Top Stories

April 21, 2022


Apple to introduce child safety feature that scans messages for nudity

Technology company Apple has announced the introduction of a safety feature on British iPhones that uses AI technology to scan messages sent to and from children. The feature allows parents to turn on warnings for their children’s iPhone, and will scan all photos sent or received for nudity. If nudity is found, the photo will be blurred, a warning will appear, and an option is given to “Message a Grown-Up”. Apple stated that all the scanning is carried out “on-device”, meaning the company never sees either the photos being analysed or the results of the analysis. Originally announced in summer 2021, the launch of the communication safety in Messages and search warnings features was delayed while Apple negotiated safeguarding concerns with privacy and child safety groups. (The Guardian)


Arla Foods to give methane-reducing feed to 10,000 cows across Europe

Dairy giant Arla Foods is to start a major on-farm pilot project to cut methane emissions from cattle by almost a third. Around 10,000 of its cows across Denmark, Sweden, and Germany will be given feed additives designed to curb methane emissions coming from cow “burps”. To digest their food, cows release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas which represents a major climate challenge for the meat and dairy industry. This alone accounts for around 40% of Arla Foods’ on-farm emissions. The feed additives, developed by Dutch nutrition and bioscience multinational Royal DSM, are aimed at curbing the problem, by suppressing the enzyme that triggers methane production in a cow's digestive system, without affecting livestock health or milk quality. Arla will pilot the project through summer and autumn 2022. (Business Green)*


Denmark proposes corporate carbon tax to meet its climate targets

Denmark's government has proposed the introduction of a uniform carbon tax for companies as a way to reach the country's ambitious climate target. The proposed tax of 1,124 Danish crowns ($164.21) per tonne of carbon dioxide aims to cut an estimated 3.7 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year by 2030. The tax would be imposed on heavy industries and the energy sector. To minimize the risk of companies moving abroad to avoid the carbon tax, the government also proposed spending 7 billion Danish crowns (~$1 billion) to help companies with their green transition. The measure could help Denmark, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, to achieve its 2030 target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 70% from 1990 levels, or around 20 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. (Reuters)


Thames Water discharged raw sewage into rivers 5,028 times in 2021

Water services company Thames Water has been accused by campaigners of discharging untreated effluent for more than 68,000 hours into the river systems around Oxford in 2021. According to data analysed by the environment group the Oxford Rivers Improvement Campaign (ORIC), Thames emptied raw sewage into the River Thames and its tributaries 5,028 times in 2021. Using data from Thames Water and applying the Environment Agency formula for capacity required at treatment works, campaigners assessed that the 10 large sewage treatment works operating at the upper Thames area were unable to treat the full capacity of sewage for the 1.1 million population.  A Thames Water spokesperson said it is examining the ORIC report, stating that the company regards “all discharges of untreated sewage as unacceptable”. (The Guardian)


World Bank to create $170 billion emergency fund to help poorest nations

The World Bank is to reduce its global growth forecast for 2022 by nearly a full percentage point, to 3.2% from 4.1%, due to the impacts of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. President David Malpass said the World Bank was responding to the added economic stresses from the war by proposing a new, 15-month crisis financing target of $170 billion with a goal to commit about $50 billion of this financing over the next three months. The plan follows on from a World Bank $160 billion COVID-19 financing programme, of which Malpass stated $157 billion was committed through June 2021. The new financing will partly support countries that have taken in refugees from Ukraine and will also be used to help address problems in countries affected by food shortages. (Reuters)

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