Russia’s war will hasten thedrive for clean energy security

Russia’s war will hasten the
drive for clean energy security

But what’s in it for those countries of the MENA region? We’ll have to hang on some time to see the impacts on their grains imports. After over a Century of Burning Fossil Fuels, this drive towards clean energy seems perhaps overdue. Meanwhile let’s see The Interpreter‘s :

Russia’s war will hasten the drive for clean energy security


Wind and solar is not only zero-emissions – it’s local. And that will cut Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and oil.

Russia is a huge producer and exporter of fossil fuels, especially oil and gas. By waging war on Ukraine and all this brings with it for geopolitics, its energy trade will change. It will be a short-term boost to other energy exporters, but the bigger effect will be a fundamental re-think on energy security which will accelerate decarbonisation.

Russian gas supplies to Europe will fall, more immediately as a result of trade sanctions and Russian countermeasures, and over the longer term because European countries will no longer want to be hostage to Russian energy supplies. The new Nordstream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany is dead in the water for now. Russia could gradually supply more gas to China and some other markets, but most of its gas is transported in pipelines not on tankers so it is not easy to change destinations. It’s a similar story for much of Russia’s oil exports.

For other gas and oil producers this is good news. Oil prices have already jumped up as they usually do in times of crisis. Prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) are on the rise too, as are coal prices. Exporters with spare capacity will fill the gaps left by Russia, to the extent of spare capacity in Europe’s LNG import terminals.

The way Russia acts now is triggering a fast and fundamental re-think of European energy strategy.

Australia’s gas export facilities operate near full capacity so don’t expect greater exports. The higher prices are an incentive to invest in extra supply capacity but this is not straightforward, and building or expanding LNG processing plants takes a long time. The main effect for now will be higher prices benefitting gas companies and hurting domestic consumers.

Some big changes however are afoot in energy importing countries, and they go against fossil fuels. Western Europe’s energy system depends heavily on gas and oil imports. More than half of Germany’s gas supply is from Russia.

This has been a strategic vulnerability for a long time, while European governments and industry by and large choose to hope for the best and trust Russia. The way Russia acts now is triggering a fast and fundamental re-think of European energy strategy.

Europe will be in a hurry to stop its reliance on Russian gas. In Germany for example, the need to supply gas for heating next winter will drive change fast. European heavy industry also relies heavily on imported gas. Europe will expand gas import infrastructure to be able to land more LNG, wherever it may come from. In some countries, coal power plants will be running harder or kept running longer before planned closure, to save gas. A similar consideration goes for nuclear power though little can be done short term.

Germany’s conservative pro-business finance minister spelt it out in a special weekend parliamentary session on Ukraine and Russia: “Renewable energy resolves dependencies. Renewable energy is freedom energy.”

Russia’s war will hasten the
drive for clean energy security
Europe will be in a hurry to stop its reliance on Russian gas (Marijan Murat via Getty Images)

The big and lasting effect will be to greatly accelerate investment in renewable energy, with much more solar power and wind power both on land and offshore. Seaborne imports of fuels based on clean hydrogen are also likely to play a role, with Australia a potential supplier. Previous crises that affected oil supply (other than the 1970s oil crisis) did not have a huge effect, but this one is about gas, and the clean energy alternatives are now affordable. Europe’s heating systems are slated to be converted to electric heat pumps, and this will make efficient electric heating cheaper everywhere, driving uptake globally in future.

The fact that it has zero emissions has usually been seen as the main advantage of renewable energy. From here on, energy importing countries will also place great value on the fact that renewable energy is local energy. A zero-emissions energy system in most countries is by and large a domestic energy system. It is safe when geopolitics fray, an aspect that many now feel is worth paying a premium for.

European governments and industry will push aggressively on investments for clean energy independence. Japan, South Korea and other large fossil fuel importers may feel similarly.  By waging war on its neighbour and confronting the West, Russia will hollow out its own position as an energy exporter.

