Global leaders accelerate pace for decarbonization at COP28

Global leaders accelerate pace for decarbonization at COP28
Global leaders, including heads of state and governments from over 117 countries, gathered at Expo City to set ambitious goals for transitioning toward more ecological and less carbon-intensive economies. Reuters
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Updated 03 December 2023
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Global leaders accelerate pace for decarbonization at COP28

Global leaders accelerate pace for decarbonization at COP28

DUBAI: Capitalizing on the positive momentum from the opening day of the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, global leaders, including heads of state and governments from over 117 countries, gathered at Expo City to set ambitious goals for transitioning toward more ecological and less carbon-intensive economies.  

The boost to the mood was spurred by the announcement on Nov. 30 activating the “loss and damage fund” — a financial mechanism designed to assist countries affected by climate change. This initiative was endorsed last year during COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, with the specific operational details ironed out just hours before the commencement of COP28.  

The operationalization of the “loss and damage fund” appears to have instilled a lot of confidence among participants at COP28, including leaders such as Kenyan President William Ruto, who welcomed the announcement as a sign of progress.  

“We are seeing signs of progress for the first time. The ‘loss and damage fund’ is now being operationalized with real money. The conversation here has changed dramatically. I think there is a renewed commitment to making sure that we match action with what we’ve seen many times,” Ruto told Arab News.  

He mentioned that he is aware of one of the problems associated with past meetings on climate change: there is rarely any follow-up to the lofty statements made during these gatherings.  

“The accusation has been (that) we talk too much and there are no results. But I am very impressed with what I am seeing; there is now tangible progress being made. And hopefully, by the end of this COP, we will not only have significant resources deployed but also serious commitments made,” Ruto said.  

African initiatives  

Even though it ranks at the bottom of the list of continents in terms of carbon emissions, Africa has been at the receiving end of the negative impacts of climate change, especially through cycles of alternating prolonged droughts and flash floods.  

In such a scenario, it is hardly surprising to see a large African delegation at COP28, and many African nations are now taking the lead in speaking up for themselves and launching their own initiatives. For instance, Ruto informed that Kenya was all set to announce a number of new initiatives.  

He added: “We will be launching later today (Friday), with France, an agreement that will give us the opportunity to discuss taxation as a new mechanism for bringing resources for sorting out climate change that is threatening the whole globe. Secondly, we are also having a serious conversation about the Africa Green Industrialization Initiative to unlock the huge potential and opportunities that exist in Africa for green manufacturing, which is, if I may say, the silver bullet for growth into the future.”  

Even on the issue of finance, which has blighted practically every single COP summit, Ruto seemed optimistic. “We need billions of dollars for climate adaptation, which is precisely why we are having a conversation about money already committed, and we are seeing traction in that money being released. That’s number one. Number two, we are looking at an opportunity where we have all agreed on a new international financial architecture that is, again, going to be much more fit for purpose with additional resources, with more money. And then number three, we are looking at new avenues of raising money, including carbon taxation and taxation on industries that will get more people on board,” Ruto said.  

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the main objective of this COP is to expedite investments in green transition. “The main objectives here seem to be to speed up the investments in energy efficiency, to speed up the investments in the energy transition and also the diminishment of the use of the fossil fuels.”  

There were some substantive declarations on Nov. 30 but Plenković expressed his expectation that, over the course of the next couple of days, as confidence builds, “there will be more money available.” 

For Plenković, besides finance, another key development at COP28 is the global stocktaking that is taking place where various countries make a statement on where they stand currently vis-a-vis their commitments under the Paris Agreement for curbing their carbon emissions. 

“I believe that the exercise of global stocktaking is a necessary requirement for phasing out carbon in a fashion that is timely, intelligent, swift and systematic. I think that the political will is here and that a lot of ambition in order to fulfill, first of all, the Paris Agreement objectives. And I think the awareness has been really raised to the maximum level,” Plenković told Arab News.  

He said that his own country is moving rapidly toward a green transition across various sectors. “Well, we are investing heavily at the local level because, in a global sense, we are not a country that is polluting a lot. Our emissions are very low. On the contrary, they are below the thresholds that we have. But we are doing maximum to increase our investments in energy transition and energy efficiency.”  

The Croatian prime minister emphasized on the tourism sector because his country ranks as the 18th destination in the world in terms of guests, with the arrival of 20 million tourists. This figure is significant for a nation of less than 4 million people. “We put this in the context of global development goals. Therefore, all of our investments are aimed at balancing economic growth, maintaining a protected environment, and reducing emissions,” Plenković said.  

