Nations must start weighing up the cost of economic profit against damage to the environment if they are to have a chance at a sustainable future, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday.
The UN chief highlighted that the global economy increased almost fivefold in the past fifty years, but that growth was at a massive cost to the environment, reports UN News.
“Nature’s resources still do not figure in countries’ calculations of wealth. The current system is weighted towards destruction, not preservation”, he said.
“The bottom line … is that we need to transform how we view and value nature. We must reflect nature’s true value in all our policies, plans and economic systems”, Guterres urged, adding that by doing so, investment can be directed into actions that protect and restore nature.
“The rewards will be immense”, he said.
The call by the Secretary-General comes as countries convened at the UN Statistical Commission are set to deliberate a new statistical framework to measure economic prosperity and human well-being, which includes the contributions of nature.
Going beyond GDP
The framework, called the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting – Ecosystem Accounting, goes beyond the commonly used statistic of gross domestic product (GDP), and ensures that natural capital, such as forests, oceans and other ecosystems, are factored in economic reporting, according to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
The system also helps better respond to environmental emergencies, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, it added.
“We’ve treated nature as if it were free and as if it were limitless. So, we have been degrading nature and using it up without really being aware of what we were doing and how much we were losing in the process”, Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and UN Chief Economist, said.
The new framework, he said, “will allow us to see how our economic activities may affect our ecosystems, how the presence of nature affects us, and how our activities could be changed to achieve prosperity without damaging or destroying nature in the process”.
DESA added the Statistical Commission will discuss the framework on Tuesday and will move to adopt it, provided there are no objections within a 72-hour period starting on Friday, 5 March.
UN Statistical Commission
Established in 1947, the Statistical Commission is the UN’s highest decision making body for international statistical activities, responsible for setting of statistical standards and the development of concepts and methods, including their implementation at the national and international level.
The Commission generally meets for a four-day session in March every year, with participation of Chief Statisticians from UN Member States, experts, policy makers, and the civil society.
Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose slightly in December compared with the same month of 2019, indicating the sharp drop seen due to the pandemic was short-lived.
Figures released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency show emissions from the production and use of oil, gas and coal were 2% higher in December 2020 than a year earlier. The Paris-based intergovernmental agency said a resurgence in economic activity coupled with a lack of clean energy policies mean many countries are now seeing higher emissions than before the coronavirus outbreak.
“The rebound in global carbon emissions toward the end of last year is a stark warning that not enough is being done to accelerate clean energy transitions worldwide," said the agency's executive director, Fatih Birol. "If governments don’t move quickly with the right energy policies, this could put at risk the world’s historic opportunity to make 2019 the definitive peak in global emissions.”
Scientists have previously calculated that CO2 emissions fell by 7% during the full year 2020 as people stayed at home because of the pandemic.
“Our numbers show we are returning to carbon-intensive business-as-usual,” said Birol. "These latest numbers are a sharp reminder of the immense challenge we face in rapidly transforming the global energy system.”
Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.
Also Read: Climate Ambition Summit Dec 12
Scientists say that in order to meet the Paris climate accord's goal of keeping average temperatures from rising by 2 degrees Celsius — ideally no more than 1.5C — compared to pre-industrial times, man-made emissions of CO2 and other planet-heating gases need to reduced to near zero by mid-century.
IEA figures show that China was the only major economy whose emissions grew in 2020, while those in the United States fell by 10% compared to 2019. By December, U.S. energy emissions were close to the levels seen in the same month of 2019, the agency said, attributing this to economic recovery and greater coal use due to higher gas prices and colder weather.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, on Monday.
The Covaxin vaccine is manufactured by "Bharat Biotech" company.
The phase 2 of the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine drive began in India on Monday as Modi took his first vaccine dose at Delhi-based All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). This phase would inoculate those above the age of 60 and those over 45 with comorbidities.
Nearly 15 million people have been covered so far in the COVID-19 nationwide vaccination drive, which began on Jan. 16.
The vaccines will be administered free of cost at government hospitals and health centers, while 250 Indian Rupees (around 3.40 U.S. dollars) will be charged from individuals at private health facilities.
