Coronavirus jitters push Asian markets down

  HONG KONG, China (AFP) — Asian markets fell on Thursday after a dramatic spike in the number of coronavirus deaths and cases in mainland China, with traders concerned about the economic impact of the epidemic. Chinese authorities have changed the way they count infections from the virus — officially named COVID-19 — and the latest reports propelled the nationwide death toll to 1,355 and the infection count to nearly 60,000. Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 […]

In Norway, bottles made of plastic are still fantastic

By Pierre-Henry DESHAYES Agence France-Presse FETSUND, Norway (AFP) — One at a time, the elderly lady places her empties into the gaping hole of a machine at the entrance to an Oslo supermarket. With a well-functioning deposit system, Norway recycles almost all of its plastic bottles. “You have to get rid of them, so you may as well do it intelligently,” says the woman in her 70s, as the machine spits out a bar-code ticket that […]

EU chief pleads to save green deal in budget holed by Brexit

By Marc BURLEIGH Agence France-Presse STRASBOURG, France (AFP) — European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen pleaded Wednesday to save her signature “green deal” in the longterm EU budget that has been left short by Brexit. “If we do not set aside the funds… we will simply fail to achieve a climate neutral Europe” by 2050 as planned, she told the European Parliament. Her warning was laid down a week before an extraordinary EU summit in […]

BMW aims to slash CO2 output by 20% in 2020

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany (AFP) — German high-end carmaker BMW aims to slash the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by its cars sold in Europe this year by 20 percent, its chief executive said Wednesday. The pledge comes as new European Union regulations bite this year, requiring carmakers to sharply reduce fleet-wide emissions on pain of massive fines. “We will achieve an improvement of 20 percent in Europe this year alone” compared with 2019, CEO […]

Air pollution costs $2.9 trillion a year: NGO

by Marlowe HOOD PARIS, France (AFP) — The global cost of air pollution caused by fossil fuels is $8 billion a day, or roughly 3.3 percent of the entire world’s economic output, an environmental research group said on Wednesday. The report from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and Greenpeace Southeast Asia is the first to assess the global cost of air pollution specifically from burning oil, gas and coal. “We […]

Oil: what the global giants are promising over climate change

by Jean-Baptiste OUBRIER LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Energy firm BP’s pledge on Wednesday to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050 is among the most ambitious in an industry often criticized for its inaction over climate change. Here are the commitments made so far by the world’s major oil companies: BP  The British company says it is aiming to be a net zero company in its global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner. […]

Green Winters: Alpine ski resorts ponder a future without snow

by Francois Becker and Antoine Bouthier Agence France-Presse MONTCLAR, France (AFP) – Last Christmas, for the first time in its existence, a ski resort in the French Alpine town of Montclar could count neither on Mother Nature nor its artificial snow machines to produce enough of the white stuff to cover its pistes. Instead, it had to use a helicopter, at great cost, to bring snow from the high peaks of the Alps to lower, warmer […]

Carbon emissions from energy ‘flat’ in 2019: IEA

by Patrick GALEY Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) – Global energy-related CO2 emissions “flattened” in 2019 following two years of increases owing to greater use of renewables and an accelerating shift from coal to gas, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday. Electricity generation produced around 33 billion tonnes of CO2 last year, defying forecasts that emissions from power would continue their upward trend. The IEA said that emissions from coal — the most polluting fossil […]

Space explorers wanted: NASA seeks next generation of astronauts

HOUSTON, United States (AFP) — Wanted: The next generation of astronauts to walk on the Moon and journey to Mars. You’ll need a relevant Master’s degree, be prepared to live and work 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth on the International Space Station, and be a US citizen. NASA announced Tuesday it was seeking to boost its astronaut corps, which currently stands at 48 active personnel, as part of plans to dramatically expand its crewed […]

Samsung joins the fold with Galaxy Z Flip smartphone

by Glenn CHAPMAN SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Samsung on Tuesday unveiled its second folding smartphone, a “Z Flip” handset with a lofty price tag aimed at “trendsetters.” The smartphone flips open, like a case, opening into a 6.7-inch screen, and fits in a pocket when folded. The ultrathin glass used for the screen can be folded and unfolded more than 200,000 times and resists scratches, according to Samsung. The Galaxy Z Flip will […]

UK team tests novel coronavirus vaccine on mice

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — A team of British scientists believe they have become the first to start animal testing of a vaccine for the new coronavirus that has killed more than 900 people. Researchers at Imperial College London said their ultimate goal was to have an effective and safe way of halting the SARS-like strain’s spread by the end of the year. “At the moment we have just put the vaccine that we’ve generated […]

Google HR chief stepping aside as worker activism rises

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Google on Monday confirmed that head of human resources Eileen Naughton was stepping away from her job as “vice president of people operations” at the internet company. “We’re grateful to Eileen for all she’s done and look forward to her next chapter at Google,” Sundar Pichai, the head of Google and its parent company Alphabet, said in a statement. Google added more than 70,000 employees during Naughton’s time as […]