Halt new hydrocarbon investment now, says IEA

Halt new hydrocarbon investment now, says IEA
Built using its industry network and energy modelling tools, the IEA’s roadmap lays out more than 400 milestones on the path to net-zero by mid-century. (File/Shutterstock)
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Updated 19 May 2021

Halt new hydrocarbon investment now, says IEA

Halt new hydrocarbon investment now, says IEA
  • Radical move by the International Energy Agency to tackle mankind’s ‘greatest challenge’

DUBAI: The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Tuesday called for an immediate halt on new investment in fossil fuels — oil, gas and coal — as part of a strategy to get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The IEA made the radical proposal as part of a “roadmap for the global energy sector” which also demanded an end to sales of petrol engine cars by 2035, as well as an instant halt to “dirty” coal projects.

The IEA’s rejection of fossil fuel investment coincided with the price of global benchmark Brent crude moving above the $70 per barrel level, which it has only reached once since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our pathway requires the immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies,” the IEA said. It calculated that $5 trillion of investment was needed in energy to get it to net zero levels, most of it in renewables like wind and solar.

Total global spend on energy is currently around $2 trillion, with the bulk spent on hydrocarbon investment, the IEA estimated.

“We find that the world has a viable pathway to building a global energy sector with net zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2050, but it is narrow and requires immediate action across all countries to begin an unprecedented transformation of how energy is produced, transported and used worldwide.

“In our pathway, no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects is needed, nor is (there) further investment for new unabated coal plants, and sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars are halted by 2035,” it added.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The IEA made the radical proposal as part of a ‘roadmap for the global energy sector’ which also demanded an end to sales of petrol engine cars by 2035, as well as an instant halt to ‘dirty’ coal projects.

• The IEA’s rejection of fossil fuel investment coincided with the price of global benchmark Brent crude moving above the $70 per barrel level, which it has only reached once since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

IEA executive director Fatih Birol said it was still possible to reach the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. “Our roadmap shows the priority actions that are needed today to ensure the opportunity of net zero emissions by 2050 — narrow but still achievable — is not lost. “The scale and speed of the efforts demanded by this critical and formidable goal — our best chance of tackling climate change and limiting global warming to 1.5°C — make this perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced.”

The IEA, which was founded in the 1970s in the face of global oil spikes, has long been regarded as a defender of oil consumers. The new stance surprised some oil industry experts in the region. 

“They’ve been hijacked by the Europeans,” said one Saudi Arabia-based energy adviser who did not want to be named, pointing to the European-led movement to divest funds from fossil fuels.

Other investment experts said it was a recognition of a new guiding principle in global energy finance.

Tarek Fadlallah, managing director of Nomura Asset Management in the Middle East, said: “The IEA has taken the increasingly populist outlook that diminishes the outlook for oil.”

Saudi Arabia recently joined other big oil-producing countries to study the prospects for net zero in a forum that includes the US and Norway.

Birol said that he saw a “growing gap” between rhetoric about the need to tackle climate change and the facts of increasing global greenhouse gas emissions.


American Express joins Amazon network to benefit KSA cardholders

American Express joins Amazon network to benefit KSA cardholders
Updated 13 sec ago

American Express joins Amazon network to benefit KSA cardholders

American Express joins Amazon network to benefit KSA cardholders
  • Amex cardholders in the Kingdom will now be able to use their cards to pay online merchants who are part of the Amazon Payment Services network

DUBAI: Credit card giant American Express has signed a deal with Amazon Payment Services, expanding cardholders’ use for their online payments in Saudi Arabia.

Under the deal, Amex cardholders in the Kingdom will now be able to use their cards to pay online merchants who are part of the Amazon Payment Services network.

“By partnering with Amazon Payment Services, American Express will be able to enhance and expand the online network of merchants in Saudi Arabia where American Express cards can be used,” Peter George, managing director of the payment service, said.

This comes as e-commerce and digital payments continue to grow in the Kingdom and the wider Middle East.


Kuwait to implement largest government restructuring in its history as of 2022

Kuwait to implement largest government restructuring in its history as of 2022
Updated 15 min 27 sec ago

Kuwait to implement largest government restructuring in its history as of 2022

Kuwait to implement largest government restructuring in its history as of 2022

Kuwait plans to merge ministries, abolish others and create new strategies as part of the largest restructuring roadmap in its history over the next four years, Al Qabs reported.

Beginning in 2022, the ministries of electricity, water and oil will come together under one umbrella called the 'Ministry of Energy', while a 'Ministry of Economy and Trade' will also be created.

This department will be responsible for managing economic development, take responsibility for the national strategy for privatization, and manage the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Authority.

The plan also includes transferring the affiliation of Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) to the Ministry of Economy and Trade at the beginning of 2023, and developing strategies for a free economic zone and export promotion.

Kuwait's roadmap consists of reviewing investment laws, foreign ownership, bankruptcy and public-private partnership, evaluation, reform, simplification and digitization of the commercial registration process, and facilitation of procedures for obtaining credit.

The roadmap also includes expanding the competencies of the Competition Protection Office, including more experts in it, and expanding the scope of the National Fund for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to include innovation.

Kuwait plans to shift the executive management of the country from operator to regulator, through a government center to be established in early 2022.

The plan also includes dissolving the Ministry of Services and creating a new Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in order to develop the ICT strategy, as well as building a smart national strategy 'Towards a Smart Kuwait' in line with Vision 2023.

The Ministry of Information will be dismantled as of the last quarter of 2024, and the Media Authority will be established to implement media regulations in early 2023, the country decided.

Kuwait plans to establish six new local municipalities covering all its governorates, abolish of the Ministry of State for Housing Affairs and transfer its powers and responsibilities to the Ministry of Social Affairs.

