Record Rainfall: A New Climatic Reality for the UAE?

“How do you know how much precipitation that might actually end up falling from that cloud occurred due to the seeding? Or how much would have fallen without the seeding?”

– Daniel Swain, Climate Scientist at UCLA

Monday marked a historic weather event in the United Arab Emirates, beyond anything documented since records began in 1949.

The desert region, typically semi-arid, has experienced the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in the province. Rain began late on Monday, with 0.79 inches recorded according to the meteorological data collected at Dubai International Airport. By the end of Tuesday, this figure had skyrocketed to 5.59 inches of rainfall over 24 hours, soaking the city of Dubai—a volume higher than what the city typically receives in an average year, all occurring within a few hours.

Paul Griffiths, the CEO of Dubai Airport, acknowledged the disruption caused by the deluge at the world’s busiest airfield for international travel. He described this weather event as leading to ‘challenging times’ for the airport and its staff, as this intense rainfall across the UAE has led the province into unchartered territory.

All operations at Dubai Airport were halted for 25 minutes on Tuesday afternoon as floodwaters overwhelmed surrounding roads and runways, making it unsafe for flights to land. Some aircraft were diverted to Al Maktoum International Airport at the Dubai World Central, which is the city’s second airfield and gradually expanding to become the largest civilian airport in the world.

Was this Historic Rainfall a Product of Cloud Seeding?

The cause of this weather anomaly is speculated to have been caused by cloud seeding, a method frequently used in the country to increase precipitation in areas unaccustomed to consistent rainfall. According to the Desert Research Institute, this process involves introducing tiny particles called nuclei into the atmosphere, which help water condense. Planes operated by the government deploy special salt flares to burn in the clouds during this process, helping to induce precipitation. Meteorologists at the National Center for Meteorology reported conducting around six cloud-seeding flights on the Sunday before the rainfall began. However, whether these operations occurred remains unconfirmed. Flight tracking data has indicated that an aircraft associated with the UAE’s cloud seeding efforts was active over the country on Sunday.

Or, Could Climate Change Be the Real Culprit?

Contrary to this theory, meteorologists and scientists worldwide have suggested that the deluge was not caused by cloud seeding but was instead a consequence of climate change. Keff Hamsters, a meteorologist for Yale Climate Connections, stated that the rainfall event could be attributed to the general increase in extreme weather events—such as storms, droughts, floods, and wildfires—caused by climate change.

Similarly, climate scientist Daniel Swain from UCLA, said that climate change likely played a more significant role than cloud seeding in this particular storm, as warmer temperatures increase evaporation and can lead to more intense storms.

How Inadequate Planning Exacerbated the Crisis

Furthermore, urban planning issues contributed to the catastrophic flooding. The soil in semi-arid regions like the UAE is not well-suited to quickly absorb water, which means that even moderate rainfall is sufficient to cause flooding. Meteorologist Ryan Maue, former Chief Scientist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has asserted that the storm was ‘certainly’ not due to cloud seeding.

Instead, he pointed out that the risk of flash flooding, while possible almost everywhere on Earth, is often overlooked in urban planning and infrastructure decisions. He went on to emphasise that such extreme weather events should highlight the importance of resilience measures- or rather the fact that it should be standard operating procedure to integrate these measures into urban planning.

In Conclusion

The unprecedented rainfall in Dubai has highlighted several critical issues that demand attention. First, the potential role of cloud seeding in exacerbating this weather event, while debated, underscores the need for careful consideration in the deployment of such technologies. Experts remain divided on whether the intense precipitation was a result of artificial intervention or a natural consequence of climate change. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the increasingly volatile and unpredictable weather patterns the world is facing as global temperatures continue to rise.

A Global Warning: Learning from the UAE’s Crisis to Aid Climate Vulnerable Nations

As global temperatures continue to rise, the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events will only increase. The UAE, a developed urban centre, is facing extreme challenges and has shown that urban planning needs to incorporate more robust resilience measures.

