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Climate Action for People and Planet: The Time is Now – UN Secretary-General

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In this pivotal year for humanity, now is the time for bold climate action. The science is irrefutable and globally agreed: to stop the climate crisis from becoming a permanent catastrophe, we must limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a message to mark Earth Day on April 22 and the US convened Leaders’ Summit on Climate.

“To do this, we must get to net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by mid-century. Countries making up about two-thirds of the global economy have committed to do so. This is encouraging, but we urgently need every country, city, business and financial institution to join this coalition and adopt concrete plans for transitioning to net zero”, he said.

Even more urgent is for governments to match this long-term ambition with concrete actions now, as trillions of dollars are mobilized to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Revitalizing economies is our chance to re-engineer our future, the UN Secretary-General further said.

The world has a strong framework for action: the Paris Agreement, in which all countries committed to set their own national climate action plans and strengthen them every five years. Over five years later, and with damning proof that if we don’t act we will destroy our planet, it is time for decisive and effective action as the United Nations convenes all countries in Glasgow in November for COP26, he continued.

The new national plans must cut global greenhouse gas pollution by at least 45 per cent by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. Many have been presented already, and set out clearer policies to adapt to the impacts of climate change and boost access to renewable energy, he noted.

But so far, those plans achieve less than a one per cent cut in emissions. This is a true red alert for people and planet.

In the months ahead, beginning with the upcoming Leaders Summit hosted by the United States, governments must dramatically step up their ambitions – particularly the biggest-emitting countries that have caused the vast bulk of the crisis, he added.

The UN Secretary-General’s message further said: “Phasing out coal from the electricity sector is the single most important step to get in line with the 1.5-degree goal. Immediate action to remove the dirtiest, most polluting fossil fuel from power sectors offers our world a fighting chance.

“Global coal use in electricity generation must fall by 80 per cent below 2010 levels by 2030. This means that developed economies must commit to phase out coal by 2030; other countries must do this by 2040. There is simply no reason for any new coal plants to be built anywhere. One third of the global coal fleet is already more costly to operate than building new renewables and storage. COP26 must signal an end to coal.

“As the world moves towards clean air and renewable energy, it is essential that we ensure a just transition. Workers in impacted industries and the informal sector must be supported as they move jobs or re-skill. We must also unleash the vast power of women and girls to drive transformation, including as equal participants in governance and decision-making.

“The countries that contributed least to climate change are suffering many of the worst impacts. Many small island nations will simply cease to exist if we don’t step up the response. The developed countries must deliver on their commitments to provide and mobilize $100 billion annually by:

doubling current levels of climate finance;

devoting half of all climate finance to adaptation;

stopping the international funding of coal; and

shifting subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

“The G7 Summit in June offers the opportunity for the world’s wealthiest countries to step up and provide the necessary financial commitments that will ensure the success of COP26.

“While governments must lead, decision-makers everywhere have a vital role to play.

I ask all multilateral and national developments banks, by COP26, to have clear policies in place to fund the COVID recovery and the transition to resilient economies in developing countries, taking into account crippling debt levels and huge pressures on national budgets.

“Many local governments and private business have committed to net zero emissions by 2050, and have engaged in significant reviews of their business models. I urge all to set ambitious targets and policies.

“I encourage young people everywhere to continue to raise their voices for action to address climate change, protect biodiversity, stop humanity’s war on nature and accelerate efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Time is running out, and there is much hard work ahead, but this no time to raise the white flag. The United Nations will keep flying our blue flag of solidarity and hope. This Earth Day and over the crucial months ahead, I urge all nations and all people to rise together to this moment”.



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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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Cardinal urges Catholics to fight for justice

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 By Norman Palihawadane

Today’s Church does not need ‘sacristy Catholics’ but a laity who fight for justice, says Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Addressing a gathering at a ceremony to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Deva Dharma Nikethanaya, at Archbishop’s House auditorium, at Borella, last week, the Cardinal said that turning every layperson into a mature Christian, fit for leadership, should be the foremost duty of the Catholic Church. “Once the Catholic Church functioned as a Bishop-priest centered church and did only what the Bishop of the priest would say. We have to change the outlook of the Church. Today, we no longer need such sacristy Catholics. We need a laity who are ready to get down to the streets and fight for justice and do what is right for society,” the Cardinal said.

“The Church needs Christians who will commit themselves for Christ and follow his example. We do not need spoon-fed babies,” he said.

He said that the Bishops and Priests should not be afraid of handing over the responsibilities to the laity. “We should share our responsibilities with joy. The Church cannot continue otherwise. Understanding this situation, Pope Francis wants to change the priest-centres position that has become a theoretical doctrine in the church and to study how the church should change in a way that suits the present world.”

Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka Rev Dr Brian Udaigwe and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference President Rt Rev Dr Harold Anthony Perera also addressed the gathering.

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Protests against 13A used to arouse communal feelings – SJB

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Protests against the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution are being used to arouse communal feelings among people ahead of an election, says the main Opposition SJB.

Addressing the media on Saturday, at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo, Chief Opposition Whip, SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said:

“This country has witnessed many instances in the past. This time, too, the same old slogan of the country being divided is heard again.

“The 13th Amendment is part of the Constitution. All parties have contested elections under the 13th Amendment. The UNP, SLFP, SLPP and JVP have contested provincial council elections. It shows that they have accepted the 13th Amendment. Those in such parties now opposing the 13th Amendment must first explain how they oppose it directly while accepting the same indirectly by sending their members to the provincial councils set up under the 13th Amendment,” Kiriella said.

“The claim of the country being divided by the 13th amendment is made to arouse the communal feelings.

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