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
1Islamic State has designs on the holy cities of Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem and endangers Europe and Russia, Vladimir Putin said. Moscow is concerned about IS-trained jihadists returning to EU countries, the CIS and Russia. “Extremists from many countries of the world, including, unfortunately, European counties, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) undertake ideological and military training in the ranks of Islamic State [IS, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL],” said Putin, speaking at the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit in Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe. “And certainly we are worried that they could possibly return. It is necessary to set aside geopolitical ambitions, drop so-called double standards, the policy of direct or indirect use of separate terrorist groups for achieving own goals, including removing the governments and regimes.”
2Azerbaijan quits Euronest. The Parliament of Azerbaijan passed a decision regarding the resolution of the European Parliament dated September 10, 2015.The draft decision was read out by vice-speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament, Head of the EU-Azerbaijan parliamentary cooperation committee Valeh Asgarov. According to the document, the European Parliament’s resolution shows that the organization is extremely biased against Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani Parliament adopts a decision: The subversive activities and biased campaigns against Azerbaijan shall be ended. The activity damaging the reputation of the European Parliament shall be stopped.The Azerbaijani delegation should be stopped from participating in the meetings of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly and recalled. The Cabinet of Ministers should be ordered to ban members of the European Parliament from entering Azerbaijan in case sanctions are imposed on Azerbaijani officials.
3The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which unites state legislators form 50 U.S. states, has passed a resolution emphasizing Azerbaijan’s strategic importance and fast development, APA reports. The resolution encourages the United States government to support and deepen strategic partnership with the Republic of Azerbaijan.The biggest part of the resolution is about the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. According to the resolution, both the U.S. along with the United Nations recognizes and supports Azerbaijan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
4Kazakhstan Launches Energy Efficiency Project. On September 14, the Ministry of Investments and Development jointly with the World Bank officially launched the Kazakhstan Energy Efficiency Project to improve the energy efficiency in public and social facilities and to create the enabling environment for sustainable energy efficiency financing.The project focuses on reduction in energy use of public buildings such as schools, kindergartens, hospitals, and street lighting, to demonstrate energy cost savings and social co-benefits.
5Western dream of regime change in Iran is over, so what’s next? “The contest between Iran and Saudi Arabia is destabilizing the entire region, with global consequences, and neither seems to have a workable strategy to exit the conflicts in which they are embroiled. At the heart of their competition lies Syria, a majority-Sunni country ruled by a minority regime allied with Iran” Joost Hiltermann –Reuters.
6Is Syria the new Crimea? Russia may think so. “New intelligence reports verified that Russia is sending military forces into Syria capable of striking ISIS targets. Two U.S. officials told Foreign Policy Magazine; “The intelligence community has substantiated that Russia is going to deploy Mikoyan MiG 31 and Sukhoi Su-25 fighter planes to a forward operating base in Latakia.” Much of the military equipment has arrived, including air traffic control towers, aircraft supplies, as well as housing units for hundreds of troops” examiner.com
7The OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs will organize a meeting between Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan said. According to Robert F. Cekuta, the Co-chairs and the Foreign Ministers will discuss the possibility of organizing a meeting between Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents later this year. Commenting on the date of the Co-chairs’ next visit to the region, the U.S. ambassador said the mediators planned to visit the region next fall, failing, however, to mention specific dates.
8New thermal power plant commissioned in Turkmenistan. A new gas-turbine thermal power plant has been commissioned in Derweze district of Turkmenistan’s Ahal province, ‘Neutral Turkmenistan’ newspaper reported.The new power plant is able to meet the electricity demand of the province and Ashgabat city, according to the report.The power plant with the total installed capacity of 504.4 megawatt was constructed by Turkish Calik Enerji Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S.The new thermal power plant, located on the area of 32 hectares, is a complex of modern technological facilities. The main facilities among them are four powerful gas-turbine plants GE 9E produced by the US General Electric company. Their capacity is 126.1 megawatt each.
9Azerbaijan’s oil production will average 0.86 million barrels per day in 2015, according to OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report published on September 14.This figure is revised down by 10,000 barrels per day from the previous month’s predictions.OPEC predicts Azerbaijan’s oil production at an average 0.8 million barrels per day over 2016.
10The EU should reward, not punish its loyal partner Azerbaijan. The European Union’s double standards in its dealings with Azerbaijan are damaging to the trust of a people that embraces European values, writes Ceyhun Osmanlı for Euractiv.
New Satellite Data Reveals Progress: Global Gas Flaring Declined in 2017
New satellite data released today shows a significant decline in gas flaring at oil production sites around the world in 2017, despite a half-percent increase in global oil production. The nearly 5 percent flaring decline begins to reverse years of increases in global gas flaring that started in 2010.
