Tag Archive | "Egypt"

UNEP urges lead paints to be phased out

Children in the developing world are still exposed to “astonishingly high and dangerous levels of lead” through unsafe paints, finds a study by the UN Environment Programme, released Tuesday during the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action.

The study analysed enamel decorative paints from: Argentina, Azerbaijan, Chile, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Tunisia and Uruguay. The research was organised by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, a group co-led by UNEP and the World Health Organisation.

Most of the paints tested would not meet regulatory standards established in most industrialised countries. Generally, white paints had the lowest lead content, while red, green and yellow paints had the highest lead levels.

Both Chile and Uruguay have national executive decrees that prohibit the production, import, distribution, sale and use of decorative paints with a lead concentration above 600 ppm, and all of the paints tested in these two countries had low total lead concentrations.

But in each of the other seven countries studied, two or more of the samples of enamel decorative paints had lead content greater than 10,000 ppm.

Lead in paint is a problem because painted surfaces deteriorate with time and disturbance, releasing the lead into household dust and soil outside.

An estimated 143,000 deaths a year result from lead poisoning, according to WHO data; lead paint is a major contributor to this death toll.

Worldwide, 30 countries have phased out the use of lead paint. The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint has set a target of 70 countries by 2015.

Over the last seven years, similar studies found high average lead concentrations in Cameroon, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.

The UNEP report recommends:
National efforts to promote the establishment of legal and regulatory frameworks to control the manufacture, import, export, sale and use of lead paints and products coated with lead paints.

Paint manufacturers are encouraged to eliminate lead compounds from their paint formulations, and participate in programs that provide third party certification that no lead has been added to their paint. They are encouraged to label products to help consumers identify paints free of added lead.

 

 

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American hardword imports increase in the MENA region

According to the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), $45.05m of American hardwood lumber and veneer were exported to the MENA region including Pakistan during the first six months of this year.

This marks a 4% increase over the same period in 2012.

A closer look at markets across the region reveals strong demand for American hardwood lumber in the UAE (USD 3.98 million), Turkey (USD 3.59 million), Saudi Arabia (USD 3.42 million), Egypt (USD 4 million), and Pakistan (USD 3.85 million).

“A key issue for the timber industry in the MENA region is the EU Timber Regulation, which came into effect in March this year. Some of the world’s largest interior fit-out companies are based in the UAE and other Gulf countries and a number of Dubai-based joinery factories are almost totally focussed on production for countries outside the Middle East, including in the European Union. In the case of U.S. hardwoods, EUTR conformance is satisfied through the comprehensive ‘Assessment of Lawful Harvesting & Sustainability of U.S. Hardwood Exports’. This is significant given that the EU is a major destination for a significant amount of the joinery work being undertaken in the region, much of which features American hardwoods. Because of this and the region’s booming construction levels, we feel confident that U.S. hardwood exports to the Middle East will remain strong for the months and years ahead,” concluded Roderick Wiles, AHEC Director for Africa, Middle East, South Asia and Oceania.

 

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Water scarcity increasingly threatens global security

Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist and an author, most recently, of Water, Peace, and War: Confronting the Global Water Crisis. 

According to his research, water shortages in the densely populated parts of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa could create large numbers of “water refugees” and overwhelm some states’ institutional capacity to contain the effects. The struggle for water is already escalating political tensions in certain parts of the world.

Downstream Egypt, for example, uses the bulk of the Nile River’s water, yet it is now threatening unspecified reprisals against Ethiopia’s continuing construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam.

China, already the world’s most-dammed nation, has approved the construction of 54 new dams – many of them on rivers that are the lifeblood of neighbouring countries. Turkey is accelerating an ambitious dam-building programme, which threatens to diminish cross-border flows into Syria and Iraq.

Meanwhile, intrastate water-sharing disputes have become common. Water conflicts within culturally diverse nations, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Sudan, often assume ethnic dimensions, thereby accentuating internal-security challenges.

But as illustrated by the disputes within, for example, the United States, Spain and Australia, intra-country water conflict is not restricted to the developing world.

Water conflicts in America have spread from the arid west to the east. Violent water struggles, however, occur mostly in developing nations, with resource scarcity often promoting environmental degradation and perpetuating poverty. Adequate access to natural resources, historically, has been a key factor in peace and war.

Countries can import fossil fuels, mineral ores and resources originating in the biosphere, such as fish and timber. But they cannot import water, or at least not in a major or sustainable manner. Water is essentially local and very expensive to ship.

Potable water supplies will come under strain if oceans rise. Rapid economic and demographic expansion has already turned potable water into a major issue across large parts of the world. Lifestyle changes have increased per capita water consumption.

It is against this background that water wars (in a political and economic sense) are already being waged between competing states, including by building dams on international rivers or by resorting to coercive diplomacy to prevent such construction.

