Top Stories

December 15, 2022


Breakthrough in nuclear fusion could mean ‘limitless energy’

Researchers have reportedly made a breakthrough in the quest to unlock a “near-limitless, safe, clean” source of energy, getting more energy out of a nuclear fusion reaction than put in. Nuclear fusion involves smashing light elements, such as hydrogen, together to form heavier elements, releasing a huge burst of energy. The approach, which gives rise to the heat and light of the sun and other stars, has been hailed as having huge potential as a sustainable, low-carbon energy source. According to a report, which has yet to be confirmed by the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California, researchers have managed to release 2.5 MJ of energy after using just 2.1 MJ to heat the fuel with lasers. (The Guardian)


Fifty food firms demand greener ambition in UK farming subsidy

More than 50 businesses and organisations from across the UK's farming, food, and retail sectors have urged the government to accelerate its green farming subsidy programme. The joint statement calls on the government to urgently provide more “vision, clarity, and detail” over the rollout of its Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes. The schemes are being gradually introduced with farmers and land managers provided with payments based on the ‘public goods’ they deliver, such as improved soil health, tree planting, and natural flood prevention measures. In response to concerns that the ELM is at risk of further delay, a statement coordinated by WWF included signatures from supermarkets Aldi, Co-Op, M&S, Tesco, and Sainsbury’s. Agricultural firms Arla Foods, Sodexo and Yeo Valley, alongside financial firms including NatWest, HSBC and Triodos also signed. (Business Green)*


Meta faces $1.6bn lawsuit over posts inciting Tigray war violence

Technology giant Meta is facing a lawsuit for allegedly letting posts that inflamed the war in Tigray flourish on its social media platform Facebook. The lawsuit, filed in the high court of Kenya, alleges that Facebook’s recommendations systems amplified hateful and violent posts in the context of the war in northern Ethiopia. The lawsuit seeks the creation of a $1.6 billion fund for victims of hate speech. One of the petitioners said his father was targeted with racist messages before his murder, and that Facebook did not remove the posts despite complaints. In February 2022, an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) found that Facebook was letting users post content inciting violence, despite awareness it directly fuelled tensions in Tigray. (The Guardian)


EU regulator finds pension funds have exposure to climate risk

European pension investment institutions have “material exposure” to climate risks, according to stress test results by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA). The EIOPA’s first climate stress test was designed to assess the resilience of European institutions for occupational retirement provision (IORPs) to a scenario of sudden, disorderly transition to climate neutrality due to delayed policy action. The exercise focused on the asset portfolio of the IORPs and found that the scenario generated a nearly 13% drop in assets, corresponding to €255 billion in losses, primarily in equity and bond investments. On average, IOPRs were found to have 6% in their equity and 10% in their corporate bond investments in carbon-intensive sectors, including mining, electricity and gas and land transport, which saw write-downs of between 20-38%. (ESG Today)


Tokyo makes solar panels mandatory for new homes built after 2025

All new houses in Tokyo built by large-scale homebuilders after April 2025 must install solar power panels to cut household carbon emissions, according to a new regulation. The mandate, the first of its kind for a Japanese municipality, requires about 50 major builders to equip homes of up to 2,000 square metres (21,500 square feet) with renewable energy power sources, mainly solar panels. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike noted that just 4% of buildings currently have solar panels where they could be installed in the city. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government aims to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared with 2000 levels. Japan, the world’s fifth-largest carbon emitter, has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 but faces difficulty as it relies heavily on coal-burning thermal power. (Reuters)

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