Connect with us

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

The social aspect of biodiversity reduction in Brazil

Published

on

The social aspect of biodiversity reduction in Brazil
Spread the love

This year saw another steady stream of UN-backed reports reinforcing a stark message: man-made climate change is an urgent and even existential threat to life on Earth. Will the international community’s efforts to tackle the crisis, as seen at the COP26 UN Climate Conference, result in meaningful action? 

Heading into uncharted territory

To avoid catastrophic climate change, global temperatures rises need to be kept to a maximum of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, but the odds of the world getting hotter in the next five years continue to increase.

The World Meteorological Organisation’s (WMO) flagship State of the Global Climate report warned in April that the global average temperature had already risen by about 1.2 degrees, and a UN Environment study in October revealed that, unless commitments to cut harmful greenhouse gas emissions are not improved, the world is on track to warm by 2.7 degrees this century. 

Several more reports from UN agencies showed that greenhouse gas concentrations are at record levels, and that the planet is on a path towards dangerous overheating, with worrying repercussions likely for current and future generations.

The consequences of climate change, include more frequent extreme weather events, and there were many more of them this year, such as the catastrophic flooding in several western European countries that led to several deaths in July, and devastating wildfires in Mediterranean countries and Russia, in August.

Data from the WMO shows that, over the past few decades, the surge in natural disasters has disproportionately affected poorer countries and, last year, contributed to mounting food insecurity, poverty and displacement in Africa.

Bearing the brunt

Paradoxically, the countries suffering most from the climate crisis are also those that are least responsible for creating it, a point made with increasing stridency governments and activists, who have helped to push the topic of adaptation higher up the agenda.

Adaptation is a key pillar of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. It aims to reduce different countries and communities’ vulnerability to climate change by increasing their ability to absorb impacts.

However, with time running out for some, particularly Small Island Developing States which risk being submerged by rising sea levels, a gulf in the financing needed to protect them remains.

A key UN Environment (UNEP) report in November pointed out that even if countries were to turn the emissions tap off today, climate impacts would remain, for decades to come. “We need a step change in adaptation ambition for funding and implementation to significantly reduce damages and losses from climate change,” said UNEP chief Inger Andersen. “And we need it now.”  

Fossil fuels continue to burn

We also need to speed up the worldwide transition to cleaner forms of energy and end the use of coal, if we are to stand a chance of limiting temperature rises.

Progress on this front remains sketchy, however: under current plans governments will continue to produce energy from fossil-fuel sources in quantities that will lead to more warming, despite improved climate commitments.

Over the next two decades, governments are projecting an increase in global oil and gas production, and only a modest decrease in coal production. Taken together, these plans mean that fossil fuel production will increase overall, at least until 2040.

These findings were laid out in the latest UN Production Gap report, which included profiles for 15 major fossil fuel-producing countries, showing that most will continue to support fossil fuel production growth.

In a bid to change this trajectory, the UN held a High-Level Dialogue on Energy, the first of its kind in 40 years. National governments committed to provide electricity to over 166 million people worldwide, and private companies pledged to reach just over 200 million.

Governments also committed to install an additional 698 gigawatts of renewable energy from solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and renewables-based hydrogen, and businesses, notably power utilities, pledged to install an additional 823 GW, all by 2030.   

Making peace with nature

The increasing incidents of extreme weather is a clear sign that the natural world is reacting to man-made climate change but working with nature is touted as being one of the best ways to restore balance.

This will require a lot of investment, and an overhaul of the way we interact with the natural world.

The UN has estimated that an area of land roughly the size of China will need to restored to its natural state, if the planet’s biodiversity and the communities who rely on it are to be protected, and annual investments in nature-based solutions to the crisis will have to triple by 2030, and increase four-fold by 2050, if the world is to successfully tackle the triple threat of climate, biodiversity and land degradation.

Meanwhile, with more than a million species at risk of extinction, UN chief António Guterres called on countries to work together to ensure a sustainable future for people and the planet, as the first part of the UN Biodiversity Conference opened in October (the second part is scheduled to take place in Spring 2022).

