The Future is Not in Fossil Fuels

 

An article published on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 by Common Dreams and written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer is reproduced here for its interest to all concerned in the MENA region countries about the Peak-Oil theory being concretised under our eyes and that renewable energy would eventually replace all fossil oil based energy production.  The author asserts rightly that the Future is Not in Fossil Fuels  and that “Solar is also creating jobs at an unprecedented rate, more than in the oil and gas sectors combined, and 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.” (The above Photo is by David Goehring/flickr/cc)

 

Global Economic Realities Confirm, the ‘Future is Not in Fossil Fuels’

While oil and gas companies falter, ‘renewable energy has reached a tipping point,’ says World Economic Forum expert.

 

Underscoring the need for a global shift to a low-carbon economy, a new report finds a record number of U.K. fossil fuel companies went bust in 2016 due to falling oil and gas prices.

The Independent reported the analysis from accounting firm Moore Stephens which found “16 oil and gas companies went insolvent last year, compared to none at all in 2012.” And the trend was not unique to the U.K.—a year-end bankruptcy report from Texas-based Haynes and Boone LLP showed there have been 232 bankruptcy filings in the U.S. and Canadian energy sector since the beginning of 2015.

“As the warnings from climate science get stronger, now is the time to realize…that the future is not in fossil fuels,” Dr. Doug Parr of Greenpeace U.K. told The Independent. “It’s also time for government to recognize that we should not leave the workers stranded, but provide opportunities in the new industries of the 21st century.”

Those opportunities are likely to come in the renewable energy sector, as the World Economic Forum (WEF) announced (PDF) in December that solar and wind power are now the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries.

“Renewable energy has reached a tipping point,” Michael Drexler, who leads infrastructure and development investing at the WEF, said in a statement at the time. “It is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.”

Quartz reported last month:

In 2016, utilities added 9.5 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic capacity to the U.S. grid, making solar the top fuel source for the first time in a calendar year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s estimates. The U.S. added about 125 solar panels every minute in 2016, about double the pace last year, reports the Solar Energy Industry Association.

The solar story is even more impressive after accounting for new distributed solar on homes and business (rather than just those built for utilities), which pushed the total installed capacity to 11.2 GW.

And as Paul Buchheit noted in an op-ed published Tuesday at Common Dreams, “solar is also creating jobs at an unprecedented rate, more than in the oil and gas sectors combined, and 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.”

But it remains unclear how these trends will develop under an incoming Donald Trump administration.

As Moody’s Investor Services reported Tuesday, under Trump’s fossil-friendly cabinet, “U.S. energy policy likely will prioritize domestic oil and coal production, in addition to reducing federal regulatory burdens.”

In turn, according to Moody’s:

Increasing confidence in the oil and gas industry’s prospects will spur acquisition activity among North American exploration and production (E&P) firms, Moody’s says. Debt and equity markets are again offering financing for producers seeking to re-position and enhance their asset portfolios after a lull. [Merger and acquisition activity] will also pick up in the midstream sector. At the same time, integrated oil and gas firms will continue to improve their cash flow metrics and leverage profiles by cutting operating costs, further reducing capital spending and divesting assets.

Even so, the oilfield services and drilling (OFS) sector is in for another tough year, with continued weak customer demand, overcapacity, and a high debt burden.

Bottom line, wrote Buchheit, is that with the rapid expansion of solar power, Trump has “the opportunity to make something happen that will happen anyway, but he can take all the credit, with the added bonus of beating out his adversary China.”
“Unfortunately, Trump may not have the intelligence to recognize that he should act,” Buchheit wrote. “And the forces behind fossil fuel make progress unlikely. But there is plenty of American ego and arrogance and exceptionalism out there. We need some of that ego now, just like 60 years ago, when the Soviet accomplishments in space drove us toward a singular world-changing goal. Then it was the moon. Now it’s the sun.”

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Global Development’s Winners 2016

 

Devex posted this article written by Michael Igoe @AlterIgoe on its online site on December 22nd, 2016.  We are happy to republish excerpts of the global development’s winners 2016 part only and would definitely encourage all to visit and read the whole article by clicking the title below.

