Covid-19 stimulus measures must embrace all energy sources, says Aramco chief
Amin Nasser tells B20 summit that current energy sources 'will be part of the global energy mix for decades'
The $10 trillion of economic stimulus and financial support being pumped into economies around the world to combat the economic damage caused by Covid-19 must consider all forms of energy, the president and chief executive of Saudi Aramco, Amin Nasser said.
"More attention is on new energy, climate-related projects, the circular economy, but current or existing energy sources should also be included because they will be part of the global energy mix for decades," Mr Nasser told the B20 Saudi Arabia Summit on Tuesday, held as part of the kingdom’s G20 Presidency year.
“Our goal is to become the world’s most digital energy company. Continued investments are critical to getting us there and our strategic goal is to produce more energy with less carbon,” Mr Nasser said.
De-carbonisation is a core part of our climate strategy
Amin Nasser, president and chief executive, Saudi Aramco
B20 Saudi Arabia is the official platform for the global business community across G20 member countries. The B20 group develops and presents its policy recommendations to the G20 presidency. Saudi Arabia will host the 15th G20 Summit from Riyadh on November 21 and 22 this year.
Speaking about initiatives being undertaken by Aramco to address climate change, Mr Nasser said the oil major is working to to make oil cleaner by lowering its upstream carbon intensities. “De-carbonisation is a core part of our climate strategy,” he said.
Saudi Aramco is also promoting “non-combustible” uses of oil, turning more of it into chemicals and other materials, which emit a lot less carbon than oil used as fuels. It is also at an advanced stage in developing direct oil-to-chemicals conversion technologies.
The chief executive added that Aramco is also working on next-generation fuels, such as hydrogen and ammonia. “We are increasing our gas supplies and will also participate in renewable projects in the kingdom,” he said.
Citing proposed solutions to tackle challenges faced by micro, small and medium scale enterprises around the world, Mr Nasser said major corporations could help by purchasing their products and services, paying them on time and promoting their value proposition to other major companies.
Patrick Pouyanne, chairman and chief executive of French oil major Total, said climate change is the biggest challenge of the century, which affects both energy producers and users.
He called for collective action, policy direction and support for innovation from governments.
“The world needs more energy with less emissions,” the senior oil executive said.
Delivering the opening address on the summit’s second day, former Indian commerce minister Suresh Prabhu, who is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s representative for the G20 summit, called for inclusiveness to be inherently built into governance and public policy initiatives globally.
“Inclusiveness cannot be an afterthought. Large sections of society cannot be left out,” said Mr Prabhu.
He said businesses have to be a part of general governance to address all challenges that have beguiled the world.
“Businesses can provide good solutions to agricultural problems, natural calamities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce social inequality. They can also help governments to solve public health problems in a competent way by improving quality of life using technology in an ethical way,” Mr Prabhu suggested.
The former minister said the B20 engagement group has the knowledge, ability, technology and management capability to take the global agenda forward.
The pandemic has exposed unmet demand and supply issues in trade finance
Mark Tucker, group chairman, HSBC Holdings
Speaking at a session on building resilient trade systems for inclusive growth, Mark Tucker, group chairman of banking giant HSBC, said smaller businesses have been hit hardest by the pandemic and need support. Micro, small and medium enterprises represent around 95 per cent of companies worldwide and 60 per cent of total employment.
“They faced a disproportionate impact from Covid-19. Smaller businesses tend to have limited financial resources and were hit particularly hard by supply chain disruptions,” Mr Trucker said. “The pandemic has exposed unmet demand and supply issues in trade finance. MSME applications for trade finance are facing a much higher rejection rate today.”
The Asian Development Bank estimated that in 2019, the global shortfall in trade finance stood at $1.5 trillion. However, this gap has now widened to about $2.5tn, according to the International Chamber of Commerce.
During the same session, Ajay Banga, president and chief executive of Mastercard, said trade has traditionally been too paper-dependent and, therefore, complicated, slow and cumbersome. Digitising trade would make it far more efficient and reduce frictions, he said.
Mr Banga also called for common standards for implementing 5G, the Internet of Things, trade flow digitisation, data transmission and cross-border data use.
Speaking at a session on gender diversity, Bill Winters, chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank, said the concept is no longer a “nice-to-have, instead it’s necessary for an organisation to be successful and have a diverse range of views and perspectives”.
Mr Winters said the Covid-19 pandemic has amplified pre-existing inequalities and impacted women disproportionately.
He added that his bank’s diversity focus is, however, not limited to women alone. “We never compromise on quality and choose inferior candidates to meet quantity targets. You don’t need to, you only need to open your mind to the qualities different people can bring to a particular job,” he said.
Updated: October 28, 2020 09:24 AM