The best banks in the Asia-Pacific region, according to customers

SINGAPORE — Customers in Asia-Pacific have picked their favorite banks as lenders scramble to meet consumer expectations in a fast-changing environment.

After a prolonged period of high inflation — and interest rates — banks in the region are starting to navigate the global trend of lower rates. They’re also facing technological innovation that has the potential to transform the sector, as generative AI gains traction around the world.

Against this backdrop, CNBC and market research firm Statista surveyed 22,000 individuals with a checking or savings account in 14 major economies. The report below — the first of its kind — is designed to highlight the banks that best meet consumer needs in their respective markets.

For the survey, participants evaluated their overall satisfaction with a bank, and whether they would recommend it to others. They also rated each based on five criteria: trust, terms and conditions (such as fees and rates), customer service, digital services and quality of financial advice. Read the full methodology here. The ranking only included banks that qualified according to the criteria described in the report.

See below to see which banks made the list in your location.

Australia

1 ING Group
2 Bank Australia
3 Westpac
4 Ubank
5 NAB
6 Alex Bank
7 Newcastle Permanent Building Society
8 People’s Choice Credit Union
9 Beyond Bank
10 ME
11 Suncorp
12 MyState Bank
13 Australian Military Bank
14 Community First bank
15 Heritage Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Dutch bank ING came out top in Australia, against a sea of local competition. Like most economies, Australians valued trust the most and were less concerned on the financial advice they were given.

China

1 China Merchants Bank
2 Bank of China
3 ICBC
4 HSBC
5 China Construction Bank
6 Postal Savings Bank of China
7 China Minsheng Bank
8 Standard Chartered
9 SPD Bank
10 Bank of Communications
11 Agricultural Bank of China
12 UBS (China) Limited
13 JPMorgan Chase Bank (China)
14 China Everbright Bank
15 Ping An Bank
16 DBS Bank (China)
17 Bank of Suzhou
18 Bank of Jiangsu
19 Chongqing Rural Commercial Bank
20 Hang Seng Bank
21 Hubei Rural Credit Union Association
22 Huishang Bank
23 East West Bank
24 WeBank
25 Hankou Bank (HKB)

Source: CNBC & Statista

China Merchants Bank, listed in both Shanghai and Hong Kong, earned the top spot in mainland China beating both domestic and foreign players.

Hong Kong

1 China Construction Bank
2 China Minsheng Bank
3 ICBC
4 SPD Bank
5 China Everbright Bank
6 Bank of Communication
7 HSBC
8 CGB
9 Livi Bank
10 China Merchants Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

China Construction Bank, one of China’s four major state-owned banking institutions, was ranked the top lender over foreign players like HSBC.

India

1 ICICI Bank
2 HDFC Bank
3 Axis Bank
4 Kotak Mahindra Bank
5 State Bank of India
6 HSBC
7 Paytm Payments Bank
8 Standard Chartered
9 Federal Bank
10 IndusInd Bank
11 Union Bank of India
12 Karnataka Bank
13 Punjab National Bank
14 Bank of Baroda
15 Bandhan Bank
16 Fincare
17 DSCB
18 Kerala Gramin Bank
19 Fino Payments Bank
20 APCOB
21 Punjab Gramin Bank
22 IDFC First Bank
23 UCO Bank
24 RBLBank
25 New India Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

ICICI bank, a leading private sector bank in India, was the top pick in the country despite strong competition from mostly local lenders.

Indonesia

1 Bank Central Asia
2 Bank Mandiri
3 Sea Bank
4 Jago
5 Raya Bank
6 Bank Negara Indonesia
7 United Overseas Bank
8 PermataBank
9 Cimb Niaga
10 DBS
11 Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI)
12 BNC
13 Bank Muamalat
14 Jenius
15 BCA Syariah
16 HSBC
17 BDP DIY
18 Bank Aceh
19 Standard Chartered
20 Bank Sumsel Babel

Source: CNBC & Statista

Bank Central Asia, Indonesia’s largest private commercial bank, beat the competition to clinch the top spot. Customers valued both trust as well as digital services in their ranking.  

