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Extinction: Urgent change needed to save species, says UN

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Golden snub-nosed monkey (c) Joel SartoreImage copyright
JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK

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Many primates, including the endangered gold snub-nosed monkey, are in decline due to loss of habitat

Humanity is at a crossroads and we have to take action now to make space for nature to recover and slow its “accelerating decline”.

This is according to a report by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

It sets out a bullet point list of eight major transitions that could help stop the ongoing decline in nature.

“Things have to change,” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the convention’s executive secretary.

“If we take action, the right action – as the report proposes – we can transition to a sustainable planet.”

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Victoria Gill

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Tackling climate change will be critical in the endeavour to “bend the curve” on biodiversity loss

What’s the link between exploiting nature and human health?

New diseases emerge in the human population probably three or four times every year. It is only when they are easily transmitted from human to human – like the coronavirus – that they have the potential to kick-start a pandemic. But increasing the chances of a new disease emerging increases the chances of that disease becoming the “next Covid”.

And these are not truly new diseases – they are just new to our species. The vast majority of outbreaks are the result of an animal disease spilling over into the human population. Ebola and HIV came from primates; scientists have linked cases of Ebola to consuming meat from infected animals. A bite from a rabies-infected animal is a very effective mode of disease transmission. And in the 20 years before Covid-19, SARs, MERs, swine flu, and avian flu all spilled over from animals.

As we reengineer the natural world, we encroach on reservoirs of animal disease and put ourselves at risk.

“More and more we are affecting wildlife populations, deforesting and causing animals to move and enter our environment,” explained Prof Matthew Baylis, a veterinary epidemiologist from the University of Liverpool.

“That causes [disease-causing] pathogens to be passed from one species to another. So our behaviours on a global scale are facilitating the spread of a pathogen from animals into humans.”

How are humans doing when it comes to protecting nature?

The convention (CBD) has called this the “final report card” on progress against the 20 global biodiversity targets that were agreed in 2010 with a 2020 deadline.

“Progress has been made, but none of [those] targets will be fully met,” Ms Maruma Mrema told BBC News. “So a lot still needs to be done to bend the curve on biodiversity loss.”

As well as a stark warning, this report sets out an instruction manual about how to bend that curve.

“It can be done,” said David Cooper, deputy executive secretary of the CBD. “Next year in China we’ll have the UN biodiversity conference, where countries are expected to adopt a new framework that will represent global commitments to put nature on a path to recovery by 2030.”

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Joel Sartore

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It is one of our closest primate relatives, but the Bornean orangutan is on the brink of extinction

How can the impact of humans on nature be limited?

That framework – which has been dubbed a “Paris climate agreement for nature”, will encompass eight major transitions that all 196 nations will be expected to commit to:

  • Land and forests: Protecting habitats and reducing the degradation of soil;
  • Sustainable agriculture: redesigning the

Official feed of BBC News, The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, it is the world's oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees.

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‘US can impose neither negotiations nor war’ on Iran, Rouhani tells UN General Assembly

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Addressing a session of the UN General Assembly, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said his country will not give in to US pressure and Washington will not bully Tehran, into neither “negotiations nor war.”

Speaking on Tuesday at the UNGA – held this year in a virtual format due to the coronavirus pandemic – Rouhani blasted the recent US decision to unilaterally re-impose now-defunct international sanctions against Iran.

“The US can impose neither negotiations nor war on us,” Rouhani said, insisting that “today is the time to say ‘no’ to bullying and arrogance.”

Life is hard under sanctions. However, harder is life without independence.

He expressed Iran’s gratitude to the nations who rejected Washington’s move. The US measure has not been particularly well-received, as 13 out of 15 UN Security Council members firmly opposed it.

“I should express our appreciation to the presidents of the Security Council for the months of August and September 2020, as well as to 13 of its members–especially Russia and China–who twice said a decisive and resounding ‘no’ to the unlawful US attempt to exploit the Council and its Resolution 2231,” the president said.




