Wednesday 30 September 2009

World Bank reveals new study in Bangkok on the cost of fighting climate change

The World Bank reveals a new study on the cost of fighting climate change as delegates at the Bangkok Climate Change Talks continue negotiations on a new climate change treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

BANGKOK, THAILAND (SEPTEMBER 30, 2009) REUTERS - Developing countries will need to spend as much as $100 billion annually for the next 40 years to adapt to more extreme and severe weather changes, according to a World Bank study released on Wednesday (September 30).
"Achieving a two-degree world will cost about 75 to 100 billion dollars per year from now, from 2010 to 2050. This is low compare to GDPs its on par with the amount of development assistance to developing countries. So, it is about the same level," Director of World Bank's Environment Department, Warrant Evans told reporters at a news conference during climate change talks in Bangkok.

Despite previous estimates of $9 billion and $104 billion, the World Bank said the latest projection came from its most in-depth analysis of the impact of climate change.

He added that East Asian and Pacific Asian countries with growing economies are experiencing rapid urbanisation, especially in costal areas, and would bear the highest cost.

Meanwhile, a hundred green activists demonstrated outside the UN building, accusing rich countries of causing the most global warming.

"This climate problem is because of the over use of energy transportation for hundreds of years since industrialisation," said Jubilee South Activist representative, Vinod Raina.

The activists said rich countries should bear the costs of combating climate change.

"So, we shouldn't have loans and we shouldn't have World Bank giving loans, which people have to repay. It should be rich countries giving ground and reparation." added Vinod Raina.

Earlier, the head negotiator for the Philippines urged rich nations at the U.N. climate talks to toughen emissions cuts, claiming the typhoon that hit the country this week was a taste of future effects of climate change on poor nations.

"The death, the pain and the damage in the Philippines helps us to understand the necessity of an earnest negotiations," Chief Philippine Climate negotiator, Heherson Alvarez told reporters.

Typhoon Ketsana killed 246 people and triggered widespread flooding in the capital Manila.

The storm, which has also killed 32 in Vietnam, dumped a month's worth of rain in 24 hours in Manila, overwhelming rescue services.

The storm has become a focus of the marathon climate talks in Bangkok this week, with developing nations and green groups saying it is an example of the type of climate disaster poor nations could face in a warmer world.

Delegates from about 180 countries are meeting in the Thai capital trying to narrow differences on emissions reduction targets, climate finance and transfer of clean-energy technology before a December deadline to seal a tougher pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

The Bangkok talks, which run until Oct. 9, is the last major negotiating round before a gathering in Copenhagen in December that the United Nations has set as a deadline to seal a broad agreement on a pact to expand and replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Monday 28 September 2009

Living hell for immigrants in Italy's tomato fields

After crossing half of Africa and surviving a perilous boat trip from Libya in search of a better life in Italy, many immigrants enter into a form of slavery picking tomatoes with living conditions worse than those back home.

RIGNANO GARGANICO, ITALY REUTERS - Every year thousands of immigrants, many of them from Africa, flock to the plantations of southern Italy to eke out a living as seasonal workers picking anything from grapes to olives, tomatoes and oranges.
This army of illegal immigrants certainly could not have imagined the sort of living conditions they would be forced to endure.

Broadly tolerated by authorities because of their role in the economy, they endure long hours of backbreaking labour for as little as 15-20 euros a day and live in squalid makeshift camps without running water or electricity.

The shanty town, known as 'the Ghetto' is where some 600 immigrants live in the countryside near the city of Foggia in Puglia. The area is known as the 'Red Gold Triangle' which produces 35 percent of Italy's tomatoes.

From afar the shanty town resembles a refugee camp in any war-ravaged African country, but the reality is possibly worse.

The economic crisis forced factories in Italy's rich north to shut down or lay off employees, so more migrants than usual -- around 2,000 people -- have come here in search of work.

Rains -- a tomato picker's best friend because the machinery an increasing number of farm owners use to replace manual labour does not work properly on muddy grounds -- have been sparse.

"Here is where I sleep, ten people sleep here," said 24-yr-old Boubacar Bailo from Guinea.

People sleep on bug-infested mattrasses in overcrowded shacks made of cardboard and plastic sheets or in decrepit houses.

"If it's raining they prefer calling us to work rather than the machines, it's shit its only 3 euro for one big crate," Bailo said, adding that this was not living.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which since 2003 has been monitoring the area around Foggia and helping the immigrants get access to basic health services, say more should be done.

"They sleep on the ground on matresses they have picked up on the streets, most of them are rotten and infested with insects." said Doctor Alvise Benelli.

Idle youths in dirty clothes try and sleep or simply stare into the distance at the camps. To eat the immigrants club together to buy a sheep so they can slaughter it themselves and feed more people.

The going rate for illegal tomato pickers is 3.5 euros per "cassone" -- a big plastic crate that, when full, weighs 350 kg. On a lucky day, workers can hope to make as much as 35-40 euros after labouring from dawn to dusk.

But in most cases they will have to pay a cut to the so-called "caporali", intermediaries who select the workforce for the farm owners and make sure the job gets done.

"We just didn't know Italy was like this, we always thought it was a country where you could find a job and do everything like eating and alot of nice things," said illegal immigrant Andrea from Burkina Faso who has been in Italy for several years.

"...But we have seen it is not like that but I can't go back," Andrea said.

This month, the government launched an amnesty for immigrants illegally employed as cleaners or carers for the elderly by Italian families, but that does not apply to those bringing tomatoes from the fields to their plates.

Most of them are trapped, with no papers and barely any income they are forced to travel up and down the country following the harvest, with little hope of ever being able to afford to return home.