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Boris Johnson says chances of Cop26 success are ‘touch and go’

touch and go

Boris Johnson says chances of Cop26 success are ‘touch and go’

It is “touch and go” whether Britain will broker deals adequate enough to curb irreversible climate change at Cop26, Boris Johnson has admitted, as he claimed that encouraging people to recycle more “isn’t the answer”.

The prime minister appeared to lower expectations about whether the global summit of leaders that begins this week would be a success, after the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, confirmed for the first time that he would not attend “in the light of the coronavirus situation”, according to Downing Street.

The move was expected by some UK government insiders, but it will still come as a blow to those who hoped the world leaders whose influence would be key to reducing emissions across the planet would gather around the negotiating table.

Ahead of Cop26 starting in Glasgow on Sunday, Johnson held a question-and-answer session with several dozen children at No 10 on Monday, where he dismissed the impact of encouraging individuals to recycle more.

“Recycling isn’t the answer, I’ve got to be honest with you,” he said. “You’re not going to like this. It doesn’t begin to address the problem. You can only recycle plastic a couple of times, really. What you’ve got to do is stop the production of plastic. Stop the first use of plastic. The recycling thing is a red herring … We’ve all got to cut down on our use of plastic.”

Johnson named and shamed Coca-Cola as being one of 12 corporations “producing the overwhelming bulk of the world’s plastics”. He said the production of the material for single-use items was a “massive problem” and that businesses should “find other ways of packaging and selling our stuff” such as using seaweed, banana leaves and coconuts as substitute materials.

The comment prompted shock from Simon Ellin, the chief executive of the Recycling Association, who told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme it was “very disappointing” and that Johnson had “completely lost the plastic plot”. He said he agreed plastic production should be reduced, but that “we can’t get away” from needing it for containing and protecting food. Ellin said a strategy for tackling waste recently published by the government put recycling “right at the front of it”, so Johnson “seems to be completely contradicting his own government’s policy”.

Tanya Steele, the chief executive of WWF UK, who was fielding questions with Johnson at the event, appeared to take a different view. “We have to reduce, we have to reuse – I do think we need to do a little bit of recycling, PM, and have some system to do so,” she said.

Johnson interjected to say: “It doesn’t work. I don’t want to be doctrinaire about this, but if people think we can just recycle our way out of the problem, we’ll be making a huge mistake.”

He was also cautious about whether many breakthroughs will come when world leaders gather touch down in Scotland later this week. “I think it can be done,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be very, very tough, this summit, and I’m very worried because it might go wrong. We might not get the agreements that we need. It’s touch and go, it’s very, very difficult … It’s very far from clear that we’ll get the progress that we need.”

The prime minister said it was a “very fair criticism of the world” when challenged by a child on why political leaders were not treating the climate crisis as urgently as Covid. He added: “I share your alarm about where we need to be.”

As well as Putin’s refusal to attend, there are also concerns that China’s leader, Xi Jinping, who has not left his country since the Covid outbreak began, will also miss the event.

During the session, the prime minister also cracked a joke in response to Steele saying humans and domestic animals made up 97% of mammals on the planet, leaving limited resources for wild animals.

Johnson said that to rebalance nature, “we could feed some of the human beings to the animals”. He also joked that given that cows emit so much methane, “we have to encourage them to stop burping”.

When asked whether the government was deliberately trying to lower expectations, No 10 said Johnson’s downbeat comments on the summit meant he was “realistic about what a challenge this represents”.

His official spokesperson also attempted to downplay the comments on recycling, claiming that the prime minister had been “setting out that recycling alone is not enough”.

Asked for clarity on Johnson’s comments about people needing toconsume less, Downing Street would not say whether this meant eating less meat or buying fewer things, and refused to elaborate on the prime minister’s own environmental habits. His official spokesperson said: “There are practical steps people can take voluntarily, which we encourage.”

Environment

Lagos govt shuts 367 churches, mosques, others over environmental violations

The Lagos State Government has shut 367 churches, mosques, night clubs and others over environmental violations in the last three months.

This was disclosed by the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Services, Tokunbo Wahab, at a ministerial news conference on Friday.

Wahab said the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) undertook the 367 enforcement activities in households, markets, hotels, warehouses, service centers, eateries, stores, church, mosques as well as 140 hospitality facilities including; Supermarket, Nightclubs, Bake houses with a view to ensuring compliance with the state environmental laws.

He said 76 abatement notices were served to individuals and organizations violating laws on indiscriminate discharge of raw sewerage into the lagoon or other forms of water and land pollution, saying that a 25% compliance rate with environmental laws was recorded compared to the previous year.

Wahab also warned residents of the State to desist from unhealthy environmental practices that could undermine government effort in protecting the environment against degradation and other climate change effects.

He added that its various agencies on environmental sustainability have been empowered to prosecute individuals or organizations that may be caught degrading the environment in any form .

Wahab revealed that the State government is committing huge resources on environmental protection against all forms of degradation, especially, the fight against climate change and its attendant effects on human health and the ecosystem.

He revealed that the State government would intensify efforts on enforcement to ensure compliance with the environmental laws to achieve a vision for a sustainable environment.

