Australia, long under fire as one of world's top producers of coal and gas, said it will target net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but added it will not legislate the goal and instead rely on consumers and companies to drive emission reductions.
The adoption of the target will ease international criticism after Australia earlier refused to join countries in pledging to meet the target ahead of the United Nations COP26 climate conference in Glasgow from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia, one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases on a per capita basis, will achieve the target largely through technology development, with the government investing A$20 billion ($15 billion).
The investment will reduce the costs of technologies such as clean hydrogen and increase their use, he said.
Morrison has been in a political bind over climate change. He needs the support of rural votes who oppose the reducing emissions as he heads into an election that must take place by May, but much of the wider Australian population wants to see more action.
A widely watched poll on Monday showed Morrison is on course to lose to the centre-left Labor party.
On Tuesday, Morrison, sought to downplay any threat to domestic industries and jobs as a result of reducing emissions.
"Australians want action on climate change. They’re taking action on climate change, but they also want to protect their jobs and their livelihoods,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Morrison also said Australia will not strengthen its 2030 target of reducing emissions by 26-28 percent from 2005 levels but added the country looks like it will reduce emissions by 30-35 percent.
Critics said Morrison's plan was too weak and does not prepare the Australian economy for a rapidly evolving world.
“Unless the government sets the wheels in motion to cut our emissions in half by 2030, it is making climate change worse and turning its back on the opportunities," said Kelly O’Shanassy, chief executive officer of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
President Macron’s visit to Saudi Arabia signals new era in French-Saudi cooperation
Wide-ranging joint statement and slew of agreements testify to a growing Saudi-French bilateral partnership
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President Macron held telephone meeting with Lebanon PM Najib Mikati
Updated 51 min 36 sec ago
JEDDAH: A joint statement covering a wide range of issues and the signing of a slew of agreements were the highlights of a visit to Saudi Arabia by French President Emmanuel Macron during the final leg of a two-day Gulf tour.
The agreements related to economic cooperation were announced by Saudi and French companies on Saturday while Macron held talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The crown prince met Macron at Al-Salam Palace, where they discussed bilateral cooperation and held a telephone call with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
The three countries agreed to work together to support comprehensive reforms necessary in Lebanon, according to official reports, which added that Saudi Arabia and France emphasized their keen desire to see security and stability prevail in the country.
“The two sides stressed … that reforms should include the sectors of finance, energy, combating corruption and border control. The two sides also agreed to work with Lebanon to ensure the implementation of these measures,” the joint statement, carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), said.
“They also emphasized the need to limit arms to legitimate institutions of the state, and that Lebanon should not be a launching pad for any terrorist acts that destabilize the security and stability of the region, or a source of drug trafficking.
“They also … agreed to establish a Saudi-French mechanism for humanitarian assistance that ensures complete transparency, and expressed their determination to find appropriate mechanisms in cooperation with friendly countries and allies to alleviate the suffering of the Lebanese people.”
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “the two sides reiterated their support for achieving peace in the Middle East, and the importance of reaching a comprehensive settlement … to be based on the two-state solution, the relevant legitimate resolutions and Arab Peace Initiative in a way that ensures the right of the Palestinian people to establish their state on 1967 borders with East Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital, calling, in this context, for an end to the Israeli settlement policy that threatens the two-state solution.”
With regard to Iran, the joint statement said: “The two sides expressed their deep concern over the development of the Iranian nuclear program and the lack of cooperation and transparency with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
$4.37bn French direct investment in KSA economy.
“France stressed its determination not to allow Iran to develop or acquire a nuclear weapon. They also agreed on the need to confront Iran's destabilizing activities in the region, including the use and transfer of drones and ballistic missiles that led to attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Addressing the Yemen crisis, the statement said “France affirmed its full support for the Saudi peace initiative that was presented on March 22, 2021, and condemned the ballistic missile and drone attacks launched by Houthi militia and affirmed its historical commitment to preserving the security of the Kingdom.”
In other developments on Saturday, Dr. Mohammed bin Saud Al-Tamimi, CEO of the Saudi Space Commission, and Philippe Baptiste, CEO of the French National Center for Space Studies, signed a joint cooperation agreement in the field of the peaceful use of outer space, according to the SPA.
The agreement “aims to provide a framework for cooperation in space activities in the peaceful uses of space, facilitate the exchange of information and technologies, contribute to capacity building and competencies, organize mutual visits and meetings, hold training courses and specialized workshops, as well as the joint cooperation to develop a mechanism for space-based climate monitoring.”
The SPA also reported that a memorandum of understanding was signed on Saturday that cements cultural
relations between Saudi Arabia and France. “Coming only weeks after Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud met with his French counterpart, Dr. Roselyn Bachelot, in Paris, the MoU is the latest example of strengthening cultural ties between the two countries,” the report said.
It added: “Under the five-year agreement, Saudi Arabia and France have committed to enhancing cultural cooperation and exchange across a broad range of cultural fields, including architecture, audiovisual production, design, film, heritage, literature, performing arts and visual arts.
