World roundup: August 25 2023
Stories from Iraq, Niger, Honduras, and elsewhere
TODAY IN HISTORY
August 25, 1580: An army under the Duke of Alba, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, fighting on behalf of King Philip II of Spain, defeats an army under António, Prior of Crato, at the Battle of Alcântara, part of the War of Portuguese Succession. Both António and Philip were claimants to the then-vacant throne of Portugal, and this victory allowed Philip’s army to capture Lisbon and eventually led to Philip’s crowning as King of Portugal in March 1581. The crowns of Portugal and Spain were held in personal union (the “Iberian Union”) until the 1640-1668 Portuguese Restoration War.
August 25, 1920: The Battle of Warsaw ends with a surprising, arguably even miraculous (hence the moniker “Miracle on the Vistula”) Polish victory over the invading Russian Red Army. The costly defeat seems to have ended any Russian ambitions of a decisive victory in what is known as the Polish-Soviet War, and with Polish leaders having been similarly disabused of their chances for victory the two sides began peace talks in earnest in autumn 1920. An armistice was reached in October followed by the Peace of Riga in March 1921, in which Poland recognized Soviet governments in Belarus and Ukraine while those states ceded some 135,000 square kilometers of territory to Poland. That land reverted back to Belarus and Ukraine during and after World War II.
In what surely has to be the most shocking revelation of the last two to three minutes, it turns out that deforestation carbon credits are a scam:
Across nearly a score of UN-backed offset projects examined in central Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, only 5.4 million out of 89 million credits -- about six percent -- actually resulted in carbon reduction through forest preservation, scientists reported this week in the journal Science.
In carbon markets, a single credit represents one tonne of CO2 that is either removed from the atmosphere by growing trees, or prevented from entering it through avoided deforestation.
Each year, burning fossil fuels -- and, to a much lesser extent, deforestation -- emit roughly 40 billion tonnes of CO2, the main driver of global warming.
As climate change accelerates and pressure mounts on corporations and countries to slash emissions, the market for carbon credits has exploded.
In 2021, more than 150 million credits valued at $1.3 billion originated in the so-called voluntary carbon market under a system forged within the UN's climate change negotiating forum: REDD+, or Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries.
For more than a decade, however, such schemes have been dogged by charges of lack of transparency, dodgy accounting practices, and in-built conflicts of interest.
Who could have seen this coming?
The Syrian army killed at least seven Hayat Tahrir al-Sham fighters in shelling in Aleppo province on Friday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The incident comes two days after HTS shelling killed a Syrian army officer in Latakia province and amid what seems to be a general, if still fairly mild, escalation of clashes in northwestern Syria.
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