Poland, Dec 14 (AP/UNB) — Agreement on the fine print of the Paris climate accord drew closer Thursday, three years after countries sealed the landmark deal on curbing global warming, but negotiators remained divided on some of the thorniest issues and appeared set for overtime.
The Polish diplomat chairing U.N. climate talks in the country's southern city of Katowice issued a series of fresh drafts as the two-week meeting neared its scheduled end on Friday.
Diplomats and ministers had huddled behind closed doors, some through the night, weighing every word of the texts covering issues such as how countries will count both their greenhouse gas emissions and their efforts to reduce them.
Along with the Paris accord rulebook, the other main issues at the talks are how much financial support poor countries will get to combat and adapt to climate change, and what kind of message to send about future work to curb climate change.
Last week, the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait blocked the endorsement of a scientific report on a key element of the Paris climate agreement: capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), if possible. That angered other countries and environmentalists, who accused the four oil-exporting nations of stalling progress toward the accord's most ambitious emissions-cutting target.
Mohamed Adow, a climate expert at Christian Aid, said the discussions on financial support seemed to be moving in the right direction, though the overall outcome of the talks was uncertain.
Developing countries have been promised billions of dollars in aid, loans and other financial support to help them reduce their emissions and adapt to inevitable changes in the world's climate.
But the latest drafts offer little comfort to those countries that also want rich industrial nations to pay for damage already caused by global warming, arguing that they're to blame for most of the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases humans have pumped into the atmosphere.
"Real action requires real money for real solutions," said Adow. "The European Union needs to separate itself from the laggards like Australia, Japan and the United States."
While U.S. President Donald Trump has announced he's pulling out of the Paris accord, American officials dangled the possibility that the U.S. might consider rejoining if it gets more favorable terms.
But China, a key broker of the 2015 Paris accord, dismissed the idea of revising core parts of the pact.
"China and the U.S. have worked together with all other countries to complete the negotiation and thus make the Paris Agreement a milestone achievement in global climate governance," Beijing's chief negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, told reporters. "We will not reopen negotiations on issues where we have already reached agreement."
Xie also pushed back on demands from rich nations for China — the world's largest polluter — to accept the accounting and reporting rules that developed countries must follow, but indicated it might decide to adopt uniform standards further down the line.
He noted that while China is the largest single emitter of polluting gases, its gross domestic product per capita remains below the world average.
The drafts presented late Thursday by Poland's deputy environment minister, Michal Kurtyka, were still likely to face opposition when talks resume in the morning.
One issue certain to draw fire concerned how to reconcile a vestige of the 1992 Kyoto Protocol with efforts to establish a functioning international market in carbon credits, with Brazil and India among those that have been fiercely resisting proposed changes.
Some observers predicted the talks would likely continue into Saturday in an effort to secure a deal this year and maintain confidence in the multi-step global process.
"It was determined in Paris this was the deadline for agreeing on the implementation rules," said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "If it slips because countries can't agree or there's major splits among countries, I think that undermines confidence that this process is going to move forward in the way that it needs to."
Others questioned whether the elaborate annual summit, now being staged for the 24th time with over 30,000 participants, is still the best way to fight climate change.
"There is a view among many of us that this is failing," said former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed.
Honolulu, Dec 13 (AP/UNB) — A Hawaii Air National Guard civilian contractor was in serious condition Wednesday after his plane crashed off the coast of Honolulu during a military exercise, authorities said.
The pilot of the Hawker Hunter jet ejected safely from the plane, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam said in a statement. He was initially rescued by a private sailboat and then transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Honolulu Emergency Services spokesman Dustin Malama said the 47-year-old appeared to have traumatic injuries and was taken to a hospital.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said a Hawker Hunter jet went down in the ocean around 2:25 p.m. after taking off from Honolulu's airport.
The pilot was rescued about 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) south of Oahu near Honolulu's Sand Island, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The pilot had been participating in a military exercise called Sentry Aloha, which was temporarily suspended after the crash. The Hawaii Air National Guard was hosting the exercise, which involved about 800 personnel and 30 aircraft from nine states.
The cause of the crash was under investigation, the military said.
Departing flights from the Honolulu airport were held as a precaution for about 20 minutes, said Tim Sakahara, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.
