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The world’s largest carbon market is set for a historic revamp. Europe’s shipowners are concerned

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The container ship Maersk Murcia sits moored to a terminal in the port of Gothenburg, a busy shipping centre on the west coast of Sweden, as cargo is loaded onto it by crane before it sets sail on August 24, 2020.

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — The European Union is due to propose an unprecedented overhaul to its carbon market this week, seeking to put a price on shipping emissions for the first time.

And the region’s shipowners are deeply concerned.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, is set to present its green fuel law for EU shipping on Wednesday. It is part of a broader package of reforms designed to meet the bloc’s updated climate targets.

To be sure, the EU has committed to reducing net carbon emissions by 55% (when compared to 1990 levels) through to 2030, becoming climate neutral by 2050. The EU says this will require a 90% reduction in transport emissions over the next three decades.

To meet these targets, the EU plans to undergo the biggest revamp of its Emissions Trading System since the policy launched in 2005. Already the world’s largest carbon trading program, the ETS is now widely expected to expand to include shipping for the first time.

Lars Robert Pedersen, deputy secretary general of BIMCO, the world’s largest international shipping association, says it is no secret the industry has concerns about the EU’s plans.

You’re not going to change the fleet on a dime. In the near to medium term any imposition of a carbon price would essentially be a tax.

Roman Kramarchuk

Head of future energy analytics at S&P Global Platts

“There is a strange misbelief in Europe that these kinds of actions put pressure” on other regions to do the same, Pedersen told CNBC via telephone. “I think, frankly, it has the opposite effect.”

He argued the proposal was “not conducive” to international policy, would fail to reduce regional carbon emissions and ultimately take money out of the shipping industry when it could otherwise be spent on reducing emissions in the fleet.

“It is taxation. Does that help anything when it comes to decarbonization? I don’t think so. It looks more like it is an effort to collect money — and so be it,” Pedersen continued. “Europe decides what Europe decides and there’s not so much you can do about that, I guess, other than highlight that it might not be the most appropriate way to reduce emissions.”

His comments come shortly after Transport & Environment, a European non-profit, purportedly obtained a leaked proposal for a draft of the first-ever law requiring ships to progressively pivot to sustainable marine fuels.

A liquid natural gas (LNG) storage silo at the LNG terminal, operated by LNG Croatia LLC, in Krk, Croatia, on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021.

Petar Santini | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A spokesperson for the commission declined to comment on the draft proposal. The EU has said action to address EU international emissions from navigation and aviation is “urgently needed” and initiatives to address these areas will be designed to boost the production and uptake of sustainable aviation and maritime fuels.

Pedersen said it was important not to panic over the leaked draft, noting that it could still be revised in the coming days and there are many more hurdles to overcome before the measures become EU policy.

EU member states and the European Parliament would first need to negotiate the final reforms, a process that analysts estimate could take roughly two years.

“To be frank with you, I haven’t even bothered to read it because I think it is a waste of time at this point. We have a date when the final proposal will be presented, and we will read that very carefully,” Pedersen said.

‘An environmental disaster’

Shipping, which is responsible for around 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, is seen as a relatively difficult industry to decarbonize because low-carbon fuels are not widely available at the required scale.

Soren Toft, chief executive of the Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world’s second-largest container carrier, has also criticized the EU’s proposal. Speaking to The Financial Times last month, Toft warned the proposals would have the opposite effect of their intentions in the absence of readily available low-carbon fuels.

What’s more, it is not just the shipping industry that has voiced opposition to the EU’s plans.

Transport & Environment described the leaked draft of the commission’s proposal as “an environmental disaster,” arguing the policy does not incentivize investment in low-carbon fuels such as renewable hydrogen and ammonia. Instead, it argues the proposal promotes liquefied natural gas and “dubious” biofuels as an alternative to marine fuel oil.

“It’s not too late to save the world’s first green shipping fuel mandate,” said Delphine Gozillon, shipping policy officer at Transport & Environment. “The current draft pits e-fuels against much cheaper polluting fuels, giving them no chance at all to compete on price. The EU should revise the draft to include an e-fuels mandate and make them more cost-attractive through super credits.”

Europe’s ETS is the bloc’s main tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. It forces heavy emitting businesses, from aviation to mining, to buy carbon permits in order to create a financial incentive for firms to pollute less.

One issue currently afflicting the scheme, however, is so-called “carbon leakage,” where businesses transfer production (and emissions) elsewhere due to the relative cost of polluting in Europe.

The EU is expected to address this problem, potentially implementing what’s known as the carbon border adjustment mechanism from 2023. The policy is an attempt to level the playing field on carbon emissions by applying domestic carbon pricing to imports.

How will the EU’s proposal impact carbon prices?

“How shipping is brought into a pricing regime is critical,” Roman Kramarchuk, head of future energy analytics at S&P Global Platts, told CNBC via email.

“But the July proposal will be far from a done deal,” he continued. “It’s worth remembering that the EU had to temper its ambitions around aviation previously in response to push-back from trade partners — though the upshot of that was a more globally inclusive approach from the UN through the CORSIA program.”