Global development’s winners and losers of 2016

2016 has been a tumultuous year. Man-made crises, natural disasters, rising temperatures, and political hostility tested the global development community’s commitment and creativity to forge new solutions for a world in transition. On social media, 2016 has acquired a plethora of memes declaring it the worst year ever, and indeed, at times it has been trying.

But while it is true that real people have suffered and important causes have seen setbacks, the challenges have also reaffirmed the aid community’s commitment to keep moving forward. The tumult imparted costs and uncertainty — but it also provoked leadership and resolve to ensure that decades of progress in combating poverty and disease aren’t lost to the winds of change.

The Syrian conflict continues to produce images and accounts of humanity at its worst. Yet it has also drawn the sharp edge of heroism — health workers who continue to administer care despite the knowledge that the hospitals where they work have been painted with targets; teachers who fight to keep classrooms open amid the bombing.

The global development community will grapple with a new and evolving geopolitical landscape in 2017, but the new year is also a time to take stock. Here are a few of the actors, ideas, and priorities that emerged from 2016 as winners — or losers.

Global development’s 2016 winners:

  1. Cities.

While national and international institutions around the world struggled to keep pace with change, the world’s cities and their leaders took more steps to solidify their status as centers of action for sustainable development. The first Habitat summit in 20 years — Habitat III — brought urban leaders to Quito, Ecuador in October to launch a New Urban Agenda, which endorses an “urban paradigm shift” that “readdresses the way governments plan, finance, develop, govern and manage cities.”

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What’s new about the New Urban Agenda?

The “New Urban Agenda” will be the centerpiece of next month’s Habitat III summit and the guiding strategy for sustainable urbanization over the next few decades. A final draft was released this…

See more on devex.com

 

Mayors and local leaders proved critical to sustaining climate momentum at COP22 in Marrakech, after Donald Trump’s surprise presidential victory cast doubts over U.S. national climate policy. “Cities, businesses and citizens will continue reducing emissions, because they have concluded … that doing so is in their own self-interest,” said U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In 2017 Devex will convene a global conversation about the future of smart cities for global development. Stay tuned.

  1. Solar power.

The cost of solar panels has fallen 80 percent since 2010, according to the International Energy Agency. Solar energy has gotten increasingly cheaper and is now the lowest-priced option for new electricity production in many developing countries.

The last few years witnessed a turning point, with more new energy production happening in renewables than in fossil fuels. New payment and distribution models — such as pay as you go solar panels — have emerged to help enable access to renewable power at the bottom of the pyramid. These trends have led to some bold and hopeful predictions.

The Indian government, for example, said it will exceed its — already very ambitious — Paris climate agreement target for renewable energy by half, generating 57 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2027.

At COP22, the Climate Vulnerable Forum — a group of 48 countries expected to experience the harshest impacts of climate change — adopted a vision to meet 100 percent domestic renewable energy production by 2050.

  1. National development finance institutions.

Development finance institutions received top billing in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which called on donors to leverage aid resources into private sector investment in order to reach the precipitous $2.5 trillion target. Donors across Europe are responding enthusiastically. Finland, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and France are recapitalizing their DFIs, many increasing budgets by more than 100 percent. The United Kingdom’s investment arm, the CDC, is on track to quadruple its ceiling for investment early next year to $8 billion.

Questions remain about whether DFI capacity for impact evaluation and accountability is keeping pace, but the critiques don’t appear to be slowing growth in the sector. Also in question are DFIs’ frequent use of more obscure financial environments, including tax havens, as revealed in the so-called Panama Papers leaks. Still, private investment is on the rise, and donors are keen to make it work. The Overseas Development Institute and Center for Strategic and International Studies reported in 2016 that private investment funds are on track to outstrip official development assistance in as little as 10 years.

  1. Disaster response and preparedness.

Cyclone Winston, Hurricane Matthew and the Aceh earthquake were just some of the natural disasters that devastated some of the poorest economies in 2016. According to the World Disasters Report, released by the Red Cross in October, climate change will increase the numbers of natural disasters worldwide, with the Asia-Pacific region suffering the greatest impacts in terms of cost and lives lost. But this year also saw strong funding and increased programmatic focus on building communities that will be better equipped to prepare and respond to future natural disasters.