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United Nations will not support Washington’s unilateral move to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran, says organization’s chief



The most recent package of US sanctions against Tehran was unveiled by Washington on Monday, targeting Iran’s defense ministry. The announcement came just a few days after the US declared “snapback” UN sanctions on Iran t

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Pascale Ferrier: White House ricin package suspect in court

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Pascale FerrierImage copyright
Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office

A Canadian woman has been charged in US federal court for allegedly posting a letter with deadly ricin poison to President Donald Trump.

Pascale Ferrier, of Quebec, was arrested at a border crossing in Buffalo, New York, on Sunday. She was reportedly carrying a gun.

She has pleaded not guilty to making threats against the president.

The letter she allegedly sent last week was discovered before it reached the White House.

In it, she called on Mr Trump to drop out of the US presidential race. The envelop contained ricin, a poison found naturally in castor beans.

“I found a new name for you: ‘The Ugly Tyrant Clown’,” she wrote in the letter to Mr Trump, according to FBI charging documents filed ahead of her first court appearance in New York on Tuesday.

“I hope you like it. You ruin USA and lead them to disaster. I have US cousins, then I don’t want the next 4 years with you as president. Give up and remove your application for this election.”

The letter, which the FBI says had her fingerprints on it, referred to the poisoned note as “a special gift”, adding: “If it doesn’t work, I’ll find better recipe for another poison, or I might use my gun when I’ll be able to come. “

The suspect may have also sent ricin to five addresses in Texas, including a jail and a sheriff’s office, according to the court documents.

Ms Ferrier appeared in court on Tuesday afternoon in Buffalo, New York, with the aid of a French-speaking translator, according to local media.

Who is Pascale Ferrier?

Pascale Cecile Veronique Ferrier, 53, is a computer programmer who is originally from France, but became a Canadian citizen in 2015, according to Canadian media. Sources tell Reuters she retains dual French-Canadian citizenship. She was living in the Canadian province of Quebec.

In March 2019, she was arrested in Texas for unlawfully carrying a weapon and using a fake driver’s licence, according to jail records. She was deported to Canada after officials found she had overstayed her visa and committed a crime while in the US, according to the New York Times.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Secret Service are investigating the package, which was discovered at a processing facility for mail sent to the White House.

The presence of ricin was confirmed after several tests by the FBI, authorities said.

A spokesman for the Mission, Texas, police departmen

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Climate change: China aims for ‘carbon neutrality by 2060’

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China’s President Xi Jinping addressing the UN via video link

China will aim to hit peak emissions before 2030 and for carbon neutrality by 2060, President Xi Jinping has announced.

Mr Xi outlined the steps when speaking via videolink to the UN General Assembly in New York.

The announcement is being seen as a significant step in the fight against climate change.

China is the world’s biggest source of carbon dioxide, responsible for around 28% of global emissions.

With global climate negotiations stalled and this year’s conference of the parties (COP26) postponed until 2021, there had been little expectation of progress on the issue at the UN General Assembly.

However China’s president surprised the UN gathering by making a bold statement about his country’s plans for tackling emissions.

He called on all countries to achieve a green recovery for the world economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the official translation, Mr Xi went on to say:

“We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.”

Until now China has said it would peak its emissions by 2030 at the latest, but it has avoided committing to a long-term goal.

Emissions from China continued to rise in 2018 and 2019 even as much of the world began to shift away from fossil fuels.

While the Covid-19 crisis this spring saw the country’s emissions plunge by 25%, by June they had bounced back again as coal-fired plants, cement and other heavy industries went back to work.

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Getty Images

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In 2014 the US and China reached a surprise agreement on climate change

Observers believe that in making this statement at this time, the Chinese leader is taking advantage of US reluctance to address the climate question.

“Xi Jinping’s climate pledge at the UN, minutes after President Donald Trump’s speech, is clearly a bold and well calculated move,” said Li Shuo, an expert on Chinese climate policy from Greenpeace Asia.

“It demonstrates Xi’s consistent interest in leveraging the climate agenda for geopolitical purposes.”

Back in 2014 Mr Xi and then US-President Barack Obama came to a surprise agreement on climate change, which became a key building block of the Paris agreement signed in D

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