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At IEA Summit, UN chief urges countries to scrap coal, boost clean energy transition

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged countries on July 9 to invest in reliable, clean and economically smart renewable energy.

“I am encouraged that some COVID response and recovery plans put the transition from fossil fuels at their core,” he said at the first-ever International Energy Agency (IEA) Clean Energy Transitions Summit.

At a virtual meeting chaired by IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, ministers representing over 80% of the global economy discussed how to achieve a definitive peak in global carbon dioxide emissions and put the world on course for a sustainable and resilient recovery.

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson participated as well as ministers from the world’s largest energy users, including, China, United States, India, Japan, United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, Italy, South Africa, Mexico, Indonesia and Spain.

Speakers highlighted that the IEA Summit comes at a pivotal moment when the world faces urgent and shared challenges to build back economies, create jobs and accelerate clean energy transitions, the IEA said in a press release.

Guterres noted that the EU and the Republic of Korea have committed to green recovery plans. Nigeria has reformed its fossil fuel subsidy framework. Canada has placed climate disclosure conditions on its bail-out support.

“And a growing number of coalitions of investors and real economy stakeholders are advocating for a recovery aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement. But many have still not got the message. Some countries have used stimulus plans to prop up oil and gas companies that were already struggling financially. Others have chosen to jumpstart coal-fired power plants that don’t make financial or environmental sense,” Guterres said, citing new research on G20 recovery packages released this week, which shows that twice as much recovery money — taxpayers’ money – has been spent on fossil fuels as clean energy.

“Today I would like to urge all leaders to choose the clean energy route for three vital reasons — health, science and economics,” the UN Secretary General said.

He warned that worldwide, outdoor air pollution is causing close to 9 million early deaths every year and shortening human lifespans by an average of three years.

Moreover, he noted that all around the world, every month, there is new evidence of the increasing toll of climate disruption. “We must limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avert more and worse disasters. This means net-zero emissions by 2050, and 45 percent cuts by 2030 from 2010 levels. This is still achievable,” Guterres said.

He stressed that clean energy makes economic sense. “Per kilowatt hour, solar energy is now cheaper than coal in most countries. If we had any doubt about the direction the wind is blowing, the real economy is showing us. The business case for renewable energy is now better than coal in virtually every market. Fossil fuels are increasingly risky business with fewer takers,” he said.

The IEA Executive Director issued a first call in March to put clean energy at the heart of the Covid-19 recovery. This early marker was followed by a comprehensive series of ‘damage assessments’ for how the crisis is impacting all fuels and all technologies; actionable recommendations for economic recovery plans; and the full utilisation of the IEA’s ever-growing convening power, the EIA said.

The World Energy Investment report in May warned of a 20% plunge in global energy investment in 2020, with worrying implications for clean energy transitions and security.

The IEA’s Sustainable Recovery Plan sets out 30 actionable, ambitious policy recommendations and targeted investments. The Plan, developed in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, would boost global economic growth by 1.1% per year, save or create 9 million jobs per year, and avoid a rebound in emissions and put them in structural decline. Achieving these results would require global investment of USD 1 trillion annually over the next three years.

According to the IEA’s Sustainable Recovery Plan, 35% of new jobs could be created through energy efficiency measures and another 25% in power systems, particularly in wind, solar and modernising and strengthening electricity grids. Participants at the IEA summit underlined the particular importance of energy efficiency, and expressed appreciation for the work of the Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency.

In the Summit’s High-Level Panel on Accelerating Clean Energy Technology Innovation, co-chaired by Norway’s Minister of Petroleum Tina Bru and Chile’s Energy Minister Juan Carlos Jobbed participants commended the new Energy Technology Perspectives Special Report on Clean Energy Innovation, which shows the vital importance of innovation for meeting shared energy and climate goals, the IEA said. Participants drew upon the IEA’s five key innovation principles and discussed how to scale up critical emerging technologies like batteries; hydrogen; carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS); and bioenergy.

In the High-Level Panel on an Inclusive and Equitable Recovery, co-chaired by Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan of and Morocco’s Energy, Mining, and Sustainable Development Minister Aziz Rabbah, participants discussed the need to put people at the centre of recovery plans, including the most vulnerable, in order to fully harness diverse talents, backgrounds and perspectives. According to the IEA, they underscored the need to protect workers in the short term and to develop skills necessary for the sustainable, resilient energy systems of the future. Participants reinforced the importance of having a clear understanding for how to advance inclusive growth and to track progress, and held up the Equal by 30 campaign to advance gender equality as a valuable model.

Also, in the the High-Level Panel on a Resilient and Sustainable Electricity Sector co-chaired by Commissioner Simson and Thailand’s Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, participants recognised how indispensable electricity has been for citizens across the world during the crisis. A number of participants emphasised the transition towards a climate-neutral economy, the IEA said, adding that they noted the crucial role of electricity in clean energy transitions, participants underscored the historic opportunity to modernise and improve the sustainability, reliability and security of electricity systems with a diverse generation mix and higher flexibility to integrate larger shares of variable renewables.

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Obama urges George Floyd protesters to push for change, ‘make people in power uncomfortable’

Former President Barack Obama, in a virtual town hall hosted by his foundation Wednesday, called on demonstrators to channel their anger over George Floyd’s death into an opportunity to make leaders “uncomfortable” and pressure them into making real policy changes.

The town hall was hosted by the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, which supports young men of color. During the event, Obama said he rejected a debate that emerged in “a little bit of chatter on the internet” about “voting versus protests, politics and participation versus civil disobedience and direct action.”

“This is not an either-or. This is a both,” he said. “And to bring about real change, we both have to highlight a problem and make people in power uncomfortable, but we also have to translate that into practical solutions and laws that could be implemented and monitored and make sure we’re following up on.”


Former President Barack Obama speaks June 3, 2020, during virtual town hall event with young people to discuss policing and the civil unrest that has followed the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. (My Brother's Keeper Alliance and The Obama Foundation via AP)

Former President Barack Obama speaks June 3, 2020, during virtual town hall event with young people to discuss policing and the civil unrest that has followed the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. (My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and The Obama Foundation via AP)

Obama also urged “every mayor in the country to review your use of force policies” with their communities and “commit to report on planned reforms” before prioritizing their implementation. During a virtual roundtable discussion, he compared current protests to the unrest of the 1960s and said polls show a majority of Americans support the current demonstrations taking place nationwide, despite some “having been marred by the actions of a tiny minority that engaged in violence.”


Last week, Obama said the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died in Minneapolis police custody May 25 after a white officer kneeled on his neck for more than 8 minutes, “shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America.” He laid out plans for change in a post on Medium and countered the argument made by some protesters that demonstrations will facilitate more societal change than voting.

“I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time,” he wrote. “I couldn’t disagree more.”

While the former president said that the current protests stem from a “legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices,” he condemned the vandalism, looting and violence that has, in part, overshadowed the more peaceful aspects of the protests in many cities.

Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Judge urges Legislature to bar police from using ‘deceptive schemes’ to skirt Miranda rights

A judge on California’s top court implored the Legislature on Wednesday to bar a “pervasive” police practice of using deception to obtain confessions from suspects who have invoked their right to remain silent.

“The use of deceptive schemes to continue questioning a suspect who has invoked Miranda rights appears to be a common police practice throughout California,” Justice Goodwin Liu wrote in a dissent.

The dissent came in response to a Wednesday decision by the California Supreme Court to decline review of a Los Angeles case in which a suspect was tricked into confessing by an undercover deputy placed in his cell with a hidden recorder.

A Los Angeles-based state Court of Appeal upheld a decision by a trial judge in the case to admit the confession into evidence. It led to the murder conviction of Manuel de Jesus Valencia, who was 18 when arrested for the gang-related killing. Valencia was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.

“Miranda forbids coercion, not strategic deception that tricks suspects into trusting someone they see as a fellow prisoner,” the Court of Appeal wrote in September.

Wednesday’s order by the California Supreme Court denying review contained no explanation of the majority’s reasoning.

Liu, in his dissent, complained that the court has repeatedly refused to take up similar cases.

“Compliance with Miranda is not a game, and the Legislature, if not this court, should make that clear,” wrote Liu, a Brown appointee.

He said no one disputed that Valencia had validly invoked his Miranda rights before “the police devised a scheme to extract a confession from him.” The scheme by an LAPD officer included falsely telling Valencia that a witness had picked him out of a lineup.

Liu cited a long list of decisions by California appellate courts upholding convictions despite such practices.

“These cases, which come from multiple counties up and down the state, are just the tip of the iceberg,” Liu said. “Because courts have consistently rejected challenges to such practices, and because this court has declined multiple opportunities to take up the issue, it is likely that many defendants do not raise this issue on appeal.”

Liu said the police tactic “integrates official questioning and surreptitious questioning into a single coordinated scheme to exhaust defendants into confessing” after they have invoked Miranda to remain silent and ask for a lawyer.

The Miranda right stems from the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Miranda vs. Arizona, which set rules for police interactions with citizens.

“‘Once warnings have been given, the subsequent procedure is clear,’” Liu quoted the high court as ruling. “‘If the individual indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease.’”

The U.S. Supreme Court limited Miranda in 1990, ruling in Illinois vs. Perkins that an undercover officer may question a suspect without giving him or her a Miranda warning. But Liu said that case did not involve a suspect who had already invoked his Miranda right.

“Nevertheless, our courts of appeal have extended Perkins to hold that surreptitious questioning of a suspect is permissible even after the suspect has invoked Miranda rights and remains in custody,” Liu said.

He said courts in other states also have upheld the practice, except for Nevada, which has barred it. Liu also noted that Orange County prosecutors have a policy against it.

Officer Tony Im, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, said he was unfamiliar with Wednesday’s case and could not comment on it.

The California Supreme Court meets privately to discuss which appeals to accept and traditionally does not comment about its reasoning. Liu has taken to issuing full-blown dissents to some of these court orders since he joined the court in 2011.

The court now has four Democratic appointees and three justices appointed by Republican governors.

The court may decline to review a case for a variety of reasons.

Some justices might agree with the lower court’s reasoning, believe the issue should be allowed to percolate further in the lower courts or think the facts of the case would be a poor vehicle for a ruling. When courts of appeal issue contradictory decisions, the state high court generally must step in to clarify the law.

The lower court’s ruling in Valencia’s case was not published, meaning it cannot be cited as precedent.

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