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Hala Gorani Tonight

U.N. Warns Of Climate Change; Taliban Gains More Territory In Afghanistan; France Rolls Out COVID-19 Health Passes; Pentagon Plans To Make Coronavirus Vaccines Mandatory For All Members Of Active Duty Military; Canada Reopens Border To Vaccinated Americans; Tokyo Games Launch Discourse Around Mental Health Sports. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired August 09, 2021 - 14:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. A code red for humanity, that is the

warning from the U.N. after a damning new report on climate change, it is an existential threat especially for countries on the front lines. I'll

speak to the environment minister of the Maldives. Then CNN goes inside the battle in Afghanistan, as the Taliban seizes several provincial capitals.

And later, a new normal in France. The country has rolled out its COVID-19 health passes. You're going to need it to do anything fun in France it

seems these days. We're live from Paris. We start with climate change. A code red for humanity. That is how the U.N. Secretary General described

that report on climate change.

One that gives a sure window in which to avert a crisis of our own making. The intergovernmental panel on climate change says it's unequivocal that

humans are the ones causing this crisis, and it finds that some irreversible damage has already been done, and says the world is warming

and that it is warming fast.

Only major changes to greenhouse gas can halt this trend, and it is not just words. This report coincides with real climate-related disasters on

multiple continents. Bill Weir is our chief climate correspondent, and he joins me now live from New York with more. What is the biggest -- because

we've known now for a while that humans are contributing to the warming of the planet. But what is the biggest takeaway of this report?

BILL WEIR, CNN CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Hala, really the certainty. It's been eight years since the last of these reports, and these have been coming,

this is now the sixth in a generation, each one more certain than the one before. And it basically spells out the idea that we -- there's -- humanity

has a certain carbon budget, about 500 gigatons.

The current rates, you could go through that in eight to ten years. That's it. It's -- you burn beyond that, and earth may not be livable, you know,

in 100, 200 years from now, for anything. So this clear science, these new tools, the data set gets bigger, the satellites get better.

They're able to run these models and say the predictions from even the last report in 2013 were wildly conservative. And so, moving up the time frames,

they're narrowing the windows now, the tools are much better to climate sensitivity. And so, now, they say it's better than 50 percent chance that

we're going to pass that climate, target set in Paris of 1.5 Celsius by the early 2030s. And at current rates could blow past three degrees by the end

of the century.

GORANI: Yes, 2030, that's really around the corner.

WEIR: Yes.

GORANI: And these climate disasters we've been reporting on and that the world has experienced over the last several years, these increasing wild

weather patterns, the fires and the floods, how certain are we that these are caused by climate change and not as some climate change deniers or

skeptics say just an unfortunate set of weather events?

WEIR: There's a -- one of the most emergent sort of sub fields and climate science is this whether attribution where they're able to actually find the

human fingerprints on the smoking planet, on the fire --

GORANI: Yes --

WEIR: Or the weather event. What happened in the Pacific northwest, where British Columbia was hotter than the high -- all-time highs in South

America and in Greece that could not -- it's impossible for that to have happened without man-made climate change driving it.

And this kind of evidence as it gets better and more crisp will be using courts now as litigants try to make the case that big fossil fuel companies

knew we would be in this horrible fix 30 years ago, and not only did nothing to alert the public, but misinformation campaigns followed.

GORANI: Yes, later in the program, we'll be speaking to the environment minister of the Maldives. This is a country as you know, Bill, that could

cease to exist in 80 years. There are that concern. So, the question is, what can realistically be done? We know what needs to be done, but

realistically, what could get through politically in terms of limiting our carbon footprint and all these emissions that are destroying the planet?

WEIR: That's the -- that is the question of our age, is democracy a tool that can be used for this kind of problem because it pits all -- every

special interest against each other.


And when everybody needs to be sort of rolling in the same direction, yet, climate refugees are a very real thing if you live in the middle of an

ocean. But it's real thing -- it's going to be a real thing for people who live, you know, in south Florida. That's the one thing this report says is,

certain things are already baked in, and sea level rise is one of them. We could shut off every engine tomorrow forever, and Greenland is still going

to keep melting at a rate -- I was just up there, that's --

GORANI: Yes --

WEIR: With some climate ice scientist -- it melted enough in one day to flood Florida, the whole state, two inches, in one day. So, that's -- that

is something that leaders really should be preparing for at the local level.


WEIR: The water is coming. And if you live on the coast, you should prepare for that. But if you live inland, you've got to think about droughts and

you've got to think about crop failures, and you know, not to mention the most vulnerable among us like Madagascar where a million people could

starve as a result of drought, famine, even locusts there.