He added that the EU was very deeply engaged with climate change, not just internally but also at a global level. “There is no European Council that passes without climate as an issue and I think that we are really committed to provide as much as we can, both in terms of institutional framework investments and support to the countries that are in need,’’ Plenković explained.  

Funding gap

However, not everyone seemed content with the developments and the pace of change. Miguel Ceara Hatton, minister of environment and natural resources of the Dominican Republic, said he is very concerned about the “loss and damage fund” proving to be inadequate. “We understand that there is not enough money for the 183 countries. If we talk about this, $100 billion is not enough. If we have to change our way of production, consumption and transportation, then we need much more than what is currently there, especially if we are talking about 183 countries,” Hatton told Arab News.  

He added: “This crisis, the climate crisis is occurring at the same time in all countries in the world. So, for that reason, everybody needs money at the same time in order to get the transformation.” 

Hatton felt the problem is that, in the end, each government has to be prepared to finance the changes. “But also, we try to get money from outside of the country, which is not going to be enough. But, in any case, we have to do the transformation. That’s the point, and that is adaptation,” he explained. 

The Dominican Republic currently faces several challenges due to the climate crisis, Hatton informed. “The main problem is that we have a severe growth of Saragossa, a seaweed that is growing due to warmer seas. We also have the issues of transition of our energy and transportation. These are the three main things that we have to resolve in order to advance in the (fight against) climate change,” he said.  

Despite the issues, Hatton said that he stays positive. He added: “Yes, we are optimistic. Yesterday (Friday) was a good day. And I think that we are moving. Not so far, not so quickly. But we are moving very slowly. Very slowly. But I hope to gain speed.”  

The optimism despite challenges was also shared by Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a think-tank that specializes in the study of conflicts and wars around the world.  

“Events like COP are very important. But don’t expect anything to be revolutionized next week, next month, or even next year. Probably in a year’s time when COP29 comes, we will still be saying, look, we have to be more aware of this linkage. We have to do more about it, and we have to grip the problem better. But the awareness is rising,” Smith told Arab News.  

He said the change in policy is visible. For example, more and more UN missions, international agencies, and indeed governments have advised them specifically on the link of climate and security attached to their operations. “So, there is progress. It’s slow. That’s not enough, but it’s something that’s good,” he explained.  

Smith said that there was a direct connection between climate change and conflicts, a hypothesis that his institute has been studying for decades. “I think that maybe 10 or 15 years ago, we believed that there would be a connection between climate change and increased risk of conflict. Today, it is no longer speculation.”  

Unfortunately, he said the hypothesis turned out to be correct, and “it is very clear that there is an increasing number of armed conflicts in which the impact of climate change plays a part in creating the conditions.”  

“It also plays a part in making some conflicts harder to resolve. It makes it difficult sometimes for the UN operations in the way it should, where you have extreme weather events happening. It also offers a chance for the insurgents, the militia, and the jihadists to exploit that, too. Very often they are the first providers that are the first ones to come when there’s a flood, and then they actually increase their recruitment as a result,” he said.  

Despite the positive mood around, for some NGOs (non-governmental organizations) like Terre Policy Centre, a Pune-based environmental policy organization, the real challenge lies in the day after COP28 gets over. “The issue of implementation and activation of all that has been said at the climate summit,” said Vinita Apte, chairperson of Terre Policy Centre.  

“Today (Friday), we heard Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who gave a very good speech about green credit initiatives that India is launching. We have also seen many other leaders make major announcements. I always see people like the presidents and prime ministers come, and they give their statements and then they leave. Little of what is said is implemented and ultimately, it is for the common people around the world to deal with the aftereffects of climate change. But at least the governments should ensure that they help the populations and the NGOs deal with the challenges and provide finance,” Apte told Arab News.  


China’s used vehicle exports rise exponentially

China’s used vehicle exports rise exponentially
Updated 03 March 2024
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China’s used vehicle exports rise exponentially

China’s used vehicle exports rise exponentially
  • Efforts have been made to streamline export procedures and enhance the used car export industrial framework, signaling the untapped potential within this sector

RIYADH: China has recorded a significant rise in the export of used cars over the last five years, a report in the People’s Daily Online showed.

