Southeast Asia is a fast-developing region, and its energy decisions are critical to the next decade’s global effort to reduce carbon-emitting fossil fuels. Yet, little is known about the specific media narratives that shape the national debates on an energy transition in each country. For stakeholders wishing to influence such narratives and increase the quality of energy reporting, lessons from the past are crucial for future success.
This knowledge gap is what Climate Tracker and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security wished to fill with an analysis of energy-related media coverage in five countries across Southeast Asia – Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.
We engaged in investigations into the media coverage of coal and renewables in the region through our media research fellows in each country, for a three month duration. Following this, we hosted a series of webinars where our researchers presented their findings and led discussions with stakeholders.
While our country-specific reports and regional report does not offer specific recommendations for improving clean energy media narratives in the five countries studied, the research can be used to inform the development of effective interventions and actions. This process is what we’re trying to foster with the Regional Action Plan.
If you work for an environment/climate/energy NGO or research center—we hope that our reports help you better understand how journalists engage with technical information on climate and energy to better frame your media engagement programs for maximum impact.
If you work for a media organization—our report can help you get an overview of one of the most exciting new fields in journalism and concrete opportunities for policy impact in your country.
In our regional report, we aim to reflect on the biggest challenges identified by the researchers. In a media landscape covering 8 mainstream media languages and an incredibly diverse range of regulatory frameworks, there is never going to be a singular solution to improving energy media coverage across the region.
What we can however do, is identify some of the key national challenges that came out in this research, and highlight what each country’s journalism community believes may help to overcome them. None of these challenges are going to be easy to overcome. If they were, they wouldn’t continue to exist.
However, we believe that regardless of the shifting political landscape across the region, and growing limitations in media freedom and independence, there are tangible opportunities to positively shape how one of the most important regional energy debates in the world is playing out.
Do you know that some of Indonesia’s largest media conglomerates have financial stakes in the coal mining industry? Or that energy reporting in the Philippines differs drastically between the greater Manilla region and the more remote Mindanao? How about the fact that a new government took power in Malaysia in 2018 and ushered in. In this episode, Mai Hoang talks to media researchers on how news outlets in the countries are covering coal and renewables.
Do you know that some editors and journalists in Vietnam believe that it is their duty to advocate for a clean energy transition and are willing to criticize government policies despite being literally owned by the government? How about this – Thai media is very keen on covering community opposition to power plants. It also played a big role in bringing about a coal moratorium in northern provinces. In this episode, Mai Hoang from the Climate Tracker Network talks to media researchers from Vietnam and Thailand on how news outlets in the countries are covering coal and renewables.
In this final episode of our series focusing on energy futures across Southeast Asia, Climate Tracker Research fellows took a deep dive into energy reporting in Southeast Asia and discovered interesting findings and where we should go from here.