The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
UN Members Killed in Ethiopian Plane Crash Headed to 4th UN Environment Assembly
The Fourth UN Environment Assembly began in Nairobi Monday with a moment of silence for the victims of the crash of Ethiopian Airlines ET302 that killed 157 people on Sunday, including 22 UN staff members, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) reported.
Some of those killed in the crash has been traveling to the assembly, which is the largest ever gathering of the world's top environmental decision-making organization. Among the dead were youth delegates, scientists and academics, UN Environment Acting Executive Director Joyce Msuya said in a statement.
"The environmental community is in mourning today," Msuya said.
The deadly crash occurred minutes after the plane took off from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia Sunday morning en route to Nairobi, The Guardian reported. Everyone on board was killed. The tragedy raised safety concerns about the plane's model, a Boeing 737 Max 8, a new design that was involved in a similar crash in Indonesia in October 2018.
A UNEP staff member told AFP that the agency was "still trying to consolidate" the number of UN workers who had died.
Among those lost was Victor Shangai Tsang, who was the UNEP Policy Officer on Sustainable Development and had been with the program since 2015. His last professional act had been to work to promote the Sustainable Development Goals Innovation Talks at the assembly. He also worked on issues of gender equality.
"He represented the best in all of us, and we will miss him terribly," a UNEP statement said.
The tragedy cast a pall over the opening proceedings. The UN flag was lowered to half-mast, and the country flags were removed, UNEP reported.
"In the wake of this tragedy, it has been difficult to navigate how to proceed without showing disrespect to the many lives lost yesterday," Acting Director-General of UN Office in Nairobi and Executive Director of UN-Habitat Maimunah Sharif said. "I want to assure you all however, that as the day and week unfolds, and the world's global environmental leaders meet to discuss the future of our planet, we will not forget this tragedy, nor those that perished with it."
As the assembly began, one major theme to emerge was the need to address plastic pollution, AFP reported. The world currently produces more than 300 million tonnes (approximately 331 million U.S. tons) of plastic every year, and scientists say at least five trillion pieces of it are floating in the oceans. The UN wants countries to set ambitious targets to reduce plastic manufacturing and phase out single-use plastics by 2030, in an effort modeled after the Paris agreement to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
"In the field of (plastic) pollution we don't have such agreements," UN Environment Assembly President and Estonia's Environment Minister Siim Kiisler told members of the press, as AFP reported. "This is the first time (we have) to convince member states to make international commitments."
Msuya urged delegates to be "optimistic and bold" and work towards the goals of reducing fossil fuel use by 80 percent and creating an almost zero waste economy, both by 2050, according to UNEP.
"[We need to] transform the way our economies work ... break the link between growth and increased resource use, and end our throwaway culture," Msuya said, as AFP reported.
- The Victims of the Ethiopia Plane Crash - The New York Times ›
- Georgetown Law student among the victims in Ethiopian plane crash ›
- Ethiopia plane crash: what we know about the disaster so far – video ... ›
- Ethiopian Airlines plane crash prompts grounding of many Boeing ... ›
- Ethiopian Airlines plane crash: Live updates - CNN ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tara Lohan
When armed militants with a grudge against the federal government seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon back in the winter of 2016, I remember avoiding the news coverage. Part of me wanted to know what was happening, but each report I read — as the occupation stretched from days to weeks and the destruction grew — made me so angry it was hard to keep reading.
A searing heat wave has begun to spread across Europe, with Germany, France and Belgium experiencing extreme temperatures that are set to continue in the coming days.
In the 1980s, a Greenlandic subsistence hunter shot and killed a whale with bizarre features unlike any he had ever seen before. He knew something was unique about it, so he left its abnormally large skull on top of his toolshed where it rested until a visiting professor happened upon it a few years later.
A UN expert painted a bleak picture Tuesday of how the climate crisis could impact global inequality and human rights, leading to a "climate apartheid" in which the rich pay to flee the consequences while the rest are left behind.
Millions of solar panels clustered together to form an island could convert carbon dioxide in seawater into methanol, which can fuel airplanes and trucks, according to new research from Norway and Switzerland and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, PNAS, as NBC News reported. The floating islands could drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.
More than 40 percent of insects could go extinct globally in the next few decades. So why did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week OK the 'emergency' use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor on 13.9 million acres?
EcoWatch teamed up with Center for Biological Diversity via EcoWatch Live on Facebook to find out why. Environmental Health Director and Senior Attorney Lori Ann Burd explained how there is a loophole in the The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act under section 18, "that allows for entities and states to request emergency exemptions to spraying pesticides where they otherwise wouldn't be allowed to spray."