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Hurricane Laura strengthens as it approaches Texas, Louisiana | News

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Hurricane Laura is likely to cause catastrophic damage and “unsurvivable storm surge” to the Gulf Coast near the Texas-Louisiana border after strengthening on Wednesday to a Category 4 storm, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm, ranked on the Saffir-Simpson scale for measuring hurricane intensity, was about 320km (200 miles) south-southeast of Port Arthur, Texas, with maximum sustained winds of 220km/h (140m/h) and was expected to pack winds of up to 233km/h (145m/h). 

The catastrophic storm surge as high as 20 feet (6 metres) from Sea Rim State Park, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana could penetrate up to 48km (30 miles) inland from the immediate coastline, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a Wednesday morning advisory.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott urged Texans living in the path of the deadly storm to get out of the storm’s path immediately.

“All the people who could potentially lose their life, if they know – number one in a hurricane – that’s to make sure that you save your own life. It doesn’t do you any good to save your property if you’re going to you lose your life. Property can be replaced. Your life cannot,” Abbott said in an appearance on Fox News television on Wednesday.

More than 420,000 Texas residents and another 200,000 people in neighbouring Louisiana were under mandatory evacuation orders on Wednesday. Buses were being sent to evacuate people who are also being asked to wear masks and maintain a physical distance because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“You only have a few hours to prepare and evacuate for #HurricaneLaura. Wherever you are by noon is where you’ll have to ride out the storm,” Louisiana Governor John Edwards tweeted on Wednesday morning.

People line up to board buses to evacuate Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Wednesday in the face of Hurricane Laura [Gerald Herbert/AP Photo]

Skies were dark and a light rain was falling on Wednesday morning in the island city of Galveston, which was mostly boarded up.

Randall Gilmore, a 48-year-old maintenance worker, was riding his bike along the city’s sea wall, watching the clouds roll in. Work had prevented him from evacuating yet, but he planned to move to nearby Texas City in the afternoon.

“This storm doesn’t look like it’ll be bad so far, but I feel it’s better to leave. You never know what to expect with these storms. Sometimes hurricanes can fuel tornadoes, and I don’t want to be here in Galveston if that happens,” Gilmore said.

Laura battered the Caribbean over the weekend as a tropical storm, killing 24 people between the Dominican Republic and Haiti and damaging thousands of houses and electricity infrastructure.

State and federal emergency management agencies were rushing to provide sheltered accommodations and get first responders in place.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Pete Gaynor posted pictures of teams bringing portable shelters to Camp Beauregard, Louisiana on Tuesday, and Texas Governor Abbott said his state’s National Guard was in place with high-water vehicles and rescue helicopters.

The storm was moving at about 26km/h (16m/h) on Wednesday morning.

Workers board up windows ahead of Hurricane Laura

Workers board up windows at the Galvez Hotel and Spa on Tuesday in Galveston, Texas, as Hurricane Laura headed towards the US Gulf Coast [David J Phillip/AP Photo]

“I’m a little excited and nervous, but not scared,” said Carlos Morales, 21, who works for a fencing company in Galveston. He said he planned to ride out the hurricane in his five-foot elevated house about 10 blocks from the beach.

The storm is expected to spawn tornadoes on Wednesday night over Louisiana, far southeastern Texas, and southwestern Mississippi, the NHC said. It added there would likely be widespread flooding from far eastern Texas across Louisiana and Arkansas from Wednesday to Thursday.

Laura will likely drop 13-25cm (5-10 inches) of rain over the region, the NHC said.

Crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been paralysed as companies batten down operations. Output cuts are nearing 90 percent – a level not seen since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Landfall during pandemic

Texas is coming down from a period of peak COVID-19 cases and deaths, and there are currently some 108,000 active cases of the virus, according to the state health department. More than 41,000 hospital beds were occupied as of Tuesday, including more than 12,000 in Houston and Galveston, state data showed.

