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‘It’s not too late’ to address climate crisis

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin outlined Ireland’s commitments in addressing the climate crisis, including increasing financial aid.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Ireland would increase its financial contributions to developing countries affected by the climate crisis to €225m by 2025.

The announcement was made as part of Ireland’s national address at the UN’s 26th climate conference, COP26 in which he outlined the country’s commitments this afternoon (2 November).

The summit will run until 12 November and is being attended by hundreds of world leaders in Glasgow. In his address, Martin said that “young people worry that there will be no worthwhile future for them to inherit”, but he said he would do “everything” in his power to ensure that this would not be the case.

“We do not believe or accept, as some would have it, that it is too late; that the transition will be too costly; that it is inevitable that we will leave people behind; that someone else should shoulder the load,” he told the audience.

Conor O’Neill, policy and advocacy adviser for non-profit Christian Aid Ireland, said the contribution was “welcome” but not enough for “the scale of the task at hand”.

“Taking past emissions and wealth into account, it’s likely only half of our fair share of the global effort needed, which is closer to €500m per year. We have to remember that climate finance is not some optional, charitable extra. It’s the repayment of an ecological debt by those who overwhelmingly caused the crisis, and a real test of their sincerity in tackling it,” he said.

“We need a clear, urgent plan for delivery of climate finance and an increased level of ambition consistent with the science and global need,” he added.

Pledge to cut methane emissions

Yesterday, it was reported that Martin would sign a global pledge to cut methane emissions by 30pc. However, he emphasised at the time that the target was a global one and not a national one.

“We will contribute globally to a global reduction. It’s a global pledge, it’s not country-specific. We will develop our climate action plan which will give our specifics in respect of each sector,” he said.

Ireland will sign the pledge together with about 90 other countries, including the US and many EU nations. Most methane emissions come from agriculture.

EY’s head of sustainability, Stephen Prendiville, who is attending the summit said: “While it remains unclear whether the EU targets will be 30pc, and then whether that goal will apply consistently to all EU countries, whatever target Ireland ends up working towards – the route to achieving it will involve some tough questions and course of action for the agri-sector specifically.

“Ireland’s recently announced national carbon budget has an implicit reduction in methane considered, albeit the allocation of those carbon budgets to sectors has yet to be finalised,” Prendiville added.

He said it “remains to be seen how this pledge could place or replace the pressure on the Irish agri-sector to tackle its emission footprint in the immediate term” as the country advances towards the 2030 deadline.

Martin has also addressed the farming industry’s need to be involved in attempts to cut methane emissions rates. Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme recently, he said that building a sustainable future had to involve all parties being realistic about what the “land can take”.

He said there should be incentives for farmers to protect biodiversity. He also cautioned against “scaremongering”, adding that he did not accept reports in the Irish Farmers Journal that emission cuts of 21pc could result in the loss of 10,000 jobs.

“We have no choice here. The climate change will catch up with us. It will catch up with our farming. It will catch up with our agriculture if we don’t take action,” he said.

Ireland has also joined more than 100 countries in signing a pledge to end and reverse deforestation by 2030, in the COP26 climate summit’s first major deal.

Experts welcomed the move, but warned that a previous deal in 2014 had “failed to slow deforestation at all” and this time, commitments needed to be delivered on.

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South Korea sets reliability standards for Big Tech • The Register

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South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT has offered Big Tech some advice on how to make their services suitably resilient, and added an obligation to notify users – in Korean – when they fail.

The guidelines apply to Google, Meta (parent company of Facebook), Netflix, Naver, Kakao and Wavve. All have been told to improve their response to faults by beefing up preemptive error detection and verification systems, and create back up storage systems that enable quick content recovery.

The guidelines offer methods Big Tech can use to measure user loads, then plan accordingly to ensure their services remain available. Uptime requirements are not spelled out.

Big techs is already rather good at resilience. Google literally wrote the book on site reliability engineering.

The guidelines refer to legislation colloquially known as the “Netflix law” which requires major service outages be reported to the Ministry.

That law builds on another enacted in 2020 that made online content service providers responsible for the quality of their streaming services. It was put in place after a number of outages, including one where notifications of the problem were made on the offending company’s social media site – but only in English.

The new regulations follow South Korean telcos’ recent attempts to have platforms that guzzle their bandwidth pay for the privilege. Mobile carrier SK Broadband took legal action in October of this year, demanding Netflix pitch in some cash for the amount of bandwidth that streaming shows – such as Squid Game – consume.

In response, Netflix pointed at its own free content delivery network, Open Connect, which helps carriers to reduce traffic. Netflix then accused SK Broadband of trying to double up on profits by collecting fees from consumers and content providers at the same time.

For the record, Naver and Kakao pay carriers, while Apple TV+ and Disney+ have at the very least given lip service to the idea.