The conference will develop a global roadmap for the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next decade.

Show me the money

From renewable energy, to electric transport, reforestation and lifestyle changes, there are countless solutions to tackling the climate crisis, which many believe is the existential threat of our times. However, it is still not entirely clear where the money will come from to pay for it all.

More than a decade ago, developed countries committed to jointly mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020 in support of climate action in developing countries. However, the figure has never been met.

Nevertheless, the business world seems to be waking up to the fact that climate investments make economic sense. In most countries, for example, going solar is now cheaper than building new coal power plants, and clean energy investments could create 18 million jobs by 2030. 

In October, 30 CEOs and senior business leaders of major companies, collectively worth some $16 trillion, attended a meeting of the Global Investors for Sustainable Development (GISD) Alliance, to develop guidelines and products that align the existing finance and investment ecosystem, with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Since its creation, the GISD Alliance has developed standards and tools aimed at moving trillions of dollars to finance a more sustainable world.

This year, GISD published its latest tool to accurately measure the impact of companies on sustainable development targets and provide investors with key insights. The group is now creating funds that will create real life opportunities to finance the Goals.

Promising the Earth at COP26

The centrepiece climate change event of the year, at least in terms of its profile in the media and amongst general public, was the COP26 UN Climate Conference, held in Glasgow in November.

The intensive two-week event was convened to move on definitively from the promises made at the Paris Agreement adopted at the 2015 Conference, and actually work out the detail of turning these commitments into concrete action.

There had been many warnings ahead of COP26 that the conference would not deliver the desired results, and there were huge demonstrations in Glasgow – witnessed by our UN News team on the ground – and around the world, from people of all ages demanding more action from governments. 

Some COP veterans, however, sensed a different atmosphere from previous conferences, with more positivity, and a sense that something tangible could be achieved, and the early days of the event saw a major pledge to restore the world’s forests, along with a list of commitments from public and private sector actors to combat climate change, curb biodiversity destruction and hunger, and to protect indigenous peoples’ rights.

A potential answer to the question of climate finance seemed to come on ‘finance day‘, with the announcement that nearly 500 global financial services firms had agreed to align $130 trillion – some 40 per cent of the world’s financial assets – with the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

However, many world leaders were left disappointed by finance negotiations held in Glasgow.

Bhutan, representing the group of Least Developed Countries (LDC) lamented that public statements made by countries often differ to what is heard at the negotiations.

“We came to Glasgow with high expectations. We need strong commitments to ensure the survival of the billion people living in the LDCs in the future”, said the country’s representative on ‘adaptation day’.

On ‘energy day’, the Global Clean Power Transition Statement was announced, a commitment to end coal investments, scale up clean power, make a just transition, and phase out coal by the 2030´s in major economies, and in the 2040´s elsewhere.

Some 77 countries, including 46 countries such as Poland, Vietnam and Chile, 23 of which are making commitments on ending coal for the first time, are members. However, the biggest coal financers (China, Japan and Republic of Korea) did not join.

‘Keep pushing forward’

The final agreement of COP26 was not without heartbreak and drama. At the last, much delayed, plenary session, chairperson Alok Sharma was moved to tears by the tense negotiations when a seemingly last-minute intervention by India adjusted the wording related to fossil fuels, to the fury of some countries.

However, the agreement was notable for the inclusion, for the first time ever at a COP, of those two words – fossil fuels – which the nations of the world agreed to “phase down” (rather than the original “phase out”, to the chagrin of Mr. Sharma, and many delegates).

Whilst some commentators believe that the agreement did not go far enough to save the world from a climate-related catastrophe, others saw hope in the spirit in which the negotiations took place, and the possibility that each subsequent COP will see tangible, and worthwhile steps towards a sustainable future for people and the planet.

“I know you are disappointed. But the path of progress is not always a straight line”, said the UN Secretary-General, in response to the deal. “Sometimes there are detours. Sometimes there are ditches. But I know we can get there. We are in the fight of our lives, and this fight must be won. Never give up. Never retreat. Keep pushing forward”.