According to the report, since the inception of a pilot program in 2019 aimed at exporting used automobiles, the number of vehicles dispatched from China witness a rise of over 250 percent in 2022 reaching 69,000 units, a substantial increase from approximately 15,000 units in the previous year. A substantial portion of these exports consists of new energy vehicles with Tianjin municipality, located in North China, being one of the pioneering cities for such exports. 

Enterprises within Tianjin’s Dongjiang bonded zone successfully exported a variety of vehicles, including engineering and commercial vehicles, alongside traditional and new energy passenger cars. Currently, NEVs constitute over 70 percent of the zone’s total used car exports.

The market for China’s used cars has expanded globally, reaching more than 140 countries, as highlighted at the 2023 annual conference of China’s automotive distribution industry. The primary destinations include five Central Asian countries, several African nations, and parts of Southeast Asia. Additionally, Russia has emerged as a key market since 2022.

The Russian market has shown consistent growth, with the European market also gaining momentum amid an energy crisis, leading to a significant increase in exports to both Western and Eastern Europe.

Efforts have been made to streamline export procedures and enhance the used car export industrial framework, signaling the untapped potential within this sector. With 435 million motor vehicles reported on China’s roads in 2023, the need for new markets is evident due to the vast vehicle population and the rapid turnover of cars.

Policy support has played a critical role in the expansion of used car exports. In July 2023, measures to boost automobile consumption were introduced, including incentives for exporting used cars that meet specific quality standards. Subsequent guidelines and support measures were announced, culminating in a notice issued on Feb. 7 to expand used car export operations nationwide.


Number of registered nonprofit organizations in Saudi Arabia hits 4,656

Number of registered nonprofit organizations in Saudi Arabia hits 4,656
Updated 03 March 2024
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Number of registered nonprofit organizations in Saudi Arabia hits 4,656

Number of registered nonprofit organizations in Saudi Arabia hits 4,656

RIYADH: The total number of registered nonprofit organizations in Saudi Arabia has reached 4,656 with the addition of 85 new firms in the sector in February, official data showed.

The National Center for Non-Profit Sector also revealed that the total number of volunteers in 2024 reached more than 113,000 across various fields.

The center disclosed that the sector recorded more than 4 million volunteer hours and over 43,000 volunteering prospects.

The surge aligns with the center’s aim to organize, activate, and expand the role of nonprofit sector organizations in different fields.

Moreover, the growth in number confirms NCNPS endeavors to work on integrating government efforts in providing licensing services to these organizations, financial, administrative, and technical supervision of the sector, and increasing coordination and support.

The center also said warnings were issued to 11 civil society entities in 2024. Furthermore, it said one entity was directed to dismiss its board of directors, and two others were instructed to reconstitute their respective board of directors temporarily.

It also urged nonprofit organizations to increase collaboration with the center and compliance with the rules and regulations to ensure increased contribution to the Kingdom’s growth.

In June, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi lauded the Kingdom’s nonprofit sector for its work toward the realization of Saudi Vision 2030 goals.

Al-Rajhi said that the nonprofit sector played a significant role in national development, creating “sustainable impacts” and establishing robust partnerships with community institutions and individuals through the implementation of “many outstanding projects”, SPA said at the time.

Al-Rajhi, who is also chairman of the National Center for Non-Profit Sector, noted at the time that the expedited incorporation process for nonprofit organizations — which takes no more than four days, as opposed to 18 months previously — is “one of the most remarkable accomplishments” in the country’s recent history.


Saudi Arabia extends voluntary oil cut of 1m barrels per day until mid-2024

Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday it would extend oil supply cuts through June as part of a bid to stabilize prices. (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday it would extend oil supply cuts through June as part of a bid to stabilize prices. (Reuters)
Updated 03 March 2024
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Saudi Arabia extends voluntary oil cut of 1m barrels per day until mid-2024

Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday it would extend oil supply cuts through June as part of a bid to stabilize prices. (Reuters)
  • OPEC+ has implemented a series of output cuts since late 2022 to support the market
  • Saudi Arabia’s output will remain at around 9 million bpd

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday it would extend oil supply cuts through June as part of a bid to prop up prices.

An Energy Ministry source announced Riyadh “will extend its voluntary cut of 1 million barrels per day, which was implemented in July 2023, until the end of the second quarter of 2024,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The decision was taken in coordination with other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, to ensure stability of the global crude markets.

With the extension in the production cuts, Saudi Arabia’s output will remain at around 9 million bpd.

The cuts would be reversed gradually according to market conditions, the SPA said.

