Welcome to the Caspian Daily, where you will find the 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region. We appreciate ideas, reports, news and interesting articles. Send along to Caspian[at]moderndiplomacy.eu or on Twitter: @DGiannakopoulos
1“I’m fascinated by the Schumer thing, because I know something about his past involvement with Iran policy that may well have played a role in his decision to oppose The Deal. Senator Schumer had a direct, personal involvement in a brief secret correspondence between the Obama Administration and the leaders of the massive insurrection against the Iranian regime in 2009, following the fraud concerning the outcome of the June elections in Iran. Former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi got the most votes, while then-current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was proclaimed the winner. The streets of all major cities filled with protestors, bigger than the monster crowds that had massed against the shah in 1979. Michael Ledeen for Forbes.
2Does Congress want a war with Iran? US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has warned about the consequences of not completing a nuclear agreement with Iran ahead of Congress vote on the accord next month. “The alternative of not reaching an agreement, you know what it is?” he said in an interview with CBS on Sunday. “It’s war. Do we really want another war, a war with Iran? An asymmetrical warfare that will take place all over this world, threaten American troops? Look, I’m not going to tell you that this is a perfect agreement, It’s so easy to be critical of an agreement which is not perfect,” he said. “And every agreement can be better.”
3Asian and European lenders unveiled a $1 billion finance package Friday to help fund an Azeri natural gas field meant to diversify the European energy sector.The Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, with support from the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank, announced funding support for the second stage of the Shah Deniz natural gas field off the coast of Azerbaijan.The ADB said the project is “crucial” for energy security in the European economy.
4Oil production at Goturdepeneft oil and gas production department in Turkmenistan has exceeded 1.7 million metric tons as of H1 2015, or half of the crude production by Turkmenoil state concern. Turkmenoil state concern has expanded the scope of exploration and drilling work, increased the oil and gas production. Moreover, 42 wells, including 34 exploratory and eight production wells have been put into operation in H1 2015.
5Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Turkmenistan’s President Gurbangulu Berdimuhamedov along with his delegation at the Tarabya Palace in Istanbul. Both leaders expressed a desire to boost economic ties between the two countries.Bilateral cooperation in energy and cultural sectors was also discussed during the meeting. Erdogan thanked Turkmenistan for its confidence in Turkish companies operating in Turkmenistan.
6Reassuring and alarming.“If you ask Western policy makers about the main security threats facing Europe, they come up with two: Jihadists from the so-called Islamic State and President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The threat from jihadists is clear. But why Russia? Bridget Kendall for BBC.
7What Europe gets wrong about Russia. In a new analysis, European Council on Foreign Relations senior policy fellow Kadri Liik explores European sanctions against Russia and how European leaders should use them.She observes that Europe doesn’t seem to know what it wants the “structural sanctions” to achieve and thus don’t have any time frame as to exactly when to end said sanctions.“Do we expect a regime change in Moscow? Or do we want Russia to start behaving ‘as a normal European country’ i.e. one that tries to base its influence on attraction rather than coercion?” Liik asks.
8KazTransOil sees 2 times increase in profits. The net consolidated profit of KazTransOil group of companies of Kazakhstan for the first half of 2015 totaled 39.428 billion Kazakh tenge (187.65 tenge = $1), or 49.2 percent higher than in the same period of 2014. The consolidated revenue of KazTransOil for the first half of 2015 amounted to 106.646 billion tenge, or 6.2 percent higher than in the first half of 2014.
9The 11th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the World Diamond Council (WDC) will take place in Moscow, Russia from October 12 to 14, 2015, Rough & Polished reports. The WDC AGM is open to paid WDC members and invited guests only. The meeting will be hosted by WDC and mining giant Alrosa, and will consider a number of topics relating to the Kimberley Process (KP), and the engagement of the WDC and the industry with the KP.
10Azerbaijani films have been included into the program of the 11th Kazan International Muslim Film Festival, due to be held in Kazan on September 5 – 11, 2015. Some 50 films from 25 countries will be screened at the Festival. Kazan International Muslim Film Festival has been held in the capital city of Tatarstan since 2005. The first festival was initiated by the Council of Muftis of Russia, Federal agency for culture and cinematography of Russia, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan with the support of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan.
The world needs to build on the growing momentum behind carbon capture
After years of slow progress, technologies to capture carbon emissions and store or reuse them are gaining momentum, a trend that will need to accelerate significantly for the world to achieve its energy and climate goals, according to a new special report released by the IEA today.
The report, CCUS in Clean Energy Transitions, is being launched at an IEA online event opened by Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, whose government announced a major funding commitment this week for a new carbon capture project that can help tackle emissions from Norway and neighbouring countries.
Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) is the only group of technologies that contributes both to reducing emissions in key sectors directly and to removing CO2 from the atmosphere to balance the emissions that are the hardest to prevent – a crucial part of reaching the net-zero emissions goals that a growing number of governments and companies have set for themselves.
Part of the IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives Series, the new IEA report is the most comprehensive global study on CCUS to date. It assesses the state of play of CCUS technologies and maps out the evolving and expanding role they will need to play to put global emissions on a sustainable trajectory. It includes a detailed analysis of CO2 emissions from power and industrial facilities in China, Europe and the United States and potential for storing them.
“The scale of the climate challenge means we need to act across a wide range of energy technologies. Carbon capture is critical for ensuring our transitions to clean energy are secure and sustainable,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director.
“In order to develop and deploy carbon capture and storage as a technology for the future we need investments in solutions and facilities in many regions and countries,” said Prime Minister Solberg. “CCUS will be necessary on a global scale if we are to meet the Paris Agreement. And we must start now.”
“Norway has been a global leader in researching, developing and implementing carbon capture technologies, as demonstrated by its major funding commitment this week to the impressive Longship project, which can help not just Norway but other European countries reduce their emissions,” Dr Birol said. “The IEA is delighted and honoured that Prime Minister Solberg is taking part in the launch of our new report that will help inform policy-making on CCUS around the world.”
Plans for more than 30 commercial CCUS facilities have been announced globally in the last three years. And projects now nearing a final investment decision represent an estimated potential investment of around USD 27 billion – more than double the investment planned in 2017. This portfolio of projects is increasingly diverse and would double the amount of CO2 captured globally.
The report sets out the four main ways that CCUS technologies contribute to clean energy transitions:
- Tackling emissions from existing energy infrastructure such as power and industrial plants;
- Providing a solution for some of the most challenging emissions from heavy industries like cement and chemicals, as well as from aviation;
- Offering a cost-effective pathway for low-carbon hydrogen production in many regions;
- Removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
Although CCUS facilities have been operating for decades in certain industries like natural gas and fertilisers, they are still at an early stage of development in key sectors such as cement. These are the areas where CCUS technologies are particularly important for tackling emissions because of a lack of alternatives.
“Action from governments will be essential for establishing a sustainable and viable market for CCUS,” Dr Birol said. “But industry must also embrace the opportunity. No sector will be unaffected by clean energy transitions – and for some, including heavy industry, the value of CCUS is inescapable. As our new report demonstrates, the IEA is committed to leading CCUS analysis and policy advice worldwide – and to bringing together governments, companies and other key players to work together to achieve our shared energy and climate goals.”
Will Pandemic Disruption Drive More Legal Operations Transformation?
While 86% of in-house counsel surveyed said they see opportunity to modernize legal services provided to their stakeholders, Deloitte’s “2020 Legal Operations Survey” found that challenges remain. Respondents described their corporate legal departments’ maturity level for technology as just “foundational.”
Ashley Smith, Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory managing director, Deloitte Transactions and Business Analytics LLP said, “Organizations everywhere have undergone massive change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic uncertainties. As business strategies shift and the corporate legal department is called on to do more to help organizations navigate through disruption, focusing on legal operations transformation could help in-house counsel and their teams to evolve beyond heavy manual, tactical work – into leveraging technology to offer more strategic insights and value.”
Corporate legal departments face a number of challenges in legal transformation. Many survey respondents (71%) report that their teams spend a significant amount of time on manual tasks. In addition, the majority of respondents (74%) felt they do not have clear and accurate metrics on the work being completed by internal and external resources, and very few respondents (13%) have a process to validate that work and resource levels are properly aligned. From a process perspective, 71% of respondents do not have dedicated project management software for corporate legal department use.
Smith added, “Unfortunately, there’s no ‘easy button’ to corporate legal department modernization. Many legal professionals want to modernize and their organizations often have good systems already within the enterprise to help them achieve it. The challenge lies in the clean-up work needed to get the right data into those systems and to get disparate systems working well together. That step into change management doesn’t seem to be one most legal departments have the appetite or bandwidth to take on presently. But, as demands on the corporate legal department seem only to increase, it’s a goal worth setting as the pandemic continues.”
Looking forward, 62% of respondents agree that establishing better processes around their existing systems would help solve their current technology challenges.
