Egypt court suspends Uber, Careem licenses — judicial sources

The Uber logo is seen outside the Uber Corporate Headquarters building in San Francisco, California. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2018
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Egypt court suspends Uber, Careem licenses — judicial sources

CAIRO: An Egyptian court ordered the suspension of licenses for ride-hailing companies Uber and Careem on Tuesday, ruling on a lawsuit filed by taxi drivers seeking to shut down the two firms’ operations in the country, judicial sources said.
Forty-two Egyptian taxi drivers filed suit a year ago against the two companies, arguing that they were illegally using private cars as taxis and that they were registered as a call center and an Internet company, respectively.
Khaled Al-Gammal, a lawyer acting for the taxi drivers, said the court suspended the two companies’ licenses, banned their apps and suspended the use of private cars by the two ride-hailing services.
Tuesday’s decision was effective immediately, meaning the companies must suspend services pending a final ruling, but the companies have 60 days to appeal, the judicial sources said. It was not immediately clear when a final ruling would be issued.
Careem, a Dubai-based competitor to Uber, said it had not yet received any official request to stop operations in Egypt, and continued to operate as normal.
Uber intends to appeal any court decision to suspend ride sharing licenses in Egypt, a source familiar with the matter said. Uber had not been officially informed of the ruling, the source said.
Uber said last year it was committed to Egypt despite challenges presented by sweeping economic reforms and record inflation. Uber in October announced $20 million of investment in its new support center in Cairo.
The San Francisco-based company has had to make deals with local car dealerships to provide its drivers with affordable vehicles and adjust its ride prices to ensure its workers were not hit too hard by inflation.
Uber had two million users in Egypt in 2016, giving jobs to 60,000 drivers, it said.
Egypt is one of Uber’s fastest-growing markets, its general manager in the country, Abdellatif Waked, has said, according to state news agency MENA.
Egypt’s investment ministry said last year a draft law regulating web-based transport services would provide a legal framework for companies like Uber, but did not say when that bill was likely to be passed.
Uber has faced regulatory and legal setbacks around the world amid opposition from traditional taxi services. It has been forced to quit several countries, such as Denmark and Hungary.
Last year, London deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service and stripped it of its license to operate. Uber is appealing against the decision.


Energy giants spent $1bn on climate lobbying, PR since Paris: watchdog

Updated 23 March 2019
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Energy giants spent $1bn on climate lobbying, PR since Paris: watchdog

  • Firms under pressure to explain how greener laws will hit business models

PARIS: The five largest publicly listed oil and gas majors have spent $1 billion since the 2015 Paris climate deal on public relations or lobbying that is “overwhelmingly in conflict” with the landmark accord’s goals, a watchdog said Friday.
Despite outwardly committing to support the Paris agreement and its aim to limit global temperature rises, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and Total spend a total of $200 million a year on efforts “to operate and expand fossil fuel operations,” according to InfluenceMap, a pro-transparency monitor.
Two of the companies — Shell and Chevron — said they rejected the watchdog’s findings.
“The fossil fuel sector has ramped up a quite strategic program of influencing the climate agenda,” InfluenceMap Executive Director Dylan Tanner told AFP.
“It’s a continuum of activity from their lobby trade groups attacking the details of regulations, controlling them all the way up, to controlling the way the media thinks about the oil majors and climate.”
The report comes as oil and gas giants are under increasing pressure from shareholders to come clean over how greener lawmaking will impact their business models.
As planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions hit their highest levels in human history in 2018, the five companies wracked up total profits of $55 billion.
At the same time, the International Panel on Climate Change — composed of the world’s leading climate scientists — issued a call for a radical drawdown in fossil fuel use in order to hit the 1.5C (2.7 Fahrenheit) cap laid out in the Paris accord.
InfluenceMap looked at accounts, lobbying registers and communications releases since 2015, and alleged a large gap between the climate commitments companies make and the action they take.

 

It said all five engaged in lobbying and “narrative capture” through direct contact with lawmakers and officials, spending millions on climate branding, and by employing trade associations to represent the sector’s interests in policy discussions.
“The research reveals a trend of carefully devised campaigns of positive messaging combined with negative policy lobbying on climate change,” it said.
It added that of the more than $110 billion the five had earmarked for capital investment in 2019, just $3.6bn was given over to low-carbon schemes.
The report came one day after the European Parliament was urged to strip ExxonMobil lobbyists of their access, after the US giant failed to attend a hearing where expert witnesses said the oil giant has knowingly misled the public over climate change.
“How can we accept that companies spending hundreds of millions on lobbying against the EU’s goal of reaching the Paris agreement are still granted privileged access to decision makers?” said Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory’s climate policy researcher, who was not involved in the InfluenceMap report.
The report said Exxon alone spent $56 million a year on “climate branding” and $41 million annually on lobbying efforts.
In 2017 the company’s shareholders voted to push it to disclose what tougher emissions policies in the wake of Paris would mean for its portfolio.
With the exception of France’s Total, each oil major had largely focused climate lobbying expenditure in the US, the report said.
Chevron alone has spent more than $28 million in US political donations since 1990, according to the report.
AFP contacted all five oil and gas companies mentioned in the report for comment.
“We disagree with the assertion that Chevron has engaged in ‘climate-related branding and lobbying’ that is ‘overwhelmingly in conflict’ with the Paris Agreement,” said a Chevron spokesman.
“We are taking action to address potential climate change risks to our business and investing in technology and low carbon business opportunities that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
A spokeswoman for Shell — which the report said spends $49 million annually on climate lobbying — said it “firmly rejected” the findings.
“We are very clear about our support for the Paris Agreement, and the steps that we are taking to help meet society’s needs for more and cleaner energy,” they told AFP.
BP, ExxonMobil and Total did not provide comment to AFP.

FACTOID

$ 28m

Chevron alone has spent more than $28 million in US political donations since 1990, according to the report.