preoccupied with their own internal problems,” he said.

C. Raja Mohan, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, said that India and the United States had the same objectives in Iran and would likely want to “keep their differences to manageable limits.”

“Contrary to what one might think, the relations are reasonably on track in terms of their engagement. The US is in election mode; India has its own problems,” Mohan said.

Experts noted that the United States made little fuss last month when India tested its nuclear-capable Agni V missile, which can reach across China.

“Now the US views India as a strategic partner with growing economic and political clout that will contribute to promoting security and stability in Asia,” said a paper by Lisa Curtis and Baker Spring, of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative US think tank.

India has recently worked to repair relations with historic enemy Pakistan, removing one potential headache for the United States whose own relations with Islamabad have been in crisis since last year’s killing of Osama bin Laden. AFP

Hillary Clinton in Delhi

Hillary Clinton in Delhi

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25 EU Nations to Sign Treaty to Stop Overspending

News4u-News Desk-EU nations are struggling to agree how to bankroll the fight against climate change, with little enthusiasm to commit to the huge sums poor nations will need, ahead of a key week of talks, a draft text shows.
The question has become vital two months ahead of a world climate summit in Copenhagen in December where leaders hope to thrash out a deal to battle global warming for years to come.
The European Union sees itself in the forefront of the global battle, but insiders are becoming less optimistic that the 27 member states, and the wider world, will be able to agree on how to fund it.
“The Copenhagen deal is hanging in the balance,” British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has warned.
“It’s a real danger that the world will not come together in the way that is necessary to agree on an ambitious and comprehensive deal in December,” he added.
EU nations have agreed among themselves to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent in 2020, from 1990 levels, and by 30 per cent if the rest of the world agrees to do so.
However Europeans are not seeing those targets matched in many other countries and their pride in taking the lead is becoming increasingly tempered by frustration that their ambitions are not being embraced elsewhere.

News4u-News Desk-All European Union countries except Britain and the Czech Republic agreed Monday to sign a new treaty designed to stop overspending in the eurozone and put an end to the bloc’s crippling debt crisis, while EU leaders also pledged to stimulate growth and employment.

The new treaty, known as the fiscal compact, was agreed at a summit of European leaders in Brussels on Monday.

It includes strict debt brakes and makes it more difficult for deficit sinners to escape sanctions.

The 17 countries in the eurozone hope the tighter rules will restore confidence in their joint currency and convince investors that all of them will get their debts under control.

“We have a majority of 25 that will now sign up to the fiscal compact,” Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said Monday night after the summit of European heads of government in Brussels.

Although the new rules only apply to the 17 euro states, the currency union wants to get broad support from the other EU states, in hopes the accord will eventually be integrated into the main EU treaty.

Britain had said in December it wouldn’t sign the new treaty. Reinfeldt said the Czech Republic didn’t sign because of parliamentary procedural problems.

“I don’t want to stand in the way of what they think they should do,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said of the other countries. “But this is not an EU treaty because I vetoed that.”

Leaders at the summit also promised to stimulate growth and create jobs across the region, an acknowledgment that their exclusive focus on austerity has had painful side effects.

“Yes we need discipline, but we also need growth,” said Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm.

The leaders pledged to offer more training for young people to ease their transition into the work force, to deploy unused development funds to create jobs, to reduce barriers to doing business across the EU’s 27 countries and ensure that small businesses have access to credit.

However there was no offer of any new financial stimulus.

“We must do more to get Europe out of the crisis,” the leaders said in a statement.

Barroso said that there is still €82 billion ($107.5 billion) in development funds that have yet to be allocated that small and medium businesses can use for various purposes, including as guarantees to get funding from banks.

He also said the Commission will dispatch action teams to the eight countries where youth unemployment is the highest and help fund apprenticeships and young startups.