Wahab warned that LASEPA has been empowered more than before to ensure total compliance with State environmental laws 2017 across the State to safeguard the environment against further degradation because of its consequences on human health and the ecosystem.

The Commissioner, who explained that various enforcement operations carried out by his Ministry and its agencies across the State were in the interest of the public, noted that the State government would not fold its alms while allowing selfish few to continue undermining its reform efforts in preserving the environment for a better living and sustainable growth.

Wahab, who expressed worry over poor air quality level in many parts of the State as contained in LASEPA ‘s weekly reports of the Air quality index of the State warned against unfriendly environmental behaviours that could trigger climate change action

He stressed the need for green and improved air quality across the State to ensure healthy living for the citizenry, noting that the present air quality in many parts of the State as indicated in LASEPA’s report of the State’s Air Quality Index is unhealthy.

The Commissioner who highlighted some likely consequences of poor air quality as indicated in the index, stated that people in the affected areas may suffer from respiratory-related diseases such as lung infections, asthma, cystic fibrosis,   mesothelioma, pulmonary hypertension and running nose among others.

Other common diseases that may be found in areas with poor air quality, according to Wahab, include; high blood pressure, sight problems, irritation, heart problems, worsened underlying health conditions and other related health issues.

He, therefore, warned against activities that might lead to air pollution such as generator and vehicular emissions, industrial and agricultural activities such as burning of cow skin and electronic wastes, bush burning among others.

Wahab urged people to join the State government’s various advocacy programs targeted at improving the state of the environment for the better.

“The current air index reports in many parts of the State are not acceptable, this is largely caused by poor and unfriendly environmental behaviour which needs urgent change, we should be guided that whatever we do to the environment, it throws it back at us, we must therefore be conscious of what we do to the environment to enable us to live in peace” the Commissioner warned.

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Environment

NiMet predicts 3-day sunny, cloudy atmosphere

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet, has forecast cloudiness and sunshine from Friday to Sunday across the country.

NiMet weather outlook released on Thursday in Abuja forecast sunny skies in hazy atmosphere on Friday over the northern region, with exception of Taraba State, where pockets of clouds could be visible during the forecast period.

The agency said sunny atmosphere patches of clouds are anticipated over the North Central region during the forecast period.

It stated that the cloudy atmosphere is expected over the southern region, with prospects of morning thunderstorms over parts of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states.

According to the agency, later in the day, isolated thunderstorms are expected over parts of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers, Edo, Delta, Osun, Ogun, Ondo, Abia, and Imo states.

NiMet predicted sunny skies in a hazy atmosphere on Saturday over the northern region, with prospects of afternoon and evening thunderstorms over parts of Kaduna state.

It envisaged sunny skies with patches of clouds over the North Central region during the morning period.

Later in the day, isolated thunderstorms are expected over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Niger, Nasarawa, Kwara, Kogi, and Plateau states.

Cloudy atmosphere with intervals of sunshine is expected over the southern region, with prospects of isolated thunderstorms over parts of Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, and Rivers states in the morning hours.

Later in the day, isolated thunderstorms are expected over the region,” it said.

According to NiMet, sunny skies in a hazy atmosphere are expected over the northern region during the forecast period on Sunday.

The agency predicted a sunny atmosphere with patches of clouds over the North Central region during the morning period.

NiMet forecast isolated thunderstorms over parts of Kwara, Kogi, Nasarawa, Benue, Plateau, and the Federal Capital Territory later in the day.

NiMet predicted a cloudy atmosphere over the southern region, with prospects of morning thunderstorms over parts of Lagos, Akwa Ibom, and Cross River states.

It anticipated isolated thunderstorms over parts of Edo, Osun, Ogun, Ondo, Imo, Ekiti, Abia, Anambra, Delta, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, and Lagos states later in the day.

“Strong winds may precede rains in areas where thunderstorms are likely to occur; the public should take adequate precaution.

“Airline operators are advised to get updated weather reports and forecasts from NiMet for effective planning in their operations,” NiMet added.

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Environment

31 states, 148 LGAs risk severe floods, FG warns

The Ebonyi State Government has denied that it  borrowed from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund contrary to a report by the Debt Management Office.

The DMO had reported that the Ebonyi State under the current administration led by Governor Francis Nwifuru, was among the 17 states that had borrowed $125.1 million (N111.24 billion) from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Debunking the report, the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Leonard Uguru, said  Nwifuru had not borrowed from either internal or foreign creditors since he assumed office on May 29, 2023.

He said:  “Since the inception of this administration, the Ebonyi State Government has not borrowed any money, whether foreign or domestic loans. So, any organisation that’s writing that Ebonyi is among the states that have borrowed money, I don’t know where they are getting their data.

“Among the South East states, Ebonyi is still the least in both domestic and foreign debts. Even though we have a trace of debt, which is the 150 million dollar loan from Africa Development Bank and Islamic Bank inherited from the past administration in the reconstruction of Ring Road, which is what made the loan increase, it is worth it as the road cuts across various local government areas of the state. Outside that, I don’t think there’s any other debt owed by the previous state government.”

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