Mai Hoang

Published: November 3, 2021

Topic: Research

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has facilitated discussions about a green economic recovery across the world while making it more difficult for journalists to write about climate change. To better understand this dynamic in Southeast Asia, Climate Tracker and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation embarked on an analysis of media coverage looking into how a green transition has been covered in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Our team of wonderful Media Research Fellows include the following journalists and media practitioners:

Overall, our four media researchers examined 426 articles and interviewed 35 journalists while attempting to better understand how the region’s leading outlets have reported on the green transition across Asia.

One common thread emerged from their work—the leading outlets in all four countries framed green growth as a part of the national recovery strategy, though there was rarely a clear understanding or collective vision as to what green growth actually entails. A cross-country comparative analysis of their individual findings yielded some other interesting trends:

  • COVID-19 is framed as a catalyst for change despite its devastating impact on the national economy.
  • “Green growth” has been appropriated as a buzzword to promote government and business initiatives that might not actually be in line with climate justice goals, but are being tagged as “green.”
  • The energy sector dominates green transition narratives at more than a quarter of the total articles included in the sample.  This is also the sector responsible for most carbon emissions across Southeast Asia.
  • Green growth narratives in the transportation sector promote electrification of car and motorbikes rather than increased public transportation and bicycle use.
  • Coverage for a green transition has depended largely on national development plans rather than advocacy messages. 

These are only five of the many interesting key findings we arrived at across the region. To read a full analysis of media reporting on a green transition in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, you can download our report below:

Download the full report

Download executive summary