Japan

1 SBI Sumishin Net Bank
2 Rakuten Bank
3 Sony Bank
4 Aeon Bank
5 au Jibun Bank
6 PayPay Bank
7 Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
8 Senshu Ikeda Bank
9 The Juhachi-Shinwa Bank
10 Iyo Bank
11 Ehime Bank
12 Japan Post Bank
13 Ja Bank
14 Kyushu Labor Bank
15 Hamamatsu Iwata Shinkin Bank
16 Keiyo Bank
17 Bank of Fukuoka
18 Shinsei Bank
19 The Nishi-Nippon City Bank
20 Aozora Bank
21 Saitama Resona Bank
22 MUFG Bank
23 Lawson Bank
24 Gunma Bank
25 Hachijuni Bank
26 Rokin Bank
27 Kiyo Bank
28 Tokyo Star Bank
29 The Bank of Okinawa
30 Kyoto Chuo Shinkin Bank
31 Abukuma Shinkin Bank
32 North Pacific Bank
33 Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank
34 Tottori Bank
35 Bank of Kyoto

Source: CNBC & Statista

SBI Sumishin Net Bank, a Japan-based company, managed to beat other domestic lenders to come out top. Japanese citizens valued trust as their most important criteria.

Malaysia

1 Maybank
2 Standard Chartered
3 Maybank Islamic
4 HSBC
5 RHB Islamic Bank
6 Bank Islam
7 AmBank Group Islamic
8 OCBC Bank
9 United Overseas Bank
10 Hong Leong Islamic Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Maybank, which is the largest bank by market value in Malaysia, was the customers top pick against competition from domestic and foreign lenders.

New Zealand

1 Bank of New Zealand
2 ASB Bank
3 The Co-operative Bank
4 SBS Bank
5 Kiwibank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Bank of New Zealand, one of New Zealand’s big four banks, earned the top spot among consumers who also valued trust as the most important criteria. In some economies, like New Zealand, there are fewer competitors in the market and the size of the banking market differs, thus only five banks made the list.

Philippines

1 Philippine National Bank
2 Union Bank (Philippines)
3 Maya Bank
4 OFBank
5 UnionDigital Bank
6 UNO Digital Bank
7 GoTyme Bank
8 LANDBANK
9 Metrobank
10 BPI

Source: CNBC & Statista

Philippine National Bank, one of the largest banks in the country, earned the top rank against competition from largely local lenders.

Singapore

1 DBS
2 HSBC
3 Citibank
4 Bank of Singapore
5 United Overseas Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Singapore’s biggest bank DBS beat its domestic peers to clinch the top spot in the city-state. Given the small market size, there are fewer banking competitors as a result only five made the list.

South Korea

1 TossBank
2 KakaoBank
3 Kwangju Bank
4 K bank
5 Jeonbuk Bank
6 KB Kookmin Bank
7 Industrial Bank of Korea
8 DGB Daegu Bank
9 BNK Busan Bank
10 KEB Hana Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Toss Bank, an internet-only bank based in South Korea, managed to fend off domestic competition to emerge as top lender in the country.

Taiwan

1 E.Sun Financial
2 Bank SinoPac
3 Standard Chartered
4 CTBC Bank
5 Taipei Fubon Bank
6 Taishin International Bank
7 HSBC
8 Rakuten International Commercial Bank
9 Cathay Financial
10 Mega International Commercial Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Taiwan’s E.Sun Financial, headquartered in Taipei, earned the top ranking with customers focused on trust and less concerned about financial advice.

Thailand

1 Kasikornbank
2 Siam Commercial Bank
3 Bank of Ayudhya
4 United Overseas Bank
5 Krung Thai Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Kasikornbank bank, Thailand’s second-largest lender, came out top in the country. Only five banks made the list as there are fewer competitors and the size of banking market varies.

Vietnam

1 Techcombank
2 Vietcombank
3 BIDV
4 Military Commercial Joint Stock Bank
5 ACB
6 Vietinbank
7 VIB
8 TPBank
9 Sacombank
10 VP Bank
11 BVBank
12 Shinhan Bank
13 SeA Bank
14 HDBank
15 Ocean Bank

Source: CNBC & Statista

Vietnamese private lender Techcombank is the customers’ top pick in the country, where trust again was the key factor for survey respondents.