GORANI: And the biodiversity. You've done such amazing reporting there from that --

WEIR: Yes --

GORANI: Those parts of the world. Bill Weir. thanks very much for that. We're in fact speaking of wildfires. California is one of the many places

where we're seeing the dire new climate report play out in real time. The second biggest fire in the state's history is forcing thousands of people

to be evacuated from their homes as the Dixie Fire nears 500,000 acres. It's almost difficult to wrap your mind around what we're talking about

here in terms of area. It's about 200,000 hectares. Each of the state's five most destructive fires on record have happened in the last three


Camila Bernal joins me now from Chico, California, with more on the fires that we're witnessing in that part of the United States. Talk to us about

how unprecedented this blaze has been.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, firefighters with 20, 30 years of experience say that they've never seen anything like this before.

And the problem is that we're not seeing containment progress. It's still at 21 percent containment, it's the same number that we've been seeing over

the last couple of days and the fire just keeps growing.

The weather is also not helping. You have less smoke right now, but the temperatures are higher and humidity is lower, then you add the winds, and

all of this is contributing to the growth of this fire. Half a million acres, that's an incredible number.

And we're seeing more evacuations orders being issued, I'm getting the alerts on my phone, I'm talking to people who have lost their homes because

of these fires in northern California who they're getting these alerts, smelling the smoke, hearing the sirens, triggers this anxiety and this


So, it really has been a difficult month for the people of northern California. There are still some people who are missing. The numbers have

gone up and down. But sheriff deputies say that they'll do everything they can to find these people who are still unaccounted for.

On the other hand, you have firefighters who are telling me, that yes, they are tired, they've never seen a fire season like this one. The Governor of

California even taking this time to visit one of the most impacted areas, the town of Greenville. And there, he not only showed the damage and the

loss, but also talked about climate change, and said that the Dixie Fire is a climate-infused fire. I've talked to so many people who are also saying

that it's just impossible to ignore, the temperature is getting higher and the drought in this part of the state.

This fire has been burning for 26 days straight. So, there's a collective fear, a sense of what is going to happen over the next couple of days and

weeks, and people here are worried. Hala?

GORANI: All right, Camila Bernal, thanks very much for joining us from Chico, California. From the United States all the way across the world to

Europe, a similar grim situation. More than a 1,000 firefighters from around the world are helping Greece battle dozens of wildfires.

Russian crews pitched in Sunday to help douse flames by air over the Island of Evia, north of Athens. The fires are happening amid the country's worst

heat wave in more than three decades. Our correspondent Eleni Giokos is in Evia, Greece for more on the crisis. Talk to us about what's going on at

your location here --


GORANI: Because we saw throughout the day some really just terrifying images of fires --

GIOKOS: Yes --

GORANI: Ravaging parts of the island.

GIOKOS: Absolutely, Hala. And, you know, you only get a real sense of the scale and the devastation once you go to various parts of the island. We've

been driving around the entire day, pushed away from very dangerous fires, where authorities and emergency services are desperately trying to get

those under control. It's now nightfall which means they've all halted their efforts. They've been using helicopters and aircraft with water to

try and douse the flames. We've been monitoring some of the fires, and it is almost impossible to actually get some of these under control.


What has been incredible to see is that locals are getting involved, some just take water bottles, wheel barrows filled with water and even just

normal fire extinguishers. So, everyone coming together, it's very hazy here, it's raining ash. It is unbelievable just to see how -- what the

impact has been. We're talking about almost half of Evia, Hala, almost half of Evia's pristine forest has been burnt to the ground.

Homes have been burned, livelihoods have been lost. Many people have spoken to us and said that they rely on the forest for their livelihoods through

preparation of honey and raisins from trees and even plantations, most of those have been destroyed.

Now, they're also saying they're disappointed and they are angry at the fact that it took authorities five days to deploy helicopters and other

services to the island, and they say that it's their fault that seven days on, the fires are still raging. What we have seen high of today, an

increase in helicopters and assistance from foreign countries, which of course has been absolutely vital to get these fires under control. Seven

days on though, there's major fear devastation and people are shocked that -- you know, we've been speaking to people here at the city center.

Most of them have been helping putting out fires during the day, and coming up and opening their stores in the evening. It's been unbelievable just to

see the impact.

GORANI: All right, Eleni Giokos in Evia, Greece, thanks very much for that reporting.