Russia’s war will therefore accelerate the global shift to clean energy. After an initial rebound in coal and diversification of gas trade, it will drive decarbonisation in electricity supply and in industry. In countries that have already subscribed to energy transition in the name of climate action, things will happen even faster. It will also extend to displacing oil imports by accelerating the electric vehicle revolution. Why be beholden to energy imports when you can run your transport system largely on electricity produced cleanly at home?

It means massive investments. They will underpin a new energy system that will be very low in emissions and very resilient against external threats. It won’t necessarily be the cheapest way to supply energy right now, but spending is not the constraint when nations are faced with what looks like near existential problems. “In the end it is only money … when the situation demands it, the necessary funds will be made available”, said Robert Habeck, Germany’s deputy Chancellor and Minister for Economy and Climate Protection.

In future, it could be that the global climate change problem will be seen that way. In the meantime, the horror of Russia’s war on Ukraine, among all the suffering and economic waste that it will bring, will promote the shift to cleaner energy. It will be painful but effective.

Sustainability is a growing concern around the globe

Sustainability is a growing concern around the globe

How Sustainability Is Transforming The Way Professionals Live And Work Globally was looked at by The Emagazine. It notably holds that Sustainability is a growing concern around the globe, and experts predict it will become an integral part of the future for all professionals.

How Sustainability Is Transforming The Way Professionals Live And Work Globally

Sustainability is a growing concern around the globe

As sustainability takes on a larger role in their daily lives, this shift will alter professional practices, from how they work to where they live.

To thrive in a world of sustainable change, experts say professionals need to think critically about their actions and engage with the knowledge that is both broad and deep.

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is the ability to withstand or adapt to change with minimal impact on the environment or quality of life.

It is defined by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as “a socially-shared endeavor for a prosperous and sustainable future,” with goals that aim to eliminate poverty, reduce inequalities in wealth and opportunity, improve well-being for all, combat climate change and promote ecological wisdom.

Sustainable Development Goals

GetSmarter survey results show that the majority of professionals prioritize sustainability as a greater global challenge than climate change or religious conflict.

To address this challenge, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015, which includes 17 global goals aimed to achieve sustainable development between now and 2030.

The “Sustainable Development Goals” are also referred to as the Global Goals. These goals are for all countries worldwide, with specific targets for each country depending on factors such as population and economic conditions.

Experts say that these goals will be impossible to achieve without the right amount of economic and social progress. The goals also seek to strengthen international cooperation for countries to meet their sustainable development goals:

  • Effective governance: promoting inclusive and accountable governance at all levels of decision-making .
  • Gender equality: ending discrimination against women and girls
  • Environmental sustainability: ensuring the protection, conservation, sustainable use and restoration of ecosystems .
  • Climate action: strengthening resilience to climate change .
  • Life below water: ensuring sustainable management of marine resources for food security. .
  • Life on land: promoting conservation, sustainable use of terrestrial resources, and the reduction of land degradation.
  • Peace, justice and strong institutions: building peaceful, just and inclusive societies .
  • Partnerships for the goals: strengthening partnerships for the goals with a focus on people at all levels of society.


Climate change and sustainability go hand-in-hand and are not just a part of the future but already a reality. As they continue to produce more greenhouse gases, they can predict that global warming will affect everyone.

Climate change is having effects on water, food resources, and weather patterns. It is also experiencing rising temperatures around the globe.

Pointers on The Sustainability Transformation

1. Research specific sustainability trends in your industry.

For example, many industries are moving toward more energy-efficient vehicles. Energy efficiency is one of the main focuses of sustainable practices because it reduces waste and saves money.

The future is upon everyone; you can see that the world has taken steps toward sustainability. For example, many countries are developing new regulations to reduce carbon emissions.

2. List the steps you will take to incorporate sustainability into your daily life.

You can start with simple changes, such as recycling and eating sustainable foods. Research places with sustainability initiatives that you can apply in your own life.

