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Monday, 26 September 2022

TODAY: Germany’s chancellor is shopping for energy in the GCC + Could Saudi Arabia get its first hydrogen train? + World Bank president in hot water over climate comments

Good morning, wonderful people. We hope you had a restful weekend.

THE BIG CLIMATE STORY in our corner of the world- Saudi Arabia wants to build five renewable energy projects with a total capacity of 3.3 GW — three wind and two solar. We have more on this in the news well below.

ALSO- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was in the neighborhood this past weekend in a bid to secure new energy supplies for his gas-starved nation. Not much was signed on the green energy front, but his message to the GCC was clear: Germany is done with sourcing energy from one region. We break down the visit and what was said in this morning’s climate diplomacy, below.

SMART POLICY #1- Is Saudi looking to source a hydrogen-powered train? The Saudi Railway Company (SAR) and French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom signed an MoU to develop hydrogen-powered train solutions for the kingdom, Alstom said. In August, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment signed an MoU with Alstom to discuss potential investments in the country’s transport sector. Alstom also agreed to look into making the kingdom its regional headquarters.

Alstom actually builds hydrogen-powered trains: While the current agreement only sees Alstom consulting on a strategy, the company does build and sell hydrogen-fuel-cell powered trains, including the Coradia iLint, which it unveiled back in 2016, which it says produces zero-emissions.

Ditto the UAE? Alstom also signed an MoU with the UAE’s Etihad Rail during InnoTrans 2022 in Berlin to develop sustainable technologies in the railway sector, according to a statement posted Thursday. The agreement partly focuses on developing “zero-emission” technologies. Etihad Rail also signed MoUs with France’s SNCF, Caterpillar’s Progress Rail, and electric systems manufacturer Thales Group.

SMART POLICY #2- QatarEnergy and GE to work together on carbon capture: State-owned oil and gas company QatarEnergy and GE signed an MoU to develop a carbon capture roadmap for Qatar’s energy sector, QatarEnergy announced in a statement on Wednesday. The two will study the feasibility of setting up a “world-scale” carbon capture hub at Ras Laffan Industrial City, which is administered by QatarEnergy and where GE has over 80 gas turbines, the statement said. The roadmap will address the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS), the use of hydrogen, and potentially the use of ammonia in GE gas turbines in a bid to curb emissions.

THE BIG CLIMATE STORY OUTSIDE THE REGION- World Bank boss in hot water over what he did (and didn’t) say about climate change: World Bank President David Malpass is continuing to come under fire after declining to say directly at a New York Times event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last week that he accepts the scientific consensus on climate change as being a human-driven phenomenon, multiple outlets report. The White House directly condemned Malpass’ words, while world leaders and environmental groups have strongly criticized the World Bank president (nominated to that office by Donald Trump) for not taking a clear and unequivocal stance on the science of climate change.

Malpass has since publicly said he accepts that human activity is driving climate change and sent an internal memo to World Bank staff reiterating this message.

Malpass says he won’t step down: Malpass is “facing mounting pressure to resign,” the Financial Times reports, but the World Bank boss maintains that no shareholder has asked him to do so, Reuters notes. His five-year term is due to end in spring 2024 and the US Treasury is said to have declined to comment when asked if it supported a second term for him. The US President usually nominates World Bank presidents, whose appointment is then subject to approval by the bank’s board.

The story is everywhere: New York Times | Reuters | Financial Times | Wall Street Journal | Washington Post.

ALSO- In a refrain that should ring true to MENA business leaders: CEOs want governments to drive climate action: Over 700 CEOs and senior business leaders in seven major economies want to see government policies driving climate action, a survey by Cambridge University’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) revealed. Some 80% of the business leaders who took part in the survey said that government policies are essential for national and global action to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, according to a statement published on the university’s website on Wednesday. Some 70% of them see regulation as key to achieving their own companies’ climate and net zero goals. Of the 70% that said they have some sort of net zero plan in place, about 80% say they have the bulk of investment needed to make these goals happen. The survey included folks in the UK, Germany, the US, Brazil, Japan, India and South Africa.

Two pension funds call it quits on Mark Carney’s green alliance: Pension funds Cbus Super and Bundespensionskasse have pulled out of the former Bank of England governor’s Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), the FT wrote. The USD 70 bn Australian Cbus fund left the alliance to focus on internal climate change activities, while the EUR 1.3 bn Austrian Bundespensionskasse refused to disclose its reasons for leaving. GFANZ seeks to tackle climate change from within the financial system by getting members to decarbonize their combined USD 130 tn in assets.

The alliance could lose more of its members soon, with major banks including JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America threatening to pull out over legal risks associated with meeting strict decarbonization rules.

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.

Enterprise Climate is published at 4am CLT / 5am Riyadh / 6am UAE Monday through Thursday by Enterprise, the folks who bring you Enterprise Egypt, your essential 6am and 3pm read on business, finance, policy and economy in Egypt and emerging markets.

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Michael Bloomberg launched his 45-day (now 40) Bloomberg Countdown to COP27: Michael Bloomberg, the UN secretary general’s special envoy on climate has launched a month-and-a-half-long series of initiatives and commitments, aims to deliver on UN chief António Guterres’ calls for climate action, according to a UN statement last Wednesday. Last year at Glasgow, Bloomberg committed to help cancel or close a quarter of the world’s coal plants by 2025.

Egypt and Morocco are also on Bloomberg’s green philanthropy agenda this year: Bloomberg pledged to expand the work of his foundation Bloomberg Philanthropies to accelerate the energy transition in 15 additional countries that have potential for renewable energy and high energy requirements, including Egypt, Morocco and Ethiopia. The foundation previously pledged to support the transition in 10 countries, including Pakistan, Turkey, Nigeria and South Africa. Bloomberg met with Morocco’s Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch and Minister of Investment Mohcine Jazouli in New York on Thursday to discuss Morocco’s energy transition.

(xxYN) Wind power industry leaders signed a manifesto to streamline the industry ahead of COP27. The Global Wind Energy Manifesto for COP27 calls on governments to implement measures to streamline planning and permits, grid upgrades and renewable-friendly reforms to power markets. Signatory industry groups, which include Siemens Gamesa, Orsted and Iberdrola, called on governments to align energy security with climate action and speed up the deployment of wind energy ahead of COP27.


Conference season is ratcheting up, with a number of regional climate events taking place this week:

  • Our friends at HSBC are hosting an energy transition webinar series this Tuesday through 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. (Register).
  • The World Cement Association’s (WCA)’s global conference will take place from 25-28 September at Emirates Towers in Dubai, UAE. (Register).
  • 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. (Register).
  • Fitch Solutions is hosting a webinar on Saudi Arabia’s energy transformation next Thursday, 29 September. (Register).

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