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Global Regulators Must Establish Standardised Anti-greenwashing Rules

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Anti-greenwashing

Global regulators must work together on an international framework to stamp out potential ‘greenwashing’ as capital inflows increase, affirms the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations.

The call-to-action from deVere Group’s Nigel Green comes on the back of COP26, at which governments and institutional and retail investors pledged more financing for environmental, social and governance (ESG) orientated initiatives.

Mr Green says: “COP26 has galvanised the ESG gold rush that has been taking place over the last year, as an increasing number of investors pursue profits with a purpose with sustainable investments.

“It’s the hottest investment megatrend and this is set to grow as global financial powerhouse companies are helping to unlock and mobilise the trillions of dollars of private finance that is urgently required to halt the worst effects of human-created global warming.”

He continues: “However, to ensure that this flood of private money continues and is put to work in the right way, we now need global regulators to work together on an international framework of standards.

“This will help prevent greenwashing – misleading environmental claims – which could damage the essential credibility to guarantee the inflows are maintained

“Although regulators have recently been ramping up scrutiny in regard to greenwashing, more still needs to be done. We need joined-up thinking on a global level to tackle a global issue. Failure to do so will severely compromise the mission.”

deVere’s calls follow the organisation’s pledge to position $2bn of assets under advisement into environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments within five years.

The Group is also one of 18 founding signatories of the UN-backed Net Zero initiative, the international alliance of powerhouse global finance companies that will help accelerate the transition to a net zero financial system. Its membership means it is committed to “aligning all relevant products and services to achieve net zero greenhouse gases by 2050 and to set meaningful interim targets for 2025.”

The organisation has also confirmed that it “aims to significantly speed-up its own meeting of these Science Based Targets to reduce operational emissions in line with limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Centigrade.”

Mr Green concludes: “COP26 has put environmental concerns front and centre, now we need regulators to help shore-up the industry to ensure the avalanche of private money is not cut off at this critical time.

“This means internationally-approved, enforceable anti-greenwashing rules.”

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Energy

Sunna Design Wins A €40 Million Contract to Deploy Solar Street Lighting in Rural Togo

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Renewable Energy - Investors King

 Sunna Design, leader in connected solar lighting solutions, has signed a 40 million euro contract with the Government of Togo for the supply and installation over 24 months, and then maintenance over 12 years, of 50,000 intelligent street lamps. This contract, funded by the General Directorate of the French Treasury, is part of the larger project CIZO (“switch on the light” in mina language), which aims at electrifying 500,000 rural households, about 1.5 million inhabitants in 1,000 villages.

A pillar of Togo’s NDP (National Development Plan) deployed by the Togolese presidency, CIZO aims to speed up the modernization of the country, including ensuring universal access to electricity by 2030.

Connected lighting, a key step for rural development

Public lighting grids have an impact on rural communities’ life conditions and strengthening of the economy, by facilitating passenger and goods transport, pedestrian traffic, night work, as well as drastically reducing road accident rates and insecurity.

Solar street lights are autonomous and resilient energy sources, and the only relevant technical-economic solution to bring appropriate public lighting and connection services to off-grid areas. In Togo – where only 8% of the 8.3 million residents are connected to the grid – access to energy is a key factor for economical development. The challenge is also to promote geographical balance, in response to an unbridled urbanization phenomenon in Sub-Saharan Africa, through a planned deployment of sustainable, decentralized and smart infrastructures.

Mila Aziable, Minister Delegate to the President for Energy and Mines, says: “This partnership is the result of a shared ambition and is right in line with the Head of State’s will to achieve accessibility for all in terms of energy. We want to give a new dynamic to rural areas, make them more attractive through our contribution in all priority sectors and those of the local economy, while betting on innovative technologies adapted to our context, our time and our environment. This partnership clearly projects our country in a new dynamic, in the direction of a universal access to energy.”

Franck Riester, Minister Delegate attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in charge of Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness: “We are proud to support Sunna Design’s sustainable public lighting project in Togo, for the benefit of more than 1.5 million inhabitants in rural areas. Under the initiative of the President of the Republic, we made Africa a priority of our international action. Central to our strategy is the will to accompany the development of infrastructures and technologies in a sustainable city. In these fields, our SMEs such as Sunna Design have an internationally recognized expertise. It is together, with our African partners, with the support of the private sector, that we must accompany the continent’s economic development.”

“The trust granted by the Togo Government – a visionary, pioneer and highly demanding partner in the fields of electrification and digitization in rural environment – acknowledges the solidity of Sunna Design’s know-how, as well as our capacity to innovate and accompany our clients over time” says Ignace de Prest, Sunna Design CEO. “That also represents a new step in our company’s transformation, now an essential partner for both urban and rural applications. The impact of the project on populations strengthens the teams’ commitment and our company’s project.” 