Europe’s debt crisis has put the continent and its leaders in an almost impossible situation. While they have to slash their deficits to reassure the financial markets and investors, the crisis has also sent unemployment soaring. Many analysts, politicians and trade unions think that only government spending can restart growth.

Overall, 23 million people are jobless across the EU, 10 percent of the active population. In Spain, unemployment has soared to nearly 23 percent and closed in on 50 percent for those under age 25, leaving more than 5 million people out of work as the country slides toward recession.

Even the most influential countries in Europe, which are generally better off, are suffering. The French government was forced Monday to revise its growth forecast for the year from 1 percent down to just 0.5 percent.

While the leaders focused on walking the line between reining in spending and stimulating growth, the elephant in the room was Greece.

Greece and its bondholders have come closer to a deal to significantly reduce the country’s debt and pave the way for it to receive a much-needed €130 billion ($170 billion) bailout.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday he hoped a final agreement on Greece would be achieved “in the coming days,” either at a special meeting of eurozone finance ministers or leaders.

Negotiators for Greece’s private creditors said Saturday that a debt-reduction deal could become final within the next week. If the agreement works as planned, it could help Greece avoid a catastrophic default, which would be a blow to Europe’s already weak financial system.

EU Nations

EU Nations

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Negotiators meet at pre-Cancun UN climate talks in China

News4u-News Desk-About 3,000 delegates from India and host of other countries and agencies under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol are attending the meeting in China’s northern Tianjin city.

The talks that kicked off today are part of long-running efforts through the United Nations to secure a post-2012 treaty on tackling global warming.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh is expected to attend it towards the end of the five-day meeting.

With the climate talks making little headway since the acrimonious summit in Copenhagen last year, UN’s top climate official asked the warring nations to rise to the challenge of finding common ground.

The talks in China are the last meeting of negotiators before the crucial UN climate summit in Mexico later this year.

“Now is the time to rise to your challenge… Now is the time to accelerate the search for common ground,” UN Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary Christiana Figueres said in an address.

The officials would discuss the negotiating text reached at the Bonn talks in August by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention.

A draft proposal, by the Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol, will also be tabled for discussion.

The two working groups have held three rounds of talks this year without any major success. This will be the last meeting before Cancun summit, and India, China and other developing countries are not too optimistic about reaching an agreement on emission cuts with developed countries.

Last year’s summit in Copenhagen, which was projected as a make-or-break meeting, ended without producing a legally binding deal to curb global climate change.

It is to be seen whether the India-China rapport displayed at Copenhagen which successfully withstood pressure mounted by developed countries to impose legally-binding cuts would continue. Figueres played down expectations of a binding deal being struck at the Cancun summit due to persisting differences.

“Let me be clear - there is no magic bullet, no one climate agreement that will solve everything right now… To expect that is naive,” she said in a statement ahead of the talks.



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World powers to tackle climate amid skepticism

News4u-News Desk-New York, (AFP) The 17 nations responsible for 80 per cent of carbon emissions blamed for global warming will seek to unblock stalled climate negotiations this week but analysts expect little progress.

The two-day Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate kicks off today and will include top government envoys, including US special envoy for climate change Todd Stern.

US President Barack Obama launched the meetings to facilitate climate talks in the wake of last year’s disappointing United Nations conference in Copenhagen.

The successor conference to the Copenhagen meet is set for this November in Cancun, Mexico.

“I don’t think anyone is expecting any major announcement,” said Michael Levi, an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations.

“This is a working meeting… a lot of important players are at the same place at the same time” during the United Nations General Assembly, he told AFP.

17 nations are responsible for 80 percent of the world's carbon emissions

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‘Historic town in US could disappear due to climate change’

News4u-News Desk-Jamestown, a historic town in Virginia, where first permanent European settled in what became the American colonies and theUnited States could disappear due to rising water levels, researchers have said.

