Climate change: 2015 to be hottest year ever; Saudi builder to cut 15,000 jobs; South Africa economy ‘can only get worse’

1 Climate change: 2015 to be hottest year ever (Arthur Neslen in The Guardian) Climate change made 2011-2015 the warmest five-year period on record, according to the World Meteorological Organisation’s (WMO) state of the global climate report. This year is set to be the single hottest ever registered, with planetary temperatures passing the symbolic milestone of 1C above pre-industrial levels.

The WMO’s stock-take attributes the sweltering conditions to a cocktail of man-made global warming and the effects of the El Niño oceanic phenomenon. “The state of the global climate in 2015 will make history as for a number of reasons,” the WMO’s secretary-general, Michel Jarraud said. “2015 is likely to be the hottest year on record, with ocean surface temperatures at the highest level since measurements began. It is probable that the 1C Celsius threshold will be crossed. This is all bad news for the planet.”

Extreme weather events such as heatwaves can now be attributed to anthropogenic climate change with greater confidence, Jarraud said. Last summer, 2,500 people died in India during a heatwave blamed on climate change, while Pakistan recorded another 2,000 fatalities as temperatures soared as high as 49C.

China experienced its warmest ever year on record in 2015 in the period to October, while the continent of Africa is currently undergoing its second warmest. Other increasingly severe weather events such as floods, droughts and tropical storms were developing in line with the WMO’s expectations, based on climate models.

Prof Sir Brian Hoskins, chair of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said: “Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at record levels and so are global temperatures. These are indicators of the big climate problem we are creating for ourselves.”

2 Saudi builder to cut 15,000 jobs (Gulf News) Construction company Saudi Binladin Group plans to cut about 15,000 staff, people with knowledge of the matter said, in a sign of the pressure on the industry as the Saudi government trims spending in response to low oil prices.

The possible layoffs at Binladin, one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest firms and among the Middle East’s largest builders, would represent a small fraction of the group’s total workforce, which is around 200,000, according to its LinkedIn page.

But the planned cutbacks are an example of the choices which companies are having to make as Saudi Arabia’s economic boom loses steam.

3 South Africa economy can only get worse (Johannesburg Times) Manufactures might have saved South Africa from slipping into a recession, but it is merely the gloss on a tanking economy dragged down by poor government policies and falling commodity prices.

StatsSA has announced that the gross domestic product had increased 0.7% quarter on quarter in the three months to September. In the previous quarter it had shrunk 1.3%. “The growth is so marginal you need a magnifying glass to see it,” said consulting economist Cees Bruggemans. “Remember the growth of 0.7% is for the period, before the worst of the drought.”

Economists say consumers are in for a rough ride next year. “The stress of consumers is about to be compounded, with no let-up likely in the near future, especially with looming electricity hikes and difficulty in saving and settling debt,” said political economy analyst Daniel Silke.

Any shocks from currency declines, rating downgrades, future labour unrest, continuing power-supply constraints, the drought and food-price inflation would keep the economy on the cusp of a recession, he said.

A 9.8% plunge in mining was one of the main reasons for the worse-than-expected growth rate in the quarter, according to Michael Manamela, executive manager for national accounts at StatsSA. Though manufacturing expanded for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2014, three sectors are now in recession: agriculture, mining and electricity. Farming output plunged an annualised 12.6% in the third quarter as drought cut crops.

Kevin Lings, Stanlib chief economist, said, “During 2014 as a whole the economy grew by a weak 1.5%, down from 2.2% in both 2013 and 2012. For 2015 as a whole, we still expect growth of only 1.4%, slowing to 1.1% in 2016.” Other economists are less optimistic. Bruggemans predicted no growth and 50,000 job losses next year.


About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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