GIOKOS: Yes --

GORANI: So, we're taking you around the world, the U.S. and Greece. Let's go to the Middle East, there's another striking example of what climate

change is doing to the planet right now can be found in northern Iran. A dying lake is now a fraction of its former size and the ecosystem around it

is decimated. Fred Pleitgen has this exclusive report from Urmia, Iran.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From a lush, natural paradise to a dry, salty desert. Global warming is

literally evaporating what once was the largest lake in the entire Middle East, Lake Urmia in Iran, the sixth largest salt lake in the world.

(on camera): All around Lake Urmia, you can see the impact of the global climate emergency, on the communities here, on the people, their

livelihoods, and of course, also their future. The authorities tell us today, Lake Urmia is less than half the size of what it used to be.

(voice-over): The shrinkage is due in part to dam projects around here, but mostly due to years of severe drought as our planet gets hotter. Ahad

Ahmadi(ph) was a tourist photographer on the Bordua(ph) in what used to be the beach resort Charaf Hane(ph). Believe it or not, this photo was only

taken in 1995 when tourists still flocked here, he says.

"People will come here for swimming and would use the mud for therapeutic purposes. They would stay here for several days", he says. The ferry boats

many used to cross the lake now lay stranded on the salty crust slowly rusting away. This Google map animation shows just how fast Lake Urmia has

shrunk, going from 5,400 square kilometers in size to just 2,500 in about 30 years.

Lack of rain and water shortages are a problem all across Iran. Precipitation in Iran is down more than 50 percent this year according to

the country's Center for Drought and Crisis Management. Severe lack of water recently led to protests, some violent in the southwest of the


Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying he understands the protesters, and that their issues must be addressed. Iran's new president

saying he has understood the message.

"The matters have been detected and I assure the people that the solutions have been delineated, and we have benefitted from the views of experts and

scholars, and this will urgently be dealt with", he said. At Lake Urmia, water shortage is not the only problem, the dusty, Salty ground left behind

when the lake receded led to salt storms, causing eye infections and respiratory problems for people around here.

The Local Environmental Protection Agency planted these bushes which they say mostly succeeded in stopping the worst effects. "As the bushes grow

here, they have more leaves and the moving sand gets trapped inside he says, so it acts as a trap which keeps the sand underneath it."

Iranian authorities say they've made saving Lake Urmia a priority, and that a halted new dam projects and diverting other water sources towards the

lake have at least slowed its decline.


But farmer Qumar Pujabelli(ph) shows me his main concern. The water he's able to get from his well is very salty, killing off many of the buds on

his tomato vines and slowly causing his walnut trees to wither. "The day the soil will become unfarmable is not far away", he says. "When you water

the earth to a depth of 110 centimeters, it infiltrates the soil and the salt will stay there, and its level increases every year".

And the salt concentration in Lake Urmia is dramatically increasing as the water body shrinks. Microorganisms that flourish and salty water have dyed

much of what's left of the lake in a reddish pink color. The deputy head of this province's Environmental Protection Agency tells me he believes there

are now about 6 billion tons of salt around the lake.

Still, he says he's confident they can stop the lake from drying up. "Pausing all dam construction projects has been very effective", he says,

"but some of the rivers that feed the lake were full of sediments, so the water didn't reach all the way to here. We've cleaned up the riverbeds to

increase the water in-flow. Those measures are making a big difference", the authorities say, but they are also under no illusion. What they

urgently need here is more rain to stop Lake Urmia, a natural treasure of this region from vanishing into thin and salty air. Fred Pleitgen, CNN,

Urmia, Iran.


GORANI: It's really striking. Still to come tonight. CNN is on the front lines in Afghanistan. There's a desperate battle for one key city, the

birthplace of the Taliban. The latest on that conflict, next.


GORANI: Well, if you're in the Afghan forces, and you're fighting the Taliban right now, it is not going well at all. The Taliban has now seized

at least five of the country's provincial capitals. The group is gaining ground quickly, take a look at the areas marked in red.

According to the "Long War Journal", this reflects the turf that's fallen under Taliban control from mid-April to now, with only three weeks to go

before all foreign forces are set to withdraw. Our international security editor Nick Paton Walsh is following this developing story. So, this is

kind of a relentless move forward, expansion by the Taliban. Can anything stop them at this point?


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: The hope, I think, for past years has always been that it will be U.S. air power combined with

Afghan special forces on the ground that would keep the Taliban in its rural hard lands and out of the main cities. But as of Friday, that hope

began to erode when the first fell, and we've seen rapidly five more including the vital city of Kunduz also falling it seems to the insurgency.