The Great Reset: A Global Opening Moment to Turn Crisis into Opportunity
H.M. King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein of Jordan opened the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2020 with a call for a Great Reset, urging drastic action to address problems laid bare and exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“This crisis should also be seen as an opportunity for all of us – if we act decisively, and act together,” he said. “We must begin by rethinking our entire global system to become more integrated, resilient and just. A globalized world cannot thrive by leaving its most vulnerable communities behind. We are all in this together. And the sooner we realize it, the better.”
“The way forward must be rooted in a re-globalization that fortifies the building blocks of our international community by enabling our countries to strike a balance between self-reliance and positive-positive interdependence, enabling us all to jointly mark a holistic response to all crises facing our world,” he said. “A response that strengthens our global economy but also addresses inequalities. A response that leads to technological and industrial progress but also ensures the sustainability of our shared environment.”
In the summit’s opening session, panellists drew attention to a wide range of issues that can and must be addressed as the world remakes itself in the wake of the pandemic. Disruptions to supply chains – including massive shortages of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies in the early months of the outbreak – highlighted not only the fragility of intricate global systems dependent on unimpeded transport but also the fact that existing supply chains were built for convenience and are not human-centred, said Grace Forrest, Founding Director of the Walk Free Foundation. “Supply chains were built to be efficient, irrespective of the cost locally,” she said.
She called for more locally focused and more transparent supply chains that centre communities, commit to sustainability and remove obstacles to the full and free participation of women and girls, who make up over 70% of the victims of modern slavery. “We need to be honest that we cannot keep moving forward when so many people are being held back,” she said.
Agricultural practices by the world’s farmers cannot be changed through shifts in consumption alone, said Anushka Ratnayake, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of myAgro. “It’s not a secret that farmers need tools to adapt to outdated agricultural practices, given climate change, and until now most of that change has been pushed by the consumer. But to truly reset this, change needs to come and start from the farmers and we can help support them to do that by deeply listening,” she said.
Ratnayake warned of a looming food security crisis, “particularly in countries where we work where governments have created restrictions on travel or closed weekly markets, which is the main way that farmers earn money”. She said: “During the dry season there was a lot of hesitance to spend money and make investments in their farms and so I think in the next coming six to 12 months, food security is going to be our biggest crisis – maybe even ahead of COVID.”
Rebecca Masisak, Chief Executive Officer of TechSoup Global, stressed that technology can and must be part of the solution but that unequal access to technology has so far proved to be a big part of the problem, worsening societal divisions in a time when, due to the pandemic, reliance on digital connectivity has markedly increased.
“Bill Gates has talked about the wide availability of digital technology that allows sharing of information global collaboration as being a critical factor in the speed of innovation,” she noted, “but digital technologies simply are not yet widely available to civil society at the grassroots level. We must invest in the necessary infrastructure for innovation. We need to support civil society workers and their communities in making all they know available to each other, to governments to business, so that the Great Reset is, in fact, a reset, and is improving both justice and opportunity for all.”
Alain Bejjani, Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Holding, said his company has seized on the pandemic to aggressively move forward on eliminating plastics from production and packaging – a move he said that both customers and partner companies have quickly accepted.
Ivan Duque, President of Colombia, noted that although his country has faced a number of crises this year, including a massive inflow of refugees from neighbouring Venezuela, Colombia has managed to meet the challenges and substantially reopen its economy without ignoring environmental commitments.
He said that Colombia has increased its intensive care unit capacity from 5,000 to over 10,000 beds and has kept deaths and contagions per million to levels lower than those of many countries with higher per capita income. In spite of this, Duque said, “we have not left the green agenda behind; we have even accelerated it.”
Colombia has pledged to plant 180 million trees by August 2022 as part of the World Economic Forum’s Trillion Trees Initiative and is on track to plant 50 million this year despite the pandemic. Duque also highlighted the way that executing state priorities can actually advance sustainability goals. He cited as examples the efforts to stamp out cocoa cultivation, noting that each hectare of cocoa planted results in the destruction of three hectares of tropical jungle, as well as illegal cattle ranching and timber harvesting.
Duque also called for the creation of a credit market modelled on carbon credit markets and aimed at mobilizing global resources to protect the Amazon Basin.
“I think the Great Reset leaves us with the message that we have to find more humane solutions,” he said. “We have to acknowledge that whether it’s technology, whether it is with entrepreneurship, whether it’s through government, we all have to put the human being at the centre and that means the human being has to be more conscious about how to reduce the individual CO2 footprint, and at the same time, how they can all participate in building everlasting sustainable solutions.”
King Abdullah II captured the theme of the Sustainable Development Impact Summit well when he exhorted participants: “Instead of looking at problems to solve, I urge you to look at opportunities to seize and ways to collaborate to rebuild a truly global inclusive system that leaves no one behind.”
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