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Chile Pulls Out of Hosting COP25 Following Weeks of Protests
President Sebastián Piñera announced his decision Wednesday following weeks of protests in Chile. He also backed out of hosting the APEC trade summit in November, The Guardian reported.
"This has been a very difficult decision – which has caused us great pain – because we understand perfectly the importance [of the events] for Chile and for the world," Piñera said, according to The Guardian. "When a father has problems, he must always put his family before everything else. Similarly, a president must always put his own countrymen ahead of any other consideration."
The protests in Chile broke out over a 3.7 percent metro fare increase, but have extended beyond that into a general outcry against economic inequality and repression. Piñera first declared a state of emergency and then announced economic reforms, but neither has succeeded in quelling the unrest. On Saturday, around one million people turned out in Santiago for the country's largest peaceful protest since the late 1980s. So far, at least 20 people have died in the demonstrations, 1,132 have been hospitalized and 3,535 have been arrested.
"The citizens have expressed in a strong way their legitimate social demands that require the full attention and all efforts from the Government," COP25 President-designate Carolina Schmidt said in a statement.
The COP25 summit was scheduled to take place from Dec. 2 to 13, and this is the first time a host country has backed out so close to the start date, BBC News reported.
"Earlier today, I was informed of the decision by the government of Chile not to host COP25 in view of the difficult situation that the country is undergoing," UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said in a statement. "We are currently exploring alternative hosting options."
Espinosa's office was weighing whether to hold the conference elsewhere in December or postpone it until January, The New York Times reported.
Chile was already an alternate location for the COP25 summit. It was originally slated to be hosted by Brazil, but then President-elect Jair Bolsonaro stepped away from hosting in November 2018. The right-wing president said his decision was based on budget constraints, but his chosen foreign minister had called "climate alarmism" a plot by "cultural Marxists," according to BBC News.
Previously, when countries have had to withdraw from hosting talks on the climate crisis, the talks have been held in Bonn, Germany, Climate Home News pointed out. This is where UN Climate Change is based.
"We are in contact with the UN Climate Change secretariat and the Polish Cop24 presidency to discuss the situation," German state environment secretary Jochen Flasbarth said in a Tweet reported by Climate Home News.
Some climate activists suggested the UN take the opportunity to organize a more climate-friendly conference.
"Maybe this should be the first no fly UN Climate meeting," 15-year-old Ugandan Fridays for Future activist Leah Namugerwa tweeted.
Meteorologist and climate communicator Eric Holthaus endorsed her idea.
"Let's decide to make #COP25 a truly low-carbon, global meeting by encouraging participation without air travel," he wrote.
The news has disrupted the plans of those who were planning to travel to the summit, by plane or otherwise.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg had been making her way around the Americas, without flying, with the goal of reaching Chile in time for the meeting. She said she would pause her travels until she had more information.
Another group of European school strikers were already crossing the Atlantic by boat to attend the conference when they heard the news, according to The Guardian. They have not yet decided how to proceed.
"Chile is a problematic example of why our current system is not sustainable either ecologically or socially," the group tweeted. "All the crises that are now happening are also a call to pay attention to the ecological crises that the capitalist system is creating."
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Trump Makes Strange Claim About Water Efficient Toilets: 'People Are Flushing Toilets 10 Times, 15 Times'
President Donald Trump mocked water-efficiency standards in new constructions last week. Trump said, "People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion." Trump asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a federal review of those standards since, he claimed with no evidence, that they are making bathrooms unusable and wasting water, as NBC News reported.
By Carey Gillam
Former Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant will have to testify in person at a St. Louis-area trial set for January in litigation brought by a cancer-stricken woman who claims her disease was caused by exposure to the company's Roundup herbicide and that Monsanto covered up the risks instead of warning consumers.
A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
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