Global CO2 emissions stay flat, GCHQ slams US spying claims and high times for marijuana producers

Figures helped by sharp drop in carbon pollution in the US, where emissions fell back to 1992 levels

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Could the world’s economy be getting greener more quickly than we thought? That’s the question being asked today after the International Energy Agency released figures showing that climate-warming fossil fuel emissions were flat for the third year running. This was helped by a sharp drop in carbon pollution in the US, where emissions fell back to what they were in 1992. The emissions levels were all the more significant for staying flat during a period of sustained economic growth. IEA head Fatih Birol said they were helped by use of natural gas replacing coal and the falling cost of renewables.

Despite the emissions reductions, global temperatures rose to their hottest on record for the third year in a row in 2016. There are fears that US emissions could reverse their decline during the Trump presidency. His administration slashed funding to the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 per cent, or $2.7bn, in the most drastic cuts in its inaugural budget. (FT)

In the news

“Utterly ridiculous” This was the view of GCHQ, the UK’s electronic intelligence agency, of fresh White House claims that it colluded with Barack Obama to spy on Donald Trump during the election campaign. The agency broke with longstanding practice of not commenting on intelligence matters to make the denial. A Senate intelligence committee on Thursday also rejected Mr Trump’s wiretap claim, after the House intelligence committee came to a similar conclusion. (FT, BBC, Guardian)

Arrested for baking brownies Four bakers were arrested this week in Venezuela for illegally baking pastries, including brownies. President Nicolás Maduro has deployed soldiers and inspectors to bakeries as he wages a new “bread war” in an effort to ensure that 90 per cent of the country’s wheat supplies go towards bread rather than expensive pastries. (Guardian)

Diamond returns to the City Former Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond has joined forces with the Qatari royal family to launch a bid for lossmaking stockbroker and investment bank Panmure Gordon. The deal is seen as a return to the City of London after Mr Diamond was forced out of Barclays in 2012 over the Libor rigging scandal. (FT)

Trump team ties to Russia Mike Flynn, Mr Trump’s former national security adviser, was paid more than $50,000 by Russian companies shortly before he became a formal adviser to the then-candidate, in the latest evidence of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. (WSJ)

Abe’s school for scandal Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been dragged deeper into a scandal involving a private school, having been forced to deny he or his wife have made financial contributions to the nationalist institution. The problem is swiftly becoming the most serious threat to the prime minister’s administration since he was elected in 2012. (NAR)

Test your knowledge with the week in news quiz. Which two Nato members are having a high-profile diplomatic spat?

It’s a big day for

Global trade G20 finance ministers will meet in Germany on Friday and Saturday, coming at a moment of high anxiety over the Trump administration’s protectionist rhetoric. (FT)

Angela Merkel The German chancellor will meet US president Donald Trump at the White House in a meeting that could help determine the future of the transatlantic alliance. (Reuters)

Food for thought

Republicans: still the party of gridlock? The GOP controls both houses of congress and the White House, which bodes well for tax reform — but a chaotic start by the Trump administration is exposing the cracks in the Republicans’ united façade. (FT)

License to hack The indictment of four Russians on Wednesday for a 2014 attack on Yahoo lifts the curtain on one of the murkiest areas of cyber espionage: the rise of the cyber privateers. (FT)

Get it while it’s hot Domino’s Pizza was forced to experiment with its recipes in 2009 after taste tests showed people liked their food less if they knew it was from the brand. The changes paid off as it has seen its share of the pizza market grow and the adoption of technology now lets customers order by tweeting a pizza emoji at its official account. (Bloomberg)

The palace’s plan A series of bulletins and a coded message passed to the prime minister are among the steps in place to announce the death of the Queen. While many stories now break on social media, information about the British monarch’s passing will be tightly controlled. (Guardian)

High times for marijuana producers Pot is on the up in the US. The marijuana industry was worth more than $6bn in 2016, and more than half of US states have legalised medical cannabis. Although conservatives in the Trump administration have signalled they want to take a more hardline approach towards producers, the industry remains optimistic, pointing out that medical marijuana is expressly protected by federal law. (Economist)

Video of the day

How to take the perfect penalty Murad Ahmed reports on how game theory influences the way the world’s best footballers shoot from 12 yards. (FT)

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