The Hawker Hunter is a British jet developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s, said the website of defense contractor BAE Systems.
Initially, a single-seat version was used as a maneuverable fighter aircraft. It was later used as both a fighter and bomber and for reconnaissance missions.
The British navy and air force continued to use a two-seat version into the early 1990s.
Britain exported the plane, and it was also used by the air forces of 21 other nations.
Toronto, Dec 13 (AP/UNB) — A second Canadian man is feared detained in China in what appears to be retaliation for Canada's arrest of a top executive of telecommunications giant Huawei. The possible arrest raises the stakes in an international dispute that threatens relations.
Canada's Global Affairs department on Wednesday said Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur who is one of the only Westerners to have met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, had gone missing in China. Spavor's disappearance follows China's detention of a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing earlier this week.
"We have been unable to make contact (with Spavor) since he let us know he was being questioned by Chinese authorities," Global Affairs spokesman Guillaume Bérubé said. "We are working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts and we continue to raise this with the Chinese government."
Spavor is a fluent Korean speaker with longstanding ties to the North through his company, Paektu Cultural Exchange. He was instrumental in bringing NBA player Dennis Rodman to Pyongyang in 2013 and has organized a number of tours and joint cultural projects with the North since then. His disappearance sparked immediate concern in the circle of people who travel to North Korea. Acquaintances said he was due in Seoul on Monday, but never showed up.
Canada's announcement came hours after Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said she was worried another citizen had been detained in China following Monday's arrest of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig in Beijing.
At the root of the dispute is Canada's recent arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, for possible extradition to the United States.
A Canadian court on Tuesday released Meng on bail, confining her to Vancouver and its suburbs while she awaits possible extradition. The U.S. accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to do business with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.
The detention of Kovrig and possible detention of Spavor reflect an increasingly bold approach to international disputes under President Xi Jinping, who has overseen a vast expansion of China's diplomatic, military and economic power. China has often retaliated against foreign governments and corporations in diplomatic disputes, but rarely by holding foreign nationals.
The United States and China have taken pains this week to emphasize that their trade talks are entirely separate from the U.S. case against the top Chinese technology executive. But with a few words, President Donald Trump obliterated the distinction on Tuesday, saying he'd wade into the case if it would help produce a trade agreement with China.
"If I think it's good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what's good for national security — I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary," Trump told Reuters in an interview.
The comment suggests Meng could be a political pawn in negotiations and makes things more awkward for Canada, which arrested her on America's behalf during a Dec. 1 layover at the Vancouver airport.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bristled at Trump's assertion, saying: "Regardless of what goes on in other countries, Canada is, and will always remain, a country of the rule of law."
Freeland said it was "quite obvious" any foreign country requesting extradition should ensure "the process is not politicized."
Canada has also asked China for extra security at its embassy because of protests and anti-Canadian sentiment and has advised foreign service staff to take precautions, a senior Canadian official told reporters.
Meng's arrest came the same day that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed over dinner in Buenos Aires to a 90-day cease-fire in a trade war that has shaken global financial markets and raised worries about the impact on the world economy.
The truce was meant to buy time for more substantive talks over U.S. allegations that China steals U.S. technology and forces American companies to hand over trade secrets in exchange for access to the Chinese market.
U.S. officials have insisted the sanctions case against Meng had nothing to do with the ongoing trade talks. Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told "Fox News Sunday" that "there's a trade lane ... and there is the law enforcement lane. They are different."
"Both Canadian and American officials have emphasized that the Meng arrest is separate from the trade talks," said Gregory Yaeger, special counsel at the Stroock law firm and a former Justice Department trial attorney.
"Trump's remarks could be interpreted as creating the appearance that the arrest also had political motivations. This could undermine the US's reputation as a country that follows the 'rule of law,' and could ultimately undermine both the Meng prosecution and the trade talks."
Still, there is precedent for Trump intervening on behalf of a Chinese company accused of violating U.S. sanctions.
Trump drew fire from Capitol Hill in June when he reached a deal that spared another Chinese telecommunications company, ZTE, from U.S. sanctions that probably would have put it out of business after it was accused of selling equipment to Iran and North Korea. U.S. regulators planned to bar it from receiving U.S. components that it depended on, effectively a corporate death sentence.
