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Cop26 corporate sponsors condemn climate summit as ‘mismanaged’

climate summit

Cop26 corporate sponsors condemn climate summit as ‘mismanaged’

Companies that stumped up millions of pounds to sponsor the Cop26 climate summit have condemned it as “mismanaged” and “very last minute” in a volley of complaints as next month’s event in Glasgow draws near.

The sponsors, which include some of Britain’s biggest companies, have raised formal complaints blaming “very inexperienced” civil servants for delayed decisions, poor communication and a breakdown in relations between the organisers and firms in the run-up to the landmark talks.

The UK is running its Cop26 presidency from within the Cabinet Office, under the leadership of the former business secretary Alok Sharma, who is the Cop26 president, and the businessman Nigel Topping who was appointed the government’s high-level climate action champion last year. Sponsorship is expected to help defray a policing bill estimated to reach up to £250m.

Alongside Sky, the summit has 10 other major sponsors, including energy giants Hitachi, National Grid, Scottish Power and SSE, US tech titan Microsoft, and FTSE companies GSK, NatWest, Reckitt, Sainsbury’s and Unilever. Unilever has denied signing the letter penned by Sky. Other lower tier “partners” include the car maker Jaguar Land Rover and the furniture retailer Ikea.

One source, employed by a Cop26 sponsor, said that “the biggest frustration” was the lack of information about how the event will run, and the role for its key backers, because important questions have gone unanswered and planning decisions have been delayed.

“They had an extra year to prepare for Cop due to Covid, but it doesn’t feel like this time was used to make better progress. Everything feels very last minute,” the source said.

The upcoming climate talks, considered the last chance to put the world on track to meet its climate ambitions, are due to take place in early November after the event was postponed by a year because of the outbreak of Covid-19 in early 2020.

They have already been thrown into turmoil by suggestions that the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, will skip the event, threatening the chances of a global pact with the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emitter.

Organisers of Cop26 promised sponsors an “outstanding opportunity” and “unique benefits” in exchange for their support, including a chance to promote their brands at the conference “green zone” exhibition space and the participation of government ministers at their events.

But in multiple emails and official letters the companies have complained to organisers about unmet expectations, and deepening concerns over delays to the green zone plans. They have also raised complaints that ministers have not always been available for their events in the run-up to Cop26, as agreed as part of the sponsor deals.

Other sources have described the “shifting goal posts” and “inertia” plaguing the Cop26 planning as “deeply frustrating”.

Many of the event’s corporate backers regularly take part in high-profile sponsorship deals for big events, and have been left bewildered by the slow progress of the Cop26 events, another source explained.

The source blamed the “very young, very inexperienced” civil servants tasked with planning the event for taking a “top-down public sector approach” that has raised hackles among sponsors.

“It’s clear that many of them have very little experience managing relationships in the private sector, or even experience attending a Cop event,” the source said.

The energy company sponsors – Hitachi, National Grid, Scottish Power and SSE – are understood to be particularly frustrated because they were under the impression that no other energy brands would feature at Cop26. However, the “blue zone”, which is organised by the UN, will include rival brands.

Ministers had been due to release three key documents on Monday on the government’s plans to achieve its net zero target by 2035, but publication has been delayed owing to the murder of the MP Sir David Amess.

The documents reveal a stark split within the cabinet, understood to be between on one side Boris Johnson, the prime minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, and Michael Gove, responsible for improving the UK’s homes, all seeing benefits to strong climate action; and on the other, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, a free-market hawk instinctively opposed to government intervention.

All three papers are now expected to come later in the week, with the government seeking to preserve a show of unity over the publications.

The row over the government’s handling of Cop26 planning has emerged amid public order concerns, with up to 150,000 protesters expected to take to Glasgow’s streets in early November alongside the crucial climate talks, which will require one of the largest policing operations ever undertaken in Britain.

Countries and organisations planning to host events have also said they fear that increased costs will cause problems for developing nations.

Multiple participants told the Guardian earlier this month that the cost of renting Cop26 pavilions – event spaces for hosting workshops, panel discussions and keynote speeches during the conference – is considerably higher than it was at Cop25 in Madrid, with some saying it had increased by as much as 30%.

A Cop26 spokesperson said the organisers were “working closely” with sponsors which would increase the value-for-money for taxpayers, and reduce the overall financial cost of Cop26.

A Whitehall veteran of Cop summits said: “It feels like some of these sponsors have forgotten the actual reason we’re in Glasgow. Cop isn’t about branding, it’s about tackling climate change. Keeping 1.5C in reach is the best thing you can do for your bottom line: they would do well to remember this.”

