COP28 — a step in the right direction

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COP28 — a step in the right direction

COP28 — a step in the right direction
COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber speaks during a plenary session at the UN Climate Summit in Dubai on Dec. 13, 2023. (AP)
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Negotiators at COP28 reached a consensus to eventually transition away from fossil fuels to reach net zero by 2050. They burned the midnight oil to deliver a final deal after the official end of the conference. That is nothing new in the delicate multilateral negotiations at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

This year’s UN climate talks were held in Dubai with Sultan Al-Jaber as its president. Despite criticism by many Western nations and nongovernmental organizations for his association with the oil sector, Al-Jaber proved that he could deliver a deal with which most countries could live. We should not forget that while Al-Jaber is the CEO of the state oil company ADNOC, he is also chairman of Masdar, the UAE’s renewables champion. 

Up until Tuesday, when the conference was supposed to end, it looked very much that common language could not be found. The sticking point was how to word an eventual phasing out of the use of fossil fuel. The overall goal of the UNFCCC is to achieve the Paris goal of limiting global warming to 1.5℃ above pre-industrial times. 

The latest statistic, which was released in the World Meteorological Organisation’s Provisional State of the Global Climate Report 2023, showed that during the first 10 months of the year, temperatures were at disconcerting 1.4 ℃ above pre-industrial levels might have helped bring a sense of urgency to the negotiations.

In the end, negotiators agreed on the following language: “Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net-zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.” 

Both oil and gas-producing nations and the “climate hawks” hailing from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and NGOs could live with this language. The wording was hard fought over. Nobody was 100 percent happy, but such is the nature of a compromise, everybody gets something and nobody gets everything.

So, what does this deal mean? 

German climate envoy Jennifer Morgan pointed out that the deal will send a signal to investors. On the one hand, this is good. There may, however, also be an inherent danger in how investors feel incentivized by the deal. The world still needs fossil fuels (particularly gas) during the transition. If the sector is starved of capital resulting in a lack of barrels and or BTUs, it may hinder the quest for development and the fight against energy poverty — particularly in parts of the Global South.

This is where the quest for a “just and orderly energy transition” comes in.

This COP28 was the most inclusive of all the COPs held since the inception of the conference of the parties (which is what the acronym stands for) as it brought the fossil fuel industry to the table. It is important to treat all industries as part of the solution and not singling out one as the enemy.

Cornelia Meyer

There was the goal to triple renewable power and double energy efficiency by the end of the decade, which is no small feat, but which might have helped bring some of the OECD nations over the line. The negotiators also acknowledged nuclear energy and carbon capture utilization and storage had a role to play.

This COP28 was the most inclusive of all the COPs held since the inception of the conference of the parties (which is what the acronym stands for) as it brought the fossil fuel industry to the table. It is important to treat all industries as part of the solution and not singling out one as the enemy. Climate change is the global problem of our generation and as such deserves truly global, inclusive, and interdisciplinary solutions.

We will not achieve eradicating energy poverty, providing energy security to all, and saving the environment without getting all the relevant players in the room.

This also pertains to the North-South debate: Equity and fairness are very important in terms of ensuring that the Global South is given the space to develop its economies and bring people out of energy poverty. By 2050, the world’s population will have grown by 2 billion and they will live in the Global South.

The loss and damages fund aiming at supporting the most vulnerable countries in dealing with the effects of climate change is important in that context as is the fact that for the first-time developed countries lived up to their promise of a yearly contribution of $100 billion toward helping developing nations with energy transition — a drop in the ocean, but still better than what has been achieved before.

Furthermore, while tripling renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency are laudable goals and working toward eventually phasing out fossil fuels may sound good to some. All of the above depends on countries and organizations not just talking the talk but also walking it. The Glasgow promises to phase out coal did not bear fruit. As a matter of fact, coal consumption has increased since 2021.

This brings us to the last point. All countries need to contribute equitably. India and China’s net-zero goals are 2070 and 2060 respectively. They are both large emitters and their collaboration will be needed to reach the ambitious goals set out in this year’s COP communique.

There is a North-South divide on how nations prioritize climate change and economic considerations. That divide could be narrowed at this COP, but let there be no mistake — it still exists.