Shenandoah and Chincoteague are two national parks in Virginia, which are also at risk because the land along the state’s coastlines are naturally subsiding and the local rise of seas and tidal waters will be even greater than the global average.
“Unfortunately, Jamestown, Shenandoah and Chincoteague face greater threats than ever before as a result of climate change, and on a scale that will substantially undercut people’s interest in visiting those historic and natural sites,” said Theo Spencer, senior advocate, Climate Center, Natural Resources Defense Council.
“By acting now to reduce the pollution that causes climate change, we will stimulate our economy and create millions of new jobs while continuing America’s long-standing position of technological leadership,” he added, noting that Jamestown ”is where America’s colonial history began.”
A new report by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) identifies such possible outcomes as the flooding of “virtually all of Jamestown Island” and “‘nothing less than a wholesale transformation’” of Chincoteague after sea-level rise of about three to four and a half feet by this century’s end.
“The extent to which these special places could be harmed illustrates why human-caused climate disruption is considered the greatest threat ever to our national parks and wildlife refuges. These three special places deserve particular attention,” said Stephen Saunders, president, Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.
“They show how much Virginia is at stake, from its coasts to its mountains and from its natural and cultural resources to its economy, as people alter the climate,” he added.
The report highlights the economic devastation and the loss in jobs that the local communities will suffer if these historic towns are wiped off the map.
The increasing temperatures will severely impact the tourism industry in the area, according to the scientists.
“With the region’s largest temperature increase projected for the summer, intolerable heat may become a real problem (for would-be visitors) at Jamestown and perhaps Chincoteague,” they said.
“Before Jamestown and much of Chincoteague may be inundated by higher water levels, key historical, archaeological, and natural resources could be destroyed or damaged by storm surges and erosion resulting from stronger hurricanes and coastal storms,” the report said.

james town

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Natural disasters can be linked to climate change: Clinton

News4u - News Desk : US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that the increase in natural disasters across the globe in recent years could be linked to climate change.

“I think that there is a linkage (between climate change and natural disasters). You can’t point to any particular disaster and say, it was caused by… But we are changing the climate of the world; we have seen that with the Russian forest fires, even the Russian Government that has been somewhat sceptical about climate change,” Clinton said.

Although there was no direct link between the Russian forest fire and the flood in Pakistan, Clinton said: “But when you have the changes in climate that affect weather that we are now seeing, I think the predictions of more natural disasters are unfortunately being played out.”

Clinton said the US was the most generous responder to natural disasters anywhere in the world the way that it responded to the tsunami in Southeast Asia; the earthquake in Haiti; and now the floods in Pakistan and the earthquake there a few years ago.

When asked about news reports of corruption inside Pakistan, she said: “I say save lives, save property, do what we can. Corruption, unfortunately, has been with us, is with us, and will always be with us, I guess everywhere human beings congregate. And it must be attacked; it must be rooted out.”

However, she said, she does not think it does a service to the people who are suffering to have some diversion there, a side conversation about corruption.

The Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

The Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

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Sino-India climate cooperation helping change pol climate

News4u-News Desk-Sino-India cooperation on climate change was helping in changing the political climate between the two countries, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has said as he underlined the need for New Delhi to “learn” from China’s forest management.

Ramesh, who arrived Beijing on Friday to take part in an international environment conference, said China was doing very well in combating climate change and becoming a leader in the green technology.

India and China had an MOU on partnership in the field of climate change, and the two countries are exploring opportunities for working together in the field of environment.
“I have talked with Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu how we can learn from China’s forest management. China has announced some targets, India has announced some targets, how do we accord, how do we partner each other,” Ramesh said, adding “I think India has more to learn from China than China to learn from India.”

Ramesh hoped the deepening cooperation between the two countries will lead to “new relationship between our two countries”.
“India and China, by working together in the fields of climate change, are demonstrating not only cooperation in environment, but also sending a message of partnership between the countries. I see climate change as an opportunity to change the political climate between China and India,” the Environment Minister told Xinhua news agency.

“We are hoping that these joint programmes will build a new relationship between our two countries,” he underlined.

