Saudi Arabia will meet the environmental challenge — energy minister

Saudi Arabia will meet the environmental challenge — energy minister
Prince Abdul Aziz highlighted Saudi projects in energy efficiency, solar power generation, and renewables. (Screengrab)
Short Url
Updated 25 June 2020

Saudi Arabia will meet the environmental challenge — energy minister

Saudi Arabia will meet the environmental challenge — energy minister
  • Prince Abdul Aziz highlighted Saudi projects in energy efficiency, solar power generation, and renewables
  • He was speaking at a webinar organized by the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute from New York

Saudi Arabia will continue to use its vast oil reserves in an environmentally efficient way, Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman told an international audience of thought leaders on Thursday.
“I can assure you that Saudi Arabia will not only be the last producer, but Saudi Arabia will produce every molecule of hydrocarbon and it will put it to good use, and it will be done in a most environmentally sound and more sustainable way. I’m willing to say that by 2050, we’ll be the last and the biggest producer of hydrocarbon,” he said at a webinar organized by the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute.

--------

READ MORE: AS IT HAPPENED: FII Institute’s ‘Don’t Forget Our Planet’ virtual conference

--------

“I love challenges … We’ll live up to the challenge of sitting on a huge amount of hydrocarbon, and we’ll make better use of it,” he added.
“You should come and see all the young boys and girls of Saudi Arabia, how they aspire to these challenges and how they’re inspired by them. We’ll be the pacesetter.”
The prince was speaking on a panel with other energy leaders on the subject of “the new sustainable energy equation,” discussing the challenges and opportunities presented by recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
He reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the concept of the circular carbon economy, which seeks to remove harmful pollutants from the environment via a mixture of recycling and removing pollutants, as well as sophisticated technology to remove emissions from the industrial process. “We’re trying to lead by example, and we’re putting our money where our mouth is,” he said.

The prince highlighted Saudi projects in energy efficiency, solar power generation and renewables that aim to generate half of the Kingdom’s electricity from non-hydrocarbon sources by 2030. “We have a leadership that values sustainability,” he said.
The event — the second in a series of online gatherings leading up to the FII forum in Riyadh in October — was opened by the governor of the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, who emphasized the need for a sustainable recovery from the economic shock of the pandemic.

“The recovery from the pandemic will give us the opportunity to hit the reset button,” the governor said, highlighting Saudi Arabia’s initiatives via public-private partnerships in recycling, energy efficiency, alternative energy sources and environmental protection.
The keynote speaker of the event was British anthropologist Jane Goodall, who said the response by governments to the pandemic had been “pretty good.” She added: “If only we’d responded in the same way to the climate crisis.”

Decoder

What is circular carbon economy?

Circular economy is a system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. Inspired by how nature works, it is a closed-loop system where carbon emissions are reduced, reused, recycled and removed.


Why North American investors are gobbling up booming bitcoin

Updated 3 min 49 sec ago

Why North American investors are gobbling up booming bitcoin

Why North American investors are gobbling up booming bitcoin
  • Digital currency soars to record high amid dramatic $3.4bn global market shift

LONDON: Bitcoin has grabbed headlines this week with its dizzying ascent to an all-time high. Yet, under the radar, a trend has been playing out that could change the face of the cryptocurrency market: A massive flow of coin to North America from East Asia.

Bitcoin, the biggest and original cryptocurrency, soared to a record $19,918 on Tuesday, buoyed by demand from investors who variously view the virtual currency as a “risk-on” asset, a hedge against inflation and a payment method gaining mainstream acceptance.

But the boom represents a shift in the market, which has typically been dominated by investors in East Asian nations like China, Japan and South Korea since the digital currency was invented by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto over a decade ago.

It is North American investors who have been the bigger winners in the 165 percent rally this year.

Weekly net inflows of bitcoin — a proxy for new buyers — to platforms serving mostly North American users have jumped over 7,000 times this year to over 216,000 bitcoin worth $3.4 billion in mid-November, data compiled for Reuters shows.