None of this completely a reversal, but as the story continues to move forward, and we hear of a sixth, possibly the seventh, maybe the key city

of Ghazni under threat, also being attacked by the insurgency, it's a hard amount for this Afghan security forces to climb every day.

And also the fear I think too, that they're fighting so many fires across all over Afghanistan with the Taliban bearing down on a number of city

centers now, that it must be hard to actually prioritize. As you mentioned too, there's a clock ticking on all of this, because U.S. air power has

been decisive in the past years, less so it seems in the last five days or so.

It's hard to pinpoint strikes when you're fighting over densely-populated urban areas. But that air power stops in just over 21 days. At the end of

the U.S. withdrawal, the U.S. has made it clear they're not going to provide air support for Afghan forces fighting the insurgencies. So, unless

there's a change in policy, things are probably going to get worse for Afghan forces.

There's a possible glimmer of hope, and there may be a certain bottom line that they're able to defend. Certainly, the capital, Kabul, is less likely

to be overrun by the insurgency any time soon. But everybody knew, Hala, this was going to be bad, that was the inevitable consequence of President

Joe Biden's very unconditional decision to pull out, it was the only thing the Americans hadn't tried yet.

Some said so maybe it was worth seeing if it would spur peace deals or possibly the Afghan forces to stand up more on their own. That isn't

happening at this point. What is happening are some of the worst predictions coming true. And regardless of how you see this unraveling,

ordinary Afghans are caught in the middle of this. It's been a ghastly couple of decades-plus for them, and now we look set to have a Summer of

yet further woe, Hala.

GORANI: And -- but the Taliban, what ends -- do they have any incentive to negotiate any kind of peace deal? They're just moving with lightning speed

here. Do they -- do they have any intention --

WALSH: No -- yes --

GORANI: Intention or incentive to come to the table?

WALSH: Yes, I mean, there's been a long-held hope by American officials, politicians that the Taliban are venerable, wizardry organization that

understand the mistakes they made in power briefly in the '90s, but they don't want to be a pariah, beset by sanctions like they were back then. But

they would like to be embraced by the international community in some way and therefore form a hybrid government without officials plurality of

opinion and be able to get international aid. That was the kind of underlying logic behind the whole peace process really.

That, however victorious they were on the battlefield, they wanted legitimacy. It's pretty clear that they don't at this stage. They're quite

happy to get a military victory and then work out what they do with the parts of the country they haven't been able to conquer as yet.

You have to remember, there's a younger generation of Taliban fighters here that are not the more venerable guys in Doha doing the negotiation, they

haven't got a 30, 40-year memory of what it's like to be at war and want to see a certain kind of recompense for sacrifices made over the past 10 to 20

years or so.

A lot of them are in the front lines at this point, a lot of them don't want to see this negotiated away, a lot of them may end up seeing more

territory in their hands in the months ahead. Hala?

GORANI: All right, Nick Paton Walsh, some of these Taliban fighters weren't even born on 9/11. Thanks very much. UNICEF just reported that at least 27

children have been killed in Afghanistan over the past three days. Nick was talking about the civilians caught in the middle. Most of them in Kandahar

province. Kandahar is one of the largest cities in Afghanistan, it's also the birthplace of the Taliban and the city that these militants are intent

on overtaking. Clarissa Ward takes us behind the frontlines as Afghan forces fight to maintain control there.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the road to Kandahar's frontline, there is still civilian traffic even as the Taliban

inches deeper into the city. Afghan commandos have agreed to take us to one of their bases.

(on camera): This used to be a wedding hall, now it's the front line position.

(voice-over): Most of the fighting here happens at night. The Taliban snipers are at work 24 hours a day.

(on camera): From snipers?


WARD (voice-over): The men tell us the Taliban are hiding in houses just 50 yards away from us.

(on camera): And they shoot from people's homes? They shoot from civilian houses?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think you see these are civilian homes. We cannot use other big weapons, the heavy weapons.


WARD (voice-over): Up on the roof, Major Habib Bullejer(ph), he wants to show us something.

(on camera): So, you can actually see the Taliban flag just over on the mountain top there.


WARD (voice-over): It's been nearly a month since the Taliban penetrated Afghanistan's second largest city. Since then, these men haven't had a

break. U.S. airstrikes only come in an emergency, the rest of the time it's up to them to hold the line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "We feel a little bit weak without U.S. airstrikes and ground support and equipment", he says, "but this is our soil, and we have

to defend it."

