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Wednesday, 18 January 2023

TODAY: Masdar inks agreements to develop solar projects in Africa and Central Asia + We have a logo and branding for COP28

Good morning, friends. We’re just about wrapping up what has shaped up to be a busy week for the climate world, both in our neck of the woods and abroad.

THE BIG CLIMATE STORY- It’s all about Masdar. The Emirati giant inked several agreements to develop solar power projects in Ethiopia and Zambia, as well as a wind energy project in Kazakhstan. We have chapter and verse in this morning’s news well, below.

IN COP LAND- We have the official logo + branding for COP28: UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah bin Zayed formally unveiled COP28’s official logo and branding on Monday, at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (watch, runtime: 02:55). The “One World” branding represents the idea that the world needs to leverage our collective resources — natural, technological, and human — to spur multi-sector innovation, according to Wam. It’s intended to cement COP28 as a COP of inclusivity and action by bringing together public and private sectors, scientists, civil society, women, and youth from different geographies, the Wam statement adds. COP28 will take place at Dubai’s Expo City from 30 November to 12 December.

THE BIG CLIMATE STORY OUTSIDE THE REGION- US Fed wants major US banks to estimate climate change effects on financial risks: The US Federal Reserve has told the country’s six largest banks to submit data on how their businesses would be impacted by various hypothetical climate change-driven scenarios. The aim? To increase awareness of how financial risks could show up — possibly as a greater likelihood of loan defaults or losses, or a change in risk profiles. Estimates will include how more extreme weather events could affect real estate portfolios and how shifting to a lower-carbon economy could impact corporate lending.

They have until the end of July: Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs Group, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo have been asked to submit responses by 31 July and the Fed will publish a summary of results towards the end of 2023.

The story is making the rounds: Reuters | Politico | Bloomberg | CNN

PSA- If you’re in Doha, you can now rent electric scooters and bikes, courtesy of USA’s Lime: US-based electric vehicle company Lime rolled out its rental Gen 4 electric bikes and scooters in Doha, according to a company statement picked up by Zawya. The company recently launched in Abu Dhabi.

WATCH THIS SPACE #1- Morocco sets 2030 renewables target: Renewables will account for 50-52% of Morocco’s energy mix by 2030, Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, according to Arab News. Morocco’s wind and solar resources have the potential to make the North African country one of the cheapest providers of renewables in the world, Akhannouch said, and can be used to fuel the country’s green hydrogen ambitions. Renewables currently account for 38% of Morocco’s energy needs.

WATCH THIS SPACE #2- Green hydrogen may be added to the UAE’s revised energy strategy, Reuters reports quoting Emirati Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei. The revised plan will be updated to align with the country’s net zero target of 2050 and launched later this year. The country plans to expand its solar energy production capacity to generate more hydrogen, and Mazrouei has previously said the UAE plans to account for 25% of the hydrogen export market and will target Japan, South Korea, and Germany as markets.

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THE DANGER ZONE- Over 90% of offsets provided by Verra — the world’s biggest carbon offset provider — are worthless, The Guardian reports based on a joint investigation with German weekly Die Zeit and nonprofit investigative journalism organization SourceMaterial. The investigation found that most of Verra’s offsets are phantom credits that may be worsening global warming, with “only a handful of Verra’s rainforest projects showing evidence of deforestation reductions,” and “94% of the credits had no benefit to the climate.” Verra’s voluntary carbon standard — which has sold credits to the likes of Gucci — has issued upward of 1 bn carbon credits and approves three quarters of all voluntary offsets, 40% of which comes from its rainforest protection program.

Verra has been gaining traction in the region as VCMs pick up pace: EGX was in talks with carbon standard Verra last November in anticipation of its launch of Africa’s first voluntary carbon market. In the same month, Saudi Arabia’s Arab Petroleum Investment Corporation (Apicorp) inked a USD 75 mn murabaha agreement to fund high-quality voluntary carbon offsets to develop environmentally friendly projects registered to Verra.

WORTH READING- Egypt’s AUC is exploring a new catalyst for hydrogen production: Egypt’s American University in Cairo (AUC) is researching ways to up the efficiency and reduce the cost of electrolysis — the process used to produce green hydrogen — by substituting new materials that are more affordable and easily sourced, according to an article in its AUC Today magazine.

In a nutshell: The idea is essentially to try substituting expensive, difficult-to-source platinum — the most commonly-used “catalyst” used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen — for other, more readily available ‘transition’ metals, the piece notes. Where possible, the team at AUC’s Energy Materials lab sources these metals from recycled materials, it adds. They have two “active” projects on the go: one focused on traditional electrolysis, powered by electricity generated by a renewable power plant, and another focused on a less advanced technology, where the catalyst absorbs solar energy directly from sunlight to split water molecules, the article tells us.

Why is this important? Electrolyzers imported into Egypt — and regional countries with similar challenges — won’t necessarily be built to withstand the composition of the local water, just as imported solar panels are often impacted by dust in a way they aren’t in Europe or the US, lab head Nageh Allam tells AUC Today. “Maybe our research will lead to a better catalyst or one that’s more durable in the Egyptian climate,” Allam adds.


Bahrain will host the Energy & Sustainability Forum from next Sunday, 22 January to Tuesday, 24 January in Manama. The forum will host panel discussions on how to decarbonize the downstream industry and how to pave the way for regional net zero objectives.

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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