East Asian exchanges have lost out.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • North American exchanges win out in bitcoin boom.
  • Huge bitcoin flows to that region from East Asia.
  • Market players cite demand from large US investors.
  • Fewer retail punters in Asia another factor at play.

Those serving investors in the region bled 240,000 bitcoin worth $3.8 billion last month, versus an inflow of 1,460 in January, according to the data from US blockchain researcher Chainalysis.

The change is being driven by an increasing appetite for bitcoin among bigger US investors, according to Reuters interviews with cryptocurrency platforms and investors from the US and Europe to South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan.

“The sudden influx of institutional interest from the North American region is driving a shift in bitcoin trading, which is rebalancing asset allocations across different exchanges and platforms,” said Ciara Sun of Seychelles-based Huobi Global Markets, whose parent company has roots in China and operates in several Asian markets.

East Asia, North America and Western Europe are the biggest bitcoin hubs, with the first two alone accounting for about half of all transfers, according to Chainalysis, which gathers data by region with tools such as tagging cryptocurrency wallets.

Industry experts caution it is too early to call a fundamental shift in the market, particularly in an unprecedented year of pandemic-induced financial turmoil.

Growing flows to North America this year are not necessarily “an indication that the center of gravity is tilting toward the US,” said James Quinn of Q9 Capital, a Hong Kong cryptocurrency private wealth manager.

Others also point out that cryptocurrency trading is highly opaque compared with traditional assets and patchily regulated, making comprehensive data on the emerging sector rare.

Nonetheless, Chainalysis found North American trading volumes at major exchanges — those with the most blockchain activity — had eclipsed East Asia’s this year. This is not unheard of, with North America having moved ahead on occasions in the past, but never by such a large margin.

Volumes at four major North American platforms have doubled this year to reach 1.6 million bitcoin per week at the end of November, while trading at 14 major East Asian exchanges have risen 16 percent to 1.4 million, according to the data.

By comparison, a year before, East Asia led the way with 1.3 million a week versus North America’s 766,000.

Those interviewed said compliance-wary US investors, many of whom had been deterred by the opaque nature of the market in the past, are being attracted by the tightening oversight of the American crypto industry.

US exchanges are in general more tightly regulated than many of those in East Asia, and there have been several moves by American regulators and law-enforcement agencies this year to clarify how bitcoin is overseen.

A leading banking regulator said in July, for instance, that national banks could provide custody services for cryptocurrencies. The justice department also outlined an enforcement framework for digital coins in October.

“You’re increasingly starting to see distinctions in the market between those that have no regulatory or little regulatory clarity, versus those that do,” said Curtis Ting of major US exchange Kraken.

“Larger institutions seek the predictability that a regulated venue offers.”

Assets under management at New York-based Grayscale, the world’s largest digital currency manager, have soared to a record $10.4 billion, up more than 75 percent from September. Its bitcoin fund is up 85 percent.

“A lot of US funds are trading with large US counterparties,” said Christopher Matta of 3iQ, a Canadian digital asset manager with clients in the US, citing exchanges such as California’s Coinbase that are overseen by New York financial regulators.

“It tells you right there how important the regulatory nature of the space is, and having venues to trade on that are regulated — it’s definitely something that institutional investors are thinking about.”

Another factor behind the 2020 trend is a decline in the armies of retail investors in Asia who drove bitcoin’s 2017 boom, which pushed it to its previous peak.

In South Korea, strict regulations have been discouraging such investors, according to In Hoh of Korea University’s Blockchain Research Institute.

Concerns that major retail exchanges linked to China but based elsewhere could be caught up in a crackdown by Beijing may have pushed down demand, said Leo Weese, co-founder of the Hong Kong Bitcoin Association.

In October, for instance, Malta-headquartered OKEx, which was founded in China, suspended crypto withdrawals for nearly six weeks because an executive was cooperating with an investigation by Chinese law enforcement.