Cornelia Meyer is a Ph.D.level macroeconomist, energy expert and CEO of Meyer Resources, a business consultancy.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view

Gunmen kill 7 customs officials in western Pakistan in two attacks

Gunmen kill 7 customs officials in western Pakistan in two attacks
Updated 27 sec ago
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Gunmen kill 7 customs officials in western Pakistan in two attacks

Gunmen kill 7 customs officials in western Pakistan in two attacks
  • No group has yet claimed responsibility for the two attacks since Thursday
  • A recent surge in attacks in Pakistan has soured its relations with Afghanistan 

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Unknown gunmen killed two customs officers in western Pakistan, officials said on Sunday, following the killing of five other customs officials in the area in recent days.

No group has claimed responsibility for the two attacks since Thursday, which police said they were investigating.

Security in regions of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan has deteriorated in recent years. Attacks, some claimed by the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) militant group, have risen, mostly targeting police and security officials.

“Customs officials were present for checks... when unknown persons opened fire,” said the district deputy superintendent of police, Muhammad Adnan, adding that two people were injured and the area on a busy highway had been cordoned off.

“Three days ago, five officials, including an officer, of the customs department, were killed in a shooting in the same area and the attackers escaped,” he said.

The rise in attacks has escalated tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban administration.

Pakistan, saying militants have been using Afghan territory to launch attacks, has called on the Taliban to take action and carried out an airstrike last month on Afghan territory.

The Taliban have denied allowing the use of Afghan soil for militancy and said Pakistan’s security issues are a domestic issue for Islamabad.


From Karachi to Mumbai, 130-year-old Indian restaurant traces history to pre-partition era

From Karachi to Mumbai, 130-year-old Indian restaurant traces history to pre-partition era
Updated 13 min 38 sec ago
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From Karachi to Mumbai, 130-year-old Indian restaurant traces history to pre-partition era

From Karachi to Mumbai, 130-year-old Indian restaurant traces history to pre-partition era
  • Opened in 1895 in Karachi, Bhagat Tarachand has over 25 branches in India
  • Founder’s family migrated to Mumbai upon the partition of British Raj in 1947

New Delhi/Karachi: Some of the first dishes cooked at the Bhagat Tarachand restaurant were the potato curries that Prakash Chawla’s grandfather prepared at a small eatery in 19th-century Karachi. Nearly 130 years later, they are still on the menu, albeit across the border in Mumbai.

Established by Tarachand Chawla in 1895, the restaurant started in the seaside megalopolis and the capital of what is now the Pakistani province of Sindh.

It served simple meals of Sindhi roti — wheat-flour bread spiced with onions and ghee — and seasonal vegetables.

Initially nameless, Chawla’s eatery soon became known by his name and the honorific “bhagat” (a noble man) that people added to it in reverence.

“My grandfather was a generous man, and he wouldn’t let anyone go hungry, whether that person had money or not. That way ‘bhagat’ was added to his name,” Prakash told Arab News.

Bhagat Tarachand died in Karachi in 1942, a few years before the partition of the British Raj.

In 1947, when it was split into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan, his sons, including Prakash’s father, Khemchand, moved to Mumbai on the Indian side — some 900 km away.

The family became part of one of the biggest migrations in history, which forced about 15 million people to swap countries in a political upheaval that cost more than a million lives.

“It was not an easy beginning after moving to India, with my father struggling to establish the restaurant in Zaveri Bazaar,” Prakash said. “It was just a six-table eatery.”

Since then the restaurant has been officially known as Bhagat Tarachand, in memory of its founder.

Once the business started to flourish, Khemchand’s brothers opened other branches. He remained at the original location in the historical Mumbai gold market, where Prakash started to work at the age of 19.

Nearly half a century later, he is still leading the business, having expanded it into a four-story restaurant and added new dishes to the menu.

Now one of India’s leading vegetarian restaurants, Bhagat Tarachand has 25 branches led by Prakash and his cousins across the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The most popular meal at his outlets is a vegetarian platter.

“In the veggie platter, we give three types of vegetables, lentils, chapati, rice or pilav, as per your choice, one sweet dish, one crispy item, and a pickle,” he said. “It is sufficient for two people”.

Some other flavors have been there since the Karachi times: aloo matar — potato and pea curry; and aloo methi — potato and fenugreek curry.

“Those are some of the oldest dishes that we’ve been serving since at least my father remembers,” said Vishal Chawla, Prakash’s son, who helps him run the business.

“When my great-grandfather ran the restaurant, my grandfather, and even to a certain extent my father, there was no menu card. They used to write just the dish of the day ... It depended on, you know, what were the fresh vegetables available in the market.”

Setting sights on expansion to the UAE and Singapore, both of which have significant Indian diasporas, Vishal has also been thinking about his ancestral city.