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#banks #AsiaPacific #region #customers

Where to stay in India? Here are 8 former palaces that are now hotels

The Maharajas of India’s past built magnificent palaces as a symbol of their power.

But in 1971, India abolished “privy purses,” or governmental payments made to these rulers. Several of them transformed their vast estates into heritage hotels, or leased them to renowned hotel chains which carefully restored them to their former glory.

From the eastern state of Odisha to Rajasthan in the north, here are eight regal retreats where travelers can live like kings and queens.

1. Jehan Numa Palace — Bhopal

Visitors can step back in time at Jehan Numa Palace in Bhopal, which has a neoclassical style and a 19th-century exterior.

Jehan Numa Palace.

Source: Jehan Numa Palace

This pristine white building was built by General Obaidullah Khan, son of the last ruling Begum of Bhopal, and transformed into a 100-room hotel by his grandsons in the 1980s. The hotel contains salvaged original artifacts and Raj-era photos as well as modern luxuries, such as a palm-lined pool and Chakra spa services.

Its palatial charm lingers among the racehorses that gallop around the track encircling the hotel. Travelers can dine on Italian and Mediterranean cuisine here, but Indophiles opt for the hotel’s legendary Bhopali fare prepared from secret palace recipes in a restaurant named Under the Mango Tree. 

2. Haveli Dharampura — Delhi

Once a nobleman’s home, the 19th-century Haveli Dharampura was meticulously restored over six years under the leadership of the prominent political figure Vijay Goel.

Haveli Dharampura.

Source: Heritage Dharampura

It’s now a 14-room boutique hotel, which received an honorable mention in 2017’s UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The atmospheric Mughal-era hotel has red sandstone-arched colonnades, a marble courtyard, Arabesque tile-work and intricate stone and wood details that echo the opulence of yesteryears. 

The in-house Lakhori restaurant prepares historic Mughal recipes, while the breezy rooftop provides a delightful setting for drink-in-hand lounging while listening to the muezzin’s call from the nearby Jama Masjid — a soul-stirring reminder that you are in the heart of Old Delhi.

The hotel has guided heritage walks, kite-flying and high tea on the roof terrace, and kathak performances on Saturday and Sunday, where guests can enjoy an evening of Indian classical dance.

3. Taj Lake Palace — Udaipur

Accessible by boat, this stark white edifice in the heart of Lake Pichola (as seen in the 1983 James Bond flick “Octopussy”) was originally a summer pleasure palace for Mewar royalty in the 1740s.

It was transformed into a heritage hotel in the 1960s and is now impeccably managed by the Taj Group.

Taj Lake Palace

Source: Taj Lake Palace

Straight out of a fairy tale, the Taj Lake Palace boasts domed pavilions, ornamental turrets, crystal chandeliers, and 83 antique-filled rooms and suites, some which overlook a gleaming courtyard that hosts nightly folk dances.

It has four dining options serving globe-trotting menus, a spa boat and butler service.

4. Taj Falaknuma Palace — Hyderabad

Perched nearly 2,000 feet above sea level, this hilltop hotel has 60 rooms and suites, which increase in lavishness as you move up its room classes.

Taj Falaknuma Palace.

Source: Taj Falaknuma Palace

By the time you reach the Nizam Suite — graced with fine tapestry, a private pool and personal butler — it’s easy to envision the lifestyle of the Nizam of Hyderabad, who lived in the palace in the 19th century.

The rooms aren’t the only lure. The 130-year-old edifice is known for its state banquets of yore-style food, grand gardens, billiard room with monogrammed cues and ivory balls, and a library modeled on the one at Windsor Castle. Staterooms are decked out with Venetian chandeliers, royal portraits and heirlooms from the Nizams’ era.

5. Taj Usha Kiran Palace — Gwalior

This palace dating to the 1800s was, in its past life, a guesthouse and later royal residence of the ruling family of the state of Gwalior.

Taj Usha Kiran Palace.

