Global Review – 11th January

Greenhouse gas levels hit high in 2021

Levels of planet-warming carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere hit record highs in 2021, which was one of the world’s hottest years ever and underlined the need for change, the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) has said. Globally, 2021 was the fifth hottest year on record, with an average temperature 1.1-1.2OC above 1850-1900 levels. The last seven years were the world’s warmest on record “by a clear margin”, the European Union’s C3S said in a report. As greenhouse gas emissions change the planet’s climate, the long-term warming trend continued and record-shattering extreme weather swept the world last year, from floods in Europe, China and South Sudan, to wildfires in Siberia and the United States.

EU parliament president dies at 65

The death has been announced early this morning of European Parliament president David Sassoli. The Florence-born 65-year-old Italian had been seriously ill in hospital for more than two weeks due to a dysfunction of his immune system. Sassoli has been previously admitted with pneumonia for several weeks last September and again yesterday night. More on David Sassoli’s life here.

US, Russia still at odds over Ukraine

The United States and Russia gave no sign that they had narrowed their differences on Ukraine and wider European security in talks in Geneva, as Moscow repeated demands that Washington says it cannot accept. The talks lasted for more than seven hours in Geneva on Monday. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the US delegation that Russia had no intention of invading Ukraine. Deputy US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said: “We were firm in pushing back on security proposals that are simply non-starters to the United States.” Both sides have agreed to continue efforts to reduce tensions.

Pope backs COVID vaccination

Pope Francis has condemned “baseless” ideological misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, backing national immunisation campaigns and calling health care “a moral obligation”. Making his yearly address to the diplomatic corps from 200 countries accredited to the Vatican, Francis said, “We have realised that in those places where an effective vaccination campaign has taken place, the risk of severe repercussions of the disease has decreased.”

Europe loosens COVID-19 policies

The Czech Republic has said it would allow critical workers such as doctors and teachers to go to work after a positive COVID-19 test – the latest European country to ease restrictions to keep services running as cases surge. Britain, France, Switzerland, Spain and Belgium have all cut quarantine periods in the last three weeks and eased some of the conditions for infected staff to return to work. ILO says the hours of work lost to the pandemic in 2020 were equivalent to 258 million full-time jobs disappearing, and last year the figure still amounted to around 125 million jobs.

First transplant with genetically modified pig heart

The New York Times reports the first successful transplant of the heart of a pig on a man, David Bennett Sr, 57, a Maryland resident. The operation lasted eight hours and was performed in Baltimore. The new organ “creates the beat, creates the pressure, is his heart,” said Dr Bartley Griffith, director of the medical centre’s transplant programme, author of the intervention. “It works and looks normal but we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow; it’s never been done before,” he added. Bennett had a life-threatening heart disease.

Djokovic’s visa controversy ‘damaging on all fronts’ – ATP

The controversy over Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa application has been “damaging on all fronts”, the Men’s Professional Tennis/ATP tour has said. It has also called for more clarity of the rules to enter Australia. Djokovic left an immigration detention hotel on Monday after his visa cancellation was overturned in court. But Australia’s immigration minister still has powers to re-cancel the visa and deport the unvaccinated player.

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