But Trump issued a reprieve, perhaps partly because U.S. tech companies, major suppliers to ZTE, would also have been scorched. ZTE agreed to pay a $1 billion fine, change its board and management, and let American regulators monitor its operations.
Speaking outside the White House Wednesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urged reporters not to jump to the conclusion that Trump will actually intervene in Meng's case.
"Let's see what he actually decides," Ross said. "Let's see where we go from there."
Philip Levy, senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and an economic adviser in President George W. Bush's White House, noted that "there's a real value to keeping these things separate."
"Do we want China to seize an (American) executive when they want to get a concession on trade talks in the future?" he asked.
London, Dec 13 (AP/UNB) — British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a political crisis over her Brexit deal Wednesday, winning a no-confidence vote by Conservative lawmakers that would have ended her leadership of party and country.
But the margin of victory — 200 votes to 117 — leaves May a weakened leader who has lost the support of a big chunk of her party over her handling of Britain's exit from the European Union. It also came at a steep price as she promised not to run for re-election in 2022. Britain's Brexit problem, meanwhile, remains unsolved as May seeks changes to her EU divorce deal in order to make it more palatable to Parliament.
May said she was "pleased to have received the backing of my colleagues" but acknowledged that "a significant number" had voted against her in Wednesday evening's secret ballot.
"I have listened to what they said," May promised as she stood in a darkened Downing St. after what she called a "long and challenging day."
The threat to May had been building as pro-Brexit Conservative lawmakers grew increasingly frustrated with the prime minister's handling of Brexit. Many supporters of Brexit say May's deal, a compromise that retains close economic ties with the EU, fails to deliver on the clean break with the bloc that they want.
The balloting came after May's Conservative opponents, who circled the beleaguered prime minister for weeks hoping to spark a no-confidence vote, finally got the numbers they needed to call one.
The vote was triggered when at least 48 lawmakers —15 percent of Conservative legislators — wrote letters asking for a no-confidence ballot.
On Monday, May postponed a vote to approve the divorce deal to avoid all-but-certain defeat. She has until Jan. 21 to bring it back to Parliament after— she hopes — winning concessions from the EU.
The result of the vote was announced to loud cheers from lawmakers gathered in a stuffy, ornately wallpapered room in the House of Commons. Under party rules, May cannot be challenged again by fellow Conservatives for a year.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, an ally, said the result showed that May "has the support of her party."
"This is a clear statement by the parliamentary party they want her to go forward, they want her to lead us through Brexit," he told Sky News.
But pro-Brexit lawmaker Mark Francois said the result was "devastating" for May, who has lost the support of a third of her party in Parliament.
"If I were her, I wouldn't be pleased with this at all," Francois said. "I think she needs to think very carefully about what to do now."
Before the vote Wednesday, May had vowed to fight for the leadership of her party and the country "with everything I've got," and spent the day holed up in the House of Commons trying to win over enough lawmakers to secure victory.
In a bid to win over wavering lawmakers, May indicated she would step down before the next election, due in 2022.
Solicitor-General Robert Buckland said May told lawmakers at a meeting that "it is not her intention to lead the party in the 2022 general election."
May's victory is a reprieve but does not lay to rest uncertainty about Britain's EU departure, due on March 29.
Opposition lawmakers expressed astonishment and outrage at the Conservative civil war erupting in the middle of the fraught Brexit process.
"This government is a farce, the Tory party is in chaos, the prime minister is a disgrace," Scottish National Party leader Ian Blackford said during a pugnacious Prime Minister's Questions session in the House of Commons.
British business figures expressed exasperation at the continuing political uncertainty.
"With news that the prime minister remains in place, business communities will hope that these political games can finally be put to bed," said Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce.
"Westminster must now focus all its energy on urgently giving businesses clarity on the future and avoiding a messy or disorderly Brexit."
The vote confirms May's reputation as a dogged, determined political survivor. But on Thursday she will head to an EU summit in Brussels facing another difficult task. She is seeking changes to the withdrawal agreement that can win support in Britain's Parliament. But EU leaders say the legally binding text won't be reopened, and the best they can offer are "clarifications."
May said she would "be seeking legal and political assurances that will assuage the concerns" of lawmakers.
