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UK to introduce ‘tough’ ban on ivory sales to protect elephants

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The UK will introduce one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales in a bid to protect elephants for future generations, the Environment Secretary has said.

Michael Gove confirmed robust measures will be brought into force covering ivory items of all ages, with limited exemptions, to tackle the “abhorrent” trade.

It comes after a public consultation on the issue, in which 88% of the 70,000 responses backed a ban.

Those found guilty of breaching the ban face a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

Exemptions will include items made before 1947 that are less than 10% ivory and musical instruments with an ivory content of less than 20% made prior to 1975.

A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger stacks elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, on a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya April 20, 2016
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Around 20,000 elephants a year are believed to be slaughtered for their ivory

Rare and important items, which are at least 100 years old, will be assessed by specialist institutions before exemption permits are issued, the Government said.

Mr Gove said: “Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol, so we will introduce one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales to protect elephants for future generations.

“The ban on ivory sales we will bring into law will reaffirm the UK’s global leadership on this critical issue, demonstrating our belief that the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past.”

Wildlife campaigners believe around 20,000 elephants a year are being slaughtered for their ivory, and that reducing global demand for their tusks is an important part of ending the carnage.

The Duke of Cambridge, who is patron of the conservation charity Tusk, has previously called for an end to the ivory trade, saying the material is a “symbol of destruction, not of luxury”.

The Prince helps rangers to move a tranquilised bull elephant in Kenya
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The Duke of Cambridge has spoken out against the ivory trade

Tusk’s chief executive Charlie Mayhew welcomed the “tough legislation” and said the “narrowly defined exemptions are pragmatic”.

“The ban will ensure there is no value for modern day ivory and the tusks of recently poached elephants cannot enter the UK market,” he said.

WWF chief executive Tanya Steele said the ban makes the UK a “global leader in tackling this bloody trade” and called for “global action” to stop the poaching of the “majestic” elephant.

Currently, the US federal ban exempts all items older than 100 years as well as items with up to 50% ivory content.

The Chinese ban exempts ivory “relics”, without setting a date before which these must have been produced.

The UK Government said the ban will build on existing work to tackle poaching and the illegal ivory trade.

This includes British military personnel training African park rangers in poacher interception techniques in key African countries, and Border Force officers sharing their expertise in identifying smuggled ivory with worldwide counterparts.

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Brazil: 20 killed including an officer in police shootout with drug traffickers | World News

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At least 20 people, including a police officer, have died in a shootout with drug traffickers in Rio de Janeiro, according to local media.

The O Globo newspaper said two passengers on a metro train were also wounded in the shooting in Jacarezinho, a shanty town in northern Rio, Brazil.

The shootings, it said, happened during a police operation.

Police conduct an operation against alleged drug traffickers in the Jacarezinho favela of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, May 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
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At least 20 people are reported to have lost their lives Pic: AP /Silvia Izquierdo

An O Globo tweet said witnesses reported “fear and violence” in the neighbourhood.

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Cutting human sources of methane would reduce global warming and improve human health – scientists | Climate News

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Cutting human sources of methane would be a quick win for the climate, according to a new United Nations report.

Roughly halving emissions of the greenhouse gas from human activity, often with existing, cost-effective solutions, would reduce the future rise in global temperatures by around 0.3C by the 2040s, it is claimed.

The analysis was carried out by the UN Environment Programme and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).

Scientists have hailed the strategy as a “win-win” because it would reduce global warming and simultaneously improve human health and the economy.

Levels of methane in the atmosphere have doubled since pre-industrial times.

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Agriculture accounts for 40% of methane emissions, largely from livestock

It is a potent greenhouse gas that is 10 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

According to the UN’s Global Methane Assessment, human activity results in around 380 million tonnes of methane being released into the atmosphere every year.

Agriculture accounts for 40% of the emissions, largely from livestock and rice cultivation, while another 32% comes from oil and gas extraction and coal mining.

The report says reducing the emissions by 45%, or 180 million tonnes a year, by 2030 is critical for limiting global heating to 1.5C, the point where the climate would become increasingly and significantly unstable.

Professor Drew Shindell, chair of the CCAC and one of the report authors, told Sky News: “It’s vital to tackle methane because it’s the strongest lever we have to reduce the rate of warming in the near term.

“And that warming rate is what’s leading to stronger hurricanes, more intense heatwaves, flooding, droughts all those consequences.