“In addition, the MoU will facilitate the two countries to explore cultural regulations and policies. There will also be opportunities to increase the participation of Saudi and French artists in residency exchange programs and strengthen cooperation between artists and cultural institutions in both countries.”
The SPA said that a separate agreement to enhance tourism cooperation between the two countries was co-signed by Ahmed Al-Khateeb, the Saudi tourism minister, and Franck Riester, the French minister delegate for foreign trade and economic attractiveness.
It quoted Al-Khateeb as saying: "France, through its knowledge and experience, will help the Kingdom in developing its tourism activity to attract investments with a cost of $810 billion, which will provide the country with tourism opportunities outside the Hajj season. The Kingdom is expected to have new investment opportunities with a cost of $6 trillion by 2030, and this is a matter of excitement.”
Indonesia Semeru volcanic eruption kills 13; 10 evacuated
Updated 05 December 2021
JAKARTA: Ten people trapped after Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupted have been evacuated to safety, the country’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) said on Sunday, as the death toll from the disaster climbed to at least 13 and with dozens injured.
Semeru, the tallest mountain on Java island, threw up towers of ash and hot clouds on Saturday that blanketed nearby villages in East Java province and sent people fleeing in panic.
The eruption severed a strategic bridge connecting two areas in the nearby district of Lumajang with the city of Malang and wrecked buildings, authorities said.
BNPB official Abdul Muhari said in a news release that 13 people have been killed after the eruption, two of whom have been identified. Ninety-eight have been injured, including two pregnant women, and 902 have been evacuated, the statement said.
Thoriqul Haq, a local official in Lumajang, said earlier that sand miners had been trapped around their work sites.
BNPB said at least 35 people had been hospitalized, while Lumajang’s deputy head said 41 people suffered burns.
Semeru, more than 3,600 meters (12,000 feet) high, is one of Indonesia’s nearly 130 active volcanoes. It erupted in January, causing no casualties.
Indonesia straddles the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” a highly seismically active zone, where different plates on the earth’s crust meet and create a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.
Separately, an earthquake of magnitude 6 struck north of Halmahera on Sunday, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) said. Halmahera is about 2,000 km
Biden, Putin set video call Tuesday as Ukraine tensions grow
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, recently charged that a group of Russians and Ukrainians planned to attempt a coup in his country and that the plotters tried to enlist the help of Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov
Updated 05 December 2021
MOSCOW: Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will speak in a video call Tuesday, the White House and Kremlin said, as tensions between the United States and Russia escalate over a Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border that’s seen as a sign of a potential invasion.
Biden will press US concerns about Russian military activities on the border and “reaffirm the United States’ support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Saturday, confirming the planned call after first word came from Moscow.
Putin will come to the call with concerns of his own and intends to express Russia’s opposition to any move to admit Ukraine into the NATO military alliance. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “the presidents will decide themselves” how long their talk will last.
The last known call between the leaders was in July, when Biden pressed Putin to rein in Russia-based criminal hacking gangs launching ransomware attacks against the United States. Biden said the US would take any necessary steps to protect critical infrastructure from such attacks.
Ransomware attacks have continued since then, though perhaps none has been as alarming as the one from May that targeted a major fuel pipeline and resulted in days of gas shortages in parts of the US
Russia is more adamant than ever that the US guarantees that Ukraine will not be admitted to the NATO military alliance. But NATO’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, said this past week that Russia has no say in expansion plans by other countries or the alliance. Numerous former US and NATO diplomats say any such Russian demand to Biden would be a nonstarter.
US intelligence officials, meanwhile, have determined that Russia has massed about 70,000 troops near its border with Ukraine and has begun planning for a possible invasion as soon as early next year, according to a Biden administration official who was not authorized to discuss that finding publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The risks for Putin of going through with such an invasion would be enormous.
US officials and former American diplomats say while the Russian president is clearly laying the groundwork for a possible invasion, Ukraine’s military is better armed and prepared today than in the past, and that sanctions threatened by the West would do serious damage to the Russian economy.
“What I am doing is putting together what I believe to be, will be, the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do,” Biden said Friday.
Ukrainian officials have said Russia could invade next month. Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said the number of Russian troops near Ukraine and in Russia-annexed Crimea is estimated at 94,300, and warned that a “large-scale escalation” is possible in January.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, recently charged that a group of Russians and Ukrainians planned to attempt a coup in his country and that the plotters tried to enlist the help of Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov.
Russia and Akhmetov have denied that any plot is underway, but the Russians have become more explicit recently in their warnings to Ukraine and the United States.
Biden is also expected to speak with Zelenskyy in the coming week, according to a person close to the Ukrainian leader. This person was not authorized to comment publicly before the announcement of the call and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The Kremlin said Friday that Putin, during his call with Biden, would seek binding guarantees precluding NATO’s expansion to Ukraine. Biden tried to head off the demand in comments to reporters Friday before leaving for a weekend stay at Camp David.
“I don’t accept anyone’s red line,” Biden said.
Psaki said in a brief statement Saturday that Biden and Putin will discuss a range of topics in the US-Russia relationship, “including strategic stability, cyber, and regional issues.”
