Daily Media Briefing

Daily Media Briefing


Posted in: Daily Media Briefing, Environment, Human Rights

Top Stories

January 12, 2016

Climate Change

Report: global carbon trade could help Southeast Asia

A global carbon trading market could boost Southeast Asia’s efforts to combat climate change, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) says in a new report. The region had the fastest growth in carbon dioxide emissions in the world from 1990 to 2010, and will continue to rely mainly on coal-fired plants for its power needs, making it one of the top contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, the ADB said. Southeast Asia’s five largest economies account for 90 per cent of the region’s emissions, the Manila-based development bank said in the report where it explains that “A global carbon market could benefit countries in the region, as Southeast Asia is a net exporter of emissions allowances”.  The ADB also reiterated that the region’s GDP could decline by up to 11 per cent by 2100 if no steps are taken to curb climate change. That was up from a 2009 report, which put the decline at 7 per cent. (Eco-Business)

Human Rights

China charges human rights lawyers with ‘subversion’

China has formally arrested and charged at least seven human rights lawyers and associates with “subversion”, friends and relatives say. The employees of Fengrui law firm in Beijing, including founder Zhou Shifeng, have been detained and held in secret since last summer. Mr Zhou came to prominence representing families caught up in China’s poison baby milk scandal in 2008. He was detained in July last year – a week later state media reported he had confessed to unspecified crimes. His colleague, Liu Xiaoyuan, confirmed that Mr Zhou, lawyer Wang Quanzhang and intern Li Shuyun had been formally arrested by police under suspicion of “state subversion”. Four others, lawyers Xie Yanyi, Xie Yang and Sui Muqing, and legal assistant Zhao Wei, had been arrested and accused of “incitement to state subversion”, AFP news agency reported, citing their friends and relatives. If put on trial they may face sentences of between 15 years and life in jail. (BBC)


Fracking shakes the American west: ‘a millennium’s worth of earthquakes’

Fracking for natural gas is creating alarm and division around western states of the US that until recently enjoyed a boom in jobs and revenue. In Oklahoma, seismologists have warned that significant temblors last week, measuring 4.7 and 4.8 on the Richter scale, could signal a larger, more dangerous earthquake to come in a state where drilling is destabilising the bedrock. According to the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC), in 2014 Oklahoma experienced 585 such quakes. In 2015 there were 842. “That’s almost a millennium’s worth of earthquakes in two years,” George Choy, an NEIC seismologist. Oil and gas drilling has risen to 7% of the Oklahoma state economy since 2009, part of a wider fracking revolution that has boosted American energy production and created more than a million US jobs. But as underground booms have resounded beneath the economic one, calls for greater regulation have increased. Those calls have divided leaders along partisan lines in at least eight states, including Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas and Kansas. (Guardian)


David Cameron faces questions over scrapping of UK carbon capture scheme

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is to be questioned about his broken pledge to spend £1 billion developing carbon capture technology when he appears before a House of Commons committee. The prime minister has been accused of double standards for abandoning a commitment to hold a competition to encourage the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS), which could lead to decarbonisation of coal and gas, at the same time as professing to be serious about tackling climate change. Just a year ago, Cameron had told the committee that CCS was “absolutely crucial” for the UK, before funding for a £1 billion trial was later scrapped. “The prime minister said that carbon capture and storage was crucial to meet our climate change targets,” said Angus MacNeil, chair of the energy and climate change committee. “The prime minister must acknowledge that building a new generation of gas plants means that we either have to fit power stations with carbon capture technology in the coming decade or potentially bust our carbon budgets.” (Guardian)

Technology & Innovation

New development could lead to more effective lightbulbs

MIT scientists have found a way of recycling waste energy from traditional incandescent lightbulbs, significantly improving their efficiency. Incandescent bulbs have long been a target for green campaigners because of their inefficiency, and have been phased out in many countries in favour of more expensive compact fluorescent (CFL) and LED bulbs. But the researchers believe they have developed a technique that could turn the weakness of the traditional incandescent bulb into a strength. Using nanotechnology, they have built a structure that surrounds the filament of the bulb and captures waste energy, reflecting it back to the filament and increasing efficiency by almost three times. The scientists point out that improving lightbulbs is but one of the options that could spring from this development. The authors say it could have “dramatic implications” for the performance of other energy conversion technologies. (BBC)



Image source: DSCN0016 by James Stewart / CC BY 2.0