The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation initiative refers to a United Nations deal designed to help the aviation industry reach its “aspirational goal” of making all growth in international flights “carbon neutral” from 2020 onwards.

Kramarchuk said it was important to note that the proposed policies were not expected to constitute an outright ban on specific fuels, adding S&P Global Platts sees increasing shares of the shipping fleet being powered by LNG, methanol or ammonia through to 2030.

Electricity pylons are seen in front of the cooling towers of the coal-fired power station of German energy giant RWE in Weisweiler, western Germany, on January 26, 2021.

INA FASSBENDER | AFP | Getty Images

The impact that the EU’s proposal has on carbon prices will also be “crucial,” Kramarchuk said, predicting an end-of-year target for the EU’s benchmark carbon price at 60 euros per metric ton.

The December 2021 carbon contract surpassed 50 euros for the first time ever in May, having stood at around 20 euros before the coronavirus pandemic. It was last seen trading at around 53 euros.

Higher carbon prices would likely raise questions about the competitive decisions shipping firms take around fuel choice and in turn depend on how carbon emissions in fuels are accounted for, Kramarchuk said.

“But you’re not going to change the fleet on a dime. In the near to medium term any imposition of a carbon price would essentially be a tax.”

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Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/12/why-shipowners-are-concerned-about-a-revamp-to-europes-carbon-market.html

AI

Amazon Wants a Leader For Its Digital Currency and Blockchain Product Unit

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Amazon seems determined to maintain its reputation as an innovative company and is looking to experiment with cryptocurrencies through a digital currency payment and blockchain unit.

According to an announcement posted on Thursday, Amazon is looking for a blockchain specialist to lead its Digital Currency and Blockchain strategy.

The Payments Acceptance & Experience team is seeking an experienced product leader to develop Amazon’s Digital Currency and Blockchain strategy and product roadmap … You will work closely with teams across Amazon, including AWS, to develop the roadmap, including the customer experience, technical strategy and capabilities as well as the launch strategy.

What Amazon is Looking For

The expert must have at least an MBA or equivalent degree, 10+ years of business or technology experience, team management skills, understanding of data and metrics, and good communication skills.

The corporation did not disclose any salary offer. The person must be based on or willing to move to Seattle, Washington.

Amazon seems to be convinced of the need to innovate in the field of payments and finance. The cryptocurrency and blockchain development team is a sign of the company’s interest in exploring these emerging technologies to offer better financial products.


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According to an email shared by Business Insider, Amazon’s team confirmed its interest in exploring an approach to the world of cryptocurrencies. Still, they did not specify whether it would be through the development of a proprietary currency or through the acceptance of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment:

“We’re inspired by the innovation happening in the cryptocurrency space and are exploring what this could look like on Amazon … We believe the future will be built on new technologies that enable modern, fast, and inexpensive payments, and hope to bring that future to Amazon customers as soon as possible.”

An Old Relationship With Crypto

Amazon’s interest in the world of cryptocurrencies isn’t new. Back in 2017, it purchased, at least preemptively, a number of domains linking its brand to cryptocurrencies, including amazoncryptocurrency.com, amazoncryptocurrencies.com, and even amazonethereum.com.

However, at the time, Patrick Gauthier told CNBC that the e-commerce giant did not have much interest in cryptocurrencies and had no plans to support crypto payments.

In fact, the Pay With Moon plugin that allowed payments on Amazon with Bitcoin through Lightning Network had to change its business model to instead allow its users to purchase virtual credit cards instead of paying directly on Amazon’s site.

Also, as Cryptopotato reported in February this year, Amazon launched a job offer for a new payments system involving “Digital and Emerging Payments (DEP),” although they did not mention a direct relationship with Bitcoin or any cryptocurrency either.

This time, however, Amazon seems more willing to go public with its casual relationship with cryptos.

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Source: https://coingenius.news/amazon-wants-a-leader-for-its-digital-currency-and-blockchain-product-unit-38/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=amazon-wants-a-leader-for-its-digital-currency-and-blockchain-product-unit-38

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Blockchain Startups Raised over $4 Billion in VC Funding in Q2 2021

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Most blockchain-based startups have seen funding from venture backers, despite the current cryptocurrency market downturn, recording over $4 billion in Q2 alone.

This massive venture capital backing is in keeping with the established trend of VC funding for blockchain firms as investors look to be part of the new wave of disruption associated with decentralized finance.

VC Backers Continue to Dole Out Funding for Blockchain Startups

According to CNBC on Thursday (July 22, 2021), venture capital investors seem not to worry about the volatile nature associated with the crypto market, especially with the current slump in market prices. Bitcoin, which reached an all-time high )ATH) of over $63,000 back in April, is trading within the $33,000 range, losing over 50% of its ATH. Ether price has also suffered a slump after getting to over $4,000 in May.

Meanwhile, data from CB Insights, an analytics firm, revealed that the total funds received by different blockchain companies are $4.38 billion. The figure signals a more than 50% increase from Q1 2021, and almost a ninefold growth compared to Q2 2020.

