Climate Change

Challenges and Action Points for Energy Reporting in Southeast Asia

January 2021

Media Analysis

“Fueling the Tiger Cubs” media analysis of coal and clean energy media coverage in Southeast Asia culminates in action plan paving way for progress.


A rapid transition to clean energy in fast-developing Southeast Asia is essential to slowing climate change. Yet little is known about the media narratives shaping national debates on the energy transition in each country.

To better understand these narratives and the factors that shape clean energy coverage in the region, the Stanley Center for Peace and Security and Climate Tracker partnered on “Fueling the Tiger Cubs: How Southeast Asia’s Media Is Covering Coal’s Last Frontier,” a media analysis examining how Southeast Asia’s leading national news outlets have been covering coal and renewable energy. Ten young media researchers from Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines (the five Tiger Cub Economies in Southeast Asia) conducted a three-month, multi-method analysis—altogether analyzing over 2,700 articles and interviewing 99 in-country journalists. Their findings have been published in five national reports and synthesized in a regional report.

Using a comparative analysis of the national findings together with input gathered from stakeholders like local journalists, NGO representatives, and clean energy advocates, Climate Tracker’s Southeast Asia Lead, Mai Hoang, produced the final report in the series, Fueling the Tiger Cubs: Challenges and Action Points for Energy Reporting in Southeast Asia.

We hope that this action plan will serve as a useful resource for journalists, newsrooms, journalism support organizations, funders, and clean energy advocates looking for constructive ways to shift and strengthen media coverage that aligns with climate goals in the region—while recognizing the demands and challenges of newsrooms.

The action plan is divided into three key sections:

  1. National challenges and action points, including unique opportunities for action in each of the five focus countries
  2. Regional challenges and action points, including cross-cutting characteristics and opportunities that stand out across the whole region
  3. Road map of actions steps that should be pursued in 2021 and 2022

Journalism plays an important role in shaping public perceptions and holding power to account as decisions are made that could tip Southeast Asia away from or toward the carbon reductions needed to curb climate change. Collaborating with journalists and media in Southeast Asia, equipping them with nuanced understanding of clean energy, and facilitating their access to diverse perspectives will be critical to their success in covering the region’s pivotal energy transition. Central to our mission at the Stanley Center is advocating for collective action, and it is in this spirit that we encourage stakeholders to download the report, share it across networks, and spark discussions and collaborations that can take each piece of the action plan forward.

To hear more about the process leading into the Action Plan and key takeaways, Climate Tracker produced an episode for their Climate Tracker Weekly podcast (available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify), featuring Chris Wright and Mai Hoang discussing the report in more depth.