Good morning, wonderful people. It’s another busy start to the week in the region with plenty of climate updates to dive into.
THE BIG CLIMATE STORY- Saudi renewables giant Acwa Power, Gulf Investment Corporation, and Al Bawani Water and Power Company inaugurated the Jubail 3A solar-powered independent water desalination plant. Over in the UAE, Canadian EV company AXL is eying the possibility of establishing an assembly line with a 50k production capacity either in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
^^ We have the details on these stories and much more in the news well, below.
HAPPENING TODAY- The Sustainability and Governmental Action Forum will kick off in Cairo today, bringing together global leaders and experts to discuss improving sustainability in government work through private-public partnerships]. The event is hosted by the Arab League’s Arab Administrative Development Organization and will culminate with the publication of the “Sustainability and Government Work: The State of Arab Governments” report prepared in cooperation with the UAE.
THE BIG CLIMATE STORY OUTSIDE THE REGION- Will we see a first draft of a plastics treaty in November? Around 170 countries agreed on Friday to outline a first draft for a plastics treaty in November, bringing the world one step closer to the first global treaty to limit plastic pollution. The nations agreed during UN treaty talks in Paris last week to prepare a “zero draft” text of what could possibly be a legally binding treaty by the start of the next round of talks in Kenya’s Nairobi in November. The agreement comes after the five-day negotiations got off to a poor start due to arguments between delegations on procedural issues. Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China objected to having treaty decisions adopted by majority vote rather than a consensus, which would allow one or a few states to block adoption.
REMEMBER- The UN Environment Program outlined a plan to reduce the world’s plastic waste levels by nearly 80% in less than two decades in May. The report — released two weeks before the talks in Paris — champions policy shifts geared toward keeping produced goods in circulation for as long as possible under “reuse, recycling, and alternative materials” strategies.
The story made headlines over the weekend in the international press: Reuters | The Associated Press | AFP | Financial Times | CNN
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SOUNDBITE OF THE WEEK- “We are at a critical moment in the arc of humanity and the planet. The World Bank Group is being asked to lead the way, to double down on development and climate efforts and to deliver even more impact and results,” the World Bank's new president Ajay Banga said in statements to staff picked up by Reuters on Friday. In a memo seen by the newswire, Banga asked the World Bank’s 16k employees to “double down” on development and climate efforts, stressing the responsibility “to create a world [devoid of] poverty on a livable planet.” He asked the staff to “maximize resources and write a new playbook… take informed risks and forge new partnerships with civil society and multilateral institutions.” Banga also asked that the bank cut lengthy approval times for financing projects in a bid to raise efficiency. “The process is overly elaborate and subject to multiple review mechanisms that not only cost valuable years but erode staff ambition,” he said, adding that the lengthy process augments a “trust deficit” among developing nations.
WATCH THIS SPACE #1- UAE to build EV charging factory in Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s Industry and Advanced Technology Ministry signed a letter of intent with EV solutions firm Shahin to establish an EV charging station factory in Abu Dhabi, The National reported on Thursday. Shahin — a subsidiary of Dubai-based NEV Enterprise that is currently being established in Abu Dhabi — aims to fulfill 40% of the country’s direct current charging demands by 2030. The timeline and financials of the project have not been disclosed. The UAE EV market, which is expected to grow 27% by 2029, currently makes up a little over 1% of the country’s total automotive market. The government has increased the number of EV charging stations in the country by 60% over the last three years to reach 800 charging points, the news outlet quotes UAE Energy and Infrastructure Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei as saying.
WATCH THIS SPACE #2- The Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) will likely award a construction contract for a wind energy project by 3Q 2023, Zawya reported on Friday, citing a source it says has knowledge of the matter. The bid submissions deadline has been extended twice and is now set for 12 June, with the KOC expected to award the contract by early September 2023. The project’s financials have not been disclosed. Back in March, KOC sent out requests for proposals to five companies for the installation of the wind turbine at its Ratqa oil field. The generational capacity will range between 3.4 and 3.6 MW, it noted. Bidders included Elecnor, Vestas Mediterranean, Vensys Energy AG, Power Construction Corporation, and Eno Energy.