GUL AHMAD KAMIN, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, KANDAHAR: Bombardment using heavy weapons.

WARD: In a villa in the eastern part of the city, Kandahary lawmaker Gul Ahmad Kamin is hunkered down. In decades of war, he says he's never seen

the fighting this bad.

KAMIN: Millions of people in this city are waiting for when they will be killed, when someone will kill them, when their home will be destroyed and

it is happening every minute.

WARD (on camera): Just spell out for me here, the Taliban is basically surrounding the entire city of Kandahar now, is that correct?

KAMIN: Definite, yes.

WARD: And so where is there to go?

KAMIN: Nowhere. So there is only two options, do or die.

WARD: Do or die?


WARD: And what does do look like?

KAMIN: That is the thing to convince different sides to ceasefire, to work on peace, to convince them to not to fight, not to kill.

WARD (voice-over): But that is a tall order in a city where war has become part of everyday life.

(on camera): You can probably see there is a lot more cars on the road than there were previously, and that's because in just 2 minutes at 6:00 p.m.,

the cell phone network gets cut across the city, and that's when the fighting usually starts.

(voice-over): Throughout the night, the sounds of gunfire and artillery pierce the darkness. Kandahar is the birth place of the Taliban. They are

intent on taking it back, and the government knows it cannot afford to lose it. By day, an eerie calm holds. The U.N. says more than 10,000 people are

now displaced in this city. On the outskirts of town, we find 30 families camped out in an abandoned construction site.


(on camera): He's saying that none of these children have fathers. All of their fathers have been killed in the fighting.

WARD (voice-over): Thirty five-year-old Rubina(ph) fled with her two daughters to escape the fighting after her husband was shot dead, but still

it gets closer and closer.

"Last night, I didn't sleep all night", she says, "and the fear was in my heart." In the short time we are there, more families arrive. Street vendor

Mahmed Ismail(ph) says they fled the village of Malajat after an airstrike hit. "Three dead bodies were rotting outside our home for days, but it was

too dangerous to get them", he says. "The Taliban is attacking on one side, the government is attacking the other side, in the middle, we are just


Back at the base, dust coats the chairs where wedding guests would normally sit as the siege of Kandahar continues, life here is in limbo with no end

in sight. Clarissa Ward, CNN, Kandahar.


GORANI: And to Belarus, the president there today addressed a recent CNN report that the government could be preparing a prison camp for political

dissidents outside of the capital Minsk. Our report showed these pictures of the site guarded by three levels of barbed wire and military patrols.

Opposition activists fear they will be used for dissidents arrests in future protests. And a western intelligence official says that is possible.

Today, President Alexander Lukashenko made sarcastic remarks, telling his press secretary to take CNN to the site for another look.


ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, PRESIDENT, BELARUS (through translator): A question from the CNN company, which recently discovered concentration camps in our

country. Natalia Nikolavna(ph), take her to this camp of political prisoners and show her what they showed. Take your Viacorka(ph); he's from

the opposition, and you can see everything on your own. You can see this camp for political prisoners yourself.


GORANI: All right, unclear if that was an invitation that was extended or if that was just a remark made at a news conference. We'll keep our eyes on

that story of course.


Still to come tonight, on the front lines of climate change, as a U.N. report warns of catastrophic warming to come. I'll speak to the Maldives

Environment Minister about the threat to that island nation that may cease to exist in a hundred years if global warming continues at this pace. We'll

be right back.


GORANI: If you want to do anything fun in France, starting today, you need to have a health pass. It is not required to access bars, restaurants and

long distance transportation like sitting on a train. These passes show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test and they must be presented

before entering crowded places. Now those without a pass can technically be turned away. France and other countries impose these measures to contain

their outbreaks despite demonstrations against them.

Let's get more from Paris with CNN Jim Bittermann. Though I'm seeing that a majority of French people do support these so-called pass sanitaire, how's

it been working out there? Are people presenting their proof of vaccination before entering bars and cafes?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not that we've seen, Hala. In fact, we have seen several people refused and basically they

kind of accepted because they know now that it's the law of the land, you've got to have this health pass either in paper form or on your cell

phone. And it -- like this restaurant behind -- here's something kind of innovative that has sprung up here, that is this restaurant here, you'd

have to, of course, show your health pass, they've had a turn one or two people away.

But what's happened is that right next to the restaurant, right over here, is a quick test, an antigen test that anybody who wants to go to the

restaurant can get a test right here and then that passes muster as far as the government's concerned and you could go to the restaurant after waiting

for maybe 20 minutes for the test results. Hala.

