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.


Indonesia sending back 547 containers of waste from West

Updated 52 min 50 sec ago

Indonesia sending back 547 containers of waste from West

  • Nine containers with at least 135 tons of waste were sent back to Australia on Wednesday
  • They were among 156 containers held in Tangerang port near Jakarta that will be returned soon to other countries

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Indonesia is sending 547 containers of waste back to wealthy nations after discovering they were contaminated with used plastic and hazardous materials, amid a growing backlash in Southeast Asia against being a dumping ground for the developed world’s trash.

Nine containers with at least 135 tons of waste were sent back to Australia on Wednesday, customs director Heru Pambudi said at a news conference in Jakarta.

“Some food still remains there with liquid flowing,” Pambudi said as he showed the contents of several containers.

He said 91 other containers will be returned to Australia after administrative processes are complete.

They were among 156 containers held in Tangerang port near Jakarta that will be returned soon to other countries, including the US, New Zealand, Spain, Belgium and Britain, he said.

Pambudi said the government has stopped more than 2,000 containers this year in several ports in East Java, Jakarta, Tangerang and Batam near Singapore. So far it has sent back 331, which will be followed by 216 others to French, Germany, Greece, Netherlands. Slovenia, Canada, Japan and Hong Kong. Authorities are still investigating the rest.

The government announced in July that it had sent back nearly 60 containers of waste from Australia that were supposed to contain only paper but included household waste, used cans, plastic bottles, oil packaging, used electronics, used baby diapers and used footwear.

Pambudi said several Indonesian-owned companies that imported the waste must return it to the countries of origin within 90 days. No other sanctions were declared, although importing hazardous waste is a criminal offense with penalties of up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to 12 billion rupiah ($850,000).

China banned the import of plastic waste at the end of 2017, resulting in more used plastic being sent to developing Southeast Asian nations.

A study published in June last year in the journal Science Advances that used United Nations data found other nations will need to find a home for more than 110 million tons of plastic waste by 2030 because of the Chinese ban.

Indonesia and China themselves are among the world’s biggest producers of plastic waste, which is increasingly fouling their land, seas and beaches.