He said a delegation from Indian Environment Ministry has visited China to study possible cooperation in forest management. India’s forest cover is over 21 per cent and studies show that around 10 per cent of India’s annual carbon emissions are being absorbed by forests, Ramesh said.

Praising China, he said Beijing is doing well in the field of solar energy, wind energy and improving forest cover.

Underlining the need for India to develop new and clean energy, the minister said it was a challenge for New Delhi to improve its efficiency of power production because about 60 to 65 per cent of its electricity comes from coal based power.
The Environment Minister also highlighted the need for automobiles in the Indian market to have higher fuel efficiency standards to check the green house gas emissions.
He dismissed the idea of setting up industrial projects without taking the environmental factors into considerations.
“A lot of people think environment clearance adds to the time of the projects. But I am saying no, you cannot have important industrial projects going without looking at environment,” the Minister said.
Ramesh pointed to China’s environment issues such as lead poisoning, water and air pollution as example to underline that bad environment leads to bad public health.
“These are the issues that I am trying to improve,” he said.
“There are some people who think that we should have fast economic growth, that we should be like China, we should do a 10 per cent, we should just grow, but I am saying no, let us grow in an environmentally friendly manner, otherwise we will have many troubles that we are not able to resolve,” Ramesh told the state-run news agency in an interview.
Ramesh, who coined word ‘Chindia’ denoting Sino-Indian friendship and collaboration, praised China’s progress.
“Chinese do not talk as much as Indians, but Chinese perform better, they do much more. I am full of admiration for the way China just gets to work, where as you know, India talks and talks and keep on talking,” the minister said.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh

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‘Ice broken’ at climate meet, but progress glacial

News4u-News Desk-Bonn, (AFP) The highest octane political gathering on climate since the Copenhagen summit collapsed into near failure has helped restore trust but big breakthroughs are unlikely, environment ministers said today.

“The ice is broken,” Germany’s Norbert Roettgen told journalists as the two-and-a-half day brainstorming session outside Bonn entered its final stretch.

“We succeeded in having a constructive, trust-building atmosphere. It is hard to over-estimate the importance of this.”

Outgoing UN climate chief Yvo de Boer hailed “a strong desire on the part of ministers to reinvigorate the process.”

Side-stepping some of the major political land mines that derailed December’s talks in the Danish capital, ministers and negotiators from some 40 countries zeroed in on what will become the building blocks of any future global climate deal.

German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen meets with children of the initiative "Plant for the Planet"

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UN weather meeting agrees to refine climate data

News4u-News Desk-Geneva, (AP) Experts at a UN climate meeting have agreed to collect more precise temperature data as part of a global effort to monitor climate change.

The World Meteorological Organization says delegates at a meeting in Antalya, Turkey, approved in principle a British proposal to gather land surface temperature data more frequently and ensure the process is transparent.

The decision comes after e-mails stolen from a British university last year prompted public debate over the reliability of climate change predictions.

Britain’s Met Office said today improved data likely won’t result in any substantial changes to existing climate models but could give scientists a better understanding of temperature extremes and what humans can do to adapt.

UN Logo

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United Nation’s climate chief quits post

News4u-News Desk-Paris, (AFP) Yvo de Boer, head of the UN’s climate change convention, will resign as of July 1, his office announced today.

De Boer, who is executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, will join the consultancy group KPMG as global advisor on climate and sustainability and work with a number of universities, the UNFCCC secretariat said.

The announcement came nearly two months after the Copenhagen summit on climate change, widely seen as either a disappointment or a chaotic failure.

The UNFCCC, an offshoot of the 1992 Rio summit, gathers 194 nations in the search for combating the causes of man-made climate change and easing its effects.

Its key achievement is the Kyoto Protocol, the only international treaty that requires curbs in heat-stoking greenhouse gases blamed for disrupting the climate system.

Yvo de Boer

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