This raises a critical question: what about less developed countries which have been experiencing the impacts of climate change for years? These nations often lack the resources to implement comprehensive resilience strategies. For more insights into how these vulnerabilities affect various countries globally, read here: 10 Countries at Risk from Climate Disaster.

©Lawrence Power 2024

What is a Civil Restraint Order? And When is it Issued?

A civil restraint order (CRO) is a legal measure implemented by a court, designed to prevent the misuse of the judicial system through frivolous or vexatious litigation. Essentially, these orders limit an individual’s ability to make further applications to the court. As such, any form of a CRO carries significant implications for litigants: affecting both the success of their case and – potentially – their ability to access the courts in future.

When a court dismisses an application as being completely devoid of merit, it is then obligated to consider whether it is appropriate to issue a CRO. The criterion for an application being ‘totally without merit’ hinges on its likelihood of failure – it is not necessary to prove that the application was vexatious or abusive.

However, there are instances where an application might have merit, but the surrounding circumstances warrant the court’s consideration of a CRO. For example, in R (Henry) v Bar Standards Board, the claimant’s track record of similar, meritless applications was considered sufficient grounds for the imposition of a CRO.

This illustrates the court’s broad discretion in issuing a CRO when they perceive an application to be without merit and vexatious.

Civil restraint orders can be categorised into three types:

1. A limited CRO is a court order that prevents individuals recognised as vexatious litigants from making any further applications in ongoing proceedings without court permission. It is applicable when an individual has made two or more applications that are totally without merit. This order remains effective for the duration of the proceedings in which it is made unless otherwise ordered by the court.

2. An extended CRO order goes beyond this, with the breadth and severity of the restrictions depending on the court from which the order is issued. For example, an order from a designated civil judge restricts any applications to the County Court related to the specific proceedings, while an order from a Court of Appeal judge prohibits applications in any court. These orders can last up to three years and are issued in cases where a party persistently submits meritless applications.

3. A general CRO is the most severe type. It is reserved for situations where a party continuously files baseless applications, and an extended CRO would not be sufficient or appropriate. Similar to extended CROs, this order is effective for three years, but their scope varies based on the issuing court. This order restricts the ability of a party to bring any application before the court, related or unrelated to the proceedings in which it is issued.

Submitting further applications that are deemed completely without merit can result in the revocation of the right to appeal.

The severe consequences of CROs underscore the judicial system’s serious stance on vexatious litigation. Individuals subject to these orders not only face significant restrictions on their access to justice but also are listed on an online register of vexatious litigants, marking their abuse of the legal system.

© Lawrence Power 2024

Navigating The Deepfake Dilemma

Ethical, Legal, and Societal Implications

As you settle into your usual routine of scrolling through emails, you stumble upon a video that sends a chill down your spine. In disbelief, you and millions of other users on the internet watch a video of yourself crying and confessing to crimes you never committed. Shocked and confused about what you just witnessed, your phone starts buzzing with notifications from family, friends, colleagues, employers, and officials, all seeking explanations.

Welcome to the era of deepfakes.

Deepfakes are a form of synthetic media generated through AI techniques, primarily deep learning algorithms, to create or alter visual and audio content so convincingly that it appears genuine. As we navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape, we are confronted with an unsettling reality: what we see and hear may not always be what it seems.

In recent months, headlines have been dominated by chilling accounts of victims falling prey to meticulously crafted illusions. Yet, the threat of deepfakes goes beyond financial fraud or celebrity scandal. With the looming spectre of deepfakes over the political landscape, the very fabric of our governing system hangs in the balance.

One critical question emerges: Should creating deepfake content without a person’s consent be illegal?

It is a question that challenges us to confront the ethical dilemmas posed by rapidly advancing technology. We must unravel the complexities of deepfake’s impact on our society and consider the pressing need for decisive action in an age of deception and uncertainty.

Recent incidents involving Taylor Swift demonstrate the continued evolution of deepfakes. The circulation of sexually explicit deepfake images of Swift, reaching millions of views before being removed, highlights the alarming ease with which the manipulated content can be disseminated online.