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Environment

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian made landfall at around 15:10 local time (19:10 GMT) on Wednesday, smashing into the coast with wind speeds of up to 241km/h (150mph).

Dramatic scenes saw a hospital roof blown off, cars submerged and trees ripped out of the ground.

The category four hurricane was later downgraded to a tropical storm.

However, Floridians were warned that the most dangerous 24 hours lay ahead and the mayor of Tampa urged people to shelter in place through the night into Thursday morning.

“We are going to get the majority of the rain and the higher winds starting about 20:00, and they are going to last throughout the night,” Jane Castor said during a Wednesday evening briefing.

In a message posted on Facebook, the Weather Prediction Center told residents in the Central Florida Peninsula to expect “widespread life-threatening, catastrophic flash and urban flooding” continuing into Friday morning, with potentially up to 76cm (30ins) of rain falling locally.

Residents were ordered to leave their homes, but many have decided to remain and seek shelter indoors.

Mark Pritchett, who lives in the city of Venice, some 95km (60 miles) south of Tampa, described the “terrifying” moment he stepped outside his home as the hurricane made its way across the Gulf of Mexico.

“Rain shooting like needles. My street is a river,” he said in a text message to the Associated Press news agency.

In Lee County – the south-west region where Ian made landfall – police were prevented from responding to reports of looting at a petrol station because of the storm damage.

As a result, a curfew has been declared “until further notice”.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said that the Fort Myers community had “been – to some extent – decimated”. According to news agency AFP, some neighbourhoods in the city of 80,000 had been left resembling lakes.

State Governor Ron DeSantis described Ian as the “biggest flood event” south-west Florida had ever seen, and announced that 7,000 National Guard troops are ready to lead rescue operations in flood zones.

President Joe Biden will receive a briefing on Thursday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ian is now continuing to move north through Florida. Jacksonville International Airport, based in north-east Florida, cancelled all flights scheduled for Thursday.

The storm is forecast to emerge into the Atlantic by Thursday morning.

It is expected to reach Georgia and South Carolina on Friday. Virginia has also joined Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida by declaring a state of emergency.

Cuba’s western coast was hit by Hurricane Ian on Tuesday. Power has now been restored in some areas after the island was plunged into a total blackout. Two people are understood to have been killed in Cuba and more than 20 Cuban migrants are believed to be missing at sea.

Predicted path of Hurricane Ian. Updated 27 September

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Environment

Flooding: 18,406 Persons Displaced In Borno

Heavy flooding across 14 local government areas of Borno State has displaced 18,406 persons and destroyed properties worth millions of naira.

The victims, comprising women, children as well as elderly, have been forced to relocate from their homes since the commencement of the rainy season.

This was disclosed by the Director-General, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Yabawa Kolo in a television interview on Tuesday.

He said varying degrees of damages have been reported after heavy storms wreaked havoc on houses and infrastructures in Shani, Kwaya Kusar, Biu, Damboa, Askira Uba, Chibok, all in Southern Borno and Kaga, Dikwa, MMC, Jere, Mobbar, Gwoza, Monguno and Kala Balge local government areas in northern and Central Borno.

According to her, Kala Balge, Jere and Monguno are mostly affected by the flood due to the downpour that occurred between August 15 and 29 and displaced the residents in the areas with serious damages to shelter infrastructures and farmlands.

Kolo stated that the damage assessment carried out indicated that Monguno suffered more from the flooding affecting 1,735 displaced populations and destroying 681 shelters in GGSS IDP, NRC and Gana Ali camps.

The SEMA boss added that the flood also damaged 81 toilets and 31 bathing facilities.

“Accordingly, reports from International Partners in different field locations and local government areas indicate that a total of 4,989 houses were damaged by the flood leaving a total of 16,393 victims affected which prompted the State Emergency Management Agency to conduct a rapid independent assessment to ascertain actual level of damage,” she said.

“Most of the displaced are seeking shelter in primary schools in neighbouring communities. They are now in need of Shelter kits, mats, blankets and food items.

Kolo further stated that the Government Flood Response Committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Usman Kadafur, has been working to avert further destructions as well as compensate victims affected by the disaster.

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Environment

Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Cuba en route to Florida

Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Cuba en route to Florida

A strengthening Hurricane Ian’s rain and winds lashed Cuba’s western tip, where authorities have evacuated 50,000 people, as it became a major Category 3 storm early Tuesday and roared on a path that could see it hit Florida’s west coast as a Category 4 hurricane.