Source: Taj Usha Kiran Palace

Today, it’s a lavish Taj hotel that balances old-world vibes with contemporary style. Its interiors contain ancient stone carvings, filigree work and rich tapestries. For a regal experience, travelers can take a heritage tour through the sprawling estate and stay in one of the Royal Suites, which are kitted out with four-poster beds, Venetian mirrors and mother-of-pearl mosaics.

The hotel also offers plenty of facilities to help guests unwind, including a spa, outdoor pool, and an Art Deco-style bar.

6. Rambagh Palace — Jaipur

Set in 47 acres of gardens that are home to peacocks, this former hunting lodge and royal abode of the Maharaja of Jaipur, dates back to 1835. It is now a heritage hotel managed by the Taj Group.

Rambagh Palace.

Source: Rambagh Palace

Exquisite antique furnishings, silk drapes, domed wooden ceilings and four-poster beds give the 78 rooms and suites a regal feel.

Many other features make Rambagh Palace an unforgettable retreat: heritage walks around the premises conducted by the palace butler, golf putting green, original palace dining room with chandeliers and gilded mirror, a Polo bar festooned with trophies and memorabilia of the Jaipur polo team, and a spa with Indian healing services.

The palace has hosted the likes of King Charles, Louis Mountbatten and Jacqueline Kennedy.

7. The Belgadia Palace — Mayurbhanj

Nestled in the charming town of Baripada, The Belgadia Palace has been with the descendants of the same royal family since it was built in 1804, giving it an authenticity that is hard to replicate.

The Belgadia Palace.

Source: The Belgadia Palace

A portion of this historic palace has been converted into an 11-room hotel by Mrinalika and Akshita Bhanj Deo, royal descendants of the family. It boasts lofty ceilings, marble corridors and artifacts.

There’s also a lavish dining hall that serves Odisha-style meals, and elegant verandas on which to drink tea. The palace arranges activities such as traditional Chhau dance performances on the pristine lawns, handicraft village tours and other excursions. 

8. Chittoor Kottaram — Kochi

The height of exclusivity, the Chittoor Kottaram — which once belonged to the king of Cochin — hosts only one group of no more than six people at any one time.

Chittoor Kottaram.

Source: Chittoor Kottaram

Nestled amid coconut groves by the edge of the lagoon backwaters of Kerala, the three-room abode boasts beautiful Athangudi floor tiles and wooden ceilings.

Precious artworks by Lady Hamlyn of The Helen Hamlyn Trust, the restorer of this 300-year-old palace, lend the property something of a museum feel. A personal chef prepares traditional Keralan dishes that can be eaten at a waterside gazebo or in the lush garden.

Ayurvedic massages and private cultural shows can be arranged, as can a private sunset cruise on the serene waterways.

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An escalating dispute at major gas facilities in Australia could drive up European prices, analysts say

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage units at Grain LNG importation terminal, operated by National Grid Plc, on the Isle of Grain on August 22, 2022 in Rochester, England.

Dan Kitwood | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The looming threat of strikes at Australian natural gas facilities will keep global gas markets on tenterhooks, energy analysts told CNBC, with traders fearing that a prolonged halt to production could squeeze global supplies and send European prices higher.

U.S. energy giant Chevron and unions representing workers at the Gorgon and Wheatstone projects in Western Australia are in daily talks this week to try to come to an agreement over pay and job security. The Fair Work Commission, Australia’s independent workplace relations tribunal, is mediating talks between both sides.

If a deal cannot be agreed, the strikes are scheduled to begin from 6 a.m. local time Thursday. The long-running dispute escalated even further on Tuesday as a union alliance announced plans to strike for two weeks from Sept. 14.

“In response to Chevron’s [duplicitous] claim that our EBA negotiations are ‘intractable’, the Offshore Alliance is escalating Protected Industrial Action to [demonstrate] that our bargaining negotiations are far from ‘intractable,'” the Offshore Alliance said in a Facebook post.

“Offshore Alliance members are yet to exercise their lawful workplace rights to take Protected Industrial Action and our bargaining claims will look more and more reasonable as Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG exports dry up.”

In response, a Chevron Australia spokesperson told CNBC, “We’re looking to narrow points of difference with Gorgon and Wheatstone downstream employees and their representatives through further bargaining mediated by the Fair Work Commission.”