Russia will cut oil production and exports by an additional 471,000 bpd in the second quarter, in coordination with some OPEC+ participating countries, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said.

OPEC+ in November agreed to voluntary cuts totaling about 2.2 million bpd for the first quarter, led by Saudi Arabia rolling over its own voluntary cut.

OPEC+ members announce the cuts individually. Kuwait said it would cut its oil output by 135,000 bpd through June, while Algeria will curb its output by 51,000 bpd and Oman will reduce output by 42,000 bpd.

OPEC+ has implemented a series of output cuts since late 2022 to support the market.


Innovative minds descend on Riyadh to explore opportunities in tech sector

Innovative minds descend on Riyadh to explore opportunities in tech sector
Updated 03 March 2024
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Innovative minds descend on Riyadh to explore opportunities in tech sector

Innovative minds descend on Riyadh to explore opportunities in tech sector
  • Saudi Arabia is emerging globally as a priority economy, says Tahaluf CEO

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is gearing up for LEAP 2024, the world’s most-attended tech event, from March 4 to 7 at the Riyadh Exhibition and Convention Center in Malham.

The pre-event gathering on Feb 28 announced this year’s theme as “Into New Worlds,” which encompasses new opportunities, technologies, and capabilities in the tech sector.

The event is organized by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Tahaluf Co., the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones, and the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority, also known as Monsha’at.

CEO of Tahaluf Michael Champion told Arab News: “Into New Worlds showcases how technology can bring new horizons to different industries and create new opportunities, much of which we once thought unachievable.”

With artificial intelligence at the heart of LEAP, speakers will discuss its applications and impact, along with other innovations and emerging technologies across the four-day event.

LEAP 2024 will cover various topics across multiple stages, including the investor stage and main stage, with discussions on educational tech, retail tech, and fintech, as well as health tech, the fourth industrial revolution, future energy, and smart cities.

FASTFACTS

  • Over 600 startups and 172,000 people are expected to attend the conference, alongside more than 1,800 global tech exhibitors.
  • The event will feature over 1,000 international and local companies in the technology sector and more than 1,000 expert speakers from 180 countries.
  • LEAP 2024 will cover various topics across multiple stages, including the investor stage and main stage.
  • Discussions will be held on educational tech, retail tech, and fintech, as well as health tech, the fourth industrial revolution, future energy, and smart cities.

Over 600 startups and 172,000 people are expected to attend the conference, alongside more than 1,800 global tech exhibitors, such as Google, Microsoft, and Oracle, as well as Dell, Cisco, and Avaya.

SAP, ServiceNow, and Amazon Web Services will also be represented, alongside IBM, Alibaba, and Huawei.

The event will feature over 1,000 international and local companies in the technology sector and more than 1,000 expert speakers from 180 countries, and to accommodate this the 2024 venue is 170 percent larger than last year’s.

Saudi Arabia’s Vice Minister of Communications and Information Technology Haitham Al-Ohali is looking forward to welcoming thought leaders, influencers, investors, and innovators worldwide to LEAP.

“This edition arrives at a time when variables are accelerating, and generative artificial intelligence is a critical turning point at the economic and social levels,” said Al-Ohali.

Champion told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is emerging globally as a priority economy. For many, traveling to Riyadh will unveil a new world for them.

“We’re getting 70,000 registrations from abroad — business tourists, many of whom have never traveled to the Kingdom before,” said the CEO.

He said attendees can meet with key decision-makers through LEAP and create new partnerships.

Among the most prominent speakers and experts are Vice President & former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane; CEO and President of Ericsson Borje Ekholm; and Chairman and CEO of IBM Arvind Krishna.

Other global figures include Government Chief Data Officer at the Republic of Estonia Ott Velsberg; Chief AI Officer at Schneider Electric Philippe Rambach; President and CEO of Nokia Pekka Lundmark; and Martin Vilig, co-founder of Bolt.

Champion said: “These are massive, global companies and their CEOs are all coming to this event, and I believe this is a real testimony to how important people are seeing Saudi Arabia now as a change-maker when it comes to technology and investments.”

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha said that the third LEAP event will strengthen Saudi Arabia’s position as a hub for innovation and technology, attracting investment to this region.

There will be multiple memorandums of understanding signing stations all over the exhibition to facilitate agreements and deals.

“During LEAP, we announce billions of dollars of projects and significant MoU signings because we take seriously the need to use the event as a platform for business deals to happen,” said Champion.

