Archive for the ‘NGO reports’ Category

Life (and death) in refugee camps

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Behind the wheel – An occasional series by Michael de Laine

Do Mr and Mrs Average really know what life is like in refugee camps – in terms of accommodation, food, work, learning, the effects of weather and the impact of armed conflicts?

And why people flee their homes to find a refugee camp in another country, when that country itself has problems similar to those they fled from?

My daughter, who came home in March after 18 months in South Sudan for first the Danish Refugee Council and then Save the Children – Denmark, has sent me this recent video and website link – – to work done by the Jesuit Refugee Service, in particular at Maban in northern South Sudan, close to the border with Sudan.

Here, refugees from Sudan make up more than two-thirds of the local population. The refugee camps at Maban are home to about 130,000 people.

In comparison, some 107,000 refugees have landed on the shores of Greece already this year, which no-one denies has great economic problems and which great problems dealing with these refugees.

South Sudan is in a far worse economic situation than Greece. The work there of aid organisations includes education and child protection, but it is hampered by the weather and recurrent armed conflicts, both resulting in breakdowns in food supplies and transport.

These refugees are alive – to understand a little of what some go through and die doing, read:

Public transport and electric vehicles will keep overall transport emissions in 2050 at 2000 level – report

Monday, December 7th, 2009

By Michael de Laine, Copenhagen, 7th December 2009

The International Energy Agency expects CO2 emissions from transport to double between 2000 and 2050. But a new study from Japan’s Institution for Transport Policy Studies shows that expanding public transport systems and introducing environmentally friendly vehicles will keep emissions in 2050 at the 2000 level.

A report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2004 says the transport sector accounts for 23% of the overall emissions of energy derived greenhouse gases. Emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from land-based transport are increasing at the second-highest pace, exceeded only by emissions from electricity generation.

On a country-by-country basis, CO2 emissions derived from transport have grown consistently around the world except in Japan and several developed countries in the European Union (EU). Indeed, the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects CO2 emissions from transport to double between 2000 and 2050.

But a new study from Japan’s Institution for Transport Policy Studies (ITPS) shows that aggressive introduction of environmentally friendly vehicles running on batteries or fuel cells, or powered by hybrid technologies, and a change of transport mode to an expanded and improved public transport systems will keep emissions at the 2000 level in 2050.

ITPS believes that three reduction recommendations will help to curb CO2 emissions considerably: measures to sharply increase the use of public transport; measures to make electric vehicles the mainstay vehicles in urban areas; and measures to help developing countries finance the construction of new railways.

The institution proposes that metropolises around the world over the next 40 years develop their public transport systems to equal the share public transport has in Tokyo: here, buses and railways account for more than 60% of overall urban-area transport.

Not only does public transport have very low CO2 emissions per passenger, ITPS says it is also effective in easing traffic congestion in urban areas, especially in developing countries, where the traffic volume is expected to grow in the future.

High-speed railways between cities will have a strong impact on a change from road vehicles but also from aircraft, the institution says. While it is not easy to justify the high construction costs of high-speed inter-city railways, ITPS believes that aggressively promoting their introduction from the perspective of mitigating global warming is the route to take.

It will also be necessary to make public transport more attractive while reducing the attractiveness of other modes of transport, the institution says.

To make public transport more attractive it will be effective in developed countries to create an environment that enables passengers to perform their business tasks, with built-in wifi and power sources, and with easy access to stations,” the transport institution says. “In addition, restricting the ownership and use of vehicles through the imposition of taxes and regulations will be important for promoting the use of public transport.”

Such restrictions would also help promote the use of electric vehicles.

ITPS acknowledges, however, that transport needs are not being fully satisfied in many developing countries in the first place, so introducing measures to restrict the use of vehicles must be carefully considered.

The transport institution wants environmentally friendly vehicles to have 80% share of all passenger cars in 2050 in urban areas. Insufficient battery performance will mean electrical vehicles will remain unsuitable for long-distance driving even in 2050, which would be an incentive for changing to public transport for inter-city transport.

Developing countries should introduce small electric vehicles with a necessary minimum performance to replace conventional vehicles, allowing these countries to leap-frog motorisation. Securing the supply of electricity to charge these vehicles’ batteries is vital.

Developing countries face an expensive task of building new railways to meet the transport needs deriving from the adoption of these policies.

We estimate that if the above-mentioned policy measures are adopted, it will become necessary to build at least 690,000 km of new railways in developing countries, with costs totalling US$8.6 trillion,” ITPS says.

While it is difficult for developing countries to make such huge investments, ITPS proposes a finance mechanism in which developed countries support railway construction.

We have in mind the official development assistance, an existing means to support economic development,” the transport institution says. “If developed countries are to cover half the cost of building railway infrastructure in India and other developing countries, apart from China, which has it own plans, the cost for the developed countries would amount to an estimated US$2.5 trillion. It is worth noting that this figure is far smaller than the amount of support funds committed by the developed countries in development aid projects, which is 0.7% of gross national income.”

Over the next 40 years, this would total US$16.5 trillion, ITPS says.

Various technologies must also be transferred to developing countries with the aim of improving the environment, the institution says. But doing this means solving patent-related problems, providing training so workers in developing countries can use and maintain equipment, and transferring policy expertise to developing countries and local authorities.

Yuki Tanaka, the director of international affairs at Japan’s Institution for Transport Policy Studies, talked about the institution’s report and recommendations for moving towards a low-carbon transport system.

David Banister, professor of transport studies at the University of Oxford, discussed broader aspects of moving to a low-carbon transport system.