There is so little flexibility in the market that the slightest provocation will cause large changes to the prices.

Jacob Mandel

Senior research associate for global energy markets at Aurora Energy Research

Fears of strike in Australia, one of the world’s biggest exporters of liquified natural gas (LNG), have recently pushed up European gas prices — and analysts expect near-term volatility to persist.

Jacob Mandel, senior research associate for global energy markets at U.K.-based consultancy Aurora Energy Research, said the global natural gas market was currently “very tight” and “very little supply flexibility” means that strike action in Australia could send European gas prices higher.

“Prices have moved quite significantly on basically little bits of news on what’s happened to these two facilities because there is so little flexibility in the market that the slightest provocation will cause large changes to the prices,” Mandel told CNBC via videoconference.

He said that European gas prices could climb to above 40 euros ($42.9) per megawatt hour if the strikes go ahead as planned. The front-month gas price at the Dutch Title Transfer Facility (TTF) hub, a European benchmark for natural gas trading, traded at 33.5 euros on Tuesday.

The TTF contract rose sharply to around 43 euros last month. TTF prices have since pared gains, however, and remain well below last summer’s extraordinary spike to more than 300 euros.

“I think it is extremely unlikely prices will go anywhere near where they were last September, where they hit these massive record peaks,” Mandel said. “Prices reached those peaks under extraordinary circumstances, which in theory could have been replicated. However, in Europe, we’ve taken many steps that could keep prices from reaching such a high.”

“It doesn’t mean that prices could increase above this 40 per megawatt hour level and if something else happens — a sudden winter storm, or something like this — certainly this can push [prices] higher,” he added.

Kaushal Ramesh, head of gas and LNG analytics at research firm Rystad Energy, said looming industrial action at Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone facilities suggested near-term volatility could continue until a resolution is reached.

“We still don’t think there will be a material impact on production,” Ramesh said, citing the resolution of other similar disputes. He noted that it may become difficult for Chevron to prolong the strikes if they do go ahead.

“Whatever monetary impact there may be to Chevron from giving in to the workers’ demands is likely a fraction of lost revenue if production were to be substantially impacted,” Ramesh told CNBC via email.

“Thus, these are political developments, and things can get irrational, but so far, Asian buyers have not been too concerned. This winter, Japan and Korea will have an additional 6 GW of nuclear power available compared to the previous year.”

Another ‘big question mark’ for Europe

Wild price swings in energy markets in recent weeks come as the euro zone continues to wean itself off Russian fossil fuel exports following the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Last month, the EU hit its target of filling gas storage facilities to 90% of capacity roughly two-and-a-half months ahead of schedule, bolstering hopes the bloc has secured enough fuel supplies to keep homes warm during winter. Nonetheless, the region’s gas market remains sensitive.

“Europe’s gas markets remain nervous, as seen in the jump in prices in August at the threat of an LNG worker strike in faraway Australia,” said Henning Gloystein, a director for energy, climate, and natural resources at political consultancy Eurasia Group.

“Real disruptions” are possible this winter, Gloystein said, including Norwegian winter storm outages or a cut of the remaining Russia gas to Europe. He warned that a stoppage of pipeline transit via Ukraine or a suspension of Russian LNG shipments were two notable risks for Europe.

One “big question mark” adding a risk premium to costs in Europe, Mandel said, is the future for the transit of Russian gas through Ukrainian territory, which is scheduled to expire at the end of next year.

Naftogaz CEO: We should discuss Russian gas transit deal with EU

Oleksiy Chernyshov, the chief executive of Ukraine’s largest oil and gas company Naftogaz, told CNBC in mid-August that the Russian gas transit agreement “is actually quite a complex issue.”

“I just wanted to make very clear Ukraine is servicing this transit actually in favor of European Union countries that are consuming Russian gas,” Chernyshov said. “We clearly understand that some of the countries cannot immediately get rid and stop consumption because they need it for the preparation for the winter.”

A spokesperson for the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, told CNBC that the gas transit agreement is “still a long way from now” and they cannot speculate on what the situation would like in 18 months’ time. “It is also not for us to speculate nor comment on the two parties’ interest for a renewal of such contract,” they added.

