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Snippets from UK: Climate Conference Chief Puts Coal Talks with India on the Back Burner

COP 26 president Alok Sharma said he is “hopeful” after his India visit but did not utter a word on any agreement over coal. Representational pic

COP 26 president Alok Sharma said he is “hopeful” after his India visit but did not utter a word on any agreement over coal. Representational pic

From Britain's challenges in dealing with the Taliban to its helplessness in getting people out of Afghanistan, a roundup of what's making news today.

Coal smoke shrouds climate talks: COP 26 climate change conference president Alok Sharma has declared that he is “hopeful” after his India visit. He said he had “constructive discussions” with Indian ministers, and that he was “incredibly encouraged” by Prime Minister Modi’s Independence Day speech. Importantly, though, not a word on any agreement with India over coal. He said his message was to accelerate the transition from coal to clean energy. His message may not coincide with India’s priorities, that look green without saying goodbye to coal.

UK trying to come to terms with Afghan reality: British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab put it diplomatically but clearly in an interview on Sky TV that the UK will have to be “pragmatic” because the Taliban “are now in power and we have to deal with that reality”. He had earlier indicated who the UK was really dealing with: over concerns about the Taliban, he messaged Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to urge restraint. That was being both pragmatic and clear.

Boris spells it out: Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also quite clear through the course of a debate on Afghanistan in the UK parliament on Wednesday. Under fire from MPs on all sides over the takeover by the Taliban, and the retreat by the British, he said it was an “illusion” that Britain could have done anything on its own to stop the Taliban once the US decided to withdraw. Parliament met perhaps to remind itself how inconsequential a force the UK is on its own.

Ignis fatuus: Other illusions persist over the UK’s failure to take back Afghan staff and interpreters who had worked for the British. About 2,000 such Afghans and family members have been brought back, and the government has announced plans to bring back another 3,000 by the end of the year. Does it believe the Taliban will arrange for them to line up outside the British embassy to get their papers, and then bid them bon voyage when they leave?

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Seeing beyond PR: British Home Secretary Priti Patel must be quite right to believe that her opposite number in a new Afghan government will not be a woman. She told the BBC it was hard to believe “the PR operation we are now seeing” from the Taliban over women’s rights. And she offered yet more illusions: that the UK will prioritise women and minorities in migration to the country. She did not spell out how she imagined they would get to the UK.

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first published:August 19, 2021, 22:54 IST