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Climate change: COP26 is ‘make or break’ moment for dozens of island nations, Grenada minister says | Climate News



Grenada’s minister for climate and environment has told Sky News that the COP26 climate summit is a “make or break” moment for the survival of dozens of island nations.

Simon Stiell said: “I think it’s make or break. The support of the international community… is absolutely essential for us, and other developing nations… for our survival.

“And our right to thrive – survival is such a base term. I want more for my children than just to survive.

Climate and environment minister Simon Stiell talks to Sky News
Climate and environment minister Simon Stiell talks to Sky News
A sweeping view of Grenada, one of dozens of island nations vulnerable to climate change
A sweeping view of Grenada, one of dozens of island nations vulnerable to climate change

“I want more for my people. I want more for myself than just to survive. We need to be able to thrive.”

Mr Stiell’s stark warning comes just weeks before world leaders gather for the G20 summit in Rome and the COP26 UN backed climate meeting in Glasgow.

He said: “How long can we continue to talk about the same things? How many more reports do we need to wait to see?

“Lives are at risk… entire nations will be underwater, if we don’t protect our people, if we don’t protect our livelihoods.

“What price? What price do you put on lives? What price do you put on culture? Our right to exist?”

The comments illustrate the growing faultline between climate-vulnerable developing nations and rich countries at COP26 if they are not given more assistance to protect themselves from the changes already locked in as a result of global warming.

Grenada's climate minister says COP26 is a "make or break" moment
Grenada’s climate minister says COP26 is a “make or break” moment

Poorer countries, backed by the UN, are asking that at least 50% of the promised annual $100bn in climate funding from wealthy nations and institutions go directly to adaptation measures.

This includes building sea walls, moving communities away from rising sea levels, and better protecting critical infrastructure like roads, water and electricity supplies from storms, droughts, and saltwater intrusion.

But Sky News understands that some rich countries who are more focused on reducing carbon emissions are resisting this request, setting up a David and Goliath style battle for survival that could threaten the most important climate summit since the Paris climate accord was agreed in 2015.

The island nation is one of dozens which are especially vulnerable to climate change
The island nation is one of dozens which are especially vulnerable to climate change

Mr Stiell has emerged as a leader amongst a coalition of dozens of island and low lying nations who have done the least to cause climate change but are most vulnerable to it.

Many of those nations view the Glasgow summit as a last chance to secure the help they need.

He said: “The extraordinary challenge we face in small island developing states such as Grenada, is that we do not have the resources to protect ourselves, we don’t have the technology, we don’t have anywhere to run. “

“We don’t have the financial economic capacity to absorb this, and let’s remember the challenges that we are facing were not created here.”

He issued a plea to the Group of 20 nations who will meet in Rome immediately prior to COP26, saying: “But those developed nations within the G20 who generate 80% of global emissions and constitute 85% of global GDP?

St George's, the capital city of Granada
St George’s, the capital city of Grenada

“The responsibility lies there, the technology and the means to do what is necessary lies there, the financial resources to take that necessary action resides there.”

Although huge efforts are under way to both adapt to existing changes and to dramatically reduce carbon emissions, Grenada, on the most southerly tip of the crescent of Caribbean islands, is a nation under pressure.

The two pillars of its economy are tourism and agriculture and both are vulnerable to climate change.

Increasing heat and drought and unpredictable and intense rainfall alongside saltwater intrusion into the water supply and soil make agriculture increasingly precarious.

Sea level rises will eventually threaten lavish tourist resorts, and rising ocean temperatures threaten fish and the reefs that support them.

Telescope Bay resident Patricia Richards told us she had made the decision to leave after the beach in front of her home disappeared.

She said: “It’s really bad, really really big changes. My son turns 30 next month and he was born in this place – I used to walk far out to bathe him in the sea, and now there is no land.

“I feel angry because I know it is humans that caused climate change but they keep doing the wrong thing… right now the sea is up on us and it keeps on coming and there is no stopping it.”

A landslide damages a building on a Grenada hillside - HTP report 13/10/2021
Patricia Richards, a resident of Telescope Bay, said she has left the beachfront after her home disappeared

Melon and pumpkin farmer Witfield Lyons said: “We are now noticing there is so much rain during the dry season, unexpectedly so much sun during the rainy season so it’s difficult as farmers to cope, we cannot really plan … simply because the climate has changed.

“It’s hard to be a farmer because of global warming.”

Grenada’s government estimates that it will cost around $350m USD to deliver all the protective adaptation measures, including protecting the capital’s vulnerable harbour, that are needed.

This represents around half of Grenada’s entire annual GDP.

Patricia Richards talks about how her shoreside home was washed away
Patricia Richards talks about how her shoreside home was washed away

At the moment, nearly a quarter of the $100bn in promised global climate finance provided by rich nations to developing ones is earmarked solely for adaptation measures.

