The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
U.S. One of Five Countries to Oppose UN Environment Pact
The U.S. was one of only five countries to vote against a UN move towards establishing a Global Pact for the Environment on Thursday, The Associated Press reported.
The pact, the brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron, would be "the first international legally binding document, gathering and harmonizing all environmental laws in one single document," according to the Permanent mission of France to the UN.
The resolution, approved by 143 of the 193 members of the UN General Assembly, with seven countries abstaining, called on Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to produce a report for September's General Assembly session outlining any gaps in international environmental law. It also empowered a working group to prepare recommendations for filling those gaps to be presented in 2019.
Supporters see the pact as a way to continue the work of the Paris agreement and the 2030 UN goals for fighting poverty and protecting the Earth.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who spoke before the vote on behalf of the resolution's more than 90 co-sponsors, raised concerns about climate change, water and air pollution and biodiversity loss, saying these problems were already impacting the world's most vulnerable populations.
"If we don't act decisively, we are exposing ourselves to dire consequences: the exhaustion of natural resources, migrations, and an upsurge in conflicts," he said.
But President Donald Trump's appointee for U.S. UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, disagreed. In a statement reported by Fox News on Wednesday, Haley said she would vote against the resolution.
"When international bodies attempt to force America into vague environmental commitments, it's a sure sign that American citizens and businesses will get stuck paying a large bill without getting large benefits. The proposed global compact is not in our interests, and we oppose it," she said.
Her statement is of a piece with Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement.
The other countries who voted against the resolution were Russia, Turkey, the Philippines and Syria.
The idea for the pact was first floated by Macron in June 2017 and officially launched with a UN speech by Macron on Sept. 19, 2017.
In the speech, Macron alluded to the UN's long history of environmental statements and protocols based on extensive research and said all that work deserved to be codified in a single document.
"This draft is a challenge posed to us all: to build, in a way, the law which the epoch we've entered—the anthropocene epoch—needs," he said.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The Centers for Disease Control has emphasized that washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective measures we can take in preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, millions of Americans in some of the most vulnerable communities face the prospect of having their water shut off during the lockdowns, according to The Guardian.
Aerial photos of the Sierra Nevada — the long mountain range stretching down the spine of California — showed rust-colored swathes following the state's record-breaking five-year drought that ended in 2016. The 100 million dead trees were one of the most visible examples of the ecological toll the drought had wrought.
Now, a few years later, we're starting to learn about how smaller, less noticeable species were affected.
Natthawat / Moment / Getty Images
Disinfectants and cleaners claiming to sanitize against the novel coronavirus have started to flood the market, raising concerns for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which threatened legal recourse against retailers selling unregistered products, according to The New York Times.
The global coronavirus pandemic has thrown our daily routine into disarray. Billions are housebound, social contact is off-limits and an invisible virus makes up look at the outside world with suspicion. No surprise, then, that sustainability and the climate movement aren't exactly a priority for many these days.
By Molly Matthews Multedo
Livestock farming contributes to global warming, so eating less meat can be better for the climate.