UN votes for global en­vi­ron­ment pact

Weekend Herald - - World - Photo / AP

The United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly voted yes­ter­day to take a first step to­ward es­tab­lish­ing a Global Pact for the En­vi­ron­ment, a de­ci­sion the United States op­posed.

The 193-mem­ber world body ap­proved the res­o­lu­tion on a vote of

143-5 with seven ab­sten­tions. The US was joined in vot­ing against the res­o­lu­tion by Rus­sia, Tur­key, Syria and the Philip­pines.

The res­o­lu­tion asks Sec­re­tary­Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res to pro­duce a re­port for the next Gen­eral As­sem­bly ses­sion start­ing in Septem­ber that iden­ti­fies and as­sesses pos­si­ble gaps in in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal law and re­lated le­gal in­stru­ments. It also es­tab­lishes a work­ing group to dis­cuss pos­si­ble op­tions for ad­dress­ing any gaps with a view to mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions to the as­sem­bly in

2019 that could in­clude hold­ing a con­fer­ence “to adopt an in­ter­na­tional in­stru­ment”. French Am­bas­sador Fran­cois De­lat­tre, speak­ing on be­half of more than 90 co-spon­sors of the res­o­lu­tion, told the as­sem­bly be­fore the vote that “the un­prece­dented de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of our en­vi­ron­ment is al­ready caus­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of deaths due to plan­e­tary warm­ing, wa­ter and air pol­lu­tion, and the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of bio­di­ver­sity and soils”. “These at­tacks on the en­vi­ron­ment are af­fect­ing the most vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions first,” he said. “If we don’t act de­ci­sively, we are ex­pos­ing our­selves to dire con­se­quences: The ex­haus­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources, mi­gra­tions, and an up­surge in con­flicts.”

The early en­try into force of the Paris cli­mate agree­ment and the adop­tion of UN goals for 2030 aimed at combating poverty and pre­serv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment demon­strate that it is pos­si­ble for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity “to act con­cretely and am­bi­tiously on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues”, De­lat­tre said.

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron set out the goal of a Global Pact for the En­vi­ron­ment in his speech to the Gen­eral As­sem­bly last Septem­ber and the am­bas­sador said that “given the ur­gency of this is­sue” it’s time to take another step for­ward.

The US op­po­si­tion was not sur­pris­ing, given Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s an­nounce­ment last June that the US would with­draw from the 2015 Paris agree­ment aimed at combating cli­mate change.

US Am­bas­sador Nikki Haley said of the new Gen­eral As­sem­bly res­o­lu­tion: “When in­ter­na­tional bod­ies at­tempt to force Amer­ica into vague en­vi­ron­men­tal com­mit­ments, it’s a sure sign that Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and busi­nesses will get stuck pay­ing a large bill with­out get­ting large ben­e­fits.”

She added: “The pro­posed global com­pact is not in our in­ter­ests, and we op­pose it.” AP

French Am­bas­sador Fran­cois De­lat­tre told the as­sem­bly that “the un­prece­dented de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of our en­vi­ron­ment is al­ready caus­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of deaths”.

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