The Asian Development Bank, for example, told Devex about its increased funding to tackle climate-related impacts in the Asia-Pacific: funding for more resilient infrastructure, climate-smart agriculture, innovative technologies, preparedness for weather-related disasters and mitigation programs will be key investments in the coming years.

In Australia, emergency and humanitarian response was among the few winners to garner more financing in the 2016 aid budget. And the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave almost $13 million in grants to emergency response programs in 2016. As Peter Walton, international director for Red Cross Australia, explained to Devex, NGOs are making “pretty significant” shifts toward disaster-related programs particularly in the Asia-Pacific.

 

 

16 events that will shape 2017

AMEinfo came up with this formidable vision of next year titled 16 events that will shape 2017; we could not help but reproduce it here all for the benefit of our readers.  All comments are welcome but we would advise to address direct to AMEinfo with nevertheless a copy to MENA-Forum.  

AMEinfo, is a well known and reliable middle east online medium of information.

Historically as per Wikipedia, AMEinfo.com was initially Arabian Modern Equipment Est., incorporated in Abu Dhabi, in February 1993 by Saif Al-Suwaidi and Klaus Lovgreen. The first version of the AME Info CD-ROM database of 125,000 companies was developed and compiled late 1996 and sold some 10,000 copies.  

The listing of the events as proposed by AMEinfo summed up thus.

  •  Many events of 2016 will have repercussions spilling over into 2017
  •  Positive impacts include Saudi Vision 2030, OPEC deal
  •  The fallout of Trump’s presidency, JASTA law, Italy referendum, etc. remain to be seen

The year 2016 was eventful, to say the least, with the world shaken by several momentous events whose repercussions will spill over into 2017.

Here are 16 events of 2016 that will most probably shape the coming year:

 

Saudi Vision 2030

This vision, announced in April, is one of the top economic highlights of 2016. Its repercussions are yet to be experienced throughout 2017 and beyond. Some of the biggest follow ups to this event are the Saudi Aramco IPO, expected to take place in 2018, privatising Football Clubs in the kingdom and its green card plan.

 

Trump as president of the United States

President-elect Donald Trump filling posts for his administration, getting ready to officially take office in January. This is when his foreign policy is expected to take its final shape and impact the whole world, starting with countries of the Americas, passing through Europe and the Middle East and reaching Asia.  

(Donald Trump wins US elections 2016: What it means for MENA)

 

Brexit

The United Kingdom voted to exit the European Union last June through a national referendum. Since then, the country underwent several months of economic chaos that it tried to keep under control, especially because it had not yet left the European Union. The chaos is expected to continue until the announcement of an exit plan, expected in March 2017.  

(Brexit: Who’s next?)

 

JASTA

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act is a law passed by the United States Congress, allowing survivors and relatives of victims of terrorist attacks to pursue cases against foreign governments in the US federal court. The bill raised tensions with Saudi Arabia – when the bill was introduced, Saudi Arabia threatened to sell up to $750 billion in United States Treasury securities and other US assets if the bill is passed. Saudi Arabia is still lobbying the US over the law.

 

Egypt’s floating of the pound

Egypt’s central bank floated the pound currency in November, devaluing by 32.3 percent to an initial guidance level of EGP 13 to the dollar and hiking interest rates by three per cent to rebalance currency markets following weeks of turbulence. According to many observers, Egypt’s floating of its currency comes in a bid to attract more investors to the country.

 

China’s AIIB development bank

China launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a new international development bank, seen as a rival to the current, US-led World Bank. Countries such as Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Philippines and South Korea agreed to join the AIIB, recognising China’s growing economic strength.

 

Google Alphabet

Last August, Google announced creating a new public holding company, Alphabet. Alphabet become the mother of a collection of companies, including Google, which includes the search engine, YouTube and other apps; Google X, the Alphabet arm working on big breakthroughs in the industry; Google Capital, the investment arm; as well as Fiber, Calcio, Nest  and Google Ventures.

 

Panama papers leak

Roughly 11.5 million documents were leaked in April, detailing financial and attorney-client information for hundreds of thousands of offshore entities. The documents contained personal financial information about famous, wealthy individuals and public officials.