The 2023 edition of the event saw more than $11 billion worth of deals and agreements reached, and its estimated 172,000 attendees helped cement LEAP as the biggest tech conference in the world.

The event will feature 10 stages discussing various aspects of technology, including health, education, and e-commerce. Among the 10, the main stage sessions will be aired live on LEAP 2024 social media platforms.

LEAP will host the investor stage, where the world’s top investors will discuss innovative investment opportunities. This stage will also address topics such as the intersection of technology with government policies and innovation, and successful financing strategies.

It will also feature the Startup Stage, where expert speakers such as Blossom Accelerator CEO and founder Emon Shakoor, Raiven Capital founding partner Supreet Singh Manchanda, and Adaverse founding partner Vincent Li will discuss startup growth and innovation.

The Rocket Fuel Pitch competition returns for Saudi and foreign startups, with prizes exceeding $1 million. Categories include the LEAP Award, worth $250,000 for the most outstanding startup across the whole competition; the Shooting Star Award, which allocates $150,000 for the early-stage startup beginning its journey; and the Aviatrix Award, which will see $150,000 given to the most innovative startup pioneered by women founders.

The Technology for Humanity Award will also come with a prize of $150,000, this time for the startup that best embodies the “tech for humanity” spirit of LEAP, while another $150,000 is given to the winner of the Into New Worlds Award for the most impressive startup occupying the Metaverse and Web 3.0 space,

The final $150,000 prize is part of the Artificial Intelligence Award for the startup that presents the most exciting, ground-breaking use of AI.

Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones CEO Muteb Al-Qani said that they are keen to present a special experience to the visitors, as we will gather top speakers and tech experts from around the world.

“This event has been created to empower technology globally; therefore, the upcoming edition brings together the largest tech companies, startups, and investors, all under one roof, which has the potential to lead to numerous investments and launches,” he said.


Closing bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,555 

Closing bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,555 
Updated 03 March 2024
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Closing bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,555 

Closing bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,555 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped on Sunday, losing 75.66 points, or 0.60 percent, to close at 12,555.20. 

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR8.19 billion ($2.18 billion) as 82 of the stocks advanced, while 134 retreated.   

On the other hand, the Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu rose 559.57 points, or 2.12 percent, to close at 26,962.39. This comes as 32 of the stocks advanced, while as many as 31 retreated. 

Meanwhile, the MSCI Tadawul Index slipped 14.06 points, or 0.87 percent, to close at 1,609.62. 

The best-performing stock of the day was Al-Rajhi Co. for Cooperative Insurance. The company’s share price surged 9.92 percent to SR93.10.  

Other top performers included Saudi Steel Pipe Co. as well as Middle East Pharmaceutical Industries Co.

Conversely, Mobile Telecommunication Co. Saudi Arabia, also known as Zain KSA, experienced the most significant decline, with its share price dropping by 6.31 percent to SR13.96. Other underperformers in the market were Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co. and Hail Cement Co. 

On the announcements front, Arabian Centres Co. has reported the successful completion of the offering of $500 million worth of US dollar-denominated Shariah-compliant sukuk. 

According to a statement from Tadawul, the company anticipates that the issuance will be credit-neutral. The proceeds from the issuance are intended for the refinancing of its 2019 sukuk, set to mature in November 2024. 

With a maturity of five years, the total number of sukuk stands at 2,500 with a par value of $200,000 and a return of 9.5 percent.  

Moreover, Zain KSA has announced its annual consolidated financial results for the year ending Dec. 31.  

A bourse filing revealed that the firm’s net profit reached SR1.26 billion, reflecting a 130 percent surge compared to the same period in 2022.  

The rise is primarily attributed to the company achieving its highest-ever revenues, totaling SR9.9 billion in 2023, marking an 8.9 percent growth compared to 2022. This surge in revenue resulted in a 7 percent increase in the cost of revenue. 

In addition to this, gross profit increased by 10 percent, representing SR541 million, as a result of the growth in the high-margin segments. 

Furthermore, Saudi Real Estate Co. also announced its annual financial results for the year 2023. According to a Tadawul statement, the company’s net profit hit SR67.6 million in the period ending on Dec. 31, down 38.82 percent in comparison to 2022 figures.  

The drop is mainly attributed to an increase in financial charges by SR96 million due to the significant rise in interest rates as well as a climb in net losses in one of the subsidiaries due to the recording of extraordinary losses of SR46 million in one of its projects.