The spokesperson said under the EU’s REPowerEU plan, the bloc’s objective is to “completely phase out Russian fossil fuel imports as soon as possible.” They noted that Russian gas now represents less than 10% of the EU’s pipeline imports, compared to roughly 50% before the energy crisis spurred by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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#escalating #dispute #major #gas #facilities #Australia #drive #European #prices #analysts

Oil giant led by COP28 boss to spend an ‘eyewatering’ $1 billion a month on fossil fuels this decade, Global Witness says

Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive of the UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and president of this year’s COP28 climate summit gestures during an interview as part of the 7th Ministerial on Climate Action (MoCA) in Brussels on July 13, 2023.

Francois Walschaerts | Afp | Getty Images

UAE oil giant ADNOC — run by the president of the COP28 climate conference — is expected to spend more than $1 billion every month this decade on fossil fuels, according to new analysis by international NGO Global Witness.

This is nearly seven times higher than its commitment to decarbonization projects over the same timeframe, the research says.

ADNOC, which recently became the first among its peers to bring forward its net-zero ambition to 2045, disputes Global Witness’ analysis and says the assumptions made are inaccurate.

It comes ahead of the COP28 climate summit, with Dubai set to host the U.N.’s annual conference from Nov. 30 through to Dec. 12. Viewed as one of the most significant climate conferences since 2015’s landmark Paris Agreement, COP28 will see global leaders gather to discuss how to progress in the fight against the climate crisis.

The person overseeing the talks, Sultan al-Jaber, is chief executive of ADNOC (the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) — one of the world’s largest oil and gas firms. His position as both COP28 president and ADNOC CEO caused dismay among civil society groups and U.S. and EU lawmakers, although several government ministers have since defended his appointment.

Global Witness’ analysis, provided exclusively to CNBC, found that ADNOC is planning to spend an average of $1.14 billion a month on oil and gas production alone between now and 2030 — the same year in which the U.N. says the world must cut emissions by 45% to avoid global catastrophe.

It means that ADNOC is forecast to spend nearly seven times more on fossil fuels through to 2030 than it does on “low-carbon solution” projects.

By 2050, the year in which the U.N. says the entire world economy must achieve net-zero emissions, ADNOC is projected to have invested $387 billion in oil and gas. The burning of fossil fuels is the chief driver of the climate emergency.

A spokesperson at ADNOC told CNBC via email: “The analysis of, and assumptions made, regarding ADNOC’s capital expenditure program beyond the company’s current five-year business plan (2023 to 2027) are speculative and therefore incorrect.”

The Abu Dhabi energy group announced in January this year that it would allocate $15 billion for investment in “low-carbon solutions” by 2030, including investments in clean power, carbon capture and storage and electrification projects.

High-rise tower buildings along the central Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai on July 3, 2023.

Karim Sahib | Afp | Getty Images

Global Witness arrived at its projections by analyzing ADNOC’s forecasted oil and gas capital expenditure, exploratory capital expenditure and operational expenditure for the period from 2023 to 2050. The data was sourced from Rystad Energy’s UCube database.

Rystad’s data is not available to the public, but is widely used and referenced by major oil and gas companies and international bodies.

“Fossil fuels companies like to burnish their green credentials, yet they rarely say the quiet part out loud: that they continue to throw eyewatering amounts at the same old polluting oil and gas that is accelerating the climate crisis,” said Patrick Galey, senior investigator at Global Witness.

“How [al-Jaber] can expect to lecture other nations on the need to decarbonise and be taken seriously is anyone’s guess, while he continues to provide vastly more funding to oil and gas than to renewable alternatives,” he added.

“He is a fossil fuel boss, plain and simple, saying one thing while his company does the other,” Galey said.

Established 30 years ago, Global Witness is a campaign group that receives funding from donors that include The Foundation to Promote Open Society, which is backed by liberal financier and billionaire George Soros, the European Climate Foundation, and the Quadrature Climate Foundation.

Among six campaign promises published last year, Global Witness says it seeks to “stop the oil and gas industry escalating global warming by making us dependent on gas” and to “ensure that the current energy transition is fair and responsible, serving people and the planet.”