The documents were created by a law firm in Panama, with some dating back to the 1970s.

 

Iran nuclear deal: lifting of sanctions

Although the framework of this agreement was announced in 2015, economic sanctions started to lift only in January 2016. The year saw the beginning of Iran’s return to international markets and more is expected for 2017 as the country has not yet made a full comeback.

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones, released this year, started to heat up and explode, causing some injuries in different markets around the world and killing the model altogether. This created massive chaos for the South-Korean manufacturer, which withdrew all units from the markets and started a gruelling investigation into the rootcause of the issue.

 

King Salman bin Abdel Aziz Bridge

Last April, Saudi Arabia and Egypt agreed to build a bridge over the Red Sea, linking the two countries together. This was seen as a historic move highlighting the excellent relationship between the allies. The bridge would be called “King Salman bin Abdel Aziz Bridge”.

 

OPEC deal

Members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC members as well, reached their first deal since 2001, to curb levels of oil output to ease a global glut after oversupply pressured prices for more than two years. Long-term market reactions to the deal are yet to be felt and will probably be seen throughout 2017.

 

Pokémon Go

The new augmented reality game, developed by Niantic, quickly became a global phenomenon and was one of the most profitable apps of 2016, with more than 500 million downloads worldwide.

 

Italy referendum

Italy’s government, led by then-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, held a nation-wide referendum proposing reforms and amendments to the country’s constitution. The referendum failed, leading to the resignation of Renzi, tipping the country into potential political turmoil and the rise of the populist, right-wing movement in the country.

Renzi’s resignation and the country’s instability also brought up concerns over a looming banking crisis in Italy, the third-largest national economy in the euro zone.

(Italy referendum: Step 1 to another Brexit?)

 

Fed raises interest rates

The US Federal Reserve raised interest rates, signalling a faster pace of increases in 2017, with central banks adapting to the incoming of a Donald Trump administration, which has promised to cut tax. The year 2017 will probably see the repercussion of that decision.

 

Turkey’s coup

A coup d’état was attempted in Turkey in July against state organisations including the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The failed coup was carried out by a faction of Turkey’s armed forces, who attempted to seize control of several areas in the capital of Ankara, Istanbul and elsewhere.

The coup, and other terrorist attacks, disturbed Turkey’s peace and stability and harmed its tourism industry, among others.

 

Qatar’s policy of qatarisation

We have written on numerous occasions on Qatar’s policy of qatarisation (Ref. 15 years of Qatarisation), here is DohaNews produced article on Qatar peculiar situation of its minority autochthonous population.  We could safely say that it is about the same situation in all countries of the GCC.

Yes, Qataris have almost always been a minority in their own country

Qatar’s population is continuing to grow, but the number of Qatari nationals remains fairly static, at around 10 percent of the country’s residents, according to some estimates.

However, it used to be as high as 42 percent, according to Priya D’Souza.

The former editor of BQ Magazine was born in Qatar, and her family has lived in the country since the 1950s.

However, Qatari nationality is passed down almost exclusively through the father’s bloodline, and expats who are born in Qatar are not usually granted citizenship.

D’Souza recently left Qatar for good, and is now writing a series of posts for website calloftravel.com to “shed some clarity on the Qatar community (both local and migrant) to aid those looking to make Qatar home for the next few years.”

‘Waves’ of migrants

In her first post, “Have Qataris always been a minority in their country?” D’Souza outlines immigration patterns to Qatar since the 1940s.

She also charts the changing relationships between the local population and expats. Her family for example still has close friendships with Qatari families they have known for almost 70 years.

Souq Waqif

But it is difficult to call a country home and not a hold passport to that nation, she added. All families who have lived here for generations “have at some point hoped for Qatari citizenship.”

Now, changes appear to be afoot among this population, with many long-term resident families considering, “for the first time in decades” leaving Qatar.

She didn’t elaborate why, but added:

“While Qatar will always hold a special place in my heart as the country I was born in, the Qatar of the last decade and what it is turning into, is the reason I had very little choice but to leave,” she said.

D’Souza’s future posts will cover topics such as how safe the country is; whether Qatari society is hypocritical; migrant worker rights and treatment; working in Qatar and censorship; and Qatarization.