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Space Climate Observatory Agreed Ahead Of One Planet Summit In Paris

The UK’s world-leading space sector will help create a new Space Climate Observatory, following an agreement adopted by national space agencies

Artist's impression of MicroCarb. Credit: ESA.

Artist’s impression of MicroCarb. Credit: ESA.

At an event in Paris, the UK Space Agency signed up to the global agreement to improve long-term sustainability and accessibility of climate data captured by satellites.

The Heads of the national Space Agencies have committed to implementing the Space Climate Observatory and working together on activities such as increasing observations of key climate variables and validating the data – which the UK’s world leading climate community is well placed to deliver.

Space agencies have also agreed to promote free and open data policies as well as satellite data products that can be used by scientists, businesses and governments all over the world. Data from satellites operated by different organisations will be brought together, alongside tools to model, validate and calibrate the measurements they make.

Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

“The Government is committed to tackling climate change while growing our economy, and the space sector will play a vital role in driving clean growth as part of the Industrial Strategy.

“This new agreement recognises the importance of satellite observations and highlights the vital role UK science and industry can play in delivering solutions to global issues.”

Climate Change and Industry Minister Claire Perry said:

“The UK is a world leader in tackling climate change and we want to help other countries do the same. We played a vital role in the formation of the historic Paris Agreement, and the One Planet Summit marks two years to the day since its adoption.

“This global commitment to improve climate data captured by satellites demonstrates the UK’s leadership and excellence in research and development, and shows that there is no rowing back on the Paris Agreement.”

The UK Space Agency recently announced an investment in a satellite mission called MicroCarb in partnership with the French space agency CNES. The satellite, which measures carbon emissions and absorption by the cities, oceans and forests, is being assembled and tested in the UK by Thales Alenia Space and is due to launch in 2020. The UK is providing world leading climate scientists to the mission team and the UK Space Agency will support the delivery of a number instrument sub-systems from UK institutions.

The UK has a long history of working collaboratively with international organisations such as the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) to maximise the benefits of earth observation from space.

The UK Space Agency runs a satellite instrument technology programme that is building capability and expertise in monitoring the planet from space, funding a number of instruments and projects. The UK Earth Observation Technology Strategy published in November, outlines how the UK will develop innovative technology to drive growth and leadership in the area, with £3.4 million of funding currently available for new projects.

Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency Graham Turnock, who signed the agreement in Paris, said: “The UK is working with international organisations to encourage the use of space data and technology to tackling climate change.

“It’s important we come together and agree to work towards improving the quality and sustainability of climate data from space and ensuring it is made freely available to researchers around the world.”

The One Planet Summit, convened by the French Government, the UN and World Bank, is taking place in Paris on 12 December to mark two years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement and increase access to finance for climate action. The Powering Past Coal Alliance, which was recently launched by the UK and Canada to bring together countries, public bodies and businesses to phase out coal in the power sector, is expected to be discussed further at the summit.

EU Transport Council: Agenda For 5 December 2017

Chris Grayling to attend the December 2017 EU Transport Council covering mobility, freight road tolls, safeguarding competitions plus other issues

The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

I will attend the only formal Transport Council under the Estonian Presidency (the Presidency) taking place in Brussels on Tuesday 5 December (2017).

The first item on the agenda will be a progress report on phase one of the mobility package, focusing on proposals designed to improve the clarity and enforcement of the EU road transport market (the ‘market pillar’), and proposals on the application of social legislation in road transport (the ‘social pillar’).

Following this, the Presidency has proposed a policy debate on the ‘charging pillar’ of the package. The proposals to amend the existing directives on HGVroad tolls and user charges (‘Eurovignette’) and the interoperability of electronic road toll systems (EETS) set out rules for charging vehicles using the road (but do not mandate such charging) and promote better functioning of charging across national barriers.

Next, there will be a progress report on the proposed amendment to the regulation on safeguarding competition in air transport. The proposal aims to tackle discriminatory practices and address perceived deficiencies in the existing legislation by allowing complaints to be made to the European Commission by a wider range of interested parties who suspect, or have evidence that, one or more EU carriers are being harmed by the unfair practices of a third country.

The council will adopt conclusions on the progress on Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The conclusions do not place any binding requirements on member states. They recognise the value that the TEN-T Policy and CEF (the associated funding programme) bring to EU transport infrastructure and look to strengthen transport investment in the next EU budgeting period. The UK can support these conclusions.

Conclusions will also be adopted on the digitalisation of transport. ‘Digital Europe ‘ has been a priority for the Estonian Presidency and the conclusions highlight the potential and challenges for the digitalisation of transport and, amongst other things, call on the commission to develop a comprehensive and multimodal digitalisation strategy for the transport sector during the first quarter of 2019. The UK can support their adoption.

Next, the council will adopt conclusions on mid-term evaluation of the Galileo, EGNOS and European GNSS Agency. We welcome these conclusions and, in particular, the need for new recommendations about the future evolution of the programme to be proportionate and costed before they are brought forward for decision.