3. Take a look at the Sustainable Development Goals. What is in your industry that you can do to help the environment?    

Discuss what steps you can take in your position to incorporate these goals into your workplace.

Sustainability is changing people’s lifestyles and that of the entire planet. It is no longer a future goal; it is now a priority for all professionals. To make these changes, professionals need to think critically about their actions and engage with the knowledge that is both broad and deep.

Students demand action on the climate crisis

Students demand action on the climate crisis

COP26 is the world’s best – and perhaps last – chance to get runaway climate change under control, and to reach net zero HE needs to act swiftly, says Manveer Gill.
Students demand action on the climate crisis now – not later is reported by Times Higher Education. Would however the rest of society follow by perhaps making it a “civic virtue” or merely by being a “good” citizen, through the vital and full participation of each and every one?

Students demand action on the climate crisis now – not later

Students demand action on the climate crisis now – not later
Manveer Gill

Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education

Manveer Gill

There is now no doubt at all that today’s younger generation (and future generations) will face an array of impacts stemming from an increasingly destabilised climate, from heat waves and flooding becoming more frequent and more severe, to supply chain disruptions and food insecurity. 

Universities must prepare themselves for these changes and develop action plans to bring their own greenhouse gas emissions to net zero, thus contributing to the mitigation of a higher global temperature and the associated, more severe impacts. How they prepare themselves and what they focus on is key. There is both a significant opportunity and a moral duty for universities to support their students in the face of impending climate-induced adversity.

As highlighted by Students Organising for Sustainability UK’s research in 2021, most students do not currently have access to the educational opportunities that will provide them with the knowledge and skills needed to tackle the climate emergency and adapt to a changing world, both socially and economically.

This omission within personal and professional development will lead to difficulties for graduates in gaining sustainable careers − both within the sustainable development field itself and working for wider businesses as they are mandated to shift in line with a low-carbon reality.

Additionally, without proactively supporting students to develop the knowledge, skills and values needed to respond to the climate emergency on a personal level, the health and well-being of students is expected to suffer further as the impacts of climate change increase.

It is imperative, therefore, that universities provide climate education to all and embed “education for sustainable development” within curricula. Doing so will also reduce the chances that students and graduates will require retraining to be able to contribute further to net-zero futures.

Rather than a one-way line of communication and action, there is an opportunity for students to be engaged and consulted in the creation and delivery of such reforms, and indeed this should be the case for broader institutional sustainability plans. Being open and transparent will pave the way for stronger relations between students, staff and their institutions. It is precisely because climate change will have such alarming impacts that universities will need to empower their students during this transition.

For universities to mitigate their own climate impacts, they will need to rethink how they organise themselves. Whether their efforts are sufficient to reach net zero can only be determined if universities provide transparent and comparable statistics as part of regular emissions reporting.

At present within the UK, only Scottish universities are mandated to report institutional emissions, with an expectation for targets for net zero to be included in 2022 submissions. This lack of a regulatory reporting framework for the sector, specifically on climate action and disclosure of emissions and targets, has restricted progress by HE in this regard.

It puts HE institutions at risk of greenwashing audiences without taking the necessary steps to address the climate emergency or being held to account in doing so. We have already seen the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority mandate climate disclosure for premium listed UK companies in line with recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures. For HE to keep up and become leaders in the global transition to net zero, we need to see the creation and implementation of a mandatory reporting framework, which includes Scope 3 emissions – indirect emissions resulting from institutions’ activities, such as business travel and employee commuting – as well as target- and strategy-setting requirements.

The Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education is working to support a sector-wide approach to the climate emergency, with four senior-level institutional commissioners joined by four student commissioners in directing and leading this work.

As part of this, the student commissioners have published a student statement using input and feedback from student focus groups. The student statement includes nine demands for addressing identified gaps or issues within the UK’s HE sector in tackling the climate emergency. This statement will be sent, along with signatures from supporting students across the UK, to COY16 delegates who will present these views at COP26 in Glasgow next month.

