Delegates at UN climate talks in Dubai agree to ‘transition away’ from planet-warming fossil fuels

Update Delegates at UN climate talks in Dubai agree to ‘transition away’ from planet-warming fossil fuels
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COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber gaveled approval of the central document without asking for comments, within minutes of opening Wednesday’ session. (AFP)
Update Delegates at UN climate talks in Dubai agree to ‘transition away’ from planet-warming fossil fuels
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Discussions during the 14 days of talks in Dubai revolved around how far to go and whether to make a historic call to wind down oil, gas and coal, the main culprits in the planet’s rapid warming. (Reuters)
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Updated 13 December 2023
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Delegates at UN climate talks in Dubai agree to ‘transition away’ from planet-warming fossil fuels

Delegates at UN climate talks in Dubai agree to ‘transition away’ from planet-warming fossil fuels
  • COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber: ‘We have language on fossil fuel in our final agreement for the first time ever’

DUBAI: United Nations climate negotiators directed the world on Wednesday to transition away from planet-warming fossil fuels in a move the talks chief called historic, despite critics’ worries about loopholes.

Within minutes of opening Wednesday’s session, COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber gaveled approval of the central document — the global stocktake that says how off-track the world is on climate and how it will get back on track — without asking for comments. Delegates stood and hugged each other.

“It is a plan that is led by the science,’’ Al-Jaber said. “It is an enhanced, balanced, but make no mistake, a historic package to accelerate climate action. It is the UAE consensus.”

“We have language on fossil fuel in our final agreement for the first time ever,” said Al-Jaber, who’s also CEO of the UAE’s oil company.

United Nations Climate Secretary Simon Stiell told delegates their efforts were “needed to signal a hard stop to humanity’s core climate problem: fossil fuels and that planet-burning pollution. Whilst we didn’t turn the page on the fossil fuel era in Dubai, this outcome is the beginning of the end.”

 

 

Stiell cautioned people that what they adopted was a “climate action lifeline, not a finish line.”

The new deal had been floated early Wednesday and was stronger than a draft proposed days earlier, but had loopholes that upset critics. Analysts and delegates wondered if there was going to be a floor fight over details, but Al-Jaber acted quickly, not giving critics a chance to even clear their throats.

Several minutes later, Samoa’s lead delegate Anne Rasmussen, on behalf of small island nations, complained that they weren’t even in the room when Al-Jaber said the deal was done. She said that “the course correction that is needed has not been secured,” with the deal representing business-as-usual instead of exponential emissions-cutting efforts. She said the deal could “potentially take us backward rather than forward.”

When Rasmussen finished, delegates whooped, applauded and stood, as Al-Jaber frowned and then eventually joined the standing ovation that stretched longer than his plaudits. Marshall Islands delegates hugged and cried.

The European Union’s delegation, which stood with small island nations in fighting for stronger language to rid the world of fossil fuels, instead celebrated the agreement as historic.

“I am in awe of the spirit of cooperation that has brought everybody together,” United States Special Envoy John Kerry said. He said it shows that multilateralism can still work despite what the globe sees with wars in Ukraine and the Middle East. “This document sends very strong messages to the world.”

 

 

The deal also includes a call for tripling the use of renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency. Earlier in the talks, the conference adopted a special fund for poor nations hurt by climate change and nations put nearly $800 million in the fund.

“Many, many people here would have liked clearer language” on getting rid of fossil fuels, Kerry said. But he said it’s a compromise.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that “for the first time, the outcome recognizes the need to transition away from fossil fuels.”

“The era of fossil fuels must end – and it must end with justice and equity,” he said.

The deal doesn’t go so far as to seek a “phase-out” of fossil fuels, which more than 100 nations, like small island states and European nations, had pleaded for. Instead, it calls for “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade.”

The deal says that the transition would be done in a way that gets the world to net zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 and follows the dictates of climate science. It projects a world peaking its ever-growing carbon pollution by the year 2025 to reach its agreed-upon threshold, but gives wiggle room to individual nations like China to peak later.

Intensive sessions with all sorts of delegates went well into the small hours of Wednesday morning after the conference presidency’s initial document angered many countries by avoiding decisive calls for action on curbing warming. Then, the United Arab Emirates-led presidency presented delegates from nearly 200 nations a new central document — called the global stocktake — just after sunrise.

