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30 Countries Reaffirm Commitment to Paris Agreement as U.S. Likely to Become Global Outcast

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30 Countries Reaffirm Commitment to Paris Agreement as U.S. Likely to Become Global Outcast

By Han Chen

At the recent Belt and Road Summit hosted by China, 30 countries reaffirmed their support for the Paris agreement and called on all countries to implement their commitments under the agreement. At a time when the White House is attempting to backslide from the global effort to combat climate change, this statement demonstrates once again that a Trump effort to evade climate action would make the U.S. a global outcast.


The Belt and Road Initiative is China's high-profile effort to promote investments and cooperation internationally. The summit outcomes highlight the areas that the Chinese government views as high-priority for their global engagement—with Chinese President Xi Jinping heavily invested in the success of this initiative. The reference to the Paris agreement and climate action in the summit communique is an additional sign that China is preparing to step up its global leadership on climate change.

Here is a rundown of the relevant highlights from the summit.

The communique from the summit encouraged all parties to fully implement the Paris agreement:

"We are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through taking urgent action on climate change and encouraging all parties which have ratified it to fully implement the Paris agreement..."

This statement was supported by the leaders from a diverse group of countries including China, Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Italy and Pakistan. This communique reflects the commitment of this broad group of countries to the Paris agreement.

Countries at the Belt and Road Summit that reaffirmed commitment to fully implement the Paris agreement.

China is signaling once again that it will take on greater global leadership. Absent U.S. leadership on climate change, the Chinese have consistently signaled that they will take on a larger role in helping to advance global climate action. Prior to the summit, the Chinese government issued guidance for green infrastructure development to support the development and implementation of a series of ecological and environmental risk prevention policies and measures. The plan is to develop a green cooperation platform and improve policy measures to protect the environment.

China also released a statement on its conception of the Belt and Road Initiative. This includes a commitment to strengthen cooperation on ecological and environmental protection, especially to actively fulfill international responsibilities on climate change:

Addressing climate change. China is actively contributing to global climate governance and is working with countries to promote the Paris agreement and made an important contribution to the early entry into force of the agreement. We will actively cooperate with other countries on solar energy, wind energy, biogas, hydropower and clean stoves to implement energy efficiency, energy savings and environmental protection and so on. We will continue to cooperate with other countries through exchanges and trainings. [translated from Mandarin]

This direction was further amplified by signals from key Chinese ministries and agencies that spelled out how they would work to achieve these climate and environmental objects through the Belt and Road Initiative. China's Ministry of Environmental Protection issued a plan for environmental cooperation for the initiative, including the need for green financial instruments for investment and trade. China's National Development and Reform Commission and National Energy Administration also issued a statement, highlighting the need to cope with climate change through a new round of energy and technological innovation and new mechanisms of global energy governance, with an emphasis on sustainable energy. The National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration statement (in Mandarin) included the following goal:

Promote sustainable energy for all. Implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris agreement on climate change to promote the realization of affordable, reliable and sustainable modern energy services for all countries, to promote clean energy investment and development in all countries, and to actively pursue international energy efficiency Cooperation.

These 30 countries have reaffirmed their commitment to fully implementing the Paris agreement and China is reaffirming its intent to play a greater leadership role around international climate action. These are encouraging signs when contrasted with the actions of President Trump, who has signaled that he will try to pull the U.S. backward on climate action—potentially making the U.S. into a global pariah.

Han Chen is an international climate advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council.


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Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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