Tuesday November 19, 2019
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Italy’s glaciers retreated by 40 percent: WWF

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Rome: Alpine glaciers in Italy have lost an estimated 40 percent of their area over the last three decades, a recent report released by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has said.

“The situation of glaciers on the Italian side of the Alps is very worrying,” Xinhua news agency on Friday quoted Gianfranco Bologna, scientific director of WWF-Italy and co-author of the report as saying.

The Hot Ice report was unveiled earlier this week, ahead of a crucial United Nations Climate Change Conference due to be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11.

The report suggested that drastic measures should be adopted at the Paris summit to prevent further deterioration of the glaciers in Italy and worldwide.

With respects to the Italian Alps, the report stated glaciers currently cover a total area of about 368 sq kms compared to 609 sq kms in the 1980’s.

Friday’s figures came from the New Italian Glacier Inventory, which was presented at the 19th Alpine Glaciology meeting held in May in Milan.

The figures were compared with the 1989 World Glacier Inventory (WGI) based on data collected in the 1980’s.

The comparison suggested an area reduction of over 39 percent.

Researches said glacier melting is undoubtedly caused by human activities, and the WWF report said, “the extent of interactions between the biosphere and the human species in recent centuries is unprecedented.”

“The scientific community has been coordinating the collection of standardised data about glaciers worldwide since the end of 18th century,” Bologna said.

“We have seen them retreating slowly for over a century, and much more sharply in the last 50 years.”

The melting process is affecting the Arctic and Antarctica the most, but also glaciers around the world, such as in the Himalayas, Patagonia, Alaska, the Ural Mountains, and the Alps.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main greenhouse gas produced by human activities and most responsible for global warming, have indeed risen to 35.3 billion tonnes per year in 2013 from 22.6 billion tonnes in 1990, according to the European Union Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR).

“On this aspect, we must also emphasise the progressive effect of global warming,” Bologna said.

“Firstly, ice is part of the water cycle. Thus, ice melting affects the availability of water for humans, and the life of the fauna and flora in mountain areas,” the expert said.

“Alpine glaciers specifically give rise to many Italian rivers, including the Po, Italy’s longest river,” Bologna said.

(inputs from IANS)

 

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Italy to Make Climate Change and Sustainable Development Study Compulsory for School Children

Many traditional subjects, such as geography, mathematics and physics, would also be studied from the perspective of sustainable development

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Italy, Climate Change, Sustainable Development
Italy's Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti gestures during an interview with Reuters in Rome, Italy, November 4, 2019. VOA

Italy will next year become the world’s first country to make it compulsory for schoolchildren to study climate change and sustainable development, Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti said.

Fioramonti, from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, is the government’s most vocal supporter of green policies and was criticized by the opposition in September for encouraging students to skip school and take part in climate protests.

In an interview in his Rome office on Monday, Fioramonti said all state schools would dedicate 33 hours per year, almost one hour per school week, to climate change issues from the start of the next academic year in September.

Many traditional subjects, such as geography, mathematics and physics, would also be studied from the perspective of sustainable development, said the minister, a former economics professor at South Africa’s Pretoria University.

Italy, Climate Change, Sustainable Development
Fioramonti, from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, is the government’s most vocal supporter of green policies and was criticized by the opposition in September. Pixabay

“The entire ministry is being changed to make sustainability and climate the center of the education model,” Fioramonti told Reuters in the interview conducted in fluent English.

“I want to make the Italian education system the first education system that puts the environment and society at the core of everything we learn in school.”

Fioramonti, 42, the author of several books arguing gross domestic product should no longer be used as the main measure of countries’ economic success, has been a target of the right-wing opposition since becoming a minister in the two-month-old government of 5-Star and the center-left Democratic Party.

His proposals for new taxes on airline tickets, plastic and sugary foods to raise funds for education were strongly attacked by critics who said Italians were already over-taxed.

 

He then sparked fury from conservatives when he suggested crucifixes should be removed from Italian classrooms to create a more inclusive environment for non-Christians.

Despite the criticism, the government’s 2020 budget presented to parliament this week included both the plastic tax and a new tax on sugary drinks.

“I was ridiculed by everyone and treated like a village idiot, and now a few months later the government is using two of those proposals and it seems to me more and more people are convinced it is the way to go,” Fioramonti said.

ANTI-SALVINI

Italy, Climate Change, Sustainable Development
In an interview in his Rome office on Monday, Fioramonti said all state schools would dedicate 33 hours per year, almost one hour per school week, to climate change issues from the start. Pixabay

Surveys showed 70-80% of Italians backed taxing sugar and flights, he said, adding that coalition lawmakers had told him they would table budget amendments to introduce his proposal to hike air ticket prices before the budget is approved by end-year.

Fioramonti said targeted taxes of this kind were a way of discouraging types of consumption which were harmful to the environment or individuals, while generating resources for schools, welfare or lowering income tax.

In this vein, he suggested other levies on various types of gambling and on profits from oil drilling.

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His progressive positions on the economy and the environment are the antithesis of Matteo Salvini’s hard-right League, which has overtaken 5-Star to become easily Italy’s most popular party, with more than 30% of voter support. (VOA)