It was the third version presented in about two weeks and the word “oil” does not appear anywhere in the 21-page document, but “fossil fuels” appears twice.

“This is the first time in 28 years that countries are forced to deal with fossil fuels,” Center for Biological Diversity energy justice director Jean Su said. “So that is a general win. But the actual details in this are severely flawed.”

“The problem with the text is that it still includes cavernous loopholes that allow the United States and other fossil fuel producing countries to keep going on their expansion of fossil fuels,” Su said. “There’s a pretty deadly, fatal flaw in the text, which allows for transitional fuels to continue” which is a code word for natural gas that also emits carbon pollution.


WEF warns of political risk, says global economy is brightening

WEF warns of political risk, says global economy is brightening
Updated 9 sec ago
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WEF warns of political risk, says global economy is brightening

WEF warns of political risk, says global economy is brightening
  • Cautioned optimism underscores challenges for businesses and policymakers
  • MENA region expected to improve despite regional political tensions

LONDON: The World Economic Forum said on Wednesday that the global economy is poised to improve or remain stable this year, but it also warned of potential dangers stemming from geopolitical and domestic tensions.

“The latest Chief Economists Outlook points to welcome but tentative signs of improvement in the global economic climate,” said Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the WEF.

“This underscores the increasingly complex landscape that leaders are navigating. There is an urgent need for policymaking that not only looks to revive the engines of the global economy but also seeks to put in place the foundations of more inclusive, sustainable and resilient growth.”

The report highlighted that while the proportion of economists who feel optimistic about the economic outlook nearly doubled from the previous survey conducted in January, 97 percent of respondents anticipate that geopolitics will contribute to global economic volatility this year.

Furthermore, 83 percent said domestic politics would be a source of volatility in 2024, a year when nearly half the world’s population will be voting.

Experts predicted a positive outlook for the US and Asian economies, driven by decreasing inflation and robust markets.

The Middle East and North Africa region is also expected to experience moderate growth, with slight improvements since the previous survey, despite unstable political developments due to the ongoing Gaza conflict.

Despite escalating challenges for businesses and policymakers, the report identified technological transformation, artificial intelligence, and the green and energy transitions as key contributors to global growth, also driven by looser or unchanged fiscal and monetary policies.

“Despite some brightening of the near-term growth outlook, the latest results point to growing challenges for businesses and policymakers,” the WEF said in a press release.

“However, the views on the long-term prospects for the global economy are encouraging, with many policy opportunities to boost growth across high and low-income economies.”


Closing bell: TASI closes in green to reach 11,696 points 

Closing bell: TASI closes in green to reach 11,696 points 
Updated 47 min 14 sec ago
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Closing bell: TASI closes in green to reach 11,696 points 

Closing bell: TASI closes in green to reach 11,696 points 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index rose on Wednesday, gaining 36.57 points, or 0.31 percent, to close at 11,696.51. 

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR5.3 billion ($1.651 billion) as 128 of the listed stocks advanced, while 89 retreated.    

Similarly, the MSCI Tadawul Index increased by 11.40 points, or 0.79 percent, to close at 1,460.84. 

The Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu climbed by 68.14 points, or 0.26 percent, to close at 26,302.93. This comes as 24 of the listed stocks advanced while as many as 37 retreated.  

The top-performing stock of the day was the Saudi National Bank, with its share price surging by 5.76 percent to SR34.90. 

Other standout performers included The Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Co., and Anaam International Holding Group, whose share prices soared by 4.98 percent and 4.59 percent, reaching SR27.40 and SR1.14, respectively.  

Saudi Chemical Co. and National Medical Care Co. also showed notable performance. 

The worst performer was the National Co. for Glass Industries, whose share price dropped by 4.31 percent to SR41.05. 

Other underperformers included Al-Babtain Power and Telecommunication Co., as well as Saudi Pharmaceutical Industries and Medical Appliances Corp., whose share prices dropped by 3.77 percent and 3.59 percent, to stand at SR37.05 and SR32.20, respectively.  

Additional laggards in the market were Thob Al Aseel Co. and CHUBB Arabia Cooperative Insurance Co. 

In the parallel market, Nomu, Knowledge Net Co. was the top gainer, with its share price surging by 15.97 percent to SR30.5. 

