10% loss in working hours due to rising heat: UN

Pakistani youths cool off in a stream during hot weather on the outskirts of Islamabad on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 29 April 2016
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10% loss in working hours due to rising heat: UN

LONDON: Searing temperatures will cost emerging economies up to 10 percent in lost daytime working hours, if countries do not cut planet-warming emissions further than they have promised so far, UN agencies and international labor bodies said.
Global temperatures are predicted to rise by at least 2.7 degrees Celsius if emissions-reduction pledges made by nearly 190 nations for the new global climate change deal are met.
The Paris agreement, however, sets a goal of keeping average temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.
If the world continues with its current level of emissions, the impact on working hours, and lost GDP, is likely to be even worse, according to a joint report by the UN Development Programme, International Labor Organization, Climate Vulnerable Forum and other agencies.
“Excessive heat puts exposed working populations at greater risk from heat-induced stresses and undermines growth by compromising productivity,” Cecilia Rebong, ambassador and permanent representative of the Philippines to the United Nations, said in a statement.
“Vulnerable groups need significant support to tackle rising heat in the workplace,” Rebong added.
Countries likely to be worst affected by rising temperatures include India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Cambodia, Pakistan, Burkina Faso and parts of West Africa, the report said.
India is in the grip of an early-summer heat wave that has killed more than 100 people, forced schools to close and halted outdoor work like construction, government officials said last week. Temperatures have risen above 40 degrees Celsius in some states.
In the 1990s, several developing countries were already losing up to 3 percent of daylight working hours to intense heat. Since then, global temperatures have risen, according to the report which studied a sample of countries from each region.
In West Africa, the number of very hot days per year has doubled since the 1960s, with an extra 10 hot days every decade, the report said.
“Imagine working in a shoe manufacturer in Vietnam or a clothing factory in Bangladesh when it is 35 degrees Celsius,” said Philip Jennings, general secretary of UNI Global Union.
“Governments and employers have to take this issue of the cauldron of a warming planet seriously and develop some effective policy responses and practical measures to protect workers,” he added.
Countries like Bangladesh stand to lose the most as the planet heats up, said Saleemul Huq, adviser to the Climate Vulnerable Forum and director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development.
“If we are to take sustainable development seriously, we have to scale up climate action across the board and fund real ways of adapting communities to these new everyday extremes,” he said.


At least three dead in multiple shooting in Utrecht, police hunting Turkish-born man

Updated 7 min 17 sec ago
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At least three dead in multiple shooting in Utrecht, police hunting Turkish-born man

  • Police are not ruling out terrorism as a possible motive
  • ‘Threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province’

DUBAI: At least three people have been killed and nine other injured in a shooting incident in Utrecht, in The Netherlands on Monday morning.

Dutch security forces were hunting for a 37-year-old Turkish man in connection with the incident, in what authorities said appeared to be a terrorist attack. The city's mayor confirmed the death of three people on Monday afternoon.

"At this stage, we can confirm three deaths and nine wounded, three of them seriously," Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen said in a video statement on Twitter.

"We are working on the principle that it was a terrorist attack," he added.

Dozens of armed police plus canine units later surrounded a building a few hundred metres away, an AFP reporter at the scene said, but it was not clear if the gunman was inside.

Police said they believed a red Renault Clio had been carjacked around the time of the shooting and had been found abandoned later.

The Utrecht municipality said it advised "everyone to stay indoors until more is known, new incidents are not excluded," but this was withdrawn at around 4:30pm local time. The local hospital said it had set up a crisis centre. Tram traffic in the area was halted.

Authorities raised the terrorism threat to its highest level in Utrecht province, schools were told to shut their doors and paramilitary police increased security at airports and other vital infrastructure, and also at mosques.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte convened crisis talks, saying he was deeply concerned about the incident.

Utrecht Police tweeted an image of a man named Gökmen Tanis, asking people for information on him in connection with the incident — but warned members of the public not to approach him.

The main counterterrorism unit in The Netherlands, the  National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV), told the Dutch public broadcaster that the incident had all the characteristics of a terrorist attack.

Counter-terrorism forces have surrounded a building where the gunman may be located, local broadcaster NOS News reported.

There was gunfire at several locations in the city, the Dutch national counter-terrorism chief said.

“Shooting took place this morning at several locations in Utrecht,” Dutch anti-terror coordinator Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told a news conference in The Hague. “A major police operation is under way to arrest the gunman.”

Aalbersberg said in a statement that the “threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province,” referring to the highest level. 

“The culprit is still on the run. A terror motive cannot be excluded,” he said in a Twitter message. He called on citizens to closely follow the indications of the local police. 

Police spokesman Bernhard Jens did not exclude more people might be involved. 

“We want to try to catch the person responsible as soon as possible,” Jens said.

A hotline to address queries about the situation. The Netherlands has one of the strictest gun laws and ownership is limited to law enforcement, hunters and target shooters.

Local media reports have said counter-terrorism police were seen at the scene.

“Shooting incident... Several injured people reported. Assistance started,” the Utrecht police Twitter account said. “It is a shooting incident in a tram. Several trauma helicopters have been deployed to provide help.”

The 24 Oktoberplein is a busy Utrecht traffic junction, with a tram stop. Tram traffic was temporarily stopped due to the incident, but the trams are currently running again between Zuilenstein, Nieuwegein and IJsselstein.

(With AFP and Reuters)