Related

Source


Spread the love

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

A Labour Government Should not Frighten the Horses

Published

on

By

Spread the love

The UK general election is likely to mean changes, but Gulf citizens need not be too worried.

By James Drummond

If the tension was killing you, now you know. If it wasn’t, then be aware that a general election in the United Kingdom will be held on July 4 – less than six weeks away.

For the hapless Rishi Sunak, it looks like a case of “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly.” Polls indicate that after 14 years of conservatism, real or imagined, voters are likely to elect a new Labour government.

What does this mean for us here in the Gulf?

The six Gulf states are certainly exposed to Britain. The extent of GCC holdings in the UK is enormous, ranging from Qatari ownership of the Shard building in London, stakes in the Sainsburys supermarket chain and Barclays bank, to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s Godolphin stables in Suffolk.

Manchester City and Newcastle United football clubs are owned by Emirati and Saudi interests, respectively. Kuwait’s wealth is managed by the Kuwait Investment Office near St Pauls Cathedral.

Labour has been careful to detail very few policies (or hostages to fortune, as its strategists may see it), but last week, David Lammy, the likely new foreign secretary, outlined a further campaign against dirty money.

Britain is a “corruption services centre”, while London is a “hotbed of kleptocracy”, Mr Lammy said. He said that he wanted to reward whistleblowers and clamp down on “enablers” of financial crime.

Given the paucity of public announcements, Lammy’s speech is significant, because it implies that the incoming government is likely to act. Fighting financial crime is relatively uncontroversial and attracts cross-party support – although in the UK’s case with limited success.

British politicians have made similarly grandiose statements before. But after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, London has moved particularly against Russian dirty money, and sanctioned individuals. It finally introduced an obligation mandating the disclosure of beneficial owners of property.

Overseas trusts are also now required to disclose their ultimate beneficial owners, and there is now greater transparency when registering entities at Companies House.

This seems to have had only limited effect, however. Last week Andrew Mitchell, the deputy foreign secretary, cited estimates that 40 percent of the world’s dirty money still passes through London.

Spotlight on Corruption, a non-governmental organisation, wrote in October last year that “major reform is needed to how lawyers and accountants, the property sector and company formation agents are regulated for money laundering.” Lammy may choose to take further action against these and other professionals.

Other so-called enablers include retired politicians, some of them in the House of Lords, who work as advisors to unsavoury actors. Labour could move to tighten disclosure, although several of its senior former members are likely to lobby against further transparency.

It is also possible that Labour will go further in taxing expatriates. In its limited public commitments, the party has promised to clamp down on “tax dodgers”.

Those with property in the UK already pay tax on rental income they receive, and worldwide assets are subject to Britain’s inheritance tax. Some Gulf Arab families with UK property have been caught by inheritance tax.

A government led by Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, could go further, as the US does, in taxing worldwide income of its citizens, more than 200,000 of whom live in the UAE alone. The argument is that if you have the privilege of carrying the passport, you have an obligation to pay tax.

Another question surrounds nationalisation. Labour is committed to re-nationalising the railways for one, although the infrastructure is already under central government control.

But another target may – may – be England’s water supply network, which was privatised in 1989. Shareholders in various of the rump companies include the Qatar Investment Authority and Adia of the UAE.

The water companies have been the subject of a vociferous campaign, for allegedly paying their shareholders high dividends while neglecting maintenance and investment. It is possible that an incoming Labour government will nationalise the industry.

All that said, the primacy of the rule of law and respect for property rights remain strong in Britain.

Barratt, a mass housebuilder, reported earlier this week that London remains the top choice among world cities for UAE investors looking to buy overseas. The holdings of Gulf states and rights of Gulf citizens in the UK remain secure, even with a Labour government.

James Drummond is Editor-in-Chief of the AGBi

Courtesy: The AGBI.Com


Spread the love
Continue Reading

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Kuwait’s Political Crisis Adds to Economic Uncertainty

Published

on

By

Spread the love

Kuwait’s latest standoff is deeply concerning for both the near and long term, writes Andrew Cunningham

The decision by Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad to dissolve the country’s recently elected parliament just days before its inaugural session on May 14 presents overseas investors and Kuwaiti citizens with more uncertainty.