A sustainable technological solution with a 12-year guarantee

Consisting of 50,000 connected street lights, Sunna Design’s project notably plans for:

  • Solar lighting roll out in priority areas, identified and investigated beforehand via an unprecedented census study of rural infrastructures, ensuring a measurable economic and social impact of each lighting point on people
  • The use of iSSL+ solutions, all-in-one connected street lights with batteries designed to resist high temperatures, produced by Sunna Design at its “Factory of the Future” labeled industrial site, in the Bordeaux region
  • Operation and maintenance services during 12 years, including participation and strengthening of an ecosystem of local operators, promoting local employment
  • Provision of a transparent platform for monitoring implementation and detailed performance of the solar solutions, accessible to public authorities, private and financial partners

The Togolese Agency for Rural Electrification and Renewable Energies (AT2ER), promoter of the project, was able to validate Sunna Design’s technical lead, robust equipment and track record in Sub-Saharan Africa rural areas, and finalize a unique project including performance and guarantee commitments over time.

Solar lighting related (connected) services

Sunna Design’s know-how extends beyond lighting: its solutions can integrate an ecosystem of IoT applications (connected objects), powered by the clean energy provided by Sunna Design’s intelligent solar batteries.

Autonomous and connected, these applications answer several needs in terms of connectivity, telecommunications and safety. They represent a development focus of the digital economy, another pillar of Togo’s NDP.

This innovative application has already been successfully implemented and tested by Sunna Design in Togo, in the frame of a pilot project operational since 2020, financed by the FASEP fund of the General Directorate of the Treasury. This project will allow the continuation of these experiments in some targeted areas, as well as skill improvement on the “WiFi Grid”, to offer Internet access to villages through the solar street lamps.

“This project will combine decentralized energy and broadband connectivity to provide both public lighting and Internet access to the populations. Thus, it complements our vision towards accelerating the convergence between energy and digital technology, which we will initiate by deploying optical fiber on the electric network” says Cina Lawson, Togolese Minister of Digital Economy and Technological Innovation.

A turnkey project with financing at the heart of Sunna Design’s strategy

This exemplary contract is at the core of Sunna Design’s strategy, aiming at bringing answers to its customers’ long-term issues, in the form of services. Three years after being the first company to offer Solar Lighting as a Service (SLaaS) in the United States, Sunna Design replicates the offer in Africa, and works to replicate it again. This project, carried out in Togo and financed by a direct loan from the General Directorate of the Treasury, proves that the company now has the most advanced range of technical solutions on the market, as well as the most comprehensive portfolio of services (installation, maintenance, operations, financing). This contract also marks the achievement, on a large-scale project, of the vision of solar lighting as a lever of economic and social development in rural environments, inspired by Thomas Samuel, Sunna Design’s founder, who also developed the project.

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Asian Markets In Wait-And-See Mode

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By Jeffrey Halley, Senior Market Analyst, Asia Pacific, OANDA

US stock markets roared higher overnight as omicron nerves settled on initial indications that the new variant is very contagious, but less severe symptom-wise. Whether that is the case or not remains to be seen and omicron sentiment will continue driving swings in market direction into next week. It was enough to flush the FOMO gnomes of Wall Street into action though, with stock markets rallying impressively on Wall Street.

Believe it or not, there are other things going on in the world, however. Most immediately, the US releases Non-Farm Payrolls this evening and assuming the omicron news remains less end of the world, a print above 550,000 jobs should see the faster Fed-taper trade reassert itself. That may nip the equity rally in the bud, while the US Dollar and US yields could resume rising.

Asian markets are subdued today across asset classes and even US equity futures have edged lower this morning. There is a fair bit of negative news floating around this morning, and Asia as a whole, after a tumultuous week, looks ready to sit out today’s session on the sidelines. The US Non-Farm Payrolls is as good a reason to be cautious as any. Additionally, the US Congress has passed a bill to temporarily fund the US Government into mid-February, but no progress has yet been made on lifting the overall debt limit, which could be hit as early as next December 15th.

Staying with the US, the US SEC has announced a tightening of listing requirements surrounding ownership and the certifying of auditors in overseas territories who audit foreign companies listed on US exchanges. That is directly aimed at China of course, which have no intention of allowing any such thing. Markets are speculating today that the requirements will see an exodus of Chinese companies from the US exchanges. China ride-hailing giant, Didi Global, has announced it will delist from the US after a troubled IPO that also angered the Chinese Government, never a smart business move. It comes after the Grab SPAC IPO flopped yesterday, with a classic stagging of the IPO occurring. Buying the IPO and dumping into the initial rally. That saw Grab finish 20% lower on the first day of trading. Time will tell if Grab’s “patriotic” listing in the US will remotely justify its $40 billion valuation. I suspect not, and that the only winners will be the pre-IPO shareholders.