GORANI: So are -- have you seen people turned away because they refuse to present the COVID pass or the health pass and refuse to also take an

antigen test?


BITTERMANN: Well, they -- we haven't seen that happen. But what's happened is that people are turned away and, and not because they're refusing to

take it, but simply because they don't have it. We saw a gentleman this morning, for example, at the bus terminal. There's a long distance. Buses

are also included in this transportation system.

And the bus terminal that the gentleman had a test from the 30th of March, which was way too long, it's 72 hours in advance, we have to have a test

that's only 72 hours old, and is -- showed the pass to the driver who is inspecting the various health passes said you can't come on board. And I

said what are you going to do? He wanted to go to Nantes. And he just basically said, "I'll figure something out." And I don't know what he

figured out but he disappeared. Hala.

GORANI: And this -- there's we were talking about pushback in France, but also that it seems it appears as though a majority of French people support

this initiative.

BITTERMANN: Yes, exactly. I mean, I think that they're -- for one thing, you've got more than 50 percent that have been vaccinated. So for them

getting a health pass, fully vaccinated for getting health pass is no big deal. More than 60 percent of them had one shot or more. The polling

indicates that people support the health pass.

And, you know, you see people on the streets, you saw 237,000 people protesting over the weekend. That was up from the previous weekend. But it

has to be said that that represents less than one half of one percent of the French population. So you have to say, you know, yes, there's a

minority that are protesting this, but this is the law of the land now. So if you don't want to be refused at your local restaurant, cafe bar, et

cetera, or refused on a long distance transportation, you've got to sort of comply with the law.

GORANI: You -- it's actually interesting that red tent behind you and the contre-jour COVID test going on. It's almost artistic. We saw one man

clearly getting the swab shoved up his nose. And then when you inevitably get the ears, the tears in your eye. Anyway, it's actually a lovely

background. Thanks very much for giving us a tour there of that little slice of (INAUDIBLE)


GORANI: Thank you. Well, this just into CNN, the Pentagon plans to make Coronavirus vaccines mandatory for all members of the active duty military,

and this by mid-September or immediately after formal approval by U.S. health regulators, whichever comes first. President Joe Biden says he

strongly supports the move.

And speaking of vaccines, vaccinated Americans can now add another country on their list of potential travel destinations. Just after the stroke of

midnight this morning, Canada finally reopened its land borders with the United States after closing those borders in March of last year to try to

slow the spread of COVID. But the tourist traffic is not yet going in both directions.

Paula Newton is live in Cornwall, Ontario with details. What is it like where you are? You've seen Americans I'm sure over the last several hours

cross the border. What's the mood?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Hala, Upstate New York behind me and they were lining up starting at midnight tonight. This is an anxious group

of people. They have been waiting for a very long time to be reunited with family and friends. Keep in mind they have to be fully vaccinated, have a

negative PCR test to say that they do not have COVID. But after that, they can come in in here and finally enjoy. I mean it's interesting perspective,

right, Hala?

This border was only closed for two days for 9/11. Before this pandemic, it's been closed nearly a year and a half. I should say commercial traffic

has really survived this. It is literally the businesses all along the stretch of this great divide that have not been doing well at all.

And of course, those family reunions that everyone has been absolutely so pining for for so long. I have to say, you know, you've been talking about

it. The increase in Coronavirus cases in the United States has been a little bit of a problem.

Having said that, the -- Canada did not backtrack on this, right? And right now they say they're on track to welcome international visitors in the same

vein sometime in September.

GORANI: All right, and that's important for our international visitors. Right? I mean, our international viewers, because I've heard many of the --

many non-U.S. and Canadian citizens express a lot of frustration that even if they're double vaccinated and have proof of a negative COVID test,

they're not allowed to travel to the U.S. or Canada. So you're saying potentially September that could change?

NEWTON: For Canada right now, they are saying in September, they will allow fully vaccinated people and that means two weeks past your last dose.

There's only four approved vaccines here though in the United -- in Canada, and that's important. So you're dealing with Moderna, Pfizer, J&J or


If you've got those fully vaccinated, you can come here. And add to that, Hala, right now for international travelers, the same as Americans, when

you come here, if you have children, if you're a parent or a guardian of children under 12, and they're not vaccinated, they don't have to

quarantine as long as they enter with that negative COVID test.

And that's been a huge boon, really, to all of those family reunions. And I know people watching around the world, a lot of them with friends and

relatives here in Canada have been really wanting to have those long lost reunions with their family members, and Canada says it is 100 percent on

track. They say they are taking very tentative steps through this. But they do understand at this point they are tentative steps.