COP26, the UN’s annual global climate summit, is the world’s best – and perhaps last – chance to get runaway climate change under control. To reach net zero and help protect the world’s communities, HE needs to act swiftly − and the UK government must support and mandate this action while also financing the transition.

HE plays a pivotal role in creating countries’ future leaders and others involved across our economies, while also acting as social and economic hubs for local communities. The action that the sector takes will have implications for society collectively. We owe it to the students of now and the future to lead by example.

Manveer Gill is one of four student climate commissioners at the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education. He is also a maths graduate from the University of Warwick and an honorary fellow of the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education (EAUC).

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The anxiety list for MENA entrepreneurs is long, as is the one curing it

The anxiety list for MENA entrepreneurs is long, as is the one curing it

Hadi Khatib on AMEInfo of 18 September 2021 came up with this deep statement on the anxiety list for MENA entrepreneurs that is long, as is the one curing it

The anxiety list for MENA entrepreneurs is long, as is the one curing it

A research report on the mental health challenges and wellbeing of entrepreneurs due to COVID-19 in the MENA region revealed anxiety has several facets in the minds of these leaders. But all of these insecurities have cures.

  • 55% of startup founders said that raising investment has caused the most stress.
  • More than 95% of entrepreneurs view co-founders as family members and/or friends.
  • Research finds that entrepreneurs are happier than people in jobs.

EMPWR, a UAE-based digital media agency dedicated to mental health and an exclusive mental health partner for WAMDA and Microsoft for startups, published a research report on the mental health challenges and wellbeing of entrepreneurs due to COVID-19 in the MENA region.

he anxiety list for MENA entrepreneurs is long, as is the one curing it

The research indicated that startup founders undergo higher levels of stress than the rest of the region, with twice the likelihood of developing depression issues.

55% of startup founders said that raising investment has caused the most stress; the pandemic was the second most-cited reason cited by 33.7% of respondents.   44.2% spend at least 2 hours a week trying to de-stress. 

he anxiety list for MENA entrepreneurs is long, as is the one curing it

Other insights, uncovered by the report, include:

  • A good relationship between co-founders can help startups navigate the pandemic-hit market. More than 95% of entrepreneurs view co-founders as family members and/or friends
  • Many entrepreneurs live well below their means to fund their ventures, leading to stress that is detrimental to their health

With only 2% of healthcare budgets in the MENA region currently spent on addressing mental health, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on young entrepreneurs and achievers could lead to an economic burden of $1 trillion, by 2030, according to the report.

he anxiety list for MENA entrepreneurs is long, as is the one curing it

EMPWR’s MENA partners shared special offers on their mental health services for the region’s entrepreneur community.

From Saudi Arabia:

Labayh is offering the technology ecosystem a 20% discount on their online mental health services for 2 months. Promo code: empwr, with the offer valid until October 29.

From Egypt:

O7 Therapy are offering 50% off their online mental health services, for 50 Entrepreneurs in the MENA region. Promo code: Entrepreneur50, valid until December 1, 2021.

From the UAE:

My Wellbeing Lab is offering 20 one-on-one coaching sessions to entrepreneurs that wish to be coached and helped; alongside unlimited access for any entrepreneur to their “Discovery Lab”, a platform that gives entrepreneurs and leaders insights into their mental wellbeing as well as their teams. Promo code: MWL21.

Takalam is offering 10% off for 3 months. Promo code: Impact.

Mindtales is offering the MENA ecosystem 50% off their services for one month. Their App can be downloaded here.

H.A.D Consultants is offering 20 one on one coaching sessions to entrepreneurs. Promo code: HAD_SME01.

From Oman:

Nafas, a meditation app focused on reducing stress, anxiety, and help with insomnia, is offering access to its platform. Register as a user via this link to redeem benefits. 

Entrepreneurs’ mixed emotions

Entrepreneurs must grapple with uncertainty and being personally responsible for any decision they make. They likely have the longest working hours of any occupational group and need to rapidly develop expertise across all areas of management while managing day-to-day business.