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the analysis conducted by Global Witness. The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the supreme decision-making body of the UNFCCC.

Main priority for COP28

Al-Jaber was the founding CEO of Abu Dhabi state-owned renewable energy firm Masdar, which works in more than 40 countries worldwide and has invested in or committed to invest in renewable energy projects with a total value of over $30 billion.

Speaking earlier this year, al-Jaber said the main priority for the COP28 summit will be to keep alive the fight to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Paris Agreement aims to limit the increase in the global average temperature to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Beyond the critical temperature threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius, it becomes more likely that small changes can trigger dramatic shifts in Earth’s entire life support system.

The International Energy Agency says no new oil, gas or coal development is compatible with the goal of curbing global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In response to a request for comment from CNBC, an ADNOC spokesperson said that energy demand is increasing as the world’s population is expanding. “All of the current energy transition scenarios, including by the IEA, show that some level of oil and gas will be needed into the future,” the spokesperson said.

“As such, it is important that, in addition to accelerating investments in renewables and lower carbon energy solutions, we consider the least carbon intensive sources of oil and gas and further reduce their intensity to enable a fair, equitable, orderly, and responsible energy transition. This is the approach ADNOC is taking,” they added.

The spokesperson said its 2022 upstream emissions data confirmed the energy group as one of the least carbon-intensive producers worldwide. The company will seek to further reduce its carbon intensity by 25% and target near zero methane emissions by 2030, they added.

“As we reduce our emissions, we are also ramping up investments in renewables and zero carbon energies like hydrogen for our customers,” the spokesperson said.

A separate report published in April last year by Global Witness and Oil Change International found that 20 of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies were projected to spend $932 billion by the end of the decade to develop new oil and gas fields.

At that time, Russian state company Gazprom was estimated to spend the most on fossil fuel development and exploration projects through to 2030 ($139 billion), followed by U.S. oil majors ExxonMobil ($84 billion) and Chevron ($67 billion).

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#Oil #giant #led #COP28 #boss #spend #eyewatering #billion #month #fossil #fuels #decade #Global #Witness

Why everyone thinks a recession is coming in 2023

People who lost their jobs wait in line to file for unemployment following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at an Arkansas Workforce Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas, U.S. April 6, 2020.

Nick Oxford | File Photo | REUTERS

Recessions often take everyone by surprise. There’s a very good chance the next one will not.

Economists have been forecasting a recession for months now, and most see it starting early next year. Whether it’s deep or shallow, long or short, is up for debate, but the idea that the economy is going into a period of contraction is pretty much the consensus view among economists. 

“Historically, when you have high inflation, and the Fed is jacking up interest rates to quell inflation, that results in a downturn or recession,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “That invariably happens — the classic overheating scenario that leads to a recession. We’ve seen this story before. When inflation picks up and the Fed responds by pushing up interest rates, the economy ultimately caves under the weight of higher interest rates.”

Zandi is in the minority of economists who believe the Federal Reserve can avoid a recession by raising rates just long enough to avoid squashing growth. But he said expectations are high that the economy will swoon.

“Usually recessions sneak up on us. CEOs never talk about recessions,” said Zandi. “Now it seems CEOs are falling over themselves to say we’re falling into a recession. … Every person on TV says recession. Every economist says recession. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Fed causing it this time

Ironically, the Fed is slowing the economy, after it came to the rescue in the last two economic downturns. The central bank helped stimulate lending by taking interest rates to zero, and boosted market liquidity by adding trillions of dollars in assets to its balance sheet. It is now unwinding that balance sheet, and has rapidly raised interest rates from zero in March — to a range of 4.25% to 4.5% this month.

But in those last two recessions, policymakers did not need to worry about high inflation biting into consumer or corporate spending power, and creeping across the economy through the supply chain and rising wages.

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The Fed now has a serious battle with inflation. It forecasts additional rate hikes, up to about 5.1% by early next year, and economists expect it may maintain those high rates to control inflation.

Those higher rates are already taking a toll on the housing market, with home sales down 35.4% from last year in November, the 10th month in a row of decline. The 30-year mortgage rate is close to 7%. And consumer inflation was still running at a hot 7.1% annual rate in November.

