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Environmental Destruction

The UN fears that the last 20 years of development will be stalled by destruction of the environment and climate change. Photo: EPA

Climate change and destruction of the environment are the biggest threats to improving wealth and happiness around the world, according to a major United Nations report.

The annual Human Development report from the UN found that on the whole most of the world has become wealthier, healthier and better educated over the last 20 years.

But this rapid development is in danger of reversing because of the rise of global temperatures, that could cause an increase in natural disasters, especially in the poor world where countries are ill-equipped to cope.

Highlighting the failure of last year's UN climate summit in Copenhagen, the report called for renewed efforts to make sure that talks in Cancun, Mexico next month can tackle global warming and protect the environment.

Read more: Climate change is main barrier to development - United Nations

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ROTTERDAM, Netherlands -- The city of Alexandria, Egypt's second largest, spills down either side of a thin ridge running some 100 kilometers along the Mediterranean coast, hard up against the sea on one side and marsh and reclaimed fields on the other.

It is an ancient port city, never designed for the car, and traffic congestion has long been the city's bane.

So a few years ago, gridlocked and desperate, the city paved over some of its beaches and ran a six-lane highway for 25 kilometers along the Mediterranean shore.

The corniche was hailed as a solution when it opened in 2006. But that salvation has exposed the city to a second problem: It changed the slope of the sea bottom, worsening erosion and storm surges.

As sea levels rise and storm surges increase in response to a changing climate, Alexandria is finding that a solution to one problem has inadvertently opened the city to others. Nor is Alexandria alone.

Around the world, low-lying cities are facing unexpected challenges that threaten to chew through scarce or non-existent cash and leave residents and property increasingly vulnerable.

Read more: Climate Adaptation: Adding to a Tide of Worry

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A widely agreed international target to avoid dangerous global warming must take account of local impacts and may need to change, said the chief scientist at the MetOffice Hadley Center, Britain's biggest climate research center.

Julia Slingo said the target of limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (2C) may need adjusting to take into account research into local and regional effects, particularly on rainfall patterns, as climate science advances.

More than 120 nations agreed to the U.N.'s Copenhagen Accord last December which aimed to limit average global warming to less than 2C, in one of the main outcomes of a fractious summit.

Read more: 2 degree Celsius climate target may need to change: UK scientist

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Environmental activists have renewed calls for the government to expedite what they call the “energy revolution”, by increasing the use of renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuels.

The calls were made by Greenpeace, the Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi) and the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) on Wednesday. 

The environmental groups conducted a joint study on the impact of coal-fired power plants in Cilacap in Central Java and Cirebon in West Java, and found that coal’s “footprint” was destructive in many ways, from the mining process to power plants that left local residents mired in poverty with poor access to electricity.

Read more: Government told to develop renewable energy

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Legaspi City, Philippines - Twenty Philippine Governors joined the Making Cities Resilient: My City Is Getting Ready! campaign at a summit of local government leaders from 4 to 6 November in Albay. 

The Local Government Unit SUMMIT+3i has the theme “Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation in the Philippines.” Participants will discuss how climate change adaptation at local government level is critical for meeting the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDG). 

Read more: Twenty Philippine governors sign up to make provinces resilient to disasters

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LOS BAÑOS, Laguna, Philippines — If much of the world’s ice caps melt, owing to global warming, at least 171 coastal towns in 10 vulnerable provinces in the country will be adversely affected.

A total of 167,290 hectares in these towns will go under water if the sea level rises by one meter, according to an analysis done by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Climate Change Program.

Cagayan, one of the country’s biggest provinces forming Luzon’s northeastern seaboard whip-lashed at times by the turbulent waters of the Pacific Ocean, will be the most vulnerable if the country’s sea level rises owing to climate change, the study said.

Read more: 171 towns to be flooded if sea level rises - study

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Fate of the WorldAn Oxfordshire company is challenging people to save the planet from climate change through a computer game.

The games developer Red Redemption has created 'Fate of the World' which puts the Earth's future in players' hands. Gobion Rowlands, the company's founder, said: "We're getting an amazing reaction for the game. "There's worldwide attention. Everything we do is for a global audience but we're most at home in Oxford. "Oxford is core to everything we do and the university has been amazingly supportive."

Series of missions

In 'Fate of the World' the player must find a way to protect Earth's dwindling resources and climate over a period of 200 years. As head of the Global Environment Organisation the gamer must find ways to meet the needs of an increasing population and complete a series of missions to save the human race. "It's a follow up to a game we did in 2007 called Climate Challenge. We found that 9 out of 10 players first time through caused maximum destruction!

Read more: Climate change computer game released by Oxford company

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Investments in renewable energy will be able to help lift a large chunk of Asia Pacific’s population out of energy poverty, said energy experts on Wednesday.

One fifth of Apac’s population – some 800 million – still lack reliable access to energy.

“While everyone is talking about large-scale renewable energy projects, we should not forget that some people don’t have basic access to electricity,” said Jiwan Acharya, Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) climate change specialist.

He was speaking at the Clean Energy Expo Asia, held in Singapore this week, which brings policymakers and energy experts together to discuss key issues in the areas of sustainable energy in the Asia-Pacific region.

Read more: Energy poverty in Asia-Pacific must be tackled

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Bandar Seri Begawan - Developing nations, particularly those lying near the equator, will need to adapt to increasing higher temperatures as the impacts of climate change threaten their agricultural output, and in turn, food security.

A visiting professor from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) who spoke on the topic during the inaugural Farmers' and Fishermen's Day yesterday told The Brunei Times that such countries, the Sultanate among them, would need to look towards new technologies, even turning to genetically-modified crops, as well as ensuring free trade to overcome the effects of global warming on food security.

Read more: Climate Change Puts Food Security At Risk

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The idea of imposing a carbon tax here is now in the study stage, Senior Minister of State (Trade and Industry) S Iswaran said yesterday.

While a global agreement may not materialise at the coming United Nations climate change talks, Mr Iswaran said: "Singapore is studying this because we need to be prepared for the eventuality that an agreement may be made internationally on carbon emissions."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday that applying a carbon price to send the right price signals would be a part of Singapore's energy landscape should there be a global treaty. 

Read more: Carbon tax idea in study stage

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