Yet despite all this, research finds that entrepreneurs are happier than people in jobs.

To understand this, a comprehensive and systematic review of 144 empirical studies of this topic, covering 50 years revealed:

1. It’s not all about pay

Work on the economics of entrepreneurship traditionally assumed that entrepreneurs bear all the stresses and uncertainties in the hope that over the long term they can expect high financial rewards for their effort. It’s false.

2. Highly stressful, but…

High workload and work intensity, as well as financial problems facing their business, are at the top of the entrepreneurs’ stress list.

But some stressors have an upside. While they require more effort in the here and now, they may lead to positive consequences such as business growth in the long term. Some entrepreneurs appear to interpret their long working hours as a challenge and therefore turn them into a positive signal.

he anxiety list for MENA entrepreneurs is long, as is the one curing it

3. Autonomy is both good and bad

The autonomy that comes with being an entrepreneur can be a double-edged sword. Entrepreneurs can make decisions about when and what they work on – and with whom they work. But recent research into how entrepreneurs experience their autonomy suggests that, at times, they struggle profoundly with it. The sheer number of decisions to make and the uncertainty about what is the best way forward can be overwhelming.

4. An addictive mix

The evidence review confirms that, by any stretch of imagination, entrepreneurs’ work is highly demanding and challenging. This, along with the positive aspects of being their own boss coupled with an often competitive personality, can lead entrepreneurs to be so engaged with their work that it can become obsessive.

So the most critical skill of entrepreneurs is perhaps how they are able to manage themselves and allow time for recovery.  

Stress management tips for entrepreneurs

Identify what the actual source of your stress is. Is it tight deadlines, procurement issues, raising capital, managing investors’ expectations, building a talented team, or delay in landing the first sale for your new startup business?

Even if numbering more than a few, break them down because unmanageable tasks look simpler when broken down into smaller segments. Then, list down how you plan to successfully tackle each issue. Meanwhile, exercising multiple times a week has been rated as one of the best tactics for managing stress.  

Another technique for handling stress is to take a break. Rest as much as you can before going back to continue with the tasks.  It’s also a good idea to reach out to friends, family, and social networks because they are likely to understand what you’re going through and offer words of wisdom and courage.

Stay away from energy-sapping junk food. Eating healthy keeps you fueled for the next challenge. Finally, get enough sleep, and power naps. Sleep helps your body and mind recover.   

Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years of experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about them. He can be reached at:

Decoupling of emissions from economic growth in MENA

Decoupling of emissions from economic growth in MENA

BROOKINGS’ FUTURE DEVELOPMENT published this article on how the MENA countries should kick-start the decoupling of emissions from economic growth in their region. Here it is.

How to kick-start the decoupling of emissions from economic growth in MENA

By Martin Philipp Heger, Senior Environmental Economist – World Bank and Lukas Vashold, Ph.D. Student – Vienna University of Economics and Business

The burning of organic materials (such as fossil fuels, wood, and waste) for heating/cooling, electricity, mobility, cooking, disposal, and the production of materials and goods (such as cement, metals, plastics, and food) leads to emissions. This affects local air quality and the climate. In a recent blog, we showed that the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) lags behind all other regions in decoupling air pollutant emissions from economic growth.

Particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) is the air pollutant associated with the largest health effects. MENA’s cities are the second-most air-polluted following South Asia; virtually all of its population is exposed to levels deemed unsafe. In 2019, exposure to excessive PM2.5 levels was associated with almost 300,000 deaths in MENA and it caused the average resident to be sick for more than 70 days in his or her lifetime. It also carries large economic costs for the region, totaling more than $140 billion in 2013, around 2 percent of the region’s GDP.

A good understanding of the emission sources leading to air pollution is necessary to planning for how to best reduce them. Figure 1 shows that waste burning, road vehicles, and industrial processes accounted for around two-thirds of PM2.5 concentrations. Electricity production is also a significant contributor, most of which is used by manufacturing and households.