It will also establish a new independent authority under the name 'The Public Authority for Social and Housing Support; at the beginning of the first half of 2022.

 


UAE small businesses lead the world in trading optimism: Visa

UAE small businesses lead the world in trading optimism: Visa
Updated 48 min 40 sec ago

UAE small businesses lead the world in trading optimism: Visa

UAE small businesses lead the world in trading optimism: Visa

Small businesses in the UAE are more confident about future trading than those in the US, Hong Kong, and Germany, according to a survey by Visa.

The financial services company’s 'Back to Business Study' states 64 percent of small and medium firms in the country are very optimistic about their long-term success — the highest proportion of all markets surveyed.

This figure rises to 88 percent when it includes firms who are generally optimistic about trading.

The survey also claimed that in the UAE the shift to contactless payments is becoming more permanent.

Nearly all consumers in the UAE — 92 percent  — say COVID-19 has permanently changed their payment habits, compared to 68 percent globally. 

About 73 percent  of UAE consumers would not shop at a store that does not accept contactless payments, compared to 44 percent across the globe. 

A third of UAE consumers have not used cash in the past week, the second highest among all markets.

Digital commerce has also particularly supported small business amid the pandemic, Shahebaz Khan, Visa’s general manager for the UAE, said.

He added: “Seemingly small pivots toward digital commerce can continue to make the difference between a small business surviving and thriving." 


HP, Procter & Gamble join companies pledge to cut emissions

HP, Procter & Gamble join companies pledge to cut emissions
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 20 September 2021

HP, Procter & Gamble join companies pledge to cut emissions

HP, Procter & Gamble join companies pledge to cut emissions
  • The companies aim to cut almost 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2040
  • Scientists say the world needs to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050 if it wants to meet the Paris climate accord's goal of keeping temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century

Computer-maker HP, consumer goods business Procter & Gamble and coffee capsule company Nespresso have joined a corporate pledge to sharply cut their greenhouse gas emissions over nearly two decades.


The Climate Pledge, a grouping of companies and organizations spearheaded by Amazon, said on Monday it has signed up 86 new members for its voluntary measures. The group has 201 members with global annual revenues of more than $1.8 trillion, it said.


Other new members include telecoms company BT, truck-maker Scania and the Selfridges department store chain.


Together, the companies aim to cut almost 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2040 — more than 5 percent of the current global total.


While the group's members are encouraged to eliminate as many emissions as possible, those that can't be avoided need to be completely offset in the next two decades. That means paying for measures to ensure as many emissions are absorbed by then as the companies continue to emit.


Scientists say the world needs to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050 if it wants to meet the Paris climate accord's goal of keeping temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial times.


Saudi Arabia leads regional adoption of online shopping post-pandemic

Saudi Arabia leads regional adoption of online shopping post-pandemic
Updated 20 September 2021

Saudi Arabia leads regional adoption of online shopping post-pandemic

Saudi Arabia leads regional adoption of online shopping post-pandemic
  • 83 percent of 13,000 surveyed consumers said they will “maintain or even increase their current level of e-commerce spending into the next year”
  • The unprecedented growth in both e-commerce and digital payments are also reflective of a developing regulatory regime

DUBAI: When countries implemented lockdowns to control the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers all over the world took to the internet to satisfy their shopping needs – accelerating the growth of e-commerce.

The region was no exception, and the trend is likely to continue post-pandemic.

Based on a new report by global payments company Checkout.com, 83 percent of 13,000 surveyed consumers said they will “maintain or even increase their current level of e-commerce spending into the next year.”

The shift in consumer behavior was remarkable in Saudi Arabia, the report noted, with 53 percent of Saudi respondents saying they shop online at least once a month – above the regional average of 45 percent.

It’s even highlighted during peak shopping seasons, such as in Ramadan, where 76 percent of consumers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE say they were likely to buy products and services online more frequently during the holy month.

The report estimated that 209 million more customers in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Pakistan, — a region known as MENAP — have begun shopping online since the pandemic broke out in March 2020.

The growth in e-commerce owes to a “greater sophistication” in the region’s digital payments ecosystem.

“A flourishing digital payments and e-commerce ecosystem is leading consumers to feel more empowered, with star-ups thriving in the fintech arena, and commercial markets opening up,” said Mo Ali Yusuf, regional manager for MENAP at Checkout.com.

The report said 60 percent of consumers in the region now prefer to use a digital payment method when purchasing online – up by 20 percent since the company’s 2020 report.

Not only is cash being used less, but consumers are also using newer ways of paying, including digital wallets and “buy now, pay later” apps.

Outperforming Europe

Yusuf said MENAP has begun “to outperform European markets in the adoption of emerging payment methods.”

Around 24 percent of surveyed consumers have used a “buy now, pay later” option this year – higher than the 23 percent across the UK and Europe.

“This presents a phenomenal opportunity for global and domestic merchants to expand their businesses across MENA,” he added.

An official at the World Bank earlier highlighted the role of digital payments in economic growth, entrepreneurship, job creation, public service delivery and financial inclusion in the region.

The use of financial technology (fintech) applications in the region has been promising – with 76 percent reporting to use some form of it in the past year, only 4 percent short of the consumers in the Asia Pacific region.

This presents an opportunity to address financial inclusion in the region, the Checkout.com regional manager said, particularly empowering the unbanked and underbanked population.

Government backing and a modernized regulatory regime

The unprecedented growth in both e-commerce and digital payments are also reflective of a developing regulatory regime, with many countries including Saudi Arabia showing keenness in adapting to trends in banking and finance.

Core policies in several Gulf countries are built around promoting a “digital economy,” even accelerated by the impact of COVID-19.

“As countries recover from this crisis, robust inclusive digital financial systems will be vital to creating a foundation for critical gains for sectors,” a statement from the Arab Monetary Fund said.