BRUSSELS: European Union environment ministers are set to agree this week to make the bloc's pledge to be climate neutral by 2050 legally binding, although tough questions about how deeply to cut emissions over the next decade will be left to leaders to discuss in December.
The bloc, which takes big decisions by consensus among its 27 member states, is inching its way towards tighter emissions goals in time for a year-end deadline under the Paris climate agreement to spell out targets for 2030.
Its longer term goal is net zero emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases by 2050, which the executive European Commission says will drive the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, as countries invest in renewable energy, electric cars and other technologies.
Over the next decade, the Commission wants to cut emissions by at least 55 per cent from 1990 levels. But some countries, especially those that burn coal, want more guarantees that the economic burden of the transformation will be shared.
Leaders agreed at a summit last week to gather more information on how the new target will affect individual countries – a key demand of coal-heavy Poland – before trying to reach a deal in December on the 2030 target.
Meanwhile, environment ministers will attempt on Friday to agree the rest of the law to make emissions-cutting goals legally binding. That would let them start negotiations with the European Parliament, which must approve it.
Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh receive Covid-19 vaccine
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh have received their Covid-19 vaccinations, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Saturday.
Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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