But as long as India and Pakistan have a complicated relationship, even obtaining a visa is not easy. One of his uncles has already tried, but to no avail.

“I hope that our countries have better relations in the future, at least in my lifetime ... And if that becomes a possibility, I would love to reconnect with the roots of this restaurant,” he said.

“From the perspective of our restaurant and family, they are all proud that they are able to continue this legacy.”


From Karachi to Mumbai, 130-year-old Indian restaurant traces history to pre-partition era

From Karachi to Mumbai, 130-year-old Indian restaurant traces history to pre-partition era
Updated 22 min 24 sec ago
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From Karachi to Mumbai, 130-year-old Indian restaurant traces history to pre-partition era

From Karachi to Mumbai, 130-year-old Indian restaurant traces history to pre-partition era
  • Opened in 1895 in Karachi, Bhagat Tarachand has over 25 branches in India
  • Founder’s family migrated to Mumbai upon the partition of British Raj in 1947

NEW DELHI/KARACHI: Some of the oldest dishes at the Bhagat Tarachand restaurant are the potato curries that Prakash Chawla’s grandfather had cooked at a small eatery in 19th-century Karachi. Nearly 130 years later, they are still on the menu, although across the border, in Mumbai.

Established by Tarachand Chawla in 1895, the restaurant started in the seaside megapolis and the capital of what is now the Pakistani province of Sindh.

It served simple meals of Sindhi roti — wheat flour bread spiced with onions and ghee — and seasonal vegetables.

Initially nameless, Chawla’s eatery soon became known after his name and the honorific “bhagat” (a noble man) that people had added to it in reverence.

“My grandfather was a generous man, and he wouldn’t let anyone go hungry, whether that person had money or not. That way ‘bhagat’ was added to his name,” Prakash told Arab News.

Bhagat Tarachand died in Karachi in 1942, a few years before the partition of the British Raj.

The undated file photo shows the chole bhatura platter from the menu of Bhagat Tarachand restaurant. (Photo courtesy: Bhagat Tarachand)

In 1947, when it was split into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan, his sons, including Prakash’s father, Khemchand, moved to Mumbai on the Indian side — some 900 km away.

The family became part of one of the biggest migrations in history, which forced about 15 million people to swap countries in a political upheaval that cost more than a million lives.
 
“It was not an easy beginning after moving to India, with my father struggling to establish the restaurant in Zaveri Bazaar,” Prakash said. “It was just a six-table eatery.”

The restaurant has since been officially known as Bhagat Tarachand, in memory of its founder.

Once the business started to flourish, Khemchand’s brothers opened different branches. He remained at the original location in the historical Mumbai gold market, where Prakash started to work at the age of 19.

Nearly half a century later, he is still leading the business, has expanded it into a four-story restaurant, and new dishes to the menu.

Now one of India’s leading vegetarian restaurants, Bhagat Tarachand has 25 branches led by Prakash and his cousins across the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The most popular meal at his outlets is a vegetarian platter.

The undated file photo shows popular items from the menu of Bhagat Tarachand restaurant. (Photo courtesy: Bhagat Tarachand)

“In the vege platter, we give three types of vegetables, lentils, chapati, rice or pilav, as per your choice, one sweet dish, one crispy item, and a pickle,” he said. “It is sufficient for two people”.

Some other flavors have been there since the Karachi times: aloo matar — potato and pea curry — and aloo methi — potato and fenugreek curry.

“Those are some of the oldest dishes that we’ve been serving since at least my father remembers,” said Vishal Chawla, Prakash’s son, who helps him run the business.

“When my great-grandfather ran the restaurant, my grandfather, and even to a certain extent my father, there was no menu card. They used to write just the dish of the day ... It depended on, you know, what were the fresh vegetables available in the market.”

Setting sights on expansion to the UAE and Singapore, both of which have significant Indian diasporas, Vishal has been also thinking about his ancestral city.

But as long as India and Pakistan have a complicated relationship, even obtaining a visa is not easy. One of his uncles has already tried, but to no avail.

“I hope that our countries have better relations in the future, at least in my lifetime ... And if that becomes a possibility, I would love to reconnect with the roots of this restaurant,” he said.

“From the perspective of our restaurant and family, they are all proud that they are able to continue this legacy.”


IMF concerned about debt, fiscal challenges facing low-income countries 

IMF concerned about debt, fiscal challenges facing low-income countries 
Updated 33 min 53 sec ago
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IMF concerned about debt, fiscal challenges facing low-income countries 

IMF concerned about debt, fiscal challenges facing low-income countries 

WASHINGTON: Shareholders of the International Monetary Fund agreed this week on the importance of addressing challenges faced by low-income countries, many of which are facing unsustainable debt burdens, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Friday. 