“Three tenths of a degree accounts for 70 billion lost hours of labour.

“That’s people working outside in places that can’t be air conditioned like agriculture and construction, so they are real costs to the economy, human wellbeing and more people dying from heat exposure.

“All these 10ths of a degree sound minor, but they’re not at all.”

The report says the target could be achieved with known solutions, many of which would pay for themselves within a few years.

They include reducing methane leaks from gas pipelines, better management of coal mines, eliminating organic waste from landfill and reducing meat consumption.

Reducing emissions would have a swift impact on global warming because the gas only survives in the atmosphere for around 10 years, whereas carbon dioxide stays there for several centuries.

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Method found to reduce methane from cows

Professor Grant Allen, professor of atmospheric physics at the University of Manchester, said: “This does not mean that cutting methane emissions alone can solve the warming problem.

“We must also continue to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to meet Paris Agreement targets and avoid dangerous warming.

“But it does mean that we can help to quickly slow the rate of global temperature increase and avoid some significant degree of warming in the near future.”

As well as warming the climate, methane results in increased ozone air pollution.

Meeting the 45% target for reduced emissions would prevent 255,000 premature deaths and 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits every year, the report concludes.

Professor Dave Reay, executive director of the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute, University of Edinburgh, said: “Seldom in the world of climate change action is there a solution so stuffed with win-wins.

“This blunt report makes clear that slashing emissions of methane – a powerful but short-lived greenhouse gas – will deliver large and rapid benefits for the climate, air quality, human health, agriculture, and the economy too.

“Meeting the Paris Climate Goals will need every climate action trick in the book. Cutting methane emissions should be on page 1.”

The Daily Climate Show
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The Daily Climate Show

Sky News has launched the first daily prime time news show dedicated to climate change.

The Daily Climate Show is broadcast at 6.30pm and 9.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

Hosted by Anna Jones, it will follow Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.

The show will also highlight solutions to the crisis and show how small changes can make a big difference.

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What are your holiday options? COVID-19 infection and vaccination rates for tourism hotspots revealed | UK News

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The UK is set to relax restrictions for visiting a handful of countries under a new traffic light system.

Those returning to the UK from countries on the green list will not need to self-isolate for 10 days, while visitors to countries on the amber list will have to quarantine and get tested on their return.

Many European nations are doing all they can to can to attract tourists this summer. But for many Britons, a destination with a low infection rate might be the clincher.

The UK’s rapid vaccine rollout and the long winter lockdown means infection rates are lower here than many holiday destinations.

Portugal, which imposed a lockdown in January to curb what was then the world’s worst COVID-19 surge, also has a relatively low infection rate.

The country started lifting restrictions last month and has since reopened some schools, restaurant and cafe terraces, museums and hair salons.

But Greece, where a fifth of jobs and GDP depend on tourism, is battling one of Europe’s highest coronaviruslinked death rates.

Greece’s prime minister has blamed vaccine hesitancy among the elderly for the persistently high rates of death and hospitalisations.

Meanwhile, the country has said it will invite vaccinated Britons into the country without the need for tests, while Spain, Portugal and France have said they will offer similar in the coming weeks.

European nations are also speeding up their vaccinations ahead the summer travel season.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said the bloc has now administered 150 million doses.

She added: “A quarter of all Europeans have had their first dose.

“We’ll have enough doses for vaccinating 70% of EU adults in July.”

Spain, the most popular tourist destination for Britons prior to the pandemic, has varying infection rates throughout the country.

Some regions in northern Spain have restrictions on travel while others have reopened bars until 1am.

Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera, which make up the Balearic Islands, have a relatively low level of infections compared to mainland Spain.

The Foreign Office has also said it was no longer advising against travel to the Canary Islands in Spain, which include Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Grand Canaria and Lanzarote.

The US, also among the most visited by British tourists prior to the pandemic, is seeing varying levels of infection rates across the country.

It was also among the first to relax rules around COVID-19 as it sped up its vaccination programme.

In some areas of the US, more people in their 20s are now being treated in hospital for COVID-19 than people in their 70s.

Ministers plan to review the traffic light system for international travel at the end of June, before the holiday season begins, which could see vaccinated people able to avoid quarantining.

The hope is that more of Europe will be on the “green list” by this point as many countries impose tougher restrictions to control a third wave of infection.

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