Top Stories

April 06, 2020

Tech for Good

Coronavirus: Google releases location data to measure success of coronavirus lockdowns

Tech giant Google has published reports for 131 countries showing whether visits to shops, parks and workplaces dropped in March, when many governments issued stay-at-home orders to rein in the spread of the novel coronavirus. Google’s analysis of location data from billions of users’ phones is the largest public dataset available to help health authorities assess if people are abiding with shelter-in-place and similar orders issued across the world. Its reports show charts that compare traffic from February 16 to March 29 at subway, train and bus stations, grocery stores and other broad categories of places earlier this year. In Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus, visits to retail and recreation locations, including restaurants and movie theatres, plunged 94% while visits to workplaces slid 63%. Reflecting the severity of the crisis there, grocery and pharmacy visits in Italy dropped 85% and park visits were down by 90%. (Thomas Reuters Foundation)


Coronavirus: Apple to ship 1 million face shields a week for medical workers

Apple has said it will soon be producing one million face shields a week for medical workers battling the coronavirus pandemic. The tech giant had already sourced 20 million surgical masks from around the world to help address a global shortage, chief executive Tim Cook said in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday. But the company had also designed its own transparent protective face shield and begun mass production at its factories in the US and China, he added. Initial distribution would be focused on the US but the company hoped to “quickly expand distribution” to other countries, he said. Apple joins several global firms that have modified their production lines to meet demand for protective gear, including Italian luxury brand Prada. US President Donald Trump last month issued a federal order forcing auto giant General Motors to manufacture ventilators after a shortage of the hospital equipment, which is crucial for treating critical COVID-19 cases. (Straits Times)


Coronavirus: UK Government issues £3m grant to tackle food waste during outbreak

The UK Government has issued a £3.25 million redistribution fund across England to help organisations cut back on food waste by redistributing surplus stock during the coronavirus outbreak. The grant, funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), will be managed by resource efficiency organisation WRAP and all food redistribution businesses and charities can bid for grants over the coming months. The Government hopes that up to 14,000 tonnes of surplus stock can be redistributed to organisations impacted by social distancing measures and those unable to access usual commercial support networks. WRAP’s chief executive Marcus Gover said: “It is critical in these unprecedented times that we maximise the amount of surplus food redistributed. These grants offer crucial financial support to redistribution organisations, where it will have the most impact.” The funding pot builds on a £15 million food waste fund opened last year, alongside an additional £750,000 “reprioritised” from within Defra. (edie)

Climate Change/Policy

EU carbon market emissions excluding aviation fell 8.7% in 2019

Greenhouse gas emissions regulated under Europe’s carbon market fell by 8.7 percent last year, preliminary like-for-like European Commission data examined by carbon analysts at Refinitiv showed. Around 45 percent of the European Union’s output of greenhouse gases is regulated by the Emissions Trading System (ETS), the bloc’s flagship policy to tackle global warming by charging for the right to emit carbon dioxide (CO2). The Refinitiv carbon analysts’ interpretation of the data found stationary emissions covered by the scheme such as power plants and factories, totalled 1.536 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e), down 8.7 percent on the previous year. The fall was largely due to a drop in emissions from power generation as coal-fired output was replaced by gas-fired generation and renewable power such as wind and solar. Emissions from power and heating generation also fell by 14 percent. The fall in emissions in the industrial sector was, however, much lower with a 2.7 percent drop. (Reuters)

Climate Change/Research

Prioritise small-scale technology to deliver affordable net-zero transition, researchers claim

A new study has warned of focusing on “politically seductive” large-scale solutions, such as nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS), to enable a quicker net-zero transition. Researchers from IIASA, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia (UEA), and the University Institute of Lisbon found that smaller-scale technologies, such as solar panels, electric vehicles, storage batteries, and electric bikes, can speed up the transition to net-zero emissions required to mitigate severe climate impacts. The researchers noted that these more granular solutions can be mass deployed at an affordable cost for greater impact. The findings, which were published in the journal Science, found that smaller technologies are also quicker to deploy at mass scale, have less investment risk and are more flexible due to shorter lifespans so improvements can be introduced. These types of technologies are also more widely accessible and can create more jobs, the researchers note. (edie)


Image source: aerial view of gray and black road by Tim Trad on Unsplash.