Texas hands out masks to Hurricane Laura evacuees

Mary Lyon, centre left, hands out masks to evacuees as they wait in line to register before boarding a bus on Tuesday in Galveston, Texas; the evacuees were being taken to Austin, Texas, as Hurricane Laura headed towards the Gulf Coast [David J Phillip/AP Photo]

Hidalgo County, Texas, urged voluntary evacuation in the coastal region surrounding Houston, and shelters were set up in San Antonio, Dallas and Austin. Thousands of evacuees would be sheltered at hotels in Austin to encourage physical distancing, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Houston, which lies in Laura’s path and has closed public COVID-19 testing sites in advance of the storm, was pummeled in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey, which killed at least 68 people and caused $125bn in property damage. The fourth-largest US city, with 2.3 million residents, Houston is about 70km (45 miles) north of the open water of the Gulf of Mexico.

Lina Hidalgo, the top executive for Harris County, which encompasses Houston, warned of deadly winds and a destructive storm surge after Laura makes landfall.

“This storm certainly can cause unprecedented devastation,” Hidalgo said at a news conference on Tuesday. “We truly have to say: prepare for the worst.”



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Number of people in employment in UK fell unexpectedly in March | Business and Economy News

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The drop in the number of employees on payrolls indicates scarring of the economy after three COVID lockdowns.

The U.K. labor market weakened unexpectedly, with company payrolls falling for the first time in four months and more people dropping out of the workforce.

The number of employees on payrolls fell 56,000 in March, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday. The jobless rate fell to 4.9% in the quarter through February because 80,000 people became economically inactive, indicating they stopped looking for work.

The figures indicate scarring to the economy from three successive coronavirus lockdowns that forced most shops, restaurants and entertainment venues to close. Those segments all suffered big declines in payrolled employment despite Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s effort to protect jobs with furlough payments, leaving overall employment about 800,000 below where it was before the pandemic struck.

“The bigger story is the continued crisis for young people,” said Tony Wilson, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies. “Youth long-term unemployment has hit a five-year high this morning, while youth employment is still falling even as it starts to rise for every other age group.”

This month’s figures confound recent surveys suggesting that companies restarted hiring in the weeks before lockdown loosened. The ONS said the number of job vacancies jumped 16% in March alone to 650,000, and that may feed through to higher employment in the coming months. Sectors including hospitality, retail and the arts had big increases.

“The jobs market has been broadly stable in recent months after the major shock of last spring,” said Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS. “With the prospect of businesses reopening, there was a marked rise in job vacancies in March, especially in sectors such as hospitality.”

Unemployment claims rose 10,100 in March after a revised increase of 67,300 the previous month. Basic earnings growth, which has been inflated by lower-paying jobs dropping out of the labor market, was 4.4% in the quarter through February compared with 4.3% in the previous three-month period.

The Treasury and Bank of England expect a rapid recovery from the worst recession in three centuries starting in the middle of the year when most lockdown rules are set to lapse. Shops and restaurants started opening earlier this month.

Employment fell by 73,000 in the quarter thorough February, less than half the decline of 145,000 that had been anticipated by economists. At the end of February, 4.65 million workers were on furlough, down from a peak of 8.8 million at the start of the pandemic in April 2020.

The OBR expects the jobless rate to peak at 6.5% in the fourth quarter, or about 2.2 million people. That’s less than previously estimated and significantly below the peak of recessions in previous decades.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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‘Uninformed’ CSOs Frustrating EACOP Project Financing – Oil and Gas Expert

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Denis Kakembo, the Managing Partner and leader of Corporate and Tax Practice at Cristal Advocates, has revealed that the continuous uninformed statements uttered by a section of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are frustrating the financing of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project.

Cristal Advocates is a corporate and commercial law firm offering full scale legal services with an emphasis on tax, energy, infrastructure and business support.

On Sunday April 11, the Ugandan government led by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, his Tanzanian counterpart Samia Suluhu and two oil companies; Total E&P Uganda Limited (TEPU) and China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) signed four different agreements to pave way for the construction of the USD 3.5bn 1,440 kilometer EACOP from Hoima (Uganda) to Tanga Tanzania.

The agreements include; Host Government Agreement, Intergovernmental Agreement, Shareholders’ Agreement, Tariffs and Transport Agreement, Project Framework Agreement and Several Financing Agreements.

TEPU is the majority shareholder in the deal with 72% followed by Uganda with 15%, CNOOC with 8% while Tanzania have 5%. The project is however expected to be funded with borrowing from different banks, which have opted out of the deal.

