While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 13

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Countries must declare climate emergency: UN chief

The United Nations on Saturday urged leaders to declare a global climate emergency and shape greener growth after the coronavirus pandemic, as nations took gloomy stock five years since the landmark Paris Agreement.

Fast-growing China, the world's biggest emitter, outlined limited new ambitions in green energy at a virtual "Climate Ambition Summit" addressed by more than 70 leaders.

In the dying days of Donald Trump's administration, the US government was one notable absentee after abandoning the Paris pact.

But president-elect Joe Biden issued a statement arguing there was "no time to waste", as he prepares to embrace the deal anew and to host his own climate summit within 100 days of taking office next month.


US hits 16 million Covid-19 cases as vaccine roll-out begins

The United States hit a record 16 million Covid-19 cases on Saturday afternoon, with deaths closing in on the 300,000 mark, even as millions of doses of a new vaccine were expected to start rolling out across the nation on Sunday.

The first vaccine was approved late on Friday by the US Food and Drug Administration and is expected to touch off a mass-inoculation campaign of unparalleled dimension to end the pandemic that has upended daily life and devastated the US economy.

"FDA APPROVES PFIZER VACCINE FOR EMERGENCY USE!!!" President Donald Trump announced on Friday night on Twitter. He promised Americans the vaccinations would begin in less than 24 hours.


Virgin Galactic spacecraft forced to abort test flight

Virgin Galactic's passenger aircraft SpaceShipTwo was forced to abort a test flight on Saturday after a technical malfunction, with the two pilots returning to Earth safely, the company said.

Richard Branson's space tourism company, which is preparing for commercial flights next year, was testing its customer cabin, horizontal stabilisers and flight controls.

"The ignition sequence for the rocket motor did not complete. Vehicle and crew are in great shape," Virgin Galactic said on Twitter.


Formula One: Verstappen claims first pole of season in Abu Dhabi

Red Bull's Max Verstappen clinched his maiden pole position of the campaign on Saturday for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Dutch driver edged Valterri Bottas in second and the Finn's Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who is racing for the first time since winning the championship after contracting coronavirus, in third for Sunday's Grand Prix.

It was Verstappen's first pole since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix and the third of his career after clocking his best lap in one minute and 35.246 seconds to beat Bottas by 0.025 seconds.


United's Solskjaer hails 'best performance' despite dull City stalemate

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said his side produced their best performance of his time in charge against Manchester City even though an uninspiring 0-0 draw at Old Trafford did little for their chances of winning the Premier League.

After crashing out of the Champions League at the group stage in midweek, the draw at least saved Solskjaer from another defeat that would have brought more scrutiny of his position as manager.

A share of the spoils also keeps United one point better off than their local rivals. United are seventh, five points off Tottenham and Liverpool at the top, while City slip to ninth.


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