She said Friday that the administration would coordinate with European allies if it moved forward with sanctions. She alluded to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that had been under Ukraine’s control since 1954. Russia has also backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in a 7-year conflict that has cost over 14,000 lives.
“We know what President Putin has done in the past,” Psaki said. “We see that he is putting in place the capacity to take action in short order.”
US-Russia relations have been rocky since Biden took office.
His administration has imposed sanctions against Russian targets and called out Putin for the Kremlin’s interference in US elections, cyberactivity against American companies and the treatment of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who was poisoned last year and later imprisoned.
When Putin and Biden met in Geneva in June, Biden warned that if Russia crossed certain red lines — including going after major American infrastructure — his administration would respond and “the consequences of that would be devastating.”
A golden falcon rises, wings outstretched, over the Jeddah coastline. Sela, the Saudi Arabian events producer, has unveiled the first art installation of its highly anticipated Jeddah Art Promenade.
The promenade is curated by renowned producer Swizz Beatz and his Saudi-headquartered creative agency, Good Intentions.
The one-of-a-kind sculpture by Kwest is visible for kilometers, perched amid the blue waters of the Jeddah Corniche, where the city is hosting thousands at the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Creators of some of the region’s most sought-after experiences and attractions, Sela has staged more than 3,000 events since 2005, including MDLBEAST, the Italian Super Cup, WWE Crown Jewel, Riyadh Season and Jeddah Season, in addition to launching projects such as Boulevard Riyadh City and Jeddah Superdome.
Sela’s Jeddah Art Promenade is a beachfront boulevard featuring art monuments in a leisure, hospitality and retail district scheduled for completion in the coming months.
Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean is a Grammy-award winning producer and owner of one of the world’s largest art collections.
Recognizing the creative renaissance unfolding in the Kingdom with Saudi Vision 2030, Swizz Beatz found a base for his global agency in Saudi Arabia, co-founding Good Intentions with Saudi native Noor Taher.
• Creators of some of the region’s most sought-after experiences and attractions, Sela has staged more than 3,000 events since 2005.
• These include MDLBEAST, the Italian Super Cup, WWE Crown Jewel, Riyadh Season, Jeddah Season, Boulevard Riyadh City and Jeddah Superdome.
Their curations leverage a vibrant community of contemporary artists to bring a new cultural experience to the Kingdom at Jeddah Art Promenade.
Shihana Alazzaz, Sela chairwoman and general counsel to the Public Investment Fund, said: “The ‘Wusul’ (‘Arrival’) installation from artist Kwest is a powerful statement of energy and creativity taking flight.
“We at Sela are thrilled to be working with Swizz Beatz and the Good Intentions team, headed by homegrown lead Noor Taher, to give vital art a platform, with special thanks to the organizers of Jeddah Season for making all of this possible.
“With more than a dozen installations planned, the Jeddah Art Promenade will blaze an iconic trail down our beautiful coast, offering visitors a visceral cultural experience and creating a landmark worthy of our nation’s vision.”
Swizz Beatz, co-founder of Good Intentions, said: “We’ve always wanted to work with the gatekeepers in that arena and knew Sela would be a partner aligned with our vision at Good Intentions. This is just a scratch on the surface, we’re only going bigger and more disruptive from here.”
JIMCO, CFS to provide the world with limitless sustainable power
Updated 05 December 2021
The Saudi-based Jameel Investment Management Co. has participated in a $1.8 billion funding round for a US fusion energy company, it has been announced.
JIMCO has invested an undeclared amount in Commonwealth Fusion Systems, a company founded in 2018 that is building the world’s first net-energy giant fusion system.
“The world is ready to make big investments in commercial fusion as a key part of the global energy transition,” the chief executive officer of CFS, Bob Mumgaard, said.
He added: This diverse group of investors includes a spectrum of capital from energy and technology companies to venture capitalists, hedge funds, and university endowments who believe in the impact fusion will have as we look for large scale solutions to decarbonize.”
The Saudi-based Jameel Investment Management Co. has participated in a $1.8 billion funding round for a US fusion energy company.
CFS’ HTS magnet technology enables significantly stronger magnetic fields in a fusion device called a “tokamak,” existing versions of which rely on the scale of the device to attempt net energy. HTS magnets support a high-field approach that will enable CFS to reach net energy from fusion with a substantially smaller, lower cost device and on a faster timeline. This HTS magnet technology will be used in SPARC, now under construction in Devens, Massachusetts and on track to demonstrate net energy from fusion by 2025.
Fady Jameel, a member of the Jameel family’s investment supervisory board, said: “It is critical that private investors cultivate close, collaborative relationships with research scientists and universities. The Jameel Family has nurtured our relationships with MIT, and others, supporting innovative thinking and development of emergent technologies towards solutions aiming to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges.”
“This investment in CFS is a step towards a more sustainable future for everyone demonstrating how ‘patient capital’, particularly from family investors, can show leadership in enabling transformational change by championing opportunities for business in the new green-tech economy.”