“You have to blow the dust off your economics textbook. This is going to be be a classic recession,” said Tom Simons, money market economist at Jefferies. “The transmission mechanism we’re going to see it work through first in the beginning of next year, we’ll start to see some significant margin compression in corporate profits. Once that starts to take hold, they’re going to take steps to cut their expenses. The first place we’re going to see it is in reducing headcount. We’ll see that by the middle of next year, and that’s when we’ll see economic growth slowdown significantly and inflation will come down as well.”

How bad will it be?

A recession is considered to be a prolonged economic downturn that broadly affects the economy and typically lasts two quarters or more. The National Bureau of Economic Research, the arbiter of recessions, considers how deep the slowdown is, how wide spread it is and how long it lasts.

However, if any factor is severe enough, the NBER could declare a recession. For instance, the pandemic downturn in 2020 was so sudden and sharp with wide-reaching impact that it was determined to be a recession even though it was very short.

“I’m hoping for a short, shallow one, but hope springs eternal,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at KPMG. “The good news is we should be able to recover from it quickly. We do have good balance sheets, and you could get a response to lower rates once the Fed starts easing. Fed-induced recessions are not balance sheet recessions.”

The Federal Reserve’s latest economic projections show the economy growing at a pace of 0.5% in 2023, and it does not forecast a recession.

“We’ll have one because the Fed is trying to create one,” said Swonk. “When you say growth is going to stall out to zero and the unemployment rate is going to rise … it’s clear the Fed has got a recession in its forecast but they won’t say it.” The central bank forecasts unemployment could rise next year to 4.6% from its current 3.7%.

Fed reversal?

How long policymakers will be able to hold interest rates at high levels is unclear. Traders in the futures market expect the Fed to start cutting rates by the end of 2023. In its own forecast, the central bank shows rate cuts starting in 2024.

Swonk believes the Fed will have to backtrack on higher rates at some point because of the recession, but Simons expects a recession could run through the end of 2024 in a period of high rates.

 “The market clearly thinks the Fed is going to reverse course on rates as things turn down,” said Simons. “What isn’t appreciated is the Fed needs this in order to keep their long-term credibility on inflation.”

The last two recessions came after shocks. The recession in 2008 started in the financial system, and the pending recession will be nothing like that, Simons said.

“It became basically impossible to borrow money even though interest rates were low, the flow of credit slowed down a lot. Mortgage markets were broken. Financial markets suffered because of the contagion of derivatives,” said Simons. “It was financially generated. It wasn’t so much the Fed tightening policy by raising interest rates, but the market shut down because of a lack of liquidity and trust. I don’t think we have that now.”

That recession was longer than it seemed in retrospect, Swonk said. “It started in January 2008. … It was like a year and a half,” she said. “We had a year where you didn’t realize you were in it, but technically you were. …The pandemic recession was two months long, March, April 2020. That’s it.”

While the potential for recession has been on the horizon for awhile, the Fed has so far failed to really slow employment and cool the economy through the labor market. But layoff announcements are mounting, and some economists see the potential for declines in employment next year.

“At the start of the year, we were getting 600,000 [new jobs] a month, and now we are getting about maybe 250,000,” Zandi said. “I think we’ll see 100,000 and then next year it will basically go to zero. … That’s not enough to cause a recession but enough to cool the labor market.” He said there could be declines in employment next year.

“The irony here is that everybody is expecting a recession,” he said. That could change their behavior, the economy could cool and the Fed would not have to tighten so much as to choke the economy, he said.

“Debt-service burdens have never been lower, households have a boatload of cash, corporates have good balance sheets, profit margins rolled over, but they’re close to record highs,” Zandi said. “The banking system has never been as well capitalized or as liquid. Every state has a rainy day fund. The housing market is underbuilt. It is usually overbuilt going into a recession. …The foundations of the economy look strong.”

But Swonk said policymakers are not going to give up on the inflation fight until it believes it is winning. “Seeing this hawkish Fed, it’s harder to argue for a soft landing, and I think that’s because the better things are, the more hawkish they have to be. It means a more active Fed,” she said.

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