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This Swiss Company Is Paving The Way To Slow Down Climate Change

A draft U.N. scientific report, due for publication in October about ways to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, is likely to boost such "carbon dioxide removal" (CDR) technologies.

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A facility for capturing CO2 from air of Swiss Climeworks AG is placed on the roof of a waste incinerating plant in Hinwil, Switzerland, July 18, 2017. VOA
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A small Swiss company won $31 million in new investment on Tuesday to suck carbon dioxide from thin air as part of a fledgling, costly technology that may gain wider acceptance from governments in 2018 as a way to slow climate change.

Climeworks AG, which uses high-tech filters and fans to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a cost of about $600 a ton, raised the money from investors including Zurich Cantonal Bank.

“It’s all about cost reductions,” Jan Wurzbacher, a co-founder and co-CEO of Climeworks, told Reuters of how the company would use the funds.

Extracting vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere could help to limit global warming, blamed for causing more heatwaves, wildfires, floods and rising sea levels.

The company says it has a long-term “vision” of capturing one percent of man-made carbon dioxide emissions by 2025.

But that is a far off. Its capacity is just 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year while global emissions totalled 32.5 billion tons in 2017, according to the International Energy Agency.

And costs are now too high.

In June, however, Climeworks’ main rival, Canadian-based Carbon Engineering, outlined the design of a plant that it said could extract carbon dioxide from the air for perhaps as little as $94 a ton.

That could make the technology more feasible if governments jack up penalties for carbon emissions this century. In a European market, carbon emissions prices are now about 21 euros a ton.

Climate, Climbwork
A facility for capturing CO2 from air of Swiss Climeworks AG is placed on the roof of a waste incinerating plant in Hinwil, Switzerland. VOA

Climework’s industrial plant in Switzerland now sells carbon dioxide to nearby greenhouses as an airborne fertilizer for tomatoes or cucumbers. It also has a project in Iceland where the gas is buried deep underground.

After the new round, investments in Climeworks’s technology total about $50 million, it said. The company has expanded to 60 employees from 30 since the start of 2017.

A draft U.N. scientific report, due for publication in October about ways to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, is likely to boost such “carbon dioxide removal” (CDR) technologies.

Also Read: Cold, Dry Climate Responsible for Neanderthal Disappearance

Until now, such CDR has often been bundled with other more exotic and risky “geoengineering” technologies such as spraying chemicals into the upper atmosphere to dim sunlight.

But the draft by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, seen by Reuters, categorizes CDR for the first time as “mitigation,” the mainstream term used for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

($1 = 0.9957 Swiss francs) (VOA)

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Somalia Calls To Outlaw Female Genital Mutilation

Flavia Mwangovya, End Harmful Practices program manager at Equality Now, said an anti-FGM law would curb the practice.

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FILE - A badge reads "The power of labor aginst FGM" is seen on a volunteer during a conference on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation in Cairo, Egypt. VOA

A spate of deaths of young girls from female genital mutilation (FGM) has renewed calls for Somalia to outlaw the tradition.

Four girls, ages 10 and 11, from central and northern Somalia have died in the last three months after having been cut, and seven others are in hospitals, activists said.

“More and more cases of girls who have died or end up seriously injured after FGM are coming out,” said Hawa Aden Mohamed, director of the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development, a local women’s group in the east African country.

“These cases confirm what we have been saying all along — that FGM kills and that we need a law to stop it,” Mohamed said. “The harm it causes is blatantly clear.”

 

Somalia
A Somali woman walks through a camp of people displaced from their homes elsewhere in the country by the drought, shortly after dawn in Qardho, Somalia, March 9, 2017. VOA

 

An estimated 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM, which involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia, the United Nations says.

One of 28 African countries where the tradition is endemic, Somalia has the world’s highest rates of FGM — 98 percent of women between 15 and 49 have undergone the ritual.

Somalia’s constitution prohibits FGM, but efforts to pass legislation to punish offenders have been stalled by parliamentarians afraid of losing voters who view FGM as a part of their tradition.

Government and hospital officials were not immediately available to comment on the deaths or hospital admissions.

The charity Save the Children said it rescued seven girls — aged between 5 and 8 years old — on Sunday from Somalia’s northern Puntland state. The girls had undergone FGM and were bleeding excessively; they are now receiving hospital treatment.

Somalia
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“I’m afraid that this is just the tip of the iceberg as many more cases go unreported,” said Timothy Bishop, country director of Save the Children in Somalia.

Campaigners said Suheyra Qorane Farah, 10, from Puntland died Sunday after contracting tetanus, having undergone FGM on Aug. 29.

Two sisters, Aasiyo and Khadijo Farah Abdi Warsame, age 10 and 11, from the same region bled to death Sept. 11 after visiting a cutter across the border in neighboring Ethiopia.

The death of Deeqa Nuur, 10, in July from severe bleeding following FGM prompted the attorney general to initiate Somalia’s first prosecution against FGM — using existing laws — but the investigation has faced challenges.

Also Read: Every Three Minutes a Teenage Girl is Infected by HIV- UNICEF

Flavia Mwangovya, End Harmful Practices program manager at Equality Now, said an anti-FGM law would curb the practice.

“A specific law can express punishments and specify stiffer penalties, ensure that all accomplices are held accountable, and gives guidance on the kind of evidence needed to prove the crime,” she said. (VOA)