EU says last month warmest September on record globally

For the 12-month period through September, the planet was nearly 1.3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. (File/AFP)
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Updated 07 October 2020

EU says last month warmest September on record globally

PARIS: Earth’s surface was warmer last month than during any September on record, with temperatures since January tracking those of the hottest ever calendar year in 2016, the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme said Wednesday.
This year has now seen three months of record warmth — January, May and September — with June and April virtually tied for first, the Copernicus Climate Change Service reported.
“There is currently little difference between 2020 and 2016 for the year-to-date,” Copernicus senior scientist Freja Vambourg told AFP.
For the 12-month period through September, the planet was nearly 1.3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
That is alarmingly close to the 1.5C threshold for severe impacts detailed in a major 2018 report by the UN’s climate science advisory panel, the IPCC.
The Paris Agreement has enjoined nations to cap global warming at “well below” 2C, and 1.5C if feasible.
So far, Earth has warmed on average by one degree, enough to boost the intensity of deadly heatwaves, droughts and tropical storms made more destructive by rising seas.
Climate change driven by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels has picked up pace in recent decades.
Nineteen of the 20 last years are the warmest since accurate readings began in the late 19th century.
Since the late 1970s, the global thermometer has crept up 0.2C every decade, according to EU data.
Temperatures in September were “exceptionally high” over northern Siberia, which — along with much of the Arctic Circle — has seen freakishly warm weather for months.
September was brutal in the Middle East, with new high temperatures reported in Turkey, Israel and Jordan.

Parts of North Africa and Tibet were also scorching hot, while maximum daytime values reached 49C in Los Angeles County early in the month.
Across California, five of the state’s six biggest wildfires in history were still burning at the end of the month.
“September was warmer by 0.05C than September 2019, the previous warmest September,” the Copernicus report said.
Last month’s global record for heat was all the more remarkable because of the regional cooling effect of a naturally occurring La Nina weather event over the tropical Pacific.
Arctic sea ice, meanwhile, shrank to its second lowest extent last month, slipping below four million square kilometers (1.5 million square miles) for only the second time since satellite records began in 1978, according to C3S.
The Arctic ice cap floats on ocean water around the North Pole, and thus does not contribute directly to sea level rise when it melts.
But it does accelerate global warming.
Freshly fallen snow reflects 80 percent of the Sun’s radiative force back into space.
But when that mirror-like surface is replaced by deep blue water, about the same percentage of Earth-heating energy is absorbed instead.
Climate change has also disrupted regional weather patterns, resulting in more sunshine beating down on the Greenland ice sheet, which is melting — and shedding mass into the ocean — more quickly than at any time in the last 12,000 years, according to a study last week.
In 2019, the ice sheet — which holds enough frozen water to lift global oceans seven meters (23 feet) — shed more than half-a-trillion tons, roughly equivalent to three million tons of water every day, or six Olympic pools every second.


Malaysian employers shocked, angry over fines ruling for overcrowded migrant workers’ lodgings

Updated 30 November 2020

Malaysian employers shocked, angry over fines ruling for overcrowded migrant workers’ lodgings

  • Businesses face penalties of more than $12,000 per worker for breaching new COVID-19-driven regulations

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian employers on Monday expressed their shock and anger over the government’s decision to impose a $12,277 fine for each foreign worker found to be living in overcrowded lodgings.

A number of company bosses said they were in a race against time to fall in line with the new criteria and avoid being hit with heavy penalties.

“Although many employers are rushing against time to fulfil the requirements, one of the main challenges industry players face is with the local councils,” Soh Thian Lai, president of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), told Arab News.

He said local councils throughout the country were not prepared “to assist the industry with the required endorsements” to comply with the terms of the Employees’ Minimum Standards of Housing, Accommodations, and Amenities Act 446.

“This has led to the main reason for the delay (in providing more space for migrant workers),” he added.

The decision came as a surprise after the Human Resources Ministry (HRM) had set March 2021 as a deadline for all industries to comply with the act which requires employers to ensure that their workers had sufficient residential space.

Malaysian government minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, announced last week that the penalty would be imposed from Nov. 26, sending shockwaves through businesses.

Soh said to provide housing facilities for each worker, employers were being forced to create additional space.

“There is, however, a lack of suitable accommodation as there are limited hostels available. Converting shop-lots to dwelling space will take time and costs to renovate the space according to the specifications outlined in the regulations as well as meeting other requirements by local authorities,” he added.

Act 446 was fully implemented in September this year after the country’s parliament amended the previous jurisdiction which only covered housing aspects of more than 20 acres of the plantation and mining sector.

The new amendment, however, extends the rules to all employment sectors that provide housing for workers.

“Most companies are currently juggling their operations toward business recovery while trying their best to adhere to this legislative requirement to readjust the living quarters for their workers,” Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) Executive Director Shamsuddin Bardan told Arab News.

Shamsuddin said that “the spike in (coronavirus disease) COVID-19 infections at a workplace involving foreign workers may have triggered the government” to call for the full compliance of Act 446 with immediate effect.

While the government “needs to contain the new infections” among foreign workers, it was also important to “assist employers,” he added.

“Many employers still depend on various government assistance, such as wage subsidies, to remain in business.

“It was only introduced on Aug. 30 and the government then decided to enforce the act in November, so the lead time given to employers to fully comply with the act was too short.

“It is costly to upgrade accommodations on the backdrop of a decreased cashflow from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Shamsuddin said.

Soh said Minister of Human Resources Saravanan Murugan had acknowledged some of the challenges involved and agreed, in principle, to a more educational approach for enforcement of the act.

“Following several taskforce meetings with the ministry to address compliance to labor laws by industry in recent months, it has been agreed that given these challenges, including the challenges faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, industries would need some time to make the changes and improvements to the housing facilities,” he said.

The FMM said it had written to the government and reiterated a previous request “for a 12-month grace period, without the imposition of any immediate penalty.”

Meanwhile, Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA) president, Supramaniam Shanmugam, told Arab News that 59 members of the association had expressed concerns over the “lack of time” to comply with all the requirements of Act 446.

“The Act 446 talks about the welfare of workers and one of the items to fulfil are the certificate of accommodation, which is done online, and our members have been advised to apply for it. So, what we are asking for is time,” he said.

MARGMA represents rubber glove manufacturers and employers, including leading industry players such as Top Glove and Supermax.

The HR minister and government labor department were both unavailable for comment.

The Malaysian director general of health, Noor Hisham Abdullah, recently called for employers to adhere to Act 446 “as a matter of public safety,” adding that “infections involving foreign workers needed to be addressed. The Ministry of Health urges employers to play a bigger role in tackling it.”

On Tuesday, Malaysia reported more than 1,200 new COVID-19 cases, adding to the national caseload of 65,697 infections.

According to the World Bank’s estimate, Malaysia houses at least 3 million foreign workers and is the sixth-largest migrant-receiving country in East Asia.

Indonesian workers make up to 39 percent of the total migrant workers population, followed by Nepal and Bangladesh at 24 and 14 percent, respectively, according to a report published in August by the Southeast Asia office of the Heinrich Boll Stiftung foundation.

Foreign workers in Malaysia are restricted to low-to-medium skilled industries such as construction, services, plantation, agriculture, manufacturing, and domestic work.