World roundup: November 12 2021
Stories from Yemen, Afghanistan, Belarus, and more
In today’s global news:
Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.
I was under the impression that we would at least be able to mention the COP26 climate summit’s final statement in tonight’s roundup, but as it happens attendees were unable to agree on a final statement by their Friday deadline. And so the conference will continue at least into Saturday, and maybe we’ll be able to read the final statement and be depressed about how lame it is by Sunday. The conference has apparently been unable to come to an accord on questions like how quickly to phase out fossil fuels (science says “ten years ago” and Saudi Arabia says “never,” which means attendees will come down somewhere closer to “never” but it’s unclear how close), and on pledges from wealthy nations to support poorer nations as they struggle to adapt to climate change’s effects. The most recent draft of a statement includes explicit language about the need to phase out fossil fuels, which would be a true milestone for an international climate change conference and yes I’m well aware how low that means the bar has been set in this field. The reference is buried in weak language about how and when that phase out should occur and it’s likely that none of this is enforceable anyway, but I guess you have to take whatever you can get, right?
At least COP26 can boast one tangible achievement. It’s far and away the highest carbon emitting COP summit, in both aggregate and per participant terms. The conference emitted a total of 102,500 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, more than double the second highest emitting summit, 2019’s COP25 in Madrid. Way to go everyone!
Citing the rebel-aligned Syrian Civil Defense group, The New Arab is reporting that five people were killed in Syrian-Russian airstrikes in Idlib province on Thursday. According to these claims all five were from one family that had come to Idlib after being displaced from another part of Syria. “One-off” air and artillery strikes, as well as skirmishes between rebel and pro-government forces, are still regular occurrences in northwestern Syria despite a regional ceasefire.
Another regular feature of life in northern Syria these days is water shortages. Climate change, exacerbated by Turkish over-damming on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, has left water levels “critically low” according to the World Food Program. In addition to the obvious need for clean water, the shortages are impacting the operation of the Tishreen dam, a key source of electricity for northeastern Syria. If the dam fails completely, as it’s close to doing, the facility will likely flood with water and be damaged beyond repair.