The situation raises concerns about the country’s economic prospects over both the short and long term.

Disputes and stand-offs between Kuwait’s emirs and its boisterous parliament are nothing new. Parliament has been dissolved, and the constitution suspended, numerous times over the past 40 years. The country has held four elections in the past four years.

Squabbling between the two sides is rooted in political disagreements and this most recent outbreak is no different.

A major factor behind the latest dissolution is believed to have been parliament’s objection to Sheikh Mishal’s choice of crown prince. Although the crown prince is nominated by the emir, the appointment has to be ratified by the parliament.

But these political, and sometimes personal, disputes have real consequences for Kuwait’s economy and financial system and, ultimately, for the long-term welfare of its citizens.

Kuwait is a prosperous country. If we take a snapshot today, we see it producing nearly 2.5 million barrels of oil per day (bpd), and there are plans under way to increase production capacity to 4 million bpd by 2035.

State foreign reserves are around $930 billion, according to National Bank of Kuwait, the country’s largest bank. With a population of a little over 4 million, its GDP per capita is one of the highest in the world.

Squabbling between the two sides is rooted in political disagreements and this most recent outbreak is no different.

A major factor behind the latest dissolution is believed to have been parliament’s objection to Sheikh Mishal’s choice of crown prince. Although the crown prince is nominated by the emir, the appointment has to be ratified by the parliament.

But these political, and sometimes personal, disputes have real consequences for Kuwait’s economy and financial system and, ultimately, for the long-term welfare of its citizens.

Kuwait is a prosperous country. If we take a snapshot today, we see it producing nearly 2.5 million barrels of oil per day (bpd), and there are plans under way to increase production capacity to 4 million bpd by 2035.

State foreign reserves are around $930 billion, according to National Bank of Kuwait, the country’s largest bank. With a population of a little over 4 million, its GDP per capita is one of the highest in the world.

In March this year, rating agency Fitch described Kuwait’s fiscal and external balance sheets as among the strongest of any of the governments it rates.

But when we look at long-term trends, the picture is more complex and less secure.

Kuwaiti government spending remains overwhelmingly dependent on oil and gas revenues. The government has made almost no progress, over many decades, in diversifying the economy away from oil, or in reducing the huge burden of government salaries and welfare payments.

Oil and gas revenues currently account for nearly 70 percent of total income and, according to IMF projections, will continue to do so for the rest of the decade.

These revenues have served the country well in the past, despite the volatility of oil prices, but such overwhelming dependence looks foolhardy when consumers worldwide are striving to reduce consumption of oil and gas and investors and energy firms have pivoted towards renewables.

Nearly all of the Kuwaiti government’s non-oil and gas revenue arises from overseas investments and from dividends from state-owned companies. Tax revenues account for less than 1 percent of total government income.

Looking beyond the fiscal imperative to diversify the economy is the need to provide employment opportunities for Kuwaiti citizens.

No less than 84 percent of the Kuwaiti workforce was employed by the government at the end of 2022. It is hardly surprising that nearly half of government expenditure is allocated to the salaries of public employees.

Pressure for social spending will increase in the years ahead. A World Bank report, published last year, showed that levels of obesity and Type 2 diabetes were higher in Kuwait than in any of the other GCC countries and nearly double the average in OECD countries.

Partly as a result of this, the World Bank estimated that Kuwait’s old age dependency ratio – the number of people over 65 years old in relation to those of working age – will be nearly double that of its neighbours by 2040.

Kuwait is also a country that is being significantly affected, even today, by climate change. Temperatures during the summer can exceed 50 degrees, making Kuwait one of the hottest places on earth.

These are difficult and complex challenges, both economic and social, but they are hardly unique to Kuwait. That they are, in some cases, more acute in Kuwait than elsewhere is due to decades’ long procrastination and political paralysis.