In a March 18th press release issueed by Inclusive Development International, banks provided statements that they will not support the construction of EACOP, after an open letter endorsed by 263 organizations from around the world was sent to 25 banks considered most likely to be approached for financing.

Speaking to journalists at the sidelines of the ACME media training on oil and gas in Kampala on Monday, Kakembo wondered why CSOs have chosen to “just make noise without reading and understanding what’s on ground.”

“The perception people have towards oil and gas sector is old fashioned. Its true in the past oil companies didn’t behave well and this was in so many countries where they operated and people did not benefit so there is that historical bias which is still being held by people to date,” he said.

Adding: “The oil and gas industry has tremendously transformed over the period of time there is a lot of honor for an international law level perspective to ensure that people benefit and protect the environment and there are a lot of instruments that can be used to achieve this but these instruments can only be used when the CSOs understand and appreciate what they are.”

CSOs, he said, sometimes approach these issues on a perspective of an activist mind, “but not from a mindset of an informed person on what is taking place and yet if they understand fully what is taking place, they can serve their people in terms of articulating their concerns.”

“I would urge CSOs to take time, dig in and take more information which is readily available to boost and build their capacities.”

“Whenever there is an economic activity or project taking place, you would expect that people will be affected but there are other ways of mitigating that like; is the process transparent, are people being compensated, these are not very difficult issues, which can be addressed,” he said.

The said EACOP project is expected to kick off in six months’ time which Kakembo noted will be the final kickoff of each and everything including the declaration of Final Investment Decision (FID) by oil companies.

The post ‘Uninformed’ CSOs Frustrating EACOP Project Financing – Oil and Gas Expert first appeared on ChimpReports.



Source – chimpreports.com

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IAE issues ‘dire warning’ as CO2 emissions set to soar in 2021 | Climate News

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The IAE predicts that carbon dioxide emissions could rise to 33 billion tonnes in 2021 – the second largest rise in emissions ever.

Global carbon emissions are set to jump by five percent marking the largest single increase in more than a decade as the economic rebound from the coronavirus pandemic is “anything but sustainable” for the climate.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) published on Tuesday its annual Global Energy Review predicting that carbon dioxide emissions would rise to 33 billion tonnes this year, up 1.5 billion tonnes from 2020 levels.

“This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the COVID crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said.

Birol called the Leaders Summit on Climate to be hosted by US President Joe Biden on Thursday and Friday a critical moment for nations to pledge immediate actions before the UN Climate Change Conference set for November in Glasgow.

“Unless governments around the world move rapidly to start cutting emissions, we are likely to face an even worse situation in 2022,” said Birol.

In early March, the IEA’s chief stressed that the level of carbon emissions in December was higher than the same month the previous year as economies started reopening following coronavirus lockdowns, a figure that the IEA’s chief said was a “stark warning” to leaders around the world.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged countries on Monday to back up their commitments to fight climate change with “concrete immediate action”, including making as their “absolute priority” that no more coal power plants will be built.

Last year, when power use dropped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, energy-related CO2 emissions fell by 5.8 percent to 31.5 billion tonnes, after peaking in 2019 at 33.4 billion tonnes.

The IEA’s annual review analysed the latest national data from around the world, economic growth trends and new energy projects that are set to come into action.

Global energy demand is set to increase by 4.6 percent in 2021, led by developing economies, pushing it above 2019 levels, the report said.

Demand for all fossil fuels is on course to grow in 2021, with both coal and gas set to rise above 2019 levels.

The expected rise in coal use dwarves that of renewables by almost 60 percent, despite accelerating demand for solar, wind and hydro power. More than 80 percent of the projected growth in coal demand in 2021 is set to come from Asia, led by China.

Coal use in the US and the European Union is also on course to increase but will remain well below pre-crisis levels, the IEA said.

The IEA expects both solar and wind to post their largest annual rises ever, at around 17 percent.

It expects renewables will provide 30 percent of electricity generation worldwide in 2021, their biggest share ever and up from less than 27 percent in 2019.

China is expected to account for almost half of that increase.

While demand for oil is rebounding strongly, the IEA expects it to stay below the pre-pandemic level as the aviation sector struggles to recover owing to a slow and patchy vaccine rollout.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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