Daily Media Briefing 23rd August

Daily Media Briefing

 

Posted in: Consumers, Daily Media Briefing, Environment, Technology & Innovation

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August 23, 2013

Technology

Facebook leads partnership to overcome barriers to global internet access

Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, has launched internet.org, a global initiative that aims to bring internet access to the estimated five billion people worldwide thought to be currently without it. Global partners include the mobile companies Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung.  Mr Zuckerberg said that “there are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy. Internet.org brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges.” According to a report released in December 2012 by the US firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, mobile traffic has grown so fast globally that in some places, it has surpassed desktop traffic.  The partnership plans to reduce the amount of data needed to run apps and power the internet, back new business models, offer incentives to mobile operators, device manufacturers and developers to lower the cost of access, and increase the number of languages enabled for use on mobile devices. (C|Net; New York Times; The Independent)

 

Environment

UK Government to withdraw subsidies from “unsustainable” biomass production

Under new plans announced yesterday by the UK Government, biomass electricity producers could risk losing government subsidies from 2015 under the Renewables Obligation support mechanism, if they fail to prove that their fuel has come from certified sustainable sources. The criteria, which are due to come into effect in 2014, will require producers to account for emissions associated with harvesting, biodiversity protection, and land use rights for local people where crops are grown.  However Dr Doug Parr, the chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, said that “the loopholes in these sustainability standards are big enough to drive a logging truck through.”  The UK Renewable Energy Association said that although the rules would help ensure the biomass market is delivering genuine carbon emission savings, the stipulation for new biomass power stations to capture and reuse the heat that they produce risks harming industry investment as the process is not feasible in some sites. (The Guardian; Business Green)

 

Apple reveals solar farm

In partnership with the US public utility NV Energy, the US technology firm Apple has constructed a new solar farm in the US state of Nevada to supply renewable energy to one of the company’s data centres and also provide clean energy to the local power grid.  It is estimated that when completed, the 137 acre solar farm will generate 43.5 million kilowatt hours of clean energy.  According to a report published this summer by researchers at Stanford University, Northwestern University and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, server farm greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by up to 80 percent if companies used state-of-the-art IT equipment.  The report also said that a further 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions could be cut if companies move their server farms to cooler locations, as data centre cooling consumes large amounts of energy. (Guardian Sustainable Business)

 

Consumers

UK high street chains accused of artificial discount pricing

Six UK high street carpet and furniture retailers, including Carpetright plc and ScS, are under investigation for using artificially high prices to exaggerate sales and price cuts. The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said that it opened the investigation after finding that many retailers in the sector were systematically misleading customers into thinking they were getting a bargain by artificially inflating the original reference price.  The OFT said there were also a significant number of products sold by some retailers where no sales at all took place at the artificially inflated price. Under the UK’s Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, it is illegal to indulge in misleading or aggressive advertising.  Gaucho Rasmussen, an OFT director, said that “reference pricing can mislead consumers into thinking the item they have bought is of higher value and quality, pressure them to buy there and then so they don’t ‘miss out’ on the deal.” (The Guardian; BBC)

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