Multiple reports from the IMF and the World Bank this week sounded the alarm about economic developments and prospects in low-income developing countries, which are still grappling with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and other shocks. 

The IMF lowered its 2024 growth forecast for low-income countries as a group to 4.7 percent from an estimate of 4.9 percent in January. In a separate report, the World Bank said half of the world’s 75 poorest countries were experiencing a widening income gap with the wealthiest economies for the first time this century in a historical reversal of development. 

Georgieva said the IMF was working to reinforce its ability to support low-income countries hit hardest by recent shocks, including through a 50 percent quota share increase and by adding resources to its Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust. 

Georgieva and Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan, who chairs the IMF’s steering committee, both said internal reforms adopted by the IMF this week should help make the debt restructuring process speedier and smoother. 

Georgieva said a meeting of the Global Sovereign Debt Roundtable hosted by the IMF and the World Bank this week had made progress on setting timelines for debt restructurings and ensuring comparability of treatment for various creditors. 

She said high debt levels posed a huge burden for low-income countries, including many in Sub-Saharan Africa, where countries are now facing debt service payments of 12 percent on average, compared to 5 percent a decade ago. High interest rates in advanced economies have lured away investments, and raised the cost of borrowing. 

“What is heartbreaking is that in some countries debt payments are up to 20 percent of revenues,” Georgieva said, adding that this meant those countries had far fewer resources to invest in education, health, infrastructure and jobs. 

Affected countries needed to increase their domestic revenues by raising taxes, continuing to fight inflation, paring back spending and developing local capital markets, she said. 

The Bulgarian economist said it was vital for these countries to make themselves more attractive to investors, and said the IMF was engaging with countries to help them do that. 

Iolanda Fresnillo, with the non-profit European Network on Debt and Development, said the UN should implement a new multilateral legal framework to deal with sovereign debt, in a similar way that is currently being done for a new framework to govern tax cooperation. 

The current approach is too piecemeal and a broader framework should take into account climate change, environmental degradation and human rights, she said. 

US Treasury Undersecretary Jay Shambaugh raised concerns about the situation facing low-income countries last week, warning China and other emerging official creditors against free-riding by curtailing loans to low-income countries just as the IMF or multilateral development banks were pouring funds in. 

Almost 40 countries saw external public debt outflows in 2022, and the flows likely worsened in 2023, he said.


Pakistan’s iconic former bureaucrat Roedad Khan passes away at 101

Pakistan’s iconic former bureaucrat Roedad Khan passes away at 101
Updated 21 April 2024
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Pakistan’s iconic former bureaucrat Roedad Khan passes away at 101

Pakistan’s iconic former bureaucrat Roedad Khan passes away at 101
  • Roedad Khan served with five presidents and three prime ministers during his lengthy career in civil service 
  • Khan entered civil service in 1949 and served as secretary of various ministries and adviser to prime minister

ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistani bureaucrat Roedad Khan passed away on Sunday at the age of 101, marking the end of a civil servant who had witnessed the country’s various political ups and downs since it gained independence in 1947. 

Khan, who passed away in Islamabad, will be laid to rest after the midday Zuhr prayers at the H-11 graveyard in the city, local media reports said. 

“Roedad Khan passed away today at 101,” veteran journalist and anchor Hamid Mir wrote on social media platform X. 

Senior politician Mushahid Hussain Syed paid tribute to Khan in a post on X, referring to him as a “national icon and legend.”

“He lived a full life of service to Pakistan during our tumultuous periods + post-retirement,” Syed wrote, crediting him for authoring several books and championing human rights. 

“Truly a unique, multifaceted personality of our times! He will be missed by his countless admirers!“

 Khan was born on September 28, 1923, in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Mardan before the country gained its independence from British colonial India in 1947. After entering the Pakistan Civil Service in 1949, Khan’s distinguished career as a bureaucrat allowed him to serve in many prestigious roles. 

He served as the chief secretary of Pakistan’s southern Sindh province and the chief secretary of KP and was also appointed as the managing director of the state-owned Pakistan Television. He also served as the secretary of the ministries of information, labor, tourism and interior throughout various governments. 

Khan also served as the secretary-general of the interior ministry and as a former adviser to the prime minister. 

The Pakistani civil servant served with five presidents and three former prime ministers, allowing him to be a witness to the country’s political upheavals. 

He turned 100 last year on September 28, 2023.