Hala, remember more than 80 percent of the eligible Canadian population is now vaccinated with at least one dose. They hope to get that to two doses

likely by the end of September. That is way ahead of a lot of countries and that's why they're feeling confident. Before I let you go, though, it is a

rising craze cases here as well because of the Delta variant. No rise -- corresponding rise yet hospitalizations or deaths.

GORANI: Right? Well, we're seeing those increases in delta cases in so many parts of the world. And it's important to underline the fact that for many

people, it's not a vacation, it's a family reunion. And so it's of course very emotional when you're finally allowed to travel. Thanks so much, Paula

Newton at the border there. We'll be right back. Stay with us.


GORANI: More now in our top story, that shocking new climate change report from the U.N. that finds that humanity only has a limited amount of time to

avert catastrophic warming that could threaten our way of life. One place that knows that threat all too well is the Maldives made up of a chain of

small islands, it is at risk from rising sea levels, an existential risk, long and beautiful tourist destination, there are fears that places like

this could soon become uninhabitable.

Joining me now to react to the U.N. report is Aminath Shauna. She's the Maldives' Minister of the Environment, Climate Change, and Technology and

she's live in the capital, Male. Thanks for being with us. One of the things you've said in previous interviews is that basically my country will

not be there by 2100 if the current trends continue. Explain to us how at risk a country like the Maldives is today.

AMINATH SHAUNA, MALDIVES' MINISTER OF THE ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE, AND TECHNOLOGY: What you just said is so true. Climate emergency is really an

existential threat for the moment it's a rise above 1.5 degrees in global temperatures will really inundate us and it will -- it is a threat for our



GORANI: Yes. How have things changed just in the last 10, 15 years for the Maldives? Because I see you've taken measures to try to block the rising

sea levels. Talk to me about how noticeable the changes have been just in the last 10 to 15 years.

SHAUNA: When we're talking about a country where 80 percent of the islands are less than just a meter above sea level, we really don't have high

ground to run to. Over 90 percent of our islands have reported flooding annually, 97 percent reporting shoreline erosion and 64 percent of our

islands experiencing severe erosion, there's not a single island in the Maldives where we have access to fresh drinking water in the islands. So --

and nearly 50 percent of the island structures are within just a hundred meters of coastline.

So we understand how important it is for us to address the impacts of climate change. And it is urgent and it is immediate. And we need rapid,

large scale action to prevent a climate and a humanitarian crisis as well. And you're a tourist destination.

I went to your beautiful country a few years ago, but one of the catch-22's is to get there, people have to fly. And that contributes also to climate

change into the emission of gases. How do you square that? I mean, what solution do you think should be put in place to make sure that your country

survives and thrives into the next century?

SHAUNA: We really need to unlock the global financial systems, we need to unlock technology, we need to have more transfer of technology from

developed world to developing countries as well. And we need better solutions in terms of transportation and a more resilient economy that

addresses climate change.

GORANI: Yes. And can you talk to me about what those solutions need to be? Is it enough what is being promised now? Or not?

SHAUNA: Obviously, it is not enough. And as I said before, we need immediate, rapid large scale action to prevent a complete pricelist in

terms of humanitarian public health, and economy as well. Climate change is already affecting every region on the -- climate change is no longer just a

problem for frontline states such as the Maldives. It has now reached the frontlines and is overrunning the capitals.

GORANI: You know, in 2009, this was a previous administration in your country, but the President of the Maldives held a meeting underwater, which

this was in 2009. I don't know why in my memory I thought it was four or five years ago, but it was actually more than ten years ago. And at the

time, it was seen as a stunt almost. Now you see that and you think, wow, we could be in a situation where many islands in the Maldives become

uninhabitable in just a matter of a few decades. I mean, living in that country, how concerned are you that that will happen?

SHAUNA: I was there when the Underwater Cabinet Meeting was held. And the way I see it is that, yes, climate change is an existential threat for the

Maldives but I also don't see as just as victims in countries like the Maldives, we can also be victims in this.

The Maldives has pledged to become a net-zero emissions by 2030. And we have pledged to phase out single-use plastics by 2023. We have also pledged

to protect 20 percent of our natural marine resources in the Maldives. If so my question is really, if the Maldives can do it, why can't the rest of

the world do it?

We need more ambitious action from larger emitters. And for us, I think there's still a chance for us to survive. And although the impact of it is

quite severe already, from what we've seen in the news, as well, from Germany to California to British Columbia, to India to China, it's not just

the Maldives that's been affected now.


