This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
CO2 levels hit new high despite COVID lockdowns
Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere hit a new record of 410.5 parts per million in 2019, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has said.
In its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin the UN agency announced that concentrations of CO2 are expected to keep rising this year.
This is despite a slight reduction in emissions owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carbon dioxide is the most important of several greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.
Its levels have risen by 48 per cent since pre-industrial times, WMO said in a press conference.
Here’s Oksana Tarasova, WMO Chief of Atmospheric and Environment Research Division, speaking to a news conference in Geneva:
“So the CO2 which we have now in the atmosphere is accumulated since 1750, so it's every single bit which we put in the atmosphere since that time actually forms the current concentration. It's not what happened today or yesterday, it’s the whole history of the human economic and human development, which actually lead us to this global level of 410.”
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said that COVID-related lockdowns were expected to reduce this year’s carbon dioxide emissions by between four and seven per cent.
This was despite the fact that pandemic lockdowns limited people’s mobility but not their consumption of energy, the UN agency explained.
Yemen inches towards famine: UNICEF
To Yemen now, and a dire warning from UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, that youngsters are at greater risk than ever, as the country “slowly inches towards” famine.
In her message, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said that despite the agency’s best efforts, it cannot “hold back the tide” indefinitely.
More than 12 million children need humanitarian assistance in Yemen, which has been locked in a widening civil conflict since 2015.
In addition, “nearly 325,000 children under the age of five suffer from severe acute malnutrition and are fighting to survive”, Ms Fore said, adding that more than five million face a heightened threat of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea.
The UNICEF chief urged all parties to the conflict to keep children out of harm’s way and allow unhindered access to communities in need – as is their duty under international humanitarian law.
Ms Fore also called on donors to “step up” with urgently needed additional funds, highlighting a gap of almost $300 million.
“Humanitarian aid alone will not avert a famine nor end the crisis”, she said, before calling for the war to end and support for the economy to help Yemenis rebuild their country.
Do more to protect Afghan civilians, Bachelet tells armed actors
A high-level pledging-for-development conference in Afghanistan got under way in Geneva on Monday, where UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet has appealed to all parties to the conflict to do more to save lives and commit to peace with a ceasefire.
In her message to some 70 countries taking part, Ms. Bachelet said that more than 2,000 civilians have been killed so far this year, and nearly 4,000 injured.
She also urged the Government and Taliban representatives taking part in the peace negotiations in Doha “to make immediate commitments to safeguard civilian life”.
This move could “save thousands of families from suffering…lessen recriminations and bolster confidence and trust among negotiators”, the High Commissioner said.
She called on all armed actors to end attacks on and around hospitals and schools and to stop using them as military bases.
In his message to delegates, UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi also urged the international community to remain “committed” to the country.
He also called for greater support for Afghan refugees, internally displaced and returnees, at the end of his five-day visit to Kabul and the provinces of Bamyan and Parwan.
The “upward trend of violence” which included “killing, maiming, terrorizing and displacing Afghan civilians every day” must be stopped immediately, Mr Grandi said, noting that it was the main driver of displacement.
Daniel Johnson, UN News. MW