Chinese leader Xi Jinping warns Davos forum against ‘new Cold War’

Chinese leader Xi Jinping warns Davos forum against ‘new Cold War’
Chinese President Xi Jinping warned global leaders at an all-virtual Davos forum against starting a ‘new Cold War’ while he championed multilateralism. (World Economic Forum/AFP)
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Updated 26 January 2021

Chinese leader Xi Jinping warns Davos forum against ‘new Cold War’

Chinese leader Xi Jinping warns Davos forum against ‘new Cold War’
  • Xi Jinping presents himself as the defender of multilateralism

PARIS: Chinese President Xi Jinping warned global leaders at an all-virtual Davos forum Monday against starting a “new Cold War” while he championed multilateralism.
Representing the only major economy to record economic growth last year, Xi presented himself as the defender of multilateralism, as he did at the same forum four years ago when Donald Trump was about to assume the US presidency.
Without naming the United States, Xi seemed to have a message for Trump’s successor Joe Biden, who entered the White House just a few days ago, but who is not addressing the annual World Economic Forum (WEF).
“To build small cliques or start a new Cold War, to reject, threaten or intimidate others... will only push the world into division,” Xi told the world’s political and economic elite as the Biden administration plans to revitalize global alliances to counter China’s growing influence.
Trump had chosen open confrontation and verbal attacks, without tangible results for the enormous US trade deficit with China.
Though Biden may be dismantling one by one the controversial measures of the Trump era, he has nonetheless signaled the United States will closely look out for its own interests.
An executive order is to give US companies and products priority in contracting with the federal government as part of an overall plan to save industrial jobs by increasing investments in factories and workers.
Meanwhile, European leaders presented agendas of their own at the WEF — normally held in the Swiss ski resort of Davos but taking place virtually this year because of the pandemic.
German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier defended a controversial accord signed by the European Union and China in late December to provide increased mutual market access.
The deal duplicates “a lot of the arrangements that the US already has with China,” Altmaier said.
Herbert Diess, head of the German auto giant Volkswagen, which has several plants in China, noted that the country represented a great opportunity for European companies.
But some members of the European Parliament and activist groups say the accord should be contingent on Beijing’s ratifying international conventions banning forced labor.
And Kenneth Roth, head of Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organization, commented on Twitter that Xi “promotes global collaboration on Covid-19, so long as it doesn’t involve investigating his three-week cover-up of human-to-human transmission in Wuhan, which enabled the virus to go global.”
A year ago, the emergence of a mysterious flu-like disease in China prompted few comments at the forum when it took place at its usual site in Switzerland.
A year later, the world is still struggling to contain the coronavirus, which has killed more than two million people and cost 225 million jobs, according to the UN’s International Labour Organization.
The world’s richest people have barely been touched, the non-governmental organization Oxfam charged.
Meanwhile, “it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover,” Oxfam said in the study titled “The Inequality Virus.”
Optimism raised late last year by new vaccines has been tempered by production delays and new variants, and many countries are again mulling lockdowns to stem the spread of the virus.
But European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde nonetheless forecast that 2021 will be “the year of recovery.”
She said that while renewed economic activity “seems to be a little bit delayed,” it “should not be derailed.”
Other forum subjects broached on the first day was global taxation of digital giants, a priority for France that until recently has been opposed by the United States.
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire welcomed a more conciliatory tone from the new Biden administration on the subject.
He hoped that a multilateral accord under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development could be reached by the middle of this year.

Harsh reality of net-zero commitments under scrutiny

Harsh reality of net-zero commitments under scrutiny
Updated 16 October 2021

Harsh reality of net-zero commitments under scrutiny

Harsh reality of net-zero commitments under scrutiny
  • Call to set clear goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions

LONDON: The current spike in oil and gas prices could not have come at a worse time. On the eve of the UN COP26 global climate conference in Scotland this month, soaring energy prices are resulting in increased investor interest in fossil fuel companies.

The S&P 500 energy sector is up around 50 percent this year and has been the wider index’s best-performing group.

Indeed, a recent report stated financial institutions in the G20 are carrying almost $22 trillion of exposure to carbon-intensive sectors despite increasing pressure for companies to disinvest in polluting industries.

The report, by Moody’s Investors Service, warned banks and asset managers need to “ramp up” climate risk assessments and “set clear goals for reaching net-zero in their financed emissions.”

