This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
COVID-19 may give brief respite to planet, but not alleviate climate crisis
COVID-19 may cause a brief drop in greenhouse gas emissions, but the climate threat, like the pandemic, does not respect national boundaries.
That’s the message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Earth Day, marked on 22 April.
In a call for sustained action to protect the planet and shrinking biodiversity, Mr Guterres urged countries to embrace sustainable strategies as part of their economic recovery, in response to the new coronavirus.
Outlining a six-point recovery plan, he reiterated his call for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and for polluters to “start paying for their pollution”.
At the same time, Governments should take this opportunity to steer their economies into green jobs and sustainable growth, the UN chief insisted:
“The impact of the coronavirus is both immediate and dreadful. But, there is another deep emergency — the planet’s unfolding environmental crisis. Biodiversity is in steep decline. Climate disruption is approaching a point of no return….The current crisis is an unprecedented wake-up call. We need to turn the recovery into a real opportunity to do things right for the future.”
50 years since first Earth Day, planet is hotter than ever: WMO
Staying with the environment, the last 50 years have seen the physical signs of climate change - and their impacts – gathering speed at a dangerous rate, the UN weather agency said on Wednesday.
Since the first Earth Day in 1970, carbon dioxide levels have gone up 26 per cent, and the world’s average temperature has increased by 0.86 degrees Celsius, or 33.5 Fahrenheit.
The planet is also 1.1 degree (or nearly 34 Fahrenheit) warmer than the pre-industrial era and this trend is expected to continue, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
In its latest report warning of the impacts of climate change, the WMO confirmed that the last five years have been the hottest on record.
This warming has been uneven, with Europe experiencing the highest change in the last decade.
Others key indicators showed an acceleration of climate change too.
These include rising sea level - up more than 11 centimetres since 1970 - glacier melt and Arctic and Antarctic sea ice shedding, with losses five times higher in the last five years than 50 years ago.
UN’s top rights official condemns execution of child offenders in Iran
Finally, to Iran, where the execution of two young offenders in recent days by the Iranian authorities has been condemned by the UN’s top rights official, Michelle Bachelet.
Her comments follow the execution of Shayan Saeedpour in a prison in Kurdistan province on Tuesday, and of Majid Esmailzadeh at a facility in Ardabil province last Saturday.
Both prisoners had been convicted of crimes committed when they were under 18, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Given that they were child offenders at the time of their crimes, their executions are “absolutely prohibited under international human rights law”, she insisted.
In addition, “numerous” UN bodies had made it clear “time and time again” that the imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed by people under-18 at the time of the alleged offence, is strictly prohibited, Ms. Bachelet explained.
Highlighting the recent death of a third person in custody, named as Danial Zeinolabedini, the High Commissioner said that he had been beaten by officials in a prison in West Azerbaijan province.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.