SHAUNA: So I think this is an issue of -- for small island states, but if the world can really come together to address this in a more -- in a way

that we can unlock the financial systems to address the issues that's been recognized by the IPCC in their report.


And to address signs, you know. I really think we can prevent a complete disaster here.

GORANI: Well, let's hope we know their upcoming COP meetings and all the disasters we've seen recently, wildfires, floods, all the rest of it,

really bringing home the dangers to humanity. Thank you so much, Minister Shauna. She is the Maldives' Minister of the Environment and Climate change

joining us live from Male where it's almost midnight. So thanks for staying up for us.

Still to come tonight, how the Tokyo Olympics launched a mental health revolution in sports. We'll be right back.


GORANI: Although this year's Olympics have come to a close, every future games will surely trace one legacy back to Tokyo and that is growing

openness with mental health among athletes. American gymnast Simone Biles, chief among them, World Sports Coy Wire has more.


COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Making the Olympics is difficult in normal times, amid a pandemic even more so.


MICHAEL PHELPS, 28-TIME OLYMPIC MEDALIST: The mental preparation for these games I can't even imagine what it was like going through these heading

into this, but especially the last year. Yes.

KATIE LEDECKY, 7-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: I haven't been home in about a year and a half. So I've just been very dedicated to my training and going

home would have meant a 10-day quarantine coming back to California to get back into training.


WIRE: A postponement, added protocols, and the perpetual pressure to perform, it's been a roller coaster just to reach these games, from the

highs of qualifying to the uncertainty of whether they'd even happen. By the time the cauldron was lit, a wide range of emotions had already been



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning, Simone Biles.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: The world's greatest gymnast, Simone Biles.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Pulled out of the Olympic team gymnastics final to focus in on her mental health.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Simone Biles is a hero to many maybe now more than ever.


WIRE: Then something no one saw coming. One of the greatest athletes of all time, Simone Biles, removed herself in the middle of competing on her

sport's biggest stage saying her mental state wasn't where it should be.


SIMONE BILES, 32 OLYMPIC, WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MEDALS: To bring the topic of mental health, I think it should be talked about a lot more, especially

with athletes.


Because I know some of us are going through the same things. And we're always told to push through it, but we're all a little bit older now and we

could kind 1of speak for ourselves. But at the end of the day, we're not just entertainment, we're humans, and there are things going on behind the

scenes that we are also trying to juggle with as well on top of sports.

KANOA IGARASHI, JAPANESE SURFING SILVER MEDALIST: The courage that that took is something that nobody will ever understand.

JORDAN CHILES, U.S. GYMNASTICS SILVER MEDALIST: She knows her body more than anybody else. We don't know what's going on in her head, so, you know,

it was probably the most devastating thing that happened to her.


WIRE: Her biggest supporters were met in equal force by critics who called her a quitter for prioritizing her mental health over her medal count.

Biles raced against a long-ingrained culture in sports to push forward no matter what.


DR. JESS BARTLEY, USOPC DIRECTOR OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES: There's no data or science behind the tough it out, or rub some dirt on it and get back out

there. There's nothing that says that they're going to have a good performance or getting out there and toughing through it is going to make

them a better athlete or even a good athlete.


WIRE: Directors of mental health services like Team U.S.A.'s Dr. Jess Bartley could become commonplace for national governing bodies. But high-

profile athletes like Simone Biles shining a light on mental health while the whole world is watching could make a big difference.


KIRSTY COVENTRY, ZIMBABWE MINISTER OF YOUTH, SPORT, ART AND RECREATION: She's allowed for it to just be something that can be accepted by people,

and I think that took a lot of bravery.

DR. BARTLEY: We have more notable athletes and even celebrities in broader culture starting to talk about that. I think it will start to break down

barriers for anyone in the world to get access to mental health or to start to think about mental health differently.


WIRE: There's a movement happening before our eyes. Sport is helping to reshape the narrative of mental health.


DR. BARTLEY: I think that sport is real -- really a vehicle for social change and sport often kind of sets the stage for a number of things that

shift in society.

NOAH LYLES, 200M SILVER MEDALIST: I'm a human being. I'm not a superhero. I'm not, you know, I have feelings. I have emotions. Just because I go out

there and run fast doesn't mean that I don't come home and hurt.

IGARASHI: We're in a generation now where we're able to speak our mind a little bit more than before, I feel like. And this is just another stepping

stone for athletes. And I think we're going towards the right direction.


GORANI: And thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.