480,000 killed by extreme weather this century: analysis

by Patrick GALEY Agence France Presse Almost half a million people have died in natural disasters linked to extreme weather events in the last 20 years, according to a new assessment of the direct threat posed to humanity by climate change. The mortality burden of climate-related catastrophes such as storms, flooding and heatwaves is overwhelmingly borne by developing countries. At the start of the Climate Adaptation Summit, held virtually this year due to the pandemic, […]

UN seeks $76 million in emergency aid for Madagascar

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The United Nations said Tuesday that $76 million was urgently needed to help over one million people in southern Madagascar facing potentially life-threating shortages of food, water and health assistance. The UN humanitarian agency OCHA issued its so-called flash appeal after the impoverished island country in eastern Africa saw its agricultural season ruined by the worst drought in a decade. At the same time, the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic […]

Oldest city in the Americas under threat from squatters

by Carlos MANDUJANO Agence France-Presse CARAL, Peru (AFP) — Having survived for 5,000 years, the oldest archeological site in the Americas is under threat from squatters claiming the coronavirus pandemic has left them with no other option but to occupy the sacred city. The situation has become so bad that archeologist Ruth Shady, who discovered the Caral site in Peru, has been threatened with death if she doesn’t abandon investigating its treasures. Archeologists told an […]

Toyota to pay $180 mln to settle US emissions violations: govt

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Toyota will pay $180 million to settle charges it failed to comply with rules mandating that auto companies report problems with vehicle emissions to authorities, the US Department of Justice said on Thursday. “Toyota pays the price for its misconduct with a $180 million civil penalty and agreement to injunctive relief to ensure that its violations will not be repeated,” Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark said in a […]

French state in dock over climate change inaction

by Amélie BOTTOLLIER-DEPOIS Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Paris court began hearing Thursday a complaint brought by NGOs backed by two million citizens accusing the French state of failing to act to halt climate change, the first such case in the country. The campaign groups want the court to hold the state responsible for ecological damage and say victory would mark a symbolic step in the fight to persuade governments to do more. If […]

Climate change worsens child malnutrition: study

by Patrick GALEY Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Climate change may contribute more to greater child malnutrition and poor diet than traditional causes such as poverty and poor sanitation, according to research published on Thursday. Although childhood malnutrition has decreased globally over the past several decades, undernourishment has increased since 2015, in part due to warming temperatures and extreme weather. The United Nations says 144 million children under five were affected by stunting in […]

Forest loss ‘hotspots’ bigger than Germany: WWF

by Patrick GALEY Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — More than 43 million hectares of forest — an area bigger than Germany — have been lost in a little over a decade in just a handful of deforestation hotspots, conservation organisation WWF said Wednesday. Swathes of forest continue to be flattened each year — mainly due to industrial-scale agriculture — as biodiversity-rich areas are cleared to create space for livestock and crops. Analysis by WWF […]

Mexico City plastic ban poses challenge for virus-hit firms

by Natalia Cano Agence France-Presse MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AFP) — Mexico’s ban on single-use plastic in its capital, one of the world’s most populous metropolises, has delighted environmentalists but dismayed some businesses struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. Home to around nine million people, Mexico City generates about 13,000 tons of solid waste every day. The new rules, which are being phased in, ban the use of disposable plastic items such as cutlery, plates, […]

Washing your clothes can create Arctic microplastic pollution

by Kelly Macnamara Agence France-Presse Households in Europe and North America are flooding the oceans with plastic pollution simply by washing their clothes, scientists said Tuesday after research found the majority of microplastics in Arctic seawater were polyester fibres. Plastic particles have infiltrated even the most remote and seemingly-pristine regions of the planet. These tiny fragments have been discovered inside fish in the deepest recesses of the ocean — the Mariana Trench — peppering Arctic […]

Global population hit by extreme drought set to double

  by Marlowe HOOD Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Available freshwater is on track to decline sharply across two-thirds of Earth’s land surface toward the end of the century mostly due to climate change, with the number of people exposed to extreme drought doubling, researchers have reported. Even under a scenario of moderate decline in greenhouse gas emissions, land area scorched by extreme to exceptional drought conditions increases from three to seven percent, […]

First Philippine eagle bred in captivity dies

MANILA, Philippines (AFP) — The first Philippine eagle bred in captivity in an effort to save one of the world’s most endangered birds has died from infections, conservationists said Friday. The raptor named “Pag-asa” or “Hope” was hatched in 1992 at a sanctuary run by the Philippine Eagle Foundation on the outskirts of the southern city of Davao. Pag-asa would have turned 29 next week. The Philippines’ national bird, known for its elongated nape feathers […]

Top global oil exporter Saudi Arabia launches car-free city

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, announced Sunday the launch of an eco-city “with zero cars, zero streets and zero carbon emissions” at its futuristic NEOM mega development. The $500 billion NEOM project, set to be built from scratch along the kingdom’s picturesque Red Sea coast, is billed as a development evocative of a sci-fi blockbuster. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled plans for a city, dubbed “THE LINE”, in […]