Moody’s warning comes after the London Financial Times reported this week that global banks have refused to commit to the International Energy Agency’s road map for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

The FT said negotiators for the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, an initiative led by UN special envoy for climate action and finance Mark Carney to encourage finance groups to stop funding fossil fuel companies, have struggled to convince banks to agree to end financing of all new oil, gas and coal exploration projects this year.

Many analysts believe the huge rises in gas and oil prices is evidence of the risks of phasing out fossil fuel production too quickly while renewable energy remains unable to pick up the slack of global demand.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman criticized the IEA’s call for the energy sector to be net zero by 2050, calling it a “la-la-land” scenario.

Last week, Qatari Energy Minister Saad Al-Kaabi criticized governments for making statements about eliminating emissions without adopting clear plans to achieve net-zero.

Al-Kaabi’s comments followed an announcement by Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, that the country planned to become the first Middle East oil producer to achieve net zero by 2050.

The UAE’s emissions averaged almost 21 metric tons per person in 2018.

As a comparison, the figure in France, which is also committed to net zero by 2050, is 4.6.

Along with the UAE, Russia and Turkey also announced recently that they could be net-zero by 2060 and 2053 respectively although there were no details outlining they will move their economies away from fossil fuels.

The move follows EU plans to impose a carbon-border tariff that could force Russian and Turkish companies to pay for excess emissions in key industries.

However, for Russia to achieve net-zero by 2060 would require a massive overhaul of its economy.

Russia’s oil and gas sales contribute between 15 to 20 percent of the country’s GDP and fossil fuel exports account for more than 50 percent of all exports. The country’s coal industry contributes around 12 percent to GDP.

Achieving net-zero in Russia by 2060 will require a 65 percent reduction in its emissions according to research institute the World Resources Institute. Yet Russia’s most recent submission to the UN under the Paris Agreement suggested its emissions would increase 30 percent by the end of the decade compared to 1990 levels.

Meanwhile Turkey, which last week became the last G20 country to ratify the Paris accord, would have to slash its emissions by around 30 percent by the end of the decade to reach its 2053 target. The WRI had forecast Turkey was set to double its current emissions by the end of the decade.

While governments step up their commitments to sustainability to fend off new regulations and respond to growing pressure from investors the reality looks very different.

Moody’s report said G20 banks’ exposure to carbon-intensive sectors amounted to $13.8 trillion, while equities held by asset managers were worth $6.6 trillion.

Regionally, Asia and the Americans led the way with $9 trillion and $8 trillion respectively, with EMEA accounting for $5 trillion. There was no country breakdown.

By sector, manufacturing, power and other utilities, transportation, and oil and gas feature heavily among the G20 financial institutions’ top carbon-intensive exposures.

Companies and governments remain under increasing pressure from both climate-focused regulations and shareholder pressure to disinvest in polluting industries.

However, in a report published last month the WRI said G20 countries still account for 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Helen Mountford, vice president, Climate & Economics, WRI said: “Action or inaction by G20 countries will largely determine whether we can avoid the most dangerous and costly impacts of climate change.”

Work on NEOM’s green hydrogen plant likely to start in H1 2022

Work on NEOM’s green hydrogen plant likely to start in H1 2022
Updated 16 October 2021

Work on NEOM’s green hydrogen plant likely to start in H1 2022

Work on NEOM’s green hydrogen plant likely to start in H1 2022
  • What we have already said is that we will be dispatching liquid ammonia into the market in the first quarter of 2026, so that’s already there: ACWA Power CEO

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s energy company, ACWA Power, expects construction work on its green hydrogen plant in NEOM to start in the first half of 2022, according to the company’s CEO.

“This is the first project of that scale and quite a lot of work had to be done for the first time. So, we are very much in it, and we are already in even doing some work in advance purchases of long lead items for construction. So, there is quite a lot of activity that is going on,” Paddy Padmanathan told Arab News in an interview.

The CEO of ACWA expected to also see the financial closing of the project, a joint venture with NEOM Co. and American industrial gas company Air Products, taking place in the first half of the next year. The joint venture had hired financial firm Lazard to advise on the project, he told Arab News last month.   

“We are going to full construction as soon as we have achieved the financial closure. What we have already said is that we will be dispatching liquid ammonia into the market in the first quarter of 2026, so that’s already there,” he added.