WATCH THIS SPACE #3- Global airlines group explores contrail reduction: Global airlines are setting up a task force to limit the creation of contrails — the ice-particle-filled white lines visible behind airplanes — in a bid to rein in its contribution to global warming, Reuters reports. The move comes as the Annual General Meeting & World Air Transport Summit 2023 convenes in Istanbul this week and concludes tomorrow. The International Air Transport Association — representing some 300 major airlines — is hosting the summit, which includes a discussion on the warming effect of contrails for the first time.
Etihad Airways was ahead of the game: The UAE carrier inked a future carbon credits from contrail management agreement with green aviation firm Satavia back in January to produce future carbon credits by managing contrail activity.
The jury is out on contrails: While contrails don’t emit CO2, they can trap radiation and reflect it back down to earth, according to the newswire. “The annual warming effects of contrails could be two times larger than the cumulative effects from CO2 [emissions from flights],” Imperial College London researcher Roger Teoh told Reuters. Other scientists don’t believe the research behind the impact of contrails is robust enough, the newswire notes.
WATCH THIS SPACE #4- Clean tech requirements by the EU? EU member states are considering enforcing requirements that at least half of the critical minerals needed by the bloc be processed domestically, Bloomberg reported last week, citing a document it has seen. An updated proposal by Sweden — which holds the bloc’s rotating presidency — would see the requirement raised 10 percentage points from the 40% initially placed by the European Commission. Under the proposal, member states would be granted flexibility on the timeline for giving out permits for strategic projects in critical raw materials. A 10% target for domestic extractions would remain unchanged, while a recycling capacity target would rise to 20% from a previous 15%. The move comes as the EU tries to shore up critical minerals for clean technologies amid fierce competition with the US and China in low-carbon manufacturing.
WATCH THIS SPACE #5- More funding on the way for Tunisia’s EV infrastructure: The Global Environment Fund is providing Tunisia with USD 13 mn to increase the country’s EV charging points to 500 by 2025, Al Hurra reported last week. It is unclear whether the funding is a loan or a grant. The project will be overseen by a national committee formed by Tunisia’s National Agency for Energy Control and the Environment Ministry to oversee the country’s sustainable mobility strategy, which aims to increase the number of EVs in Tunisia to 5k by 2025. The new committee — which will provide grants up to USD 3k for each EV purchased — will also be tasked with amending existing regulations to accommodate for the transition to electric vehicles.
DATA POINT- Global renewable power capacity to rise by a third this year: Global renewable capacity is expected to surge by 107 GW — the largest absolute increase in a year so far — to reach more than 440 GW in 2023, according to the International Energy Agency’s Renewable Energy Market Update (pdf) released last week. The market update, which outlines the 2023 and 2024 global outlook, said that in 2024 total global renewable electricity capacity will see an even sharper rise to reach 4.5 TW, equivalent to the combined power output of China and the US. China will account for some 55% of global additions of renewable power capacity in both 2023 and 2024, the IEA calculated.
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CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
Saudi Arabia will host the Arab-Chinese Business Conference next Sunday, 11 June and Monday, 12 June in Riyadh. The conference will bring together CEOs, business leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs from the Middle East and China to collaborate on new trade and investment initiatives in different sectors, including renewables and minerals. A panel discussion titled Clean Energy and Renewables – Pathways to Emissions Reduction is scheduled on the first day, according to the program (pdf). The second day will focus on the localization of renewable energy and on value chain opportunities in mining.
The UAE will host The Arab Green Summit on Tuesday, 13 June to Wednesday, 14 June in Dubai. The two-day summit will bring together industry players and experts for conversations on climate change and sustainability and solutions for concurrent climate-related issues in the region. Key themes to be addressed during the summit include industry decarbonization, renewable and clean energy potential and implementation, sustainable building and construction and others.
Morocco will host the Bloomberg New Economy Gateway Africa on Tuesday, 13 June to Wednesday, 14 June in Marrakech. The event will bring together stakeholders from the private and public sector to discuss the world’s most pressing topics and assess potential solutions. Those include the impact of a decelerating global economy, spiking food and energy prices, supply-chain shocks and risks of distress among sovereign borrowers.
Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events and news triggers.