The storm made landfall early Tuesday in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province, where officials set up 55 shelters, rushed in emergency personnel and took steps to protect crops in Cuba’s main tobacco-growing region. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the island’s west coast could see as much as 14 feet (4.3 meters) of storm surge.

Cuba is expecting extreme hurricane-force winds, also life-threatening storm surge and heavy rainfall,” hurricane center senior specialist Daniel Brown told The Associated Press.

After passing over Cuba, Ian was forecast to strengthen further over warm Gulf of Mexico waters before reaching Florida as early as Wednesday as a Category 4 storm with top winds of 140 mph (225 km/h).

A strengthening Hurricane Ian’s rain and winds lashed Cuba’s western tip, where authorities have evacuated 50,000 people, as it became a major Category 3 storm early Tuesday and roared on a path that could see it hit Florida’s west coast as a Category 4 hurricane.

The storm made landfall early Tuesday in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province, where officials set up 55 shelters, rushed in emergency personnel and took steps to protect crops in Cuba’s main tobacco-growing region. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the island’s west coast could see as much as 14 feet (4.3 meters) of storm surge.

“Cuba is expecting extreme hurricane-force winds, also life-threatening storm surge and heavy rainfall,” hurricane center senior specialist Daniel Brown told The Associated Press.

After passing over Cuba, Ian was forecast to strengthen further over warm Gulf of Mexico waters before reaching Florida as early as Wednesday as a Category 4 storm with top winds of 140 mph (225 km/h).

In Havana on Monday, fishermen were taking their boats out of the water along the famous Malecon seaside boulevard, and city workers were unclogging storm drains ahead of the expected rain.

Havana resident Adyz Ladron said the potential for rising water from the storm worries him.

“I am very scared because my house gets completely flooded, with water up to here,” he said, pointing to his chest.

In Havana’s El Fanguito, a poor neighborhood near the Almendares River, residents were packing up what they could to leave their homes.

“I hope we escape this one because it would be the end of us. We already have so little,” health worker Abel Rodrigues said.

The Hurricane Center said in a 4:30 a.m. EDT (0830 GMT) update that Ian made landfall in Cuba as it continued to strengthen, with sustained winds of 125 mph (205 km/h). In an update about a half-hour later, the center said Ian was located about 5 miles (10 km) south of the city of Pinar del Rio, moving north at 12 mph (19 km/h).

The center defines a major hurricane as a Category 3 storm or higher, meaning maximum sustained winds of at least 111 mph (178 km/h), and Ian became a Category 3 hurricane earlier Tuesday.

The center said “significant wind and storm surge impacts” were occurring Tuesday morning in western Cuba.

Ian won’t linger over Cuba but will slow down over the Gulf of Mexico, growing wider and stronger, “which will have the potential to produce significant wind and storm surge impacts along the west coast of Florida,” the hurricane center said.

A surge of up to 10 feet (3 meters) of ocean water and 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain was predicted across the Tampa Bay area, with as much as 15 inches (38 centimeters) inches in isolated areas. That’s enough water to inundate coastal communities.

As many as 300,000 people may be evacuated from low-lying areas in Hillsborough County alone, county administrator Bonnie Wise said. Some of those evacuations were beginning Monday afternoon in the most vulnerable areas, with schools and other locations opening as shelters.

“We must do everything we can to protect our residents. Time is of the essence,” Wise said.

Floridians lined up for hours in Tampa to collect bags of sand and cleared store shelves of bottled water. Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a statewide emergency and warned that Ian could lash large areas of the state, knocking out power and interrupting fuel supplies as it swirls northward off the state’s Gulf Coast.

“You have a significant storm that may end up being a Category 4 hurricane,” DeSantis said at a news conference. “That’s going to cause a huge amount of storm surge. You’re going to have flood events. You’re going to have a lot of different impacts.”

DeSantis said the state has suspended tolls around the Tampa Bay area and mobilized 5,000 Florida state national guard troops, with another 2,000 on standby in neighboring states.

President Joe Biden also declared an emergency, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief and provide assistance to protect lives and property. The president postponed a scheduled Tuesday trip to Florida because of the storm.

Playing it safe, NASA planned to slowly roll its moon rocket from the launch pad to its Kennedy Space Center hangar, adding weeks of delay to the test flight.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced Monday night that the football team was relocating football operations to the Miami area in preparation for next weekend’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Buccaneers said the team will leave Tampa on Tuesday.

Flash flooding was predicted for much of the Florida peninsula, and heavy rainfall was possible for the southeast United States later this week. With tropical storm force winds extending 115 miles (185 kilometers) from Ian’s center, watches covered the Florida Keys to Lake Okeechobee.

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