Other top gainers in the parallel market were Shatirah House Restaurant Co. and Nofoth Food Products Co., with their share prices surging by 8.70 percent and 7.23 percent to reach SR12 and SR19.28, respectively. 

Miral Dental Clinics Co. was the major loser on Nomu, as its share price slipped 10 percent to SR90.  

Osool and Bakheet Investment Co. and Al-Modawat Specialized Medical Co. were other major losers on Nomu. Their share prices dropped by 9.50 percent and 7.23 percent, reaching SR40 and SR154, respectively. 


Saudi firms launch $365m fund to boost real estate development in Eastern Province

Saudi firms launch $365m fund to boost real estate development in Eastern Province
Updated 29 May 2024
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Saudi firms launch $365m fund to boost real estate development in Eastern Province

Saudi firms launch $365m fund to boost real estate development in Eastern Province

RIYADH: Real estate development in the Eastern Province is set to receive a boost as two Saudi firms agree to launch a fund worth SR1.37 billion ($365 million) to drive investment in the sector.

Mohammed Al-Nahdi Real Estate and Alinma Investment, the investment arm of Alinma Bank, have announced the launch of the Alinma-Al-Nahdi Real Estate Fund, a property reserve to develop prime land strategically situated in the Eastern Province spanning an area of over 1.6 million sq. m.

In a statement, Abdullah bin Salmeen Al-Nahdi, CEO of Mohammed Al Nahdi Real Estate, emphasized that the fund’s launch reflects his company’s dedication to shaping the Kingdom’s property landscape.

He also underscored his firm’s dedication to enriching its investment portfolio by introducing unique projects to address the housing needs outlined in Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision.

The CEO explained that his property firm will develop the land to become the premier destination for housing and real estate investment in the EP. 

This development will encompass integrated residential communities, public buildings, commercial zones, and entertainment areas. It aims to provide a comfortable and safe residential environment for citizens while enhancing the region’s quality of life.

Al-Nahdi pointed out that the sales permit has been issued, and the project will be sold in stages during the implementation works. This will allow investors and buyers to benefit from diverse and flexible ownership options that suit their needs and aspirations.

The CEO highlighted that the sales permit has been issued, and the project will be progressively released during the implementation phase. 

Mazin Fawaz Baghdadi, CEO and managing director at Alinma Investment, said that the fund’s investment objective is to achieve medium-term capital growth through direct investments in the Kingdom’s real estate sector.

Additionally, Baghdadi emphasized the significant role of real estate development funds as tools that stimulate investment and increase the supply of established land through developmental and urban projects in the Eastern Province.

He stressed that this initiative aligns with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 by boosting the supply of housing units.

As per the announcement, the land is situated along King Abdulaziz Road and GCC Road in Dhahran, adjacent to the Ajyal residential district, one of Saudi Aramco’s major model housing developments. 

This strategic location facilitates convenient access to key landmarks in Dammam, Alkhobar, and Dhahran.

Headquartered in Alkhobar and founded in 1993, Mohammed Al-Nahdi Real Estate is a property company with a rich portfolio of notable projects.

According to its website, Alinma Investment is a Saudi closed joint stock firm that was established by Alinma Bank with a capital of SR1 billion and a paid-up capital of SR500 million.

The business is a leading provider of a comprehensive range of Shariah-compliant investment products and services, utilizing the latest advancements in communication and advanced technological systems.


PIF’s Neo Space Group, SES partner to revolutionize inflight connectivity

PIF’s Neo Space Group, SES partner to revolutionize inflight connectivity
Updated 29 May 2024
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PIF’s Neo Space Group, SES partner to revolutionize inflight connectivity

PIF’s Neo Space Group, SES partner to revolutionize inflight connectivity

RIYADH: Airlines will now experience uninterrupted connectivity services via the aviation industry’s first open-architecture, multi-orbit global network powered by regional partners including Neo Space Group — a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

Luxembourg-based satellite telecommunications company SES has announced a collaboration with several regional operators to launch its inflight network, promising seamless global connectivity for airlines.

According to a press release, this Ka-band platform will merge the geostationary earth orbit and medium earth orbit satellite networks of SES including Neo Space Group, AeroSat Link, a subsidiary of China Satcom, and Hughes Communications India.

The SES Open Orbits initiative aims to integrate regional satellite coverage into a global inflight connectivity service, allowing airline passengers uninterrupted connectivity. 