In May, major fintech company Circle received $440 million from VC backers, making it the largest venture capital funding in a blockchain company. Meanwhile, Circle is planning to go public through an alliance with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Concord Acquisition Corp. The merger, if successful, will put Circle’s valuation at $4.5 billion.


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Ledger, a cryptocurrency hardware wallet, raised the second-biggest round in Q1 2021 with $380 million. According to an interview with CNBC in December 2020, the company’s CEO Pascal Gauthier noted that the cryptocurrency market was gradually maturing, with institutional investors showing interest in the emerging industry.

Speaking to CNBC, CB Insights senior analyst, Chris Bendtsen :

“At the current rate, blockchain funding will shatter the previous year-end record — more than tripling the total raised back in 2018. Blockchain’s record funding year is being driven by the rising consumer and institutional demand for cryptocurrencies. Despite short-term price volatility, VC firms are still bullish on crypto’s future as a mainstream asset class and blockchain’s potential to make financial markets more efficient, accessible, and secure.”

Institutional Investors Seek Exposure to Crypto Industry

The record inflow of funding for blockchain firms is coming from both traditional VC funds and blockchain-focused funds alike. Some asset managers are even creating blockchain venture arms for both early and late-stage funding of projects in the industry.

As previously reported by CryptoPotato in June, venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz announced the launch of a $2.2 billion cryptocurrency fund. According to the company, the new fund would be distributed across various crypto and blockchain startups.

Blockchain Capital raised $300 million for its Fund V LP back in May, with PayPal, Visa. hedge funds, and others participating in the capital raise.

Meanwhile, the trend is continuing in Q3 2021 with massive funding deals. Recently, major cryptocurrency derivatives platform FTX secured a record $900 million in its Series B funding, causing the company’s valuation to grow to $18 billion.

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Source: https://coingenius.news/blockchain-startups-raised-over-4-billion-in-vc-funding-in-q2-2021-10/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=blockchain-startups-raised-over-4-billion-in-vc-funding-in-q2-2021-10

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CNBC

WhatsApp says NSO spyware was used to attack officials working for US allies

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The NSO Group has denied that its spyware was used to compromise many politicians’ phones, but WhatsApp is telling a different story. The chat giant’s CEO, Will Cathcart, told The Guardian in an interview that governments allegedly used NSO’s Pegasus software to attack senior government officials worldwide in 2019, including high-ranking national security officials who were US allies. The breaches were reportedly part of a larger campaign that compromised 1,400 WhatsApp users in two weeks, prompting a lawsuit.

The reporting on the NSO “matches” with findings from the 2019 attack on WhatsApp, Cathcart said. Human rights activists and journalists were also believed to be victims.

The executive was responding to allegations that governments used Pegasus to hack phones for 37 people, including those of women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Those targets were also on a 2016 list of over 50,000 phone numbers that included activists, journalists and politicians, although it’s not clear that anyone beyond the 37 fell prey to attacks.

NSO has strongly rejected claims about the hacks and the list, insisting that there’s “no factual basis” and that the list was too large to be focused solely on potential Pegasus targets. It also directly challenged Cathcart, asking if the WhatsApp exec had “other alternatives” to its tools that would help thwart “pedophiles, terrorists and criminals” using encrypted software.

Cathcart, however, didn’t buy that explanation — he pointed to the 1,400 people as possible evidence that the number of targets was “very high.” Whatever the truth, it’s safe to say WhatsApp won’t shy away from its lawsuit (or a war of words) any time soon.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/whatsapp-nso-spyware-attack-215334253.html?src=rss

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GM sues Ford over the name of its hands-free driving feature

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Ford might be excited about its BlueCruise hands-free driving tech, but GM is less than thrilled about it. The Detroit Free Press and The Verge report that GM has sued Ford for allegedly violating the trademarks for both its rival Super Cruise feature and its autonomy-focused Cruise company.

GM was holding mediated talks with Ford to reach a “good-faith” arrangement, according to DFP sources. The two sides reportedly didn’t make a deal before a July 24th deadline, however, prompting the lawsuit. A GM spokesperson said the company had “no choice” but to sue Ford after trying to resolve the dispute “amicably.”

Ford’s representative, meanwhile, argued that GM’s lawsuit was “meritless and frivolous.” People understood that “cruise” was short for cruise control, Ford said, and BlueCruise was ultimately the “next evolution” of its Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control feature. The automaker added that GM didn’t seem to have issues with other brands’ naming schemes, such as BMW’s Active Cruise Control and Hyundai’s Smart Cruise Control.

The attention to Ford isn’t surprising. Both companies see hands-free driving as a major selling point for their cars, with full self-driving a long-term goal. It’s also no secret that the two Detroit brands have been fierce rivals for a long time — neither Ford nor GM will want to cede ground, at least not quickly. We wouldn’t be surprised if the lawsuit ends with a settlement, but not before the companies have traded some verbal jabs.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/gm-ford-lawsuit-bluecruise-hands-free-driving-204030777.html?src=rss

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