ACWA Power, which debuted on Saudi Arabia’s stock market on Oct. 4, expects to finalize in the first quarter of next year billions of dollars in financing for a green hydrogen joint venture at the planned futuristic city NEOM, ACWA’s CEO told Reuters last week, adding that roughly 20 percent of the $6.5 billion project will be funded with equity and the rest will be limited-recourse project finance.

Padmanathan believes that NEOM’s project will be a game changer for the Kingdom and the company as it will help ACWA expand into that industry once it’s completed. The plant will need around 4.3 GW of clean energy to power it and ACWA plans to use solar in the day and wind in the night to eliminate the need for batteries and expensive storage solutions, he told Arab News.

In July 2020, Air Products, in conjunction with ACWA Power and NEOM, announced the signing of an agreement for a $5 billion world-scale green hydrogen-based ammonia production facility powered by renewable energy. The planning and design phases are currently underway to start construction in NEOM’s new industrial city.

This joint venture is the first step for the NEOM region to become a key player in the global hydrogen market. The business is expected to build an environmentally friendly hydrogen production facility to provide sustainable solutions for the global transport sector and to meet the challenges of climate change.

The project, which will be equally owned by the three partners, will export hydrogen in the form of liquid ammonia to the world market for use as a biofuel that feeds transportation systems.

It will produce 650 tons of carbon-free hydrogen per day and 1.2 million tons of green ammonia per year, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of 3 million tons per year.

ACWA Power, which operates in 13 countries, is bidding for renewable energy projects in Uzbekistan, Egypt, South Africa and Indonesia, as well as a large pipeline of projects in Saudi Arabia, the CEO said.

The company, which the Public Investment Fund is a key shareholder in, uses project finance to fund all of its projects but it will continue investing around SR2.8 billion a year of its own money into these projects to keep growing, Padamanthan told Arab News last month.

ACWA Power is planning projects this year with a total investment cost of around $16 billion, ACWA’s CFO told Arab News in July.

AD Ports Group report 21% rise in H1 revenue

AD Ports Group report 21% rise in H1 revenue
Updated 16 October 2021

AD Ports Group report 21% rise in H1 revenue

AD Ports Group report 21% rise in H1 revenue

DUBAI: AD Ports Group on Saturday reported a 21 percent year-on-year increase in revenues in the first half of the year, the official WAM new agency reported. 

According to the financial results, the group reported 1,832 million dirhams ($499 million) revenue as compared with 1,517 million dirhams in the first half of 2020, driven by organic growth, diversification into new businesses, new leases and partnerships.

EBITDA rose 8 percent year-on-year to 770 million dirhams, up from 714 million dirhams in the first half of 2020, with growth across most of the business clusters.

Sakani pays taxes on behalf of first-time homebuyers, issues 558,367 certificates

Sakani pays taxes on behalf of first-time homebuyers, issues 558,367 certificates
Updated 16 October 2021

Sakani pays taxes on behalf of first-time homebuyers, issues 558,367 certificates

Sakani pays taxes on behalf of first-time homebuyers, issues 558,367 certificates

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Housing Ministry’s Sakani program paid real estate tax on behalf of first-time homebuyers and issued 558,367 certificates among beneficiaries since the beginning of the program until September 2021, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday citing the program’s monthly report.

The report showed a surge in the number of beneficiaries from the Sakani program’s housing and financial solutions during the current year. A total of 160,304 Saudi families benefited from the ministry’s program until the end of September.  

The report also gave details about the number of projects being carried out in partnership with real estate developers in different parts of the Kingdom.

The Ministry of Housing and the Real Estate Development Fund formed Sakani in 2017 with the aim of facilitating home ownership in the Kingdom through the creation of new housing stock, allocating plots and homes to nationals and financing their purchase. It has a goal of reaching 70 percent home ownership by 2030.

The program also launched new e-services to serve people effectively.

The app, which allows users to access four new services, can be downloaded at:

The services include electronic financing, ready-made units, approved contractor, and interactive maps.

The services had been added to ensure Sakani becomes “the go-to destination for housing services and solutions, in order to make it easier for Saudi families to own their first home.”

How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans

How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans
Updated 16 October 2021

How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans

How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans

The importance of the oceans to the future of our planet has never been as clear as it is today. The UN has declared 2021 the start of a “Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development,” with the aim of sharing knowledge to protect and nurture this extraordinary natural resource for future generations. At Saudi Aramco, we believe that oceans are a shared inheritance: Covering 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, they connect every continent in a global ecosystem that is as complex as it is irreplaceable.