US intelligence has warned that such water disputes could turn violent.

According to a report reflecting the joint judgement of US intelligence agencies, the use of water as a weapon of war or a tool of terrorism could become more likely in the next decade in some regions.

The InterAction Council, comprising more than 30 former heads of state or government, meanwhile, has called for urgent action, saying some countries battling severe water shortages risk failing. Water stress is adding to socio-economic costs.

The World Bank has estimated the economic cost of China’s water problems at 2.3% of its GDP. China, however, is not as yet under water stress – a term internationally defined as the availability of less than 1,700 cubic metres of water per person per year. By contrast, the already water-stressed economies, stretching from South Korea and India to Egypt and Morocco, are paying a higher price for their problems.

Nature’s fixed water-replenishment capacity limits the world’s freshwater resources to nearly 43 trillion cubic metres per year. But the human population has almost doubled since 1970.

Growth in consumption has become the single biggest driver of water stress. Rising incomes, for example, have promoted changing diets, especially a greater intake of meat, the production of which is notoriously water-intensive. It is about 10 times more water-intensive to produce meat than plant-based calories and proteins.

As a result, water could become the world’s next major security and economic challenge.

Bottled water at the supermarket is already more expensive than crude oil on the spot market. More people today own or use a mobile phone than have access to water-sanitation services. Unclean water is the greatest killer on the globe, yet a fifth of humankind still lacks easy access to potable water. More than half of the global population currently lives under water stress – a figure projected to increase dramatically during the next decade.

Although no modern war has been fought just over water, this resource has been an underlying factor in several armed conflicts.

With the era of cheap, bountiful water now gone, to be replaced by increasing constraints on supply and quality, the risks of overt water wars are increasing.

Avoiding conflict over water demands international cooperation. But there is still no international water law in force, and most regional water agreements are toothless, lacking monitoring and enforcement rules and provisions formally dividing water among users. Worse still, unilateralism is endemic in the parched world.

The international community thus confronts a problem more pressing than peak oil, economic slowdown and other oft-cited challenges.

Addressing this core problem holds the key to dealing with other challenges because of the nexus of water with global warming, energy shortages, stresses on food supply, population pressures, pollution, environmental degradation, global epidemics and natural disasters.

 

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Windy Frontier

Wind power has taken a backseat to solar across the Middle East and North Africa, but there are still some ambitious projects underway across the region

The major advocates of wind power are Egypt and Morocco, who have forged ahead for alternative energy despite domestic political instability.
Recent research from Stanford University indicates that harnessing wind energy can prove profitable, being enough to supply at least half of the world’s total energy needs within the next twenty years.

Tarfaya Wind Farm, Morocco
Morocco’s state utility Office National d’Electricite (ONE) awarded a US$350 million, 20-year PPA contract to a consortium made up of Nareva, the UAE-based Karabel Fez/International Power, a subsidiary of GDF Suez Energy International, and International Power from the UK, for the 300 megawatt (MW) Tarfaya wind power plant. The plant, which will be financed by Attijariwafa Bank, Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur (BMCE) and France’s Banque Populaire, will be built along the Atlantic ocean in southern Morocco. The plant is to be constructed on a build, operate and transfer basis, originally planned to be completed in 50MW phases each, with the first 200MW to be up and running by year-end. As of this month, Morocco has already installed 147MW of wind power with another 975MW in the pipeline. Morocco’s active solar energy plan is another element helping bridge the country’s energy mix as it strives to derive 42% of its energy demand from renewable sources by 2020.

Zaafarana and Elsewedy Towers, Egypt
Strategically located near Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea, which allows easy transportation to the Zaafarana farm, and to the Suez Canal for global exportation, Egypt aims to break a record in having the largest wind turbines in MENA.
The Zaafarana plant, located in an area with favourable wind conditions, has an expected capacity factor of 43%, has a minimum plant operating life is 21 years.
The Zaafarana wind farm is by far the largest in Egypt, and one of the ten largest wind farms in the world.
Staggered construction phases since 2000 meant that the 120 square kilometre site is now finally complete, housing 700 wind turbines producing a total capacity of 550 megawatts (MW). Though this is less than 3% of Egypt’s total capacity of just under 25 gigawatts (GW) or 25,000MW, it is a substantial development for the region.
Zaafarana saves Egypt 332,000 tonnes of fuel a year, and reduces annual carbon emissions by approximately 834,000 tonnes, according to the New and Renewable Energy Authority. In the initial 7-year crediting period, the Project is expected to reduce approximately 1.75million tCO2e (tonnes of Carbon dioxide equivalent), generating the equivalent amount of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs).
Though the initial vision was to produce 7,200 MW of renewable energy by 2020, it is expected that without significant economic and political change, development will increase at the current rate of about 150MW every two years.

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