The Biden administration has condemned the spread of deepfake content, calling on social media companies to take more responsibility. But is mere condemnation sufficient at this stage? Especially when deepfake technology has evolved to the point of reaching a much larger, mainstream audience.

Consider the current situation in Hong Kong, where an employee fell victim to a deepfake video conference call impersonating senior officers. Deceived by false replicas, the employee unwittingly transferred millions of dollars to fraudsters. This incident spotlights the vulnerabilities inherent in remote communication platforms, which are only becoming more prevalent. Instances of deepfake fraud can have far-reaching consequences for businesses, investors, and the economy at large.

Deepfake manipulations risk causing market instability. False information spread through deepfake content could trigger panic selling, resulting in significant losses for investors and destabilising the broader economy. As investors lose confidence in the integrity of financial markets, capital flows may be disrupted, thus potentially hindering economic growth and development.

This incident emphasises the growing threat to political integrity and democratic processes. Synthetic media leads to a distrust in the political process and corrupted electoral outcomes. It’s become far too easy to spread a fake video of a politician engaging in unethical or criminal behaviour. This technology’s capacity for misinformation, propaganda, and polarising narratives poses significant risks to international relations and societal cohesion.

All instances of deepfakes so far have been inherently negative, spread by malicious actors working for their personal gain while wreaking havoc on the rest of society. There are, however, arguments that support deepfakes.

Just like other technological developments, deepfakes were not created with malicious intent. The scope for positive gains from deepfakes is expansive. For example, deepfakes can create realistic digital doubles of criminal suspects using forensic evidence, thus streamlining the investigation process. Prediction models can also be improved upon, emergency scenarios can be simulated, and it can improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities by enabling the creation of synthetic speech, sign language interpretation, and facial expressions.

Ultimately, deepfakes are a tool. A tool with far too much power to be left in the hands of any individual who utilises it for their own gain. Policymakers and regulators face the daunting task of addressing the unique threats posed by synthetic media. Should this technology be banned altogether? Should we consider the potential benefits that can come from the regulated use of deepfakes? New legislations are in the works, such as the Digital Imprints Regime which requires AI-generated content to have an imprint when uploaded. This is a step in the right direction, but will it be enough? It may prevent misinformation but what about violation of privacy rights or defamation?

Perhaps focusing on regulation by outlawing misinformed deepfakes is a strong first step. Nonetheless, the impacts of deepfakes are intertwined and intricate. Only by working together, across sectors and borders, can we confront the challenges and opportunities posed by deepfake manipulation while ensuring that our rights and values endure for generations to come.

© Lawrence Power 2024

How to Effectively Share Your Commitment to the UN’s Social Development Goals with Clients.

Final Part of the “Power” Guide Trilogy

As a business owner committed to social change, you will be already familiar with the term “Social Development Goals”, (SDGs), and are eager to contribute to their impact. The SDGs, established by the United Nations in 2015, consist of 17 global objectives. These goals are designed to address the world’s most pressing issues, such as poverty, inequality and climate change. They provide a blueprint for a more sustainable, fair and prosperous future for all, not just first-world countries. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved by 2030 and progress towards these targets is regularly monitored. While there’s still a long way to go, the SDGs arguably represent a beacon of hope for a better world. However, a significant challenge many organisations face is effectively communicating their dedication to these goals to their clients.

So, how can you confidently share your involvement with the SDGs in a genuine way that avoids the appearance of being insincere or opportunistic?

1. Understand Your Audience

Successful communication starts with knowing your audience. Identify who you are trying to reach, what motivates them, and their needs and preferences. This knowledge allows you to tailor your SDG messaging to resonate better, capture attention, and inspire them to take action. Think about who they are as people and what they care about.

2. Be Open About Progress & Challenges

Demonstrating sincerity involves honesty and transparency about your journey, both the successes and the setbacks. We are all human at our core. Sharing your challenges humