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Paris delivers ”historic” climate accord:Aims at ‘well below’ 2 degree Celsius limit

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The Paris climate summit (also known as COP 21) has adopted a new “Paris Agreement”. Amid cheers, hugs and tears of joy, delegates from 196 countries at the Paris climate summit  adopted on Saturday the first universal pact committing them to curb global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and outline a roadmap to raise $100 billion annually towards a green fund for developing nations.

India immediately welcomed the pact, saying it was balanced and addressed most of its concerns.

The Paris Agreement — as the 32-page accord is called and reached after two weeks of hectic talks, a day’s extension and and some sleepless night for negotiators — was declared adopted after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, also the chair of the conference, struck the gavel.

“You’ve done it — reached an ambitious agreement, a bindin g agreement, a universal agreement. Never will I be able to express more gratitude to a conference. You can be proud that to stand before your children and grandchildren,” said French President Francois Hollande.

India’s Environment and Foreign Minister Prakash Javadekar felt the pact could have been more ambitious as the commitment from rich nations was “much below” what was expected of them, but felt the basic concept of common but differentiated responsibilities towards environment protecting was largely addressed.

“To achieve big things as there are languages and many issues, when 196 countries are putting their efforts together. One needs to be accommodative without changing the thrust of the agreement. We’ve done everything to maintain that thrust,” Javadekar said.

“Today is a historic day. What we have adopted today is not only an agreement but a new chapter of hope in the lives of seven billion people,” he said at the closing plenary, adding: “Today we reassure our future generation that we all will mitigate the challenge posed by climate change and give them a better future.”

Earlier in the day President Hollande had called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support.

Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement by the 21st Conference of Parties, under the aegis of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, it will be taken to the UN headquarters. Then on Earth Day, falling on April 22, 2016, it will be opened for the signatures of members for one year.

It will enter into force once 55 countries accounting for at least 55 percent of emissions ink it.

“For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and join in common cause to take common climate action. This is a resounding success for multilateralism,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Then there is is a firm commitment for countries to engage in a process on mitigation opportunities and put added focus on adaptation opportunities, with rich members working towards a clear path to outline a road map on raising the climate finance for developing countries to $100 billion annually by 2020.

Immediately after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, two largest multilateral financing institutions threw their weight behind the accord and said they will help countries across the globe fight climate change.

Poor and emerging economies had been demanding that they get clean and green technology and funding from the rich nations to pursue their national interests without harming the environment further as they hold the industrialised world responsible for polluting the earth in the past.

Among the other decisions reached included a commitment that countries will submit updated climate plans — nationally determined contributions — every five years to steadily increase their long-term ambitions. India has already pledged to reduce the carbon intensity by 33-35 percent over 15 years.

India’s negotiating position, as a key member of a number of informal groupings on climate change was evident at the conference was evident, as even US President Barack Obama called up Prime Minister Modi to ensure that Paris delivers a deal.

The country’s engagements were kicked off by Modi himself here, as global leaders this time converged at the beginning of the conference as opposed to attending the closing plenaries, as has been the practice in the past.

Apart from making a pitch for the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities at the conference talks, the Indian prime minister also launched a grand alliance of some 120-odd nations to harness solar energy better, besides committing $30 million for a proposed secretariat.

Tech

China starts blocking HTTPS connections with encrypted SNI: Report

TLS 1.3 introduced Encrypted SNI (ESNI) that encrypts the SNI so that intermediaries cannot view it, said the report.

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Hacking

San Francisco, Aug 9 : In an update to its national censorship tool, known as the Great Firewall, China has reportedly started blocking HTTPS connections with Encrypted Server Name Indication.

The ban has been in place for over a week now, three organisations tracking Chinese censorship — iYouPort, the University of Maryland, and the Great Firewall Report – said this week in a joint report.

“We confirm that the Great Firewall (GFW) of China has recently begun blocking ESNI – one of the foundational features of TLS 1.3 and HTTPS,” said the report.

TLS is the foundation of secure communication on the web (HTTPS). It provides authenticated encryption so that users can know whom they are communicating with. It also ensures that an intermediary does not read or tamper with your information.

But even though TLS hides the content of a user’s communication, it does not always conceal with whom the user is communicating.

The TLS handshake (a process that kicks off a communication session) optionally contains a Server Name Indication (SNI) field that allows the user’s client to inform the server which website it wishes to communicate with.

Nation-state censors have used the SNI field to block users from being able to communicate with certain destinations, said that report, adding that China has long been censoring HTTPS in this manner.

TLS 1.3 introduced Encrypted SNI (ESNI) that encrypts the SNI so that intermediaries cannot view it, said the report.

The Great Firewall of China blocks ESNI connections by dropping packets from client to server, it added.

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World

Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong calls for resilience in face of economic downturn

The prime minister added that he is confident that Singaporeans will get through this current crisis, though it may take longer time.

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Lee Hsien Loong

Singapore, Aug 9 : Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday called for resilience in the face of severe economic downturn on the 55th National Day.

When delivering his National Day message, Lee said Singaporeans are understandably anxious and worried as business closures, retrenchments and unemployment are all likely to go up in the coming months, Xinhua news agency reported.

“But this is not the first economic crisis we have experienced,” he said. “Each time the outlook was ominous, and we feared the worst, but each time we worked hard to secure our position, gritted our teeth, and came through together.”

The prime minister added that he is confident that Singaporeans will get through this current crisis, though it may take longer time.

He said unity and resilience are needed more than ever. Many countries that had brought COVID-19 under control and eased restrictions see their cases rise sharply again, and this can happen to Singapore too despite all the precautions, he added.

Lee forecast that it will most likely take a year or two before a vaccine is widely available, and the threat of the virus is blunted. “Until then, we have to maintain our vigilance and resolve, to keep ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbours all safe,” he said.

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Election

Mahinda Rajapaksa sworn in as Sri Lanka’s new PM

According to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the new parliament will convene on August 20.

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Mahinda Rajapaksa

Colombo, Aug 9: Leader of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party Mahinda Rajapaksa took oath as the nation’s new prime minister on Sunday after his party secured a landslide victory in the recently concluded parliamentary election.

Rajapaksa took oath during a grand ceremony at Kelaniya Temple, a Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo in the presence of the diplomatic community and legislators from the ruling and opposition parties, Xinhua news agency reported.

Rajapaksa was sworn in as the prime minister of the country for the fourth time.

Rajapaksa’s party won 145 seats in the August 5 election which was held to elect new legislators in a 225-member parliament.

His new cabinet will take oath later this week.

According to the Elections Commission, the parliamentary election held last Wednesday was one of the most peaceful held in Sri Lankan history with a 71 per cent voter turnout.

The election was held under strict health guidelines due to COVID-19 pandemic which has infected over 2,800 people in the country.

According to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the new parliament will convene on August 20.

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