Under any other business, the commission will first present phase 2 of the mobility package, which focuses on clean mobility and includes proposals on promotion of clean and energy-efficient vehicles, combined transport of goods, and access to the market for coach and bus services. The presidency will provide information on the state of play on the proposed rail passenger rights regulation. The delegations from Germany, the Commission, Poland, France and Finland will, respectively, provide information on automated cars, implementation of the aviation strategy, World Maritime Days, IMOgreenhouse gas emission reduction strategy, and summertime arrangements. The commission will also provide information on military mobility, and finally, the Bulgarian delegation will present the transport work programme of their forthcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Secretary Tillerson To Travel To Brussels, Vienna, And Paris

Rex W. Tillerson

Rex W. Tillerson

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Brussels, Belgium; Vienna, Austria; and Paris, France, December 4-8.

On December 4, he will arrive in Brussels, where he will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and attend the December 5-6 NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting. While in Brussels, he will also meet with senior Belgian officials, as well as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of the 28 European Union member states to discuss U.S.-EU cooperation on major global issues.

On December 7 in Vienna, he will attend the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Ministerial Council, hosted by the OSCE Chairman-in Office, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz. There he will attend the opening and first plenary sessions, together with ministers from the 57 OSCE participating States. He will also meet separately with Foreign Minister Kurz to discuss combatting violent extremism, curbing nuclear proliferation, promoting democratic and economic reform in the Western Balkans, and deepening bilateral trade ties.

Finally, Secretary Tillerson will travel to Paris to meet with senior French leaders to discuss our deep cooperation on issues of mutual concern around the world, including in Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, the DPRK, and the Sahel, in addition to other areas of bilateral interest.

Troika Statement On The Intergovernmental Authority On Development’s High-Level Revitalization Forum Supporting Peace In South Sudan

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The following statement was issued jointly by the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Norway.

Begin text:

The members of the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States) recently traveled to Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan, and Kenya in support of the efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to urgently convene a High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) for the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan.

The Troika remains appalled by the dire economic, security, human rights, and humanitarian crisis being inflicted on the long-suffering people of South Sudan as a result of the conflict that their political leaders have generated and fueled. The HLRF is a critical opportunity to make urgent progress. All parties have a responsibility to the citizens of this young country to participate constructively and be open to real compromise.

As a first priority, all parties must end hostilities as a sign of commitment to the HLRF – as they have pledged to do. The Government of South Sudan, in particular, must cease its pursuit of military victory and make good on its promise to end all obstruction of humanitarian assistance. The Troika also calls on the armed opposition to end all military activity and lift any barriers to humanitarian access.

The Troika strongly supports the calls that we heard from voices across South Sudan and the region for the HLRF to be inclusive, reflecting the interests of all parties, regions, and groups in South Sudan, including young people and women. The Troika emphasizes that all parties to the conflict must negotiate in good faith and work to amend sections of the Agreement that no longer reflect the reality of conditions in South Sudan, particularly those related to power sharing, timelines, and transitional security arrangements. A key goal for the HLRF should be monitored, effective security arrangements durable enough to stop the conflict, improve the human rights and humanitarian situation, and support a political process that produces an agreed path to viable elections. There must also be clear consequences for those who violate the agreement.

Alongside regional and international partners, the Troika will continue to identify and hold responsible those who work against peace, including through economic and other sanctions. They will also act against those who use their positions to fuel conflict and steal from the South Sudanese people and those who facilitate their illicit financial activities.

The Chief Inspector’s Report On The Home Office’s Asylum Intake And Casework Has Been Published

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, David Bolt, makes 7 recommendations in his report on the Home Office’s asylum intake and casework process

Asylum Intake And Casework Word Cloud

Asylum Intake And Casework Word Cloud

Mr Bolt said:

“The Home Office devotes significant resources to managing asylum claims. Nonetheless, it continues to struggle to keep on top of the volumes of claims it receives. In 2016-17, despite the evident commitment and hard work of those involved, high staff turnover, prolonged staffing gaps and inexperience caused problems that were not easily or quickly fixed.

“As a consequence, the number of claims awaiting an initial decision rose during the year, as did the proportion deemed ‘non-straightforward’ and therefore set outside the published service standard of 6 months for a decision. The inspection also found issues with decision quality. Given the life-changing nature of asylum decisions, the Home Office’s performance needs to improve.

“The Home Office has described the asylum system as “in transition”. I am aware of its plans to transform and enable it to cope better with peaks in demand. However, these plans were not sufficiently advanced at the time of this inspection for their effectiveness to be tested.

“My message to the Home Office is that it needs to accelerate its transformation plans and to ensure it has asylum processing and decision making under control as soon as possible. Otherwise, the next peak in asylum intake, or trough in staffing levels, will see it fall further behind.

“This inspection makes 7 recommendations for improvement. The Home Office has accepted 6 in full and 1 in part. I look forward to revisiting this important area of the Home Office’s work in due course and checking on the progress made.

“In the meantime, for the sake of clarity, while the Home Office response is correct in saying that I found no evidence that asylum policy and processes are gender biased, this was because the data was insufficiently detailed to permit meaningful analysis. This is not a positive finding – data collection needs to improve if the Home Office is to persuade stakeholders that their concerns are unfounded.”

The completed report was sent to the Home Secretary on 25 September 2017.

An Inspection of asylum intake and casework.

Home Office’s response to the Chief Inspector’s reports

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