This technology is designed to link global and regional satellites to offer consistent inflight internet, enhancing the experience with high-quality video, data, and communication services comparable to ground-based offerings.

The Global Head of Aviation for SES, Elias Zaccack, emphasized the transformative potential of SES Open Orbits, stating: “By spearheading the creation of SES Open Orbits using an open architecture that supports multiple orbits and multiple waveforms, SES is enabling more satellite operators and inflight service providers to participate in the global market for inflight connectivity.”

Philippe Carette, head of the aerospace segment at PIF, expressed enthusiasm for NSG’s involvement, saying: “NSG is excited to be among the first global partners to join the SES Open Orbits inflight connectivity network.”

NSG was established in May to invest in local and international assets and capabilities, as well as promising venture capital opportunities, to catalyze the advancement and localization of sector-specific expertise. 

The company will contribute to the development and deployment of the latest cutting-edge technologies in the space industry through its four dedicated business segments: satellite communications, earth observation and remote sensing, satellite navigation and Internet of Things, as well as a satellite and space-focused venture capital fund.

China Satcom Vice President Yufei Shen noted the significance of SES’ partnership for the Asia-Pacific region, stating: “Connecting flights over, in, and out of China, and throughout the Asia-Pacific region is extremely important to most major airlines around the world. China Satcom is extremely pleased to partner with SES to help bring a whole new level of inflight connectivity by leveraging our Ka-band network.”

Shivaji Chatterjee, CEO, president, and managing director of HCI, added: “We will also bring our deep experience in providing end-to-end connectivity services in multiple verticals to our partnership with SES to help ensure the best possible passenger experience to airlines using this exciting, first-of-its-kind inflight connectivity network.”

As a managed service provider of Airbus’ HBCplus program, SES Open Orbits will also be accessible to participating airlines. Additionally, SES is working with Safran Passenger Innovations to offer SES Open Orbits on Boeing aircraft through the Boeing TSA process.

This collaboration represents a major step forward for the inflight process, aiming to enhance passenger experiences by delivering reliable, high-quality connectivity worldwide.


Saudi economy shines amid low inflation rates and Vision 2030 success: official report

Saudi economy shines amid low inflation rates and Vision 2030 success: official report
Updated 43 min 27 sec ago
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Saudi economy shines amid low inflation rates and Vision 2030 success: official report

Saudi economy shines amid low inflation rates and Vision 2030 success: official report

RIYADH: The Saudi economy has demonstrated resilience, marked by sustained growth in non-oil sectors and a globally low annual inflation rate of 1.6 percent, as per an official report. 

This was highlighted during the latest meeting of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, where discussions covered crucial reports and topics. 

Among these was the Ministry of Economy and Planning’s quarterly analysis of international and local economic performance in the first quarter of 2024. The analysis delved into global economic growth trends and their potential implications for the Kingdom. 

Meanwhile, the council, also known as CEDA, reviewed the Strategic Management Office’s 2023 report on the achievements of targets set by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, highlighting the significant progress made. By 2023, 87 percent of Vision 2030 initiatives were either completed or on track, surpassing the performance of 2022. 

Additionally, the Ministry of Health presented progress updates on two pivotal initiatives: the establishment of the Health Holding Co. and the Center for National Health Insurance. These initiatives are integral to the ministry’s healthcare transformation plan, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The presentation outlined the health ministry’s strategic ambitions, including goals, essential implementation stages, and the embrace of a contemporary healthcare paradigm.  

This innovative approach has widened access to healthcare services, improved their caliber and efficacy, and strengthened preventive measures against medical hazards. 

Moreover, the presentation highlighted the successful completion of the inaugural phase of the strategy, with 20 health clusters established across Saudi Arabia by the end of 2023. 

The SMO’s report also highlighted notable accomplishments, program evaluations, and an overall performance summary, along with ongoing efforts and future aspirations for 2024.  

The analysis emphasized the ongoing transformation efforts driven by the vision, which have demonstrably achieved and even surpassed the 2023 goals concerning the vision’s three aspects: a vibrant society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation. 

CEDA issued pertinent decisions and recommendations concerning all the topics addressed during the meeting.  

Under the Council of Ministers, CEDA aims to establish the governance, mechanisms, and measures necessary to achieve Saudi Vision 2030, addressing issues spanning all domestic matters, from health to labor to education and Islamic affairs.