The government’s General Reserve Fund, which held most of its liquid assets, was entirely depleted in September 2020, according to Kuwait’s own ministry of finance. With AA ratings, the obvious solution was to borrow money – Kuwait’s debt-to-GDP ratio is less than 5 percent. Yet the parliament has still not passed a so-called ‘Liquidity Law‘ that would allow modest issuance of foreign currency debt.

The parliament also held up the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT), making Kuwait one of two of the six GCC countries not to fulfil a joint commitment to implement a minimum VAT of 5 percent.

Over the past four years, all three of the big international credit rating agencies have downgraded the government of Kuwait.

In their rating reports, all agencies cited a dysfunctional and slow-moving political environment that was reducing the country’s financial flexibility and delaying much needed economic and financial reform.

Politics matters.

It is unrealistic to think that after decades of enmity the ruling family and the parliament will soon form a harmonious working relationship.

But they do need to find some common ground that will enable them to start addressing fundamental economic and social issues while the country still has large financial reserves and strong credit ratings.

Time is running out.

Andrew Cunningham writes and consults on risk and governance in Middle East and sharia-compliant banking systems


Spread the love
Continue Reading

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

ICD and JSC Ziraat Bank Collaborate to Boost Uzbekistan’s Private Sector

Published

on

By

Spread the love

At the 3rd Tashkent Investment Forum, the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and JSC Ziraat Bank Uzbekistan took a significant step forward in their partnership to empower small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and foster economic growth in Uzbekistan. The forum, held in the capital city of Uzbekistan, brought together key stakeholders from the public and private sectors to discuss investment opportunities and economic development strategies for the region. The collaboration between the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and JSC Ziraat Bank Uzbekistan is aimed at boosting the private sector in Uzbekistan.

During the forum, ICD and JSC Ziraat Bank Uzbekistan formalized an expression of intent to collaborate on various initiatives aimed at supporting SMEs. One of the key elements of this collaboration is the provision of a Line of Financing (LoF) facility by ICD to JSC Ziraat Bank Uzbekistan. This LoF facility will enable the bank to fund private sector projects as an agent of ICD, thereby providing SMEs with access to the necessary capital to initiate and grow their businesses.

The partnership between ICD and JSC Ziraat Bank Uzbekistan is expected to have a significant impact on the SME landscape in Uzbekistan. By equipping entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed, this collaboration will not only support the growth of individual businesses but also contribute to the overall economic development of the country. SMEs play a crucial role in driving economic growth, creating jobs, and fostering innovation, and this partnership will help strengthen the SME ecosystem in Uzbekistan.

JSC Ziraat Bank Uzbekistan, as a strategic partner for ICD, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the table. As a prominent commercial bank with foreign capital, JSC Ziraat Bank Uzbekistan has a strong track record of supporting SMEs and promoting economic development. The bank’s partnership with ICD further underscores its commitment to advancing the private sector in Uzbekistan and its dedication to supporting the country’s economic growth.

ICD, for its part, is a leading multilateral development financial institution that focuses on supporting the economic development of its member countries through the provision of finance and advisory services to private sector enterprises. By partnering with JSC Ziraat Bank Uzbekistan, ICD is furthering its mission of promoting economic development and fostering entrepreneurship in Uzbekistan and across the Islamic world.

The LoF facility provided by ICD to JSC Ziraat Bank Uzbekistan is just one example of the many initiatives that the two entities are undertaking to support SMEs in Uzbekistan. In addition to providing financial support, the partnership between ICD and JSC Ziraat Bank Uzbekistan will also include capacity-building initiatives and technical assistance programs to help SMEs succeed in today’s competitive business environment.

Overall, the partnership between ICD and JSC Ziraat Bank Uzbekistan represents a significant step forward in supporting SMEs and fostering economic growth in Uzbekistan. By working together, these two institutions are helping to create a more vibrant and dynamic private sector in Uzbekistan, which will ultimately benefit the country’s economy and its people. The collaboration between the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and JSC Ziraat Bank Uzbekistan is expected to have a far-reaching impact on the private sector in Uzbekistan.


Spread the love
Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2023 Focus on Halal Economy | Powered by Africa Islamic Economic Foundation