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Wednesday, 21 September 2022

TODAY: France and UAE tighten nuclear ties + Lebanon’s natural transition to solar energy

Good morning, friends, from the UAE, where we have a packed issue for you.

THE BIG CLIMATE STORY- Top UAE and Saudi officials appear to be arguing that full divestment of fossil fuels is impractical. Over a series of interviews and forums yesterday, Aramco chief Amin Nasser and the UAE energy ministry assistant undersecretary Yousef Al Ali suggest that the state of renewables and clean energy isn’t strong enough to wean the world off of fossil fuels. A gradual, longer-term approach is the answer, they say.

WATCH THIS SPACE #1- France will help the UAE build components for its nuclear program: State-owned Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) signed an MoU with the French nuclear industry group CSFN to develop a local supply chain for the UAE’s nuclear program and ENEC-owned Barakah nuclear energy plant, the corporation said yesterday in a statement. This will involve expanding local manufacturing of components and equipment for nuclear energy, as well as sharing knowledge, skills and expertise, the statement notes.

Nuclear power will play an essential supplementary role in the UAE’s renewable energy strategy, Yousef Al Ali, the energy ministry’s assistant undersecretary for electricity, water and future energy, told Utilities Middle East.

^^ We have more on both stories in this morning’s news well, below.

WATCH THIS SPACE #2- Is Lebanon slowly becoming a case study for the importance of solar? Rolling blackouts and a dependence on expensive diesel-powered generators has driven Lebanese homes and businesses to increasingly look to solar energy and a viable replacement, France 24 reported last week. One of the success stories highlighted in the report is the mountain village of Toula, which used to run on only three hours of electricity a day, until donors funded a USD 100k, 185-panel solar farm. The village now has 17 hours of consistent electricity. Now businesses are getting in on the act: Spinney’s is investing in solar to cut down its USD 800k-1.4 mn monthly generator bill.

THE DANGER ZONE- Syria’s 2022 grain crop has been “decimated” by climate change and conflict, officials from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), tell Reuters. The country’s 2022 wheat harvest was down some 75% from pre-crisis volumes and its barley harvest was almost “nonexistent.” 70% of Syria’s grain crop relies on rainfall, as the country’s irrigation system remains underdeveloped. This year, rainfall started late and fell in untraditional patterns, delaying the start of the planting season. An early stop to rainfall cut the season short.

This is now a global problem: The world’s top food and agriculture companies could see losses of USD 150 bn by 2030, if they don’t adapt to climate change policies and changing consumer behavior, according to a UN report published yesterday and seen by Reuters. Growers and folks in food retail could lose up to a quarter of their value in the coming eight years if they don’t get in step with both climate-change-driven government policy and consumer behavior, it warns. The report found that 40 big companies in the sector would see an average decline in value of 7%.

One knock on the report: It suggests there are opportunities in products including plant-based “meat.” Whether you’re an obligate carnivore or a vegan, we think whole foods, not frankenfoods, are the answer to the health problems caused by poor diet.

THE BIG CLIMATE STORY OUTSIDE THE REGION- UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres wants windfall taxes to be redirected to countries suffering climate-caused loss and damages, as well as “people struggling with rising food and energy prices,” multiple news outlets reported yesterday. (Reuters | AP | CNBC | CNN)

ALSO- New research shows some of the biggest PE firms are still investing USD bns in dirty energy: Eight global private equity firms with substantial energy portfolios are exposing investors to unknown financial risks thanks to their continued investment in high-emissions projects amid escalating climate disasters and the energy transition push, according to a report (pdf) published last week by activist groups Private Equity Stakeholder Project (Pesp) and Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund (Afref). These firms manage a combined USD 3.6 tn in assets, including some USD 216 bn in energy projects — mostly fossil fuels, the report says. The PE industry as a whole has invested some USD 1 tn in energy since 2010, with most of this in oil, gas and coal, it adds.

The best and the worst: The activists looked at the climate credentials of eight firms, based on publicly available information. The highest rated firm, TPG, has only two fossil fuel companies in its energy portfolio, with an estimated investment of USD 1.3 bn — giving it a B. Carlyle has assets under management of about USD 24 bn in an energy portfolio that includes 42 fossil fuel companies, scoring an F.

Should PE watch out for the new Elliot Ness of climate finance? A US Treasury Department agency that oversees the country’s largest banks has hired its first “climate cop,” the New York Times reports, citing a statement published on Monday last week. The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has hired Yue (Nina) Chen as its chief climate risk officer, the statement said. She will focus on establishing a new system to assess climate-driven risks to banks, and monitoring and managing these risks, it adds.

YOU’RE READING ENTERPRISE CLIMATE, the essential regional publication for senior execs who care about the world’s most important industry. Enterprise Climate covers everything from finance and tech to regulation, products and policy across the Middle East and North Africa. In a nod to the growing geographical ambitions of companies in our corner of the world, we also include an overview of the big trends and data points in nearby countries, including Africa and southern Europe.

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THE COUNTDOWN TO COP- Activist set to gather in Tunisia pre-COP: Climate organizers and activists are descending on Tunisia on 27 September to set policy agendas and demand an “equitable and just” response to the climate crisis ahead of COP27, according to Greenpeace. Some 400 activists from MENA, Africa, South America and Asia will reportedly be there.


The Fleet and Mobility Summit kicks off today at Dubai’s Radisson Red in the UAE. The gathering will, among other things, focus on how the mobility and transportation sector in MENA can help the region meet its climate targets. Industry leaders as well as Saudi transportation officials will be in attendance, among them CEO of Al Masaood Automobiles Irfan Tansel. If you want to still catch it, it’s not too late to register here.


Our friends at HSBC are hosting an energy transition webinar series next Tuesday-Thursday (27-29 September). The series will look at the “latest climate analysis in relation to the global energy market and transition to net zero” in six different sessions covering energy security, what is required to ensure the success of COP27, financing and investment needs for the energy transition, and the scaling up of renewables in the region, among other topics. You can register for the series here.

WANT MORE on the region’s energy transition? Catch this op-ed in EnterpriseAM by HSBC’s Group Head, Center of Sustainable Finance and Head of Climate Change Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, Zoe Knight on to the capital that’s needed to help drive that shift.

A Spanish business delegation will be in Cairo on 27-28 September for the Egypt-Spain Multilateral Partnership Forum. The two-day event, which will take place at the Sofitel Gezirah Hotel, will bring together Spanish and Egyptian business execs in electricity, renewable energy and water treatment.

The World Cement Association’s (WCA)’s global conference will take place from 25-28 September at Emirates Towers in Dubai, UAE. The event will be attended by COP26 UN Climate Champion Nigel Topping, among other attendees, panelists,and keynote speakers. You can register for the event here.

The Wetex and Dubai solar show will run 27-29 September at the Dubai World Trade Center.

Dubai will host the World Green Economy Summit on 28-29 September. The summit wants to provide a platform to build consensus around the potential of technologies, policies and youth that could drive the green economy transformation.

Fitch Solutions hosting a webinar on Saudi Arabia’s energy transformation next Thursday, 29 September at 12:00pm KSA. You can register here.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

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