Long-term thinking

Aramco welcomes the UN drawing attention to the importance of marine environments and recognizes the need for action on multiple fronts to protect life and livelihoods. This is why we have long partnerships with scientists, researchers and other experts on a wide range of initiatives — including gathering a wealth of unique data, particularly on the waters of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

The projects Aramco has launched to protect marine ecosystems are global in scope — with a particular focus on coral-reef regeneration and mangrove restoration. Other projects include protecting endangered marine turtles and cultivating marine algae to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere to reduce the impact of climate change. We have also set up community outreach and education programs to share knowledge with students and children, so they grow up understanding the importance and value of the oceans too.

Gathering data

Behind Aramco’s environmental work lies a valuable resource that we are keen to share with the world: Scientific data. To protect any marine environment, you have first to find out what is there, and we have been monitoring the waters in parts of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf region for decades, frequently visiting the same reefs.

Our scientists and experts have been collecting valuable information regarding wave height, currents, dissolved oxygen, water temperature, clarity, salinity and the concentration of chlorophyll, the pigment that provides energy for photosynthesis. Aramco wants to help the global scientific community by giving free access to this data to support other environmental projects, and we are already partnering with several international organizations, such as the C4IR Ocean and its Ocean Data Platform, to further this aim.

Regenerating coral reefs

In terms of our projects, we have supported the regeneration of endangered coral reefs. Around the world, these precious and fragile ecosystems — which provide a habitat for hundreds of marine species while also forming a natural barrier against coastal erosion —have become degraded. This damage has multiple causes, including coastal and offshore development, illegal fishing practices, pollution, and the rise in sea temperatures caused by climate change.

Recognizing the seriousness of the problem, Aramco took action through a series of initiatives in the Arabian Gulf, Florida, Hawaii, American Samoa, and the Caribbean. In the Arabian Gulf, for example, most coral communities are in the vicinity of offshore islands, and we realized one of the factors preventing damaged reefs from regenerating was a lack of hard ground on which the coral could reform. We, therefore, designed and built a series of strong and stable artificial reef structures on the seabed, which the coral could then recolonize, providing a new habitat for a wide variety of marine organisms. Our scientists closely monitor these regenerated reefs, which have been a great success: fish are thriving and the variety of marine life has increased, while the reefs are more resilient.

Seeding mangroves

A second area in which Aramco is playing a prominent role is the planting of millions of mangrove trees in coastal regions. Restoring degraded mangrove forests in this way has great benefits for both biodiversity and carbon capture, through which trees and plants extract and store CO2 from the atmosphere. Research shows that mangrove trees are about five times more effective at sequestering CO2 than terrestrial rainforest trees, making them an effective nature-based solution for combatting climate change. We know these projects are having a significant impact and, building on this success, Aramco aims to plant more mangrove trees in Saudi Arabia and around the world, in partnership with global leaders, through projects in South East Asia, Australasia, South America, the Caribbean, East Africa, and South Asia. It is a truly global undertaking.

Commitment to environment

Aramco also recently developed a new corporate biodiversity protection policy, which requires that all new Aramco projects have a net positive impact on biodiversity and natural ecosystems. The great benefit of this approach is that the diversity of living things in any area in which Aramco is operating — whether terrestrial, coastal, or marine — is taken into consideration before any new project can begin. If a negative impact on biodiversity is identified, then it must be avoided, mitigated, or offset as a last resort. This environmental approach is now mandatory across all our projects and operations.

The company’s first environmental protection policy was introduced as long ago as 1964 and we recently published a book documenting The Ecosystem and Biodiversity of the Arabian Gulf, summarizing 50 years of scientific research between Aramco and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. Our recently published Marine Atlas of the Western Arabian Gulf provides a baseline of marine ecosystems and their locations. Both books illustrate the beauty and biodiversity of the Arabian Gulf’s marine ecosystems, their sensitivities and vulnerabilities. Our environmental partners include global organizations, regional working groups and local universities, such as KFUPM and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

Our commitment to the world’s oceans is clear: We intend to protect and support them with care, investment and expertise; always working to ensure that Aramco operations don’t adversely impact the marine environment, and enhancing it wherever we can.


  • Dr Khaled Asfahani is head of Marine Environment Protection at Aramco & Dr Loughland is an environment consultant at Aramco.