Water wanted

Consequences of water scarcity threaten Italy and the whole Mediterranean region :: Costa Rica attempts to regulate water distribution putting human needs before the economy

While the findings of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were presented from different perspectives, water comes out as the protagonist of this week’s news in both Italy and Costa Rica.

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COSTA RICA

Costa Rica might finally have a renewed Water Law, after years of stalling in congress, La Nacion reports. Among several amendments to Costa Rica’s law, the text orders water should be used first and foremost for human needs, in case there’s a conflict with economics activities such as tourism or construction. This way, rural communities can have a legal basis to demand their share of water.

As many media around the world, La Nación also reported on the release of IPCC’s AR5 report, emphasizing the plea scientist are making to governments to take action to reach the 2°C goal. On Sunday the IPCC released a summary for policymakers, and once the full report is made public more media coverage is expected. This topics, however, is not a favorite on other Costa Rican media.

Image: Hammerhead shark, Cocos Island, Costa Rica by Barry Peters (CC-BY-2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Online daily AmeliaRueda.com reported on President Laura Chinchilla’s trip to Cocos Island, a national park and World Heritage Site, where she signed a new law to regulate the country’s fishing industry. The document finally puts in place a ban on trawling, a particularly harmful fishing method.

ElPais.cr, an online daily, reports on a change in land use in Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. A local environmental organization has appealed a decree intended to remove some areas from a wildlife sanctuary and a national park. The plea would be resolved by Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court.

Diego Arguedas Ortiz

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ITALY

The latest IPCC report occupied the first slot of all major Italian newspapers’ environmental sections.

The third installment of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, presented on Sunday in Berlin, outlined several urgent actions required in order to keep the temperature rise below the 2° threshold necessary to avoid catastrophic consequences. Particular emphasis in the coverage was given to the costs of shifting to a low-carbon economy, which according to the report authors would account for 0.06% of the global GDP, center-left daily La Repubblica reported.

The Panel affirms that acting on climate change is still possible. However, as Carlo Carraro, Vice-Chair of IPCC’s Working Group III, explained to Italian daily La Stampa, the price of delayed action will keep increasing, reaching 4 to 5 percent of the global GDP if we are to start after 2020. According to some of the models analysed in the report, he added, “if we do not take action before 2030, costs would be so high that it would make the 2° target impossible”.

Image: Wildfire in Quarto dei Mille, Genoa, Italy by Camillo Ferrari (CC-BY-SA- 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Looking at the second part of the IPCC report, published a week earlier, center-left daily La Repubblica reports on new forest fire risks in the Mediterranean area. Due to a decrease in the average annual rainfall, an increase in the rate of evaporation and seawater intrusion into surface waters and coastal aquifers, water scarcity could endanger many sectors, particularly agriculture and tourism.

According to the report, the Mediterranean is Europe’s most affected region by climate change. Extreme weather events, especially heat waves, threaten the health of populations and increase the chances of fires.

ENEA, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, expressed its concern by stating that Italy should develop an adaptation plan with specific actions, priorities, and funding. The country should minimize the costs by balancing actions of mitigation and adaptation, the agency said.

Silvia Giannelli

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