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Ghani tells summit Afghanistan extremely vulnerable to climate change

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(Last Updated On: December 13, 2020)

President Ashraf Ghani said this week that Afghanistan has tremendous potential to produce clean energy and develop an eco-friendly green industry.

Addressing the virtual 2020 Climate Ambition Summit Ghani said: “We have some of the most abundant supplies of sun, water, and wind [in Afghanistan].”

Ghani noted that if all energy sources are harnessed, “this could collectively produce 300,000 megawatts of power.”

He stated that the government is building hydropower stations across the country and scoping the potential for wind and solar farms.

“We recently signed an agreement with Siemens Energy that positions us to become the regional hub for reliable, sustainable and affordable energy,” he noted.

“We have the potential to serve as a platform for environmental cooperation and coordination across the region,” Ghani pointed out.

He also stated that Afghanistan is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world where climate change is concerned.

“For one, the cycle of drought has drastically shortened, from a 33-year cycle to now a five-year cycle. Our seasonal rainfall now comes in spring instead of winter, and with it, lethal floods and destructive erosion,” Ghani said.

He added that the southeastern part of the country is now believed to have gotten 1.5 degrees warmer in the last 40 years and deforestation has been rampant due to the last four decades of conflict.

The Climate Action Summit was held over two days this week and 70 Heads of State, along with regional and city leaders, and heads of major businesses, delivered a raft of new measures, policies, and plans, aimed at making a big dent in greenhouse gas emissions, and ensuring that the warming of the planet is limited to 1.5C.

The number of countries coming forward with strengthened national climate plans (NDCs) grew significantly today, with commitments covering some of the world’s biggest emitters on display.

At least 24 countries announced new commitments, strategies, or plans to reach carbon neutrality, and a number of states set out how they are going even further, with ambitious dates to reach net-zero: Finland by 2035, Austria by 2040, and Sweden by 2045.

Pakistan announced that it’s scrapping plans for new coal power plants, India will soon more than double its renewable energy target, and China committed to increasing the share of non-fossil fuel in primary energy consumption to around 25 percent by 2030.

The US was not however represented, as Donald Trump’s administration shunned the meeting, but president-elect Joe Biden issued a statement promising to hold a major event on the climate in his first 100 days in office.

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IEA calls on US to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2021)

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) leaders called on the US to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets during a news conference in Moscow on Wednesday night saying that the money is for the Afghan people.

“All countries, with almost one voice, called on the US to end its financial prohibitions on Afghanistan and to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets because this money is for the Afghan people and they were receiving their salaries from it, and therefore the US has no right to freeze these funds,” acting IEA Minister of Information and Culture, Khairullah Khairkhwa, said.

Pakistan, China, Iran, India and former Soviet Central Asian states joined IEA officials at the Moscow meeting. The United States stayed away, citing technical reasons.

Acting Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi meanwhile said at the meeting that the IEA would create conditions for women to work within the framework of Sharia law.

He also emphasized that the IEA does not represent a threat to any other country.

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UN sets up trust fund for ‘people’s economy’ in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2021)

The United Nations said on Thursday it had set up a special trust fund to provide urgently-needed cash directly to Afghans through a system that would tap into donor funds frozen since the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) takeover in August.

Achim Steiner, the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) administrator, said that Germany, a first contributor, had pledged 50 million euros ($58 million) to the fund, and that it was in touch with other donors.

“Discussions over the last few weeks have focused on how we do find a way to be able to mobilise these resources in view of the economic implosion that is now unfolding and the international community’s repeated commitment not to abandon the people of Afghanistan,” he told a news briefing.

This comes after US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said on Tuesday he sees no situation where the IEA would be allowed access to Afghan central bank reserves, which are largely held in the United States.

The IEA has called for the United States to lift a block on more than $9 billion of Afghan central bank reserves held outside the country as the government struggles to contain a deepening economic crisis.

“We believe that it’s essential that we maintain our sanctions against the Taliban (IEA) but at the same time find ways for legitimate humanitarian assistance to get to the Afghan people. That’s exactly what we’re doing,” Adeyemo told the Senate Banking Committee.

Washington and other Western countries are grappling with difficult choices as a severe humanitarian crisis looms large in Afghanistan. They have been trying to work out how to engage with the IEA without granting them legitimacy, while ensuring humanitarian aid flows into the country.

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Qureshi on one-day visit to Kabul for talks

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(Last Updated On: October 21, 2021)

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrived in Kabul on Thursday for talks with Afghan leaders.

According to a statement issued by Pakistan’s foreign ministry, Qureshi, who is leading a high- level delegation, will meet with Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and call on the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan government during his one-day visit.

He will meet other Afghan dignitaries as well, the statement read adding that the talks between the two sides will cover the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and focus on ways and means to deepen cooperation in diverse areas.

“Utilizing the opportunity, the Foreign Minister will share Pakistan’s perspective on issues of regional peace and stability.

“As a close fraternal neighbor, Pakistan has always stood by Afghanistan.”

On border crossings, the foreign ministry said Pakistan kept the border crossing points open for trade and pedestrian crossing under COVID protocols and that measures were being taken for visas for Afghan nationals, and border crossing procedures for trade and cargo have been instituted.

“In recent months, Pakistan has provided humanitarian aid and assistance in the form of food stuffs and medicines.

“The Foreign Minister’s visit reflects Pakistan’s consistent policy of supporting the brotherly Afghan people, deepening bilateral trade and economic relations, and facilitating closer people-to-people contacts,” the statement read.

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