Nerves continue to swirl in the China property space as well today, with troubled developer Kaisa failing to gain the 95% approval to swap out its maturing $400 million, note due next week, for longer maturities. Default risks have now reached deafening levels for Kaisa who have until December 7th to pay. Additionally, a 30-day grace period on an $82.50 million coupon for Evergrande falls on 6th December next week.

China’s Caixin Services PMI for November fell unexpectedly to 52.1 this morning from 53.8 in October, raising fears that domestic consumption is fading on the Mainland on rising labour and energy costs, as well as selective virus restriction. That has overshadowed improved services PMI data from Japan, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. South Korean markets are struggling as well, with virus cases surging, capping gains on the Kospi and also the Won.

Add in the danger of being whip-sawed on random omicron headlines, it’s hardly surprising Asia wants to sit the rest of today out. I expect a similar response from Europe as well. Next week, we see a lot of CPI releases from the region, including China, as well as the Reserve Bank of Australia and Reserve Bank of India policy decisions, plus China trade data. The week after will see a central bank policy meeting frenzy, including the US FOMC, and depending on where the world is with omicron, a number of central banks will struggle to hit the W for Wimp button, regarding their inflation outlook. Volatility has been the winner this week, and I fully expect it to continue to do so through the rest of December.

Asian equities refuse to follow the US lead.

The perpetual mega-bulls of the US stock market had their day in the sun finally overnight as US indexes moved sharply higher as the armchair epidemiologists of day trading decided that omicron, while contagious, will be mild symptomatically. The S&P 500 jumped 1.42% higher, with the Nasdaq rising by 0.83%, while the Dow Jones leapt by 1.83%. In Asia, some short-term profit-taking is evident as the news wires turn slightly sour in Asia, futures on all three indexes edging around 0.15% lower.

With US equity futures markets unable to maintain upward momentum today, tier-1 US data due this evening, virus nerves and concerns reappearing around China property and China US-delisting worries, Asian markets have mostly rallied, but only modestly so. The Nikkei 225 has climbed by 0.35%, with the Kospi climbing by 0.45%. Mainland China sees the Shanghai Composite 0.55% higher, with the CSI 300 rising by 0.35%. Hong Kong is in the red, though, as China property nerves sap sentiment. The Hang Seng has fallen by 0.65%.

Across the region, Singapore is 0.25% higher, with Kuala Lumpur up 0.30%, while Jakarta has fallen by 0.30%. Manila has jumped by 1.05%, with Bangkok down 0.15% and Taipei unchanged for the session. Australian markets have recorded cautious gains, the All Ordinaries edging 0.10% higher and the ASX 200 gaining 0.20%.

European markets will likely unwind some of yesterday’s losses, but gains will be limited ahead of the US Non-Farm Payrolls. As ever this week, the street is one negative omicron headline away from turning sharply lower en masse. If the virus news ticker stays quiet, a higher US Non-Farm Payrolls print could see equity gains capped, with a slightly lower or on target print of 550K, not enough to entirely remove faster Fed-taper fears.

The US Dollar rallies.

With omicron nerves easing overnight the US Dollar reasserted itself, rallying modestly versus major currencies and holding steady in the EM space. The dollar index finished 0.10% higher at 96.12, edging higher to 96.17 in Asia. Notably, both the Australian and New Zealand Dollars, key risk-sentiment barometers fell once again to 2021 lows, hinting that caution remains the key mantra in currency markets still.

EUR/USD has slid back below 1.1300 to 1.1295 and an upbeat US Non-Farm Payrolls tonight will set up a test of 1.1200 again next week. In a similar vein, GBP/USD has moved back through 1.3300 to 1.3390, with a retest of 1.3200 possible. USD/JPY rose as Yen haven buying subsided overnight, climbing to 113.20 this morning. If indeed we are at “peak-omicron,” then this weeks low of 112.50 is likely to be the low for the pair for the foreseeable future.

The EM space was relatively sedate overnight, but the US Dollar has resumed advances once again versus Asia FX today with USD/KRW, USD/IDR and USD/MYR up around 0.20%. A firm Non-Farm Payrolls number tonight will increase the pressure of the Asian currencies, whose monetary policies, buy and large, are not aligned with a Federal Reserve set to increase the pace of its taper.

I expect currency markets to remain subdued into the US tier-1 data. As usual this week, the caveat is omicron. If another negative headline were to hit the wires today, we will likely see US Dollar selling with the Yen and Swiss Franc as the main beneficiaries.

OPEC+ surprises, with conditions.

