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World Bank fund to insure against climate disasters

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NUSA DUA (Indonesia): The World Bank today launched a new $150 million fund intended to help ensure vulnerable countries against natural disasters and the increasing risk of climate change-linked crises.
The announcement follows a string of recent natural disasters across the world including record storms and a series of deadly quakes in Indonesia, where the Bank and International Monetary Fund are currently meeting.
The so-called Global Risk Financing Facility (GRiF), set up with money from Germany and Britain, will finance the creation of disaster insurance and other risk mechanisms so funds are available immediately when crises hit.
“What we are seeking to do… is to change the whole system so countries can rely on funding when necessary that’s reliable, that’s adequate, that’s rapid,” said Matthew Rycroft, permanent secretary for Britain’s Department for International Development.
“If they combine that with national systems that work well, it can have a very significant benefit,” he added at a panel announcing the fund. The World Bank and other international institutions already have several mechanisms in place to help nations adapt to the risk of a changing environment.

 

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13 dead as flooding hits southwestern France

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TOULOUSE: At least 13 people died as violent rainstorms turned rivers into raging torrents in southwestern France on Monday in the latest episode of wild weather in Europe, officials said.
Flash floods swamped a number of towns and villages around the fortress city of Carcassonne, leaving a trail of overturned cars, damaged roads and collapsed homes.
An elderly nun was swept to her death as rising waters smashed through a nunnery in the village of Villardonnel to the north of Carcassonne. Meanwhile, at least four people died overnight in the hard-hit village of Villegailhenc, local authorities said Monday.
As Prime Minister Edouard Philippe headed to the scene, the French interior ministry said a total of 13 people had died after the equivalent of three months’ of rainfall in just a few hours.
“There’s water everywhere in the house. Everything is flooded,” Helene Segura told AFP by telephone from Villegailhenc where at least one small bridge had collapsed.
“When I look out the window, I can only see water and mud everywhere. It’s sad when you’re 70 years’ old like me and you need to redo your house, change the furniture and all the upholstery,” she said.
Authorities rushed in helicopters and 600 firemen to help with rescue operations, particularly those in the floodplain of the Aude river which hit its highest level in 100 years, according to the Vigicrues flood agency.
In the town of Trebes, near Carcassonne, the water in the Aude rose eight meters (26 feet) in just five hours, officials said.
Around 1,000 people were evacuated in the area of Pezens, also near Carcassonne in the Aude area, due to fears that a nearby dam could burst.
The storms were triggered when a front of warm and humid air from the Mediterranean Sea slammed into the colder air around the Massif central mountain range in central France, inundating an area from the eastern Pyrenees to Aveyron further north.
Violent storms on Sunday also hit Portugal, leaving 28 with minor injuries and hundreds of thousands without power amid flooding in the region around the capital Lisbon.
The heavy rain, which later rolled on through Spain, was the tail end of hurricane Leslie in the Atlantic which weakened to a post-tropical storm as it made landfall.

 

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UN chief calls for greater action to fight climate change

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UN chief

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for stepping up action to fight runaway climate change through measures such as planting more tree and reducing the use of fossil fuels.
Limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees will require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society – especially how we manage land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities, Secretary-General António Guterres, at a ministerial meeting on climate finance, in Bali, Indonesia, on Saturday.
That means ending deforestation and planting billions more trees; drastically reducing the use of fossil fuels and massively increasing renewable energy; switching to climate-friendly sustainable agriculture.; considering new technologies, such as carbon capture and storage. In his remarks, the UN chief made a particular call for climate-friendly investments, particularly in the infrastructure sector, where over $90 trillion in investments is expected by 2030. The next few years are critical [and] your leadership is needed, Guterres told the ministers.
Highlighting enormous economic losses to climate-related disasters and projections that by 2050, climate change could reduce annual GDP in some South and Southeast Asian countries by up to 4 percent, the Secretary-General underscored that climate risk cannot be ignored. We need a new economic framework that integrates climate and disaster risk in all aspects of finance, planning, and budgeting, he said.
He also called for fundamental shifts in climate financing, including government policies that can increase resources available for climate action. Alongside, effective economic policy and fiscal instruments are also needed, he continued, urging a meaningful price on carbon and an end to fossil fuel subsidies to promote low-carbon and climate-resilient growth. Governments need to encourage their banks to support green financing and innovative financial instruments – such as green bonds and debt instruments that can strengthen the resilience of vulnerable nations, said the UN chief, calling also for the mobilization of private sector financing.
In his remarks, he also called on countries to make full use of the upcoming Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-24), to be held in Katowice, Poland, and to come out of the meeting with a robust framework that allows countries to operationalize and implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. I count on all leaders to call on their negotiators to resolve all sticking points and insist on progress, he said.

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PM kicks off ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’ drive!

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Prime Minister Imran Khan today (Saturday) kicked off a countrywide ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’ drive to tackle the challenges of swelling pollution and global warming with a resolve to inherit a cleaner Pakistan, even more than Europe.

He launched the action day of the ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’ at Islamabad College for Girls by planting a sapling and sweeping the lawn of the college.

Holding the broom, Prime Minister also picked the garbage and disposed it off before washing hands to teach the youngsters the proper cleanliness methods.

Later, while addressing the ceremony, Prime Minister recalled the remarkable role played by the students for fundraising of Shaukat Khanum Hospital across the country and urged them to replicate the same dedication for this drive.

Prime minister said besides cleanliness, enhancement of the green cover was equally essential as Pakistan was the seventh most affected country by the global warming.

Imran Khan said after successful completion of billion tree tsunami in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the government had launched a five-year 10 billion tree tsunami across the country. 

He said the glaciers would be depleting fast if the world failed to tackle the challenge of global warming and the world become unlivable for the future generation.

Prime Minister hoped that after plantation of 10 billion trees, the weather pattern of the country would be changed altogether.

He expressed concerns over the polluted river in the country and swelling pollution to an alarming level in Lahore particularly in winter.

He said according to a study, excessive pollution shortens the life expectancy by average 11 years.

Prime minister said the cleanliness drive would not remain confined to posh areas but it would also cover the slums.

He reiterated his government’s plan to regularize and provide housing to the slum dwellers.

The drive also comprises the construction of landfill sites in all areas to ensure proper disposal of the garbage.

Advisor Malik Amin Aslam on the occasion said the drive would be funded by both the government as well as the donors.

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