Meanwhile, India continues to register over 15,000 daily COVID-19 cases.
According to the official figures released by the federal health ministry, six states Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have shown a surge in new COVID-19 cases.
The Philippines launched a vaccination campaign Monday to contain one of Southeast Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks but faces supply problems and public resistance, which it hopes to ease by inoculating top officials.
Cabinet officials, along with health workers and military and police personnel, were among the first to be vaccinated in six hospitals in Metropolitan Manila, after President Rodrigo Duterte and other top officials received 600,000 doses on Sunday of COVID-19 vaccine donated by China.
At the state-run Philippine General Hospital in Manila, the hospital director, Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, was inoculated first by a nurse in a televised event and was followed by Cabinet and Department of Health officials.
“Let’s get vaccinated, let’s save lives every day. We need to move on,” Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said in a speech at the hospital, adding he would get vaccinated in about a week after health workers have been immunized.
The Philippines was among the last Southeast Asian countries to receive its first batch of vaccine due to delivery delays although it has reported more than 576,000 infections, including 12,318 deaths, the second-highest totals in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Lockdowns and quarantine restrictions have set back Manila’s economy in one of the worst recessions in the region and sparked unemployment and hunger.
“Our economy is really down, as in down so the earlier these vaccinations gain speed, the better,” Duterte told a televised news conference late Sunday after witnessing the delivery of the Chinese-donated vaccine at an air base in the capital.
Duterte said he was considering to further ease quarantine restrictions in the capital and elsewhere once the vaccination campaign gains momentum. With just 600,000 doses available for about 300,000 people to get two doses each, Monday’s immunizations were billed as symbolic.
Aside from China’s donated vaccine from Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the government has separately ordered 25 million doses from the China-based company but no fixed date has been set for the deliveries. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the delivery of an initial 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine that was initially scheduled for Monday would be delayed by a week due to supply problems.
China’s donation is a tiny fraction of at least 148 million doses the government has been negotiating to secure from Western and Asian companies to vaccinate about 70 million Filipinos for free in a massive campaign funded by foreign and domestic loans. The bulk of the shipments are expected to arrive later this year amid the global scramble for COVID-19 vaccine.
Duterte’s administration has come under criticism for lagging behind most other Southeast Asian countries in securing the vaccines, but the president has said wealthy Western countries have cornered massive doses for their citizens, leaving poorer nations scrambling for the rest.
Aside from supply problems, there have been concerns over the vaccine’s safety, largely due to a dengue vaccine scare that prompted the Duterte administration to stop a massive immunization drive in 2017. There have also been concerns even among health workers over the Sinovac vaccine because of its lower efficacy rate compared to others developed in the West and Russia.
Carlito Galvez Jr, who leads government efforts to secure the vaccines, said Duterte saw some surveys showing low public confidence in the Sinovac vaccine and ordered him and other top officials to be inoculated with it.
At the Philippine General Hospital, where he got inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine, Galvez said Filipinos could not return to normal life and the economy would not be able to recover if people refuse to get immunized and prefer Western vaccines, which would come later in the year.
“We should not wait for the so-called best vaccine. There is no best vaccine because the best vaccines are those which are effective and efficient and come early,” Galvez said in a speech at the hospital.
With homebound nominees appearing by remote video and hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on different sides of the country, a very socially distanced 78th Golden Globe Awards trudged on in the midst of the pandemic and a storm of criticism.
Netflix, which came in with a commanding 42 nominations, won the top TV awards. “The Crown,” as expected, took best drama series, along with acting wins for Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles) and Emma Corrin (Princess Diana). “Schitt’s Creek,” which had gone unnominated in the top category every previous season at the Globes, won best comedy series for its final season. Catherine O’Hara also took best actress in a comedy series.
They were among many of the evening’s awards to go to streaming services, which — facing scant traditional studio competition — dominated the Globes like never before. Apple TV+ scored its first major award with Jason Sudeikis winning best actor in a comedy series for the streamer’s “Ted Lasso.”
Fey took the stage at New York’s Rainbow Room while Poehler remained at the Globes’ usual home at the Beverly Hilton. In their opening remarks, they managed their typically well-timed back-and-forth despite being almost 3,000 miles from each other.