But the UN Environment Programme estimates that the actual cost for global adaptation is closer to $70bn annually, and will rise to $140-300bn by 2030 and $280-500bn by 2050.

The IPCC said in a recent assessment that no matter what humans do to reduce carbon emissions, lasting sea level rise will be irreversible for hundreds to thousands of years, and that the world is likely to experience 15-30cm of sea level rise through the middle of the century.

Under scenarios where emissions continue on their current path, with warming approaching 3-4C, it is projected to be closer to two feet.

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Eastern European countries battle vaccine hesitancy as COVID-19 strengthens its grip | World News



Some European countries are seeing a resurgence in COVID-19, with the continent’s eastern nations hampered by widespread vaccine hesitancy.

Polls show that trust in state institutions and public healthcare is much lower in eastern Europe than it is across the rest of the continent, something that has been blamed for the low vaccination rates.

At least one person in every three does not trust the healthcare system in eastern Europe, compared to an EU average of 18%, according to the European Commission.

And when it comes to vaccine uptake, the European states with the lowest rates – Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and Latvia – are all part of the former communist bloc.

People queue to receive FFP2 masks for free at a pharmacy as a measure of protection, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic during lockdown in Berlin, Germany, December 17, 2020. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
The German health minister said the pandemic state of emergency can end on 25 November

• Romania had the highest death rate per capita in the world this week and the number of new cases soared towards 19,000, but only 36% of adults are vaccinated, about half the EU rate. Distrust in public healthcare is put at 40%

• Russia’s government announced workplaces will close from 30 October to 7 November after Thursday saw 1,036 deaths and 36,339 new infections – both record daily highs. Despite being quick to produce its Sputnik vaccine earlier in the pandemic, many Russians have refused it – only 48 million of a population of 144 million were fully-vaccinated as of mid-October

• In Bulgaria only one adult in four is fully-vaccinated. The number of people being admitted to hospital due to the virus has risen 30% in the past month, and hospitals in Sofia have halted non-essential surgeries

• Latvia has gone back into lockdown for a month. A study by SKDS has found that among Latvia’s Russian-speaking population (who account for about a third of the overall population), only 46% are vaccinated, compared with 62% among ethnic Latvians

A man holds his daughter, as he receives a second dose of vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) administered by a medical personnel from a mobile unit in the village of Krushovitsa, Bulgaria, October 10, 2021. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov/File Photo
This young man is among around 25% of adults in Bulgaria who are fully vaccinated

• Poland (52% vaccinated) reported more than 5,000 new cases on Wednesday – the highest number since May – prompting the health minister to warn that drastic measures could be necessary. Vaccine uptake is particularly low in conservative areas, leaving the government with extra vaccine doses it has donated or sold abroad

• Slovakia (41% vaccinated) reported its highest daily case numbers on Tuesday since 9 March and in the Czech Republic (56% vaccinated) the number of new cases passed 3,000 for the first time since April

The situation differs in western Europe, where vaccination rates are generally higher and restrictions are being weakened alongside the introduction of vaccination passes in some parts.

• In France, new cases jumped to 6,127, up 18% compared to a week earlier, having already risen by 8% on Wednesday. The country also registered 37 new deaths on Thursday, taking the total to 117,389. About two-thirds of people are fully-vaccinated

• Italy (71% vaccinated) reported 36 deaths on Thursday (up from 33 the day before) with 3,794 new infections (up from 3,702)

An empty shop is seen as four weeks of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown begins in Riga, Latvia, October 21, 2021. REUTERS/Janis Laizans
Latvia has gone back into lockdown due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases

• Germany reported just over 17,000 new infections on Wednesday compared to 11,903 a week ago, with its 92 deaths similar to the same day last week. Roughly two-thirds of people are fully-vaccinated. Health Minister Jens Spahn has said the pandemic state of emergency can end on 25 November, although some measures should continue

• Portugal began the year with one of the highest rates of infection in the world but, with 85% fully vaccinated, it is turning things around. Masks are still widely worn and trust in state institutions is generally high. On Wednesday, 927 new cases were reported (up from 828 a week earlier). There were three deaths (down from nine a week earlier)

• Spain reported 2,528 new cases on Wednesday (down from 2,758 a week earlier). There were 31 deaths (down from 42) and 78% of the population is fully vaccinated

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‘115,000 health workers dead from COVID’

The World Health Organisation’s emergency director Mike Ryan said: “Most (COVID-19) restrictions are now not in place anymore in many countries, and we’re seeing that coincide with the winter period in which people are moving inside as the cold snaps appear.

“The question remains as to whether or not we will have the same experience as last year with health systems coming once again under pressure.”

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Barbados elects its first-ever president as it sheds colonial past | World News



Barbados has elected its first-ever president as it takes the first steps to becoming a republic.