Among EU leaders there is sympathy for May's predicament — but also exasperation at Britain's political mess.
The European Parliament's Brexit point man, Guy Verhofstadt, could not contain a note of annoyance, tweeting: "Once again, the fate of EU-U.K. relations, the prosperity of businesses & citizens' rights are consumed by an internal Conservative party catfight over Europe."
On the streets of London, some felt sympathy for the embattled leader.
"It's embarrassing for a start to the rest of the world and I feel really sorry for Theresa May — she's being battered by everybody," said Abby Handbridge, who was selling Christmas cards and wrapping paper at a London street market.
"I hope she stays in power and sorts it out."
Toronto, Dec 12 (AP/UNB) — A former Canadian diplomat has been detained while visiting Beijing amid a dispute between the two counties over Canada's arrest of a Chinese executive at the request of the United States.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale on Tuesday confirmed the detention and said Canada is very concerned.
Michael Kovrig, who previously was a diplomat in China and elsewhere, was taken into custody by the Beijing Bureau of Chinese State Security on Monday night during one of his regular visits to Beijing, said the International Crisis Group, for which Kovrig works as North East Asia adviser based in Hong Kong.
Rob Malley, president of the non-government organization, said Canadian consular officers had not been given access yet to Kovrig.
Malley said he thinks Kovrig was in Beijing on personal matters at the time of his arrest and was definitely not there for any illegal purpose or for any reason that would undermine Chinese national security.
"I don't think he had any reason to feel endangered," Malley said. "He loved China, which was why he decided to take a leave of absence from the foreign affairs ministry in order to remain in China."
The Brussels-based group said it had not received any information about him since his arrest.
The detention came after China warned Canada of consequences for its recent arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver's airport. A Canadian judge granted Meng bail Tuesday while she awaits possible extradition to the U.S.
"We're deeply concerned," Goodale said in response to a question about Kovrig. "A Canadian is obviously in difficulty in China ... We are sparing no effort to do everything we possibly can to look after his safety."
Goodale said there was no explicit indication at this point that it was related to the Meng arrest.
However, Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said he had no doubt Kovrig was detained in relation to the arrest of the Huawei executive.
"In China there is no coincidence," he said. "Unfortunately Canada is caught in the middle of this dispute between the U.S and China. Because China cannot kick the U.S. they turn to the next target."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada's government has contacted Chinese officials about the detention. "We are engaged with the file (case), which we take very seriously," he said.
The International Crisis Group said Kovrig has been one of its full-time experts since February 2017. Its website says Kovrig previously worked as a Canadian diplomat in Beijing and Hong Kong and at the United Nations.
Saint-Jacques, the former ambassador, said Kovrig was on leave from the embassy. He said Kovrig did deep political work when he was working for the embassy. That work would include travel and interviews with dissidents, he said.
"In China there's a very line between espionage and political reporting," he said.
Saint-Jacques said the department created a program 15 years ago so it would get more in-depth analysis. He noted that Kovrig was a former journalist whose embassy reports were well read in Ottawa.
Kovrig wrote on his LinkedIn profile that he had served as the political lead on a visit Trudeau made to Hong Kong in September 2016. He worked in Canada's consulate-general in Hong Kong at the time.
Former Canadian Liberal Party leader Bob Rae said it was clear why Kovrig had been detained.
"It's called repression and retaliation," Rae tweeted.
Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Trudeau, said Chinese "retaliation against Canadian interests or Canadians would be unacceptable and pointless."
"It would have zero impact on judicial proceedings in Canada," Paris tweeted. "Beijing should already know this from previous experience. Let cooler heads prevail."
Jorge Guajardo, Mexico's former ambassador to China, said Canada needs to take dramatic action.
"I'd be summoning the entire Canadian consular Corp in China home for training. If that means they can't issue visas in the meantime, certainly the Chinese would understand. These are special times," he tweeted.
Hu Xijin, editor in chief of China's state-run newspaper Global Times, wrote on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo that there isn't any evidence Kovrig's detention was retaliation for Meng's arrest. But he added that the current situation was "highly sensitive" because of a "American-Canadian conspiracy" to arrest Meng.
"If people in the rest of the world make this association, it's because Meng Wanzhou's arrest was really way over the line. Naturally, people would think that China would take revenge," Hu said.