“I always knew my career would end with me wandering around the Rainbow Room pretending to talk to Amy,” said Fey. “I just thought it would be later.”
They appeared before masked attendees but no stars. Instead, the sparse tables — where Hollywood royalty are usually crammed together and plied with alcohol during the show — were occupied by “smoking-hot first responders and essential workers,” as Fey said.
In a production nightmare but one that’s become familiar during the pandemic, the night’s first winner accepted his award while muted. Only after presenter Laura Dern apologized for the technical difficulties did Daniel Kaluuya, who won best supporting actor for his performance as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” get his speech in. When he finally came through, he waged his finger at the camera and said, “You’re doing me dirty!”
Pandemic improvising was only part of the damage control for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Globes. After The Los Angeles Times revealed that there are no Black members in the 87-person voting body of the HFPA, the press association — which Ricky Gervais last year called “very, very racist” in his opening monologue — came under mounting pressure to overhaul itself and better reflect the industry it holds sway in.
This year, none of the most acclaimed Black-led films — “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “One Night in Miami,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Da 5 Bloods” — were nominated for the Globes’ best picture award. With the HFPA potentially fighting for its Hollywood life, Sunday’s Globes were part apology tour. Fey and Poehler started in quickly on the issue.
“Look, a lot of flashy garbage got nominated but that happens,” said Poehler. “That’s like their thing. But a number of Black actors and Black-led projects were overlooked.”
Within the first half hour of the NBC telecast, members of the press association also appeared on stage to pledge change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.”
The show, postponed two months from its usual early-January perch, promised little of the glamour that makes the Globes one of the frothiest and glitziest events of the year. Due to the pandemic, there was no parade of stars down the red carpet outside the Beverly Hilton.
When attendees would normally be streaming down the red carpet on Sunday evening, many stars were instead posing virtually. Regina King, resplendent in a dazzling dress, stood before her yawning dog. Carey Mulligan, nominated for “Promising Young Woman,” said from a London hotel room that she was wearing heels for the first time in more than a year.
The circumstances led to some award-show anomalies. Mark Ruffalo, appearing remotely, won best actor in a limited series for “I Know This Much Is True” with his kids celebrating behind him and his wife, Sunrise Coigney, sitting alongside.
Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the tender Korean-American family drama “Minari” (a movie the HFPA was criticized for ruling ineligible for its top award because of its non-English dialogue), accepted the award for best foreign language film while his young daughter embraced him. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung.
“‘Minari’ is about a family. It’s a family trying to learn a language of its own. It goes deeper than any American language and any foreign language. It’s a language of the heart. I’m trying to learn it myself and to pass it on,” said Chung.
John Boyega, supporting actor winner for his performance in Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” anthology, raised his leg to show he was wearing track pants below his more elegant white jacket. Bob Odenkirk, while appearing on five screens with fellow TV actor nominees before an ad break, took the moment to meet a legend, virtually. “Mr. Pacino, very good to meet you ... on the screen,” he said.
Some speeches were pre-taped. The previously recorded speeches by Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the wining “Soul” score went without hiccup even though presenter Tracy Morgan first announced “Sal” as the winner.
Other awards included Pixar’s “Soul” for best animated film; Rosumund Pike took best actress in a comedy or musical film for “I Care a Lot”; and Aaron Sorkin (“Trial of the Chicago 7″) for best screenplay. The film, a favorite to win best drama film at the Globes, was sold to Netflix by Paramount Pictures last summer due to the pandemic. “Netflix saved our lives,” said Sorkin.
As showtime neared, the backlash over the HFPA threatened to overwhelm the Globes. Yet the Globes have persisted because of their popularity (the show ranks as the third most-watched award show, after the Oscars and Grammys), their profitability (NBC paid $60 million for broadcast rights in 2018) and because they serve as important marketing material for contending films and Oscar hopefuls. That may be especially true this year when the pandemic has upset the normal rhythms of buzz in a virtual awards season lacking the usual frenzy.
The Globes are happening on the original date of the Academy Awards, which are instead to be held April 25.