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The United States and China are “committed to cooperating” on the pressing issue of climate change, the two sides said in a joint statement Saturday, following a visit to Shanghai by U.S. climate envoy John Kerry.
“The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” said the statement from Kerry and China’s special envoy for climate change Xie Zhenhua.
Kerry, the former U.S. secretary of state, was the first official from President Joe Biden’s administration to visit China, signaling hopes the two sides could work together on the global challenge despite sky-high tensions on multiple other fronts.
The joint statement listed multiple avenues of cooperation between the United States and China, the world’s top two economies, which together account for nearly half of the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.
It stressed “enhancing their respective actions and cooperating in multilateral processes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.”
Biden has made climate a top priority, turning the page from his predecessor Donald Trump, who was closely aligned with the fossil fuel industry.
Biden has rejoined the 2015 Paris accord, which Kerry negotiated when he was secretary of state and committed nations to taking action to keep temperature rises at no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
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German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Saturday lambasted Russia for being a “direct and specific” threat to European security.
Speaking at the conservative Konrad-Adenauer Foundation in the south German town of Koenigsbronn, Kramp-Karrenbauer said: “Russia’s arms build-up and its warfare in the middle of Europe has created real threats.”
She added: “Anyone who points this out is not anti-Russian. Anyone who points this out is addressing an important political fact and taking active precautionary measures for our country and for Europe.”
The defense minister accused Moscow, among other things, of stationing missiles “that can reach Germany without much warning.”
“This happened in violation of the current arms control treaties and in secret,” she said.
In 2018, Russia confirmed the stationing of Iskander missiles with a range of 500 kilometers (310 miles) in the Kaliningrad exclave located between Poland, Lithuania, and the Baltic Sea after a long game of hide-and-seek.
At that time, this was seen as Moscow’s reaction to the deployment of NATO troops in the Baltic states.
Kramp-Karrenbauer again assessed the current Russian troop relocation to the border with Ukraine as a deliberate provocation. “Unfortunately, the Russian approach is not suitable for creating trust, but rather should obviously provoke reactions,” the minister said.
She praised Ukraine’s level-headed in response to Russia’s military actions.
“Because we — together with Ukraine — don’t want to get involved in this Russian game,” she said.
Earlier this week, Germany had raised concerns over Russia’s military build-up along its border with Ukraine, amid growing fears over a possible escalation in hostilities in the region.
Meanwhile, Kramp-Karrenbauer accused Russia of “increasingly defining itself as an illiberal, anti-democratic antithesis to the West.”
Other policy areas would be subordinated to this attitude, according to the defense minister.
“The spectrum of state instruments of action, of which Russia undoubtedly makes active use, extends from sophisticated cyberattacks, arms exports, covert and open political influence, assassinations, direct and indirect military engagement,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer.
Germany has been the scene of massive Russian cyberattacks and dissident killings in recent years.
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The manmade lakes that store water supplying millions of people in the U.S. West and Mexico are projected to shrink to historic lows in the coming months, dropping to levels that could trigger the federal government’s first official shortage declaration and prompt cuts in Arizona and Nevada.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released 24-month projections this week forecasting that less Colorado River water will cascade down from the Rocky Mountains through Lake Powell and Lake Mead and into the arid deserts of the U.S. Southwest and the Gulf of California. Water levels in the two lakes are expected to plummet low enough for the agency to declare an official shortage for the first time, threatening the supply of Colorado River water that growing cities and farms rely on.
It comes as climate change means less snowpack flows into the river and its tributaries, and hotter temperatures parch soil and cause more river water to evaporate as it streams through the drought-plagued American West.
The agency’s models project Lake Mead will fall below 1,075 feet (328 meters) for the first time in June 2021. That’s the level that prompts a shortage declaration under agreements negotiated by seven states that rely on Colorado River water: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
The April projections, however, will not have binding impact. Federal officials regularly issue long-term projections but use those released each August to make decisions about how to allocate river water. If projections don’t improve by then, the Bureau of Reclamation will declare a Level 1 shortage condition. The cuts would be implemented in January.
Arizona, Nevada and Mexico have voluntarily given up water under a drought contingency plan for the river signed in 2019. A shortage declaration would subject the two U.S. states to their first mandatory reductions. Both rely on the Colorado River more than any other water source, and Arizona stands to lose roughly one-third of its supply.
Water agency officials say they’re confident their preparation measures, including conservation and seeking out alternative sources, would allow them to withstand cuts if the drought lingers as expected.
“The study, while significant, is not a surprise. It reflects the impacts of the dry and warm conditions across the Colorado River Basin this year, as well as the effects of a prolonged drought that has impacted the Colorado River water supply,” officials from the Arizona Department of Water Resources and Central Arizona Project said in a joint statement.
‘Straws’ for drawing water
In Nevada, the agency that supplies water to most of the state has constructed “straws” to draw water from farther down in Lake Mead as its levels fall. It also has created a credit system where it can bank recycled water back into the reservoir without having it count toward its allocation.
Colby Pellegrino, director of water resources for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, reassured customers that those preparation measures would insulate them from the effects of cuts. But she warned that more action was needed.
“It is incumbent upon all users of the Colorado River to find ways to conserve,” Pellegrino said in a statement.
The Bureau of Reclamation also projected that Lake Mead will drop to the point they worried in the past could threaten electricity generation at Hoover Dam. The hydropower serves millions of customers in Arizona, California and Nevada.
To prepare for a future with less water, the bureau has spent 10 years replacing parts of five of the dam’s 17 turbines that rotate to generate power. Len Schilling, a dam manager with the bureau, said the addition of wide-head turbines allow the dam to operate more efficiently at lower water levels. He said the turbines will be able to generate power almost to a point called “deadpool,” when there won’t be enough water for the dam to function.
Less water means less power
But Schilling noted that less water moving through Hoover Dam means less hydropower to go around.
“As the elevation declines at the lake, then our ability to produce power declines as well because we have less water pushing on the turbines,” he said.
The hydropower costs substantially less than the energy sold on the wholesale electricity market because the government charges customers only for the cost of producing it and maintaining the dam.
Lincoln County Power District General Manager Dave Luttrell said infrastructure updates, less hydropower from Hoover Dam and supplemental power from other sources like natural gas raised costs and alarmed customers in his rural Nevada district.
“Rural economies in Arizona and Nevada live and die by the hydropower that is produced at Hoover Dam. It might not be a big deal to NV Energy,” he said of Nevada’s largest utility. “It might be a decimal point to Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power. But for Lincoln County, it adds huge impact.”
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On this edition of Encounter, Ari Davis, Senior Policy Analyst at The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and Nurrah Abdulhaqq, youth leader in the Georgia Chapter of “March for Our Lives” tell host Carol Castiel that despite the surge in gun violence in America, whether mass shootings, homicides or suicides, they are cautiously optimistic that a growing movement for a multi-pronged approach to combating violence, including US President Joe Biden’s recent executive orders, bode well for progress.
PROGRAM NOTE: This program was recorded before the FedEx mass killings in Indianapolis
Download audio: https://voamedia.voanews.com/pd/p/2446332/sp/244633200/serveFlavor/entryId/1_e6im8f6i/v/1/ev/2/flavorId/1_rzvfaywt/fileName/A_Conversation_about_Gun_Violence_in_America_(VOA_MP3_128Kbps).mp3/name/a.mp3
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