Figure 1. Main sources of ambient air pollution in MENA


A forthcoming report titled “Blue Skies, Blue Seas” discusses these measures, alongside many others, in more detail.

1. Knowledge about air pollution and its sources is limited, with sparse ground monitoring stationsDetailed source apportionment studies have only been carried out for a few cities within the region, with results often not easily accessible for the public.

Extensive monitoring networks and regular studies on local sources of air and climate pollutants are foundational, as is making results easily accessible to the public (e.g., in form of a traffic light system as is done in Abu Dhabi). This will empower sensitive groups to take avoidance decisions, but also nurture the demand for abatement policies.

2. MENA’s prices for fossil fuels and energy (predominantly from burning fossil fuels), are the lowest in a global comparisonFor example, pump prices in MENA for diesel ($0.69 per liter) and gasoline ($0.74 per liter) were about half the EU prices and less than two-thirds of the global average in 2018.

MENA’s heavy subsidization of fossil fuels, whether that is at the point of consumption or at the point of intermediary inputs in power generation and manufacturing, makes price reforms essential. Aside from incorporating negative externalities better, lifting subsidies also reduces pressure on fiscal budgets, with freed-up fiscal space being available to cushion the impact for low-income households. There have been encouraging steps by some countries such as Egypt, which reduced the fossil fuel subsidies gradually over the last couple of years, leading to significant increases in fuel prices, which in turn had positive effects on air quality.

3. Underdevelopment of public transportlow fuel quality, and low emissions standards drive high levels of emissions from the transport sector. In MENA, the modal share is often heavily skewed toward the use of private cars; when public transportation is available, it has a low utilization rate in international comparison.

To support a shift in the modal share toward cleaner mobility, it is imperative to invest in public transport systems, while making them cleaner and supporting nonmotorized options such as walking and biking. Cairo’s continued expansion of its metro system has been effective in reducing PM pollution and other MENA cities have also invested heavily in their public transport infrastructure, moving the needle on improving air quality. Furthermore, it is also important to raise environmental standards, both for fuel quality and car technology, together with regular mandatory inspections.

4. Lenient industrial emissions rules and their weak enforcement. The industrial sector is characterized by low energy efficiency standards, also due to the low, subsidized prices for energy mentioned above. MENA is currently the only region, where not a single country has introduced or is actively planning to introduce either a carbon tax or an emission trading scheme.

Mandating stricter emissions caps, or technology requirements, together with proper enforcement and monitoring is crucial. Incentivizing firms to adopt more resource-efficient, end-of-pipe cleaning, and fuel-switching technologies are additional crucial means to reduce air pollution stemming from the industrial sector. A trading system for emissions could either target CO2 emissions, or air pollutants, such as the PM cap-and-trade system recently introduced in Gujarat, India. Such a system should target both the manufacturing industry as well as the power sector.

5. Weak solid waste management (SWM) is a major issue in MENA. Although the collection of municipal waste has room for improvement in many countries, it is mainly the disposal stage of SWM where the leakage occurs. Too often waste ends up in open dumps or informal landfills, where it ignites. Furthermore, processing capabilities are often limited, and equipment outdated, at least for the lower- and middle-income countries of the region.

Hence, enhancing the efficiency of disposal sites is critical to reducing leakage and the risk of self-ignition. To start, replacing or upgrading open dumps and uncontrolled landfills with engineered or sanitary landfills is a viable option. Going forward, recycling capabilities should be improved and the circularity of resources enhanced. For agricultural waste, the establishment of markets for crop residues and comprehensive information campaigns in Egypt showed that such measures can supplement the introduction of stricter waste-burning bans.

Kick-starting decoupling and banking on green investments hold the promise for MENA not only to improve environmental quality and health locally, and to mitigate climate change globally, but also to reap higher economic returns (including jobs). Moreover, decoupling now will prepare MENA economies better for a future in which much of the world will have decarbonized its economies, including its trade networks.

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