Dame Sandra Mason, 72, was elected on Wednesday by a two-thirds vote of a joint session of the Caribbean country’s House of Assembly and Senate.

Last year, Barbados announced its intention to remove Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and become a republic, shedding its colonial past.

The country of 300,000 gained its independence from Britain in 1966, though the Queen remained its constitutional monarch.

Bottom Bay in Barbados. Pic: AP
Barbados became independent from Britain 55 years ago. Pic: AP

Dame Sandra will be sworn in on 30 November – the country’s 55th anniversary of independence from Britain.

The former jurist has been governor-general of the island since 2018, and was also the first woman to serve on the Barbados Court of Appeals.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said the election of a president was “a seminal moment” in the country’s journey.

She added: “We have just elected from among us a woman who is uniquely and passionately Barbadian, does not pretend to be anything else (and) reflects the values of who we are.”

18th February 1966:  The Queen and Prince Philip driving through Barbados waving to the crowds.  (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
The Queen and Prince Philip driving through Barbados waving to the crowds

Ms Mottley also said the country’s decision to become a republic was not a condemnation of its British past.

“We look forward to continuing the relationship with the British monarch,” she said.

The election could benefit the country both at home and abroad, according to Wazim Mowla of the Atlantic Council think-tank.

She said the move makes the small developing country a more legitimate player in global politics, but could also serve as a “unifying and nationalistic move” that may benefit its current leadership at home.

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attend a meeting with the Governor-General of Barbados, Sandra Mason, in 2019
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attend a meeting with the Governor-General of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason, in 2019

Ms Mowla added: “Other Caribbean leaders and their citizens will likely praise the move, but I don’t expect others to follow suit.

“This move will always be considered only if it is in the best interest of each country.”

Barbados said last year it wanted “full sovereignty” by the time it celebrated its 55th anniversary of independence from the UK in November 2021.

In 1998, a Barbados constitutional review commission recommended republican status, and in 2015 Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said “we have to move from a monarchical system to a republican form of government in the very near future”.

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Netflix staff join protests outside its headquarters over controversial stand-up show by Dave Chappelle | Ents & Arts News



Staff at Netflix’s headquarters in Hollywood have staged a walkout in protest at the release of a controversial special by the stand-up comedian Dave Chappelle.

Chappelle, one of the biggest names in American comedy, has been accused of making anti-transgender comments in the hour-long special The Closer.

But Netflix has refused to remove the special from its streaming service despite a backlash from the transgender community, both within the company and outside.

Dave Chappelle. Pic: Netflix/Mathieu Bitton
People are asking Dave Chappelle’s show to be removed from Netflix. Pic: Netflix/Mathieu Bitton

Employees joined the planned walkout to take part in a rally outside one of the company main campuses in Hollywood.

There were also scuffles as counter-protesters – carrying signs reading “We like Dave” and “Jokes are funny” – tried to disrupt the rally.

To background chants of “Trans Lives Matter”, campaigners pushed for Netflix to respond to a list of “asks” including the hiring of more trans executives and greater spending on trans and non-binary content.

Protest organiser Ashlee Marie Preston told the rally: “We’re here to speak directly to Netflix. We tried to speak to Dave Chappelle but he was not having the conversation so we’re communicating directly with the people who sign the cheques. We’re not going away.”

As well as criticism for streaming the special, Netflix has also come under fire for its handling of the backlash.

There were scuffles as counter-protesters held up signs that said 'Dave is funny'
There were scuffles as counter-protesters held up signs that said ‘Dave is funny’

Chief executive Ted Sarandos has walked back his claim that content didn’t “directly translate to real-world harm”.

He told Deadline: “I should have made sure to recognise that a group of employees was hurting very badly from the decision made. I respect them deeply and I love the contribution they have at Netflix.”

But he continues to stand by the decision to stream the special, telling the Hollywood Reporter: “We tell our employees that some of the content on Netflix you’re not going to like.

“This kind of commitment to artistic expression and free artistic expression is sometimes in conflict with people feeling protected and safe. I do think that’s something we struggle with all the time.”

 Netflix has refused to remove the special from its streaming service
Netflix has refused to remove the special from its streaming service

A number of Netflix stars have expressed their support for the walkout.

Elliot Page, who starred in The Umbrella Academy and is transgender, tweeted: “I stand with trans, nonbinary, and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) employees at Netflix fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace.”

Netflix staff staged a walk-out in protest of a Dave Chappelle show, which people say features transphobic content
Netflix staff staged a walkout in protest of a Dave Chappelle show, which people say features transphobic content

As the walkout was taking place, Chappelle himself was on stage in London.

Fans at the venue told Sky News that they believed entertainers needed to be conscious of how their words affected people.

“We as a society shouldn’t be marginalising or prejudicing any community,” said one.

But another added: “A joke’s a joke. It’s not meaning anything to hurt someone’s feelings.”

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