The data reveals about 141 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas was flared in 2017, down from nearly 148 bcm in 2016. While Russia remains the world’s largest gas flaring country, it also saw the largest decline in flaring last year. Venezuela and Mexico also reduced their flaring significantly in 2017. In Iran and Libya there were notable increases in gas flaring.
The data was released by the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR), a World Bank-managed organization comprised of governments, oil companies, and international institutions working to reduce gas flaring. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and GGFR have developed the flaring estimates in cooperation with the University of Colorado, based on observations from advanced sensors in a satellite launched in 2012.
Gas flaring – the burning of natural gas associated with oil extraction – takes place because of technical, regulatory, and/or economic constraints. It causes more than 350 million tons of CO2 emissions every year, with serious harmful impacts from un-combusted methane and black carbon emissions. Gas flaring is also a substantial waste of energy resources the world can ill afford.
“The latest global gas flaring data is encouraging, but we will have to wait a few more years to know whether it represents a much-needed turning point,” said Riccardo Puliti, the World Bank’s Senior Director and head of its Energy & Extractives Global Practice. “Ending routine gas flaring is a key component of our climate change mitigation agenda, and the global flaring reduction Initiative we launched just three years ago now has 77 endorsers, covering about 60 percent of the total gas flared around the world.”
In 2015, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and 25 initial endorsers launched the “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” Initiative that commits endorsers to not routinely flare gas in new oil field developments and to seek solutions to end routine flaring at existing oil production sites as soon as possible and no later than 2030. It has now been endorsed by 27 governments, 35 oil companies, and 15 development institutions.
“The Initiative is an essential tool for ending routine flaring,” said Bjorn Hamso, GGFR’s Program Manager. “Going forward, it is paramount that oil field operators continue to address ongoing “legacy” flaring, and that new business models are developed that will enable more investors to participate in flaring reduction projects.”
World Tourism Day Places Focus on Innovation & Digital Transformation
The importance of digital technologies in tourism, providing opportunities for innovation and preparing the sector for the future of work, is at the centre of World Tourism Day 2018, to be celebrated in Budapest, Hungary (27 September 2018).
World Tourism Day, celebrated every 27 September around the world, is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on tourism’s actual and potential contribution to sustainable development.
This year’s World Tourism Day (WTD) will help to put the opportunities provided to tourism, by technological advances including big data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms, on the map of sustainable development. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) sees digital advances and innovation as part of the solution to the challenge of marrying continued growth with a more sustainable and responsible tourism sector.
“Harnessing innovation and digital advances provides tourism with opportunities to improve inclusiveness, local community empowerment and efficient resource management, amongst other objectives within the wider sustainable development agenda”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
The WTD official celebration will be held in Budapest, Hungary, a country enjoying steady growth of tourism backed by consistent policy support and a commitment to the digital future. Other celebrations will take place worldwide.
The official celebration will also see the announcement of the semi-finalists of the 1st UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition, launched by UNWTO and Globalia to give visibility to startups with innovative ideas capable of revolutionizing the way we travel and enjoy tourism.
EU and China step up cooperation on climate change and clean energy
At the China-EU Summit on 16 July in Beijing, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the Council, Donald Tusk, and the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang adopted a “Leaders’ Statement on Climate Change and Clean Energy”. Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and the Chinese Minister of Ecology and Environment Li Ganjie signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance cooperation on emissions trading between China and the EU.
In the Leaders’ Statement, China and the EU underline the need to advance the implementation of the Paris Agreement under the UNFCCC process, and to get the Paris Agreement Work Programme – the rulebook for the implementation of the Paris Agreement – adopted at the next global climate conference in December 2018 in Katowice, Poland.
The Statement shows how the EU and China will intensify their political, technical, economic and scientific cooperation on climate change and clean energy to drive forward a world-wide transformation to a thriving low carbon and climate-resilient economy and society and clean energy system. It clearly shows their commitment to climate action and achieving a clean energy transition are urgent imperatives.
In the Memorandum of Understanding China and the EU acknowledge emissions trading as a cost-effective policy tool with significant potential to contribute to a low-carbon economy and the necessary innovation and deployment of low carbon technologies.
Welcoming this commitment, President Juncker said: We have underlined our joint, strong determination to fight climate change and demonstrate global leadership. It shows our commitment to multilateralism and recognises that climate change is a global challenge affecting all countries on earth. There is no time for us to sit back and watch passively. Now is the time for decisive action.
Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: Further developing cooperation between the two largest emission trading systems of the world is not only in our mutual interest but also necessary to tackle common challenges in the mid- and longer term. The newly established policy dialogue will be instrumental in this context.
The Memorandum of Understanding on EU-China cooperation on emissions trading establishes a policy dialogue, foresees the joint organisation of seminars and workshops, as well as joint research activities.
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