Korea isn’t the only place where telcos have noticed Big Tech taking up more than its fair share of bandwidth. The European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) published a letter from ten telco CEOs asking that larger platforms “contribute fairly to network costs”. ®

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Twitter acquires Slack competitor Quill to improve its messaging services

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As part of the acquisition, Quill will be shutting down at the end of the week as its team joins the social media company.

Twitter has acquired the messaging platform Quill, seen as a potential competitor to Slack, in order to improve its messaging tools and services.

Quill announced that it will be shutting down at the end of the week as its team joins the social media company to continue its original goal “to make online communication more thoughtful, and more effective, for everyone”.

The purchase of Quill could be linked to Twitter’s new strategy to reduce its reliance on ad revenue and attract paying subscribers.

Twitter’s general manager for core tech, Nick Caldwell, described Quill as a “fresher, more deliberate way to communicate. We’re bringing their experience and creativity to Twitter as we work to make messaging tools like DMs a more useful and expressive way people can have conversations on the service”.

Users of Quill have until 11 December to export their team message history before the servers are fully shut down at 1pm PST (9pm Irish time). The announcement has instructions for users who wish to import their chat history into Slack and states that all active teams will be issued full refunds.

The team thanked its users and said: “We can’t wait to show you what we’ll be working on next.”

Quill was launched in February with the goal to remove the overwhelming aspects of other messaging services and give users a more deliberate and focused form of online chat.

In an online post, Quill creator Ludwig Pettersson said: “We started Quill to increase the quality of human communication. Excited to keep doing just that, at Twitter.”

The company became a potential competitor for Slack, which was bought by Salesforce at the end of 2020 for $27.7bn. The goal of that acquisition was to combine Salesforce’s CRM platform with Slack’s communications tools to create a unified service tailored to digital-led teams around the world.

Last week, Salesforce announced the promotion of Bret Taylor to vice-chair and co-CEO, just days after he was appointed independent chair of Twitter after CEO Jack Dorsey stepped down.

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Australians’ 2021 Google searches: Covid comes out on top with sport our favoured non-pandemic distraction | Google

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The Covid-19 pandemic once again dominated internet searches in Australia this year, as lockdowns gripped the two largest states, and people sought vaccines.

Google has compiled data on the most popular search terms from the previous 12 months, which showed Covid’s dominance in Australia was challenged by people looking for an escape in sports. The NBA, AFL, cricket, NRL, football, Wimbledon and the Olympics took out the top spots for most searched sport in Australia in 2021.

The Covid situation in New South Wales dominated news-related searches, with the Delta outbreak forcing the state into the longest continuous lockdown in 2021. Victorians, having endured the most number of days in lockdown since the pandemic started, did not appear to seek out information about the Covid situation in their own state nearly as much, with “coronavirus Victoria” coming in fifth in news-related searches, even behind Queensland at number three.

For the second year in a row, people Googled “how to make face masks” more than any other DIY-related search. As residents in NSW, Victoria and the ACT endured extended lockdowns, at-home activities like making your own candles, playdough, paper planes, and chatterboxes soared.

As Australia’s vaccination “strollout” gathered pace in the second half of 2021, people searched how to get their vaccination certificates, how to book their Covid vaccination, how to link their Medicare to myGov, and how to enter the Million Dollar Vax campaign.

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The shocking disappearance of West Australian four-year-old Cleo Smith and the dramatic rescue over two weeks later was the second biggest news event searched on Google by Australians. The ongoing search for missing toddler William Tyrrell came in sixth.

The former federal attorney general Christian Porter’s name dominated Google search trends in the days leading up to a press conference where he outed himself as the unnamed minister in an ABC report about an alleged historical rape. He vehemently denies the allegations. In his now-settled defamation suit against the ABC, lawyers for Porter raised that after the report searches of his name “increased significantly and much more so than any other senior male cabinet members”.

The former minister, who announced last week he would not recontest his WA seat of Pearce at the 2022 federal election, appears eighth in the 2021 list of news-related searches.

Porter was the fourth most-searched person overall in Australia, behind Cleo Smith, Ash Barty, and William Tyrell. The new NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, came in sixth.

Bringing up the rear of news searches was the moment that shook Melbourne – literally – the 5.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Victoria in September.

Interest in all things cryptocurrency was also reflected in Australian searches with cryptocurrency exchange Coinspot the ninth most searched term, and people searched how to buy Dogecoin.

Prince Philip was the most searched among those who died in 2021, followed by US woman Gabby Petito, and Australian entertainment giant Bert Newton.

Thanks to Jaden Smith and Britney Spears, people were searching for the meaning of the word “emancipated” more than any other word in 2021, followed by “insurrection” after the events at the US Capitol on 6 January, then it was “gaslighting”, Naidoc and NFT.

Despite emerging late in the year, Omicron came in sixth as people looked up the meaning of the latest Covid-19 variant of concern.

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