Oil markets rallied last night despite OPEC+ surprising the markets and the author by deciding to continue their pre-planned 400,000 bpd production increases this month. OPEC+ has left a huge poison pill in their statement, retaining the right to convene an immediate meeting and to change their mind if omicron continues to send oil prices lower. That has made it dangerous to be short at these levels and the net effect was to lift prices higher, after the market sold immediately on the headline, before reading the small print.

Overnight, Brent crude finished 2.25% higher at %70.50 a barrel, while WTI rallied 2.25% to $67.35. In Asia, both contracts have continued to rally, rising 0.50% to $70.85 and $69.70 a barrel. Unless we get a major omicron escalation, I will stick my neck out and say that this week’s lows for Brent and WTI likely represent the lows for the medium-term. The relative strength indexes (RSIs) are still oversold meaning both contracts remain vulnerable to a further short-squeeze.

The overnight lows for Brent at $65.80 and for WTI at $62.50 a barrel form short and medium-term support, and it is unlikely the market will want to test OPEC+’s mettle at this stage. The grouping having shown itself to be relatively immune to pressure from the US President amongst others. That said, virus concerns continue to linger, meaning Brent crude will struggle to recapture $75.00 a barrel, and WTI $70.00 a barrel in the nearer term.

Gold’s standing 8-count continues.

With virus nerves subsiding and the Fed-taper stronger US Dollar story reasserting itself, gold continued to take a standing 8-count, remaining near its weekly lows. Gold fell 0.77% to $1768.25 an ounce overnight, before weekend risk hedging buyers in Asia lifted it back to $1772.50 this morning.

Gold is flirting with its last major support level at $1770.00 an ounce, and failure tonight sets up a possible wave of stop-loss sellers and a retest of $1720.00, possibly as early as next week. Gold’s inability to rally with skyrocketing risk aversion, a weaker US Dollar or weaker US yields remains deeply concerning.

Gold has resistance between $1791.00 and $1792.00 an ounce, where the 50, 100 and 200-day moving averages are clustered. Behind that is $1800.00 and then $1815.00 an ounce.

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Volatility Continues on Omicron Anxiety

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Facebook's "Cool Space" Points to Future of Office Growth

By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA

European stock markets were back under pressure on Thursday, continuing the seesaw price action we’ve seen all week.

Early signs aren’t promising given the rate of case increases in South Africa and the fact that Omicron is already popping up in numerous other countries. Investors may continue to be attracted to the dips but one thing is clear, rallies so far have been short-lived.

Perhaps they’re hoping for positive news on the vaccine effectiveness against the new strain and taking advantage of these levels before it’s too late. If they don’t get the news they’re hoping for, we could see another sharp move lower.

Oil bounces back as OPEC+ warns of sudden adjustments

It’s been another volatile session in the oil markets as OPEC+ met to decide on output targets for January. As per the previous agreement, the group had intended to increase production by 400,000 barrels per day each month but the coordinated SPR release and Omicron variant news threw a spanner in the works.

It was never likely that the group would retaliate against the SPR release and while many were expecting them to pare back, perhaps postpone, January’s increase in anticipation of an Omicron hit to demand, there’s clearly just not enough information out there at the moment to warrant a knee-jerk response. They bought themselves a couple of extra days but clearly little more is known than earlier this week.

So the decision to stick to planned increases was sensible, as was the caveat that they could make immediate adjustments before the next meeting if warranted. That doesn’t provide much certainty but it’s the flexibility the group needed to remain consistent as they await more data. And they had already planned for surges this winter which also allows them to be patient.

Oil prices fell after the initial decision but rallied again once the clarification was made on adjustments outside of the arranged meetings. With the White House stating that it welcomed the decision and it would still go ahead with the SPR release, crude prices could remain under pressure in the near term until more information on the variant is known.

Gold crumbles after failing to capitalise on rallies

Days of struggling to hold onto gains and generate any momentum above $1,800 is coming back to bite gold as it slips more than 1% on Thursday and tests the lows since mid-October. Higher yields, particularly at the short end, may be responsible for the slump in gold, as central banks prepare to withdraw stimulus and raise rates, despite the threat of Omicron. They don’t really have the flexibility they once did with inflation running so far above target. More lockdowns would be unbearable for central banks, which may be forced to compound the pain in order to contain rising price pressures.

Bitcoin remains under pressure

Bitcoin is under a little pressure again on Thursday as it gets caught up in the wild swings in risk appetite across the broader markets. The price moves in bitcoin have perhaps been a little less volatile than we’re seeing elsewhere, which isn’t something you hear that often, but it has remained under pressure due to it being a high-risk asset. Should the sell-off in risk assets intensify, bitcoin could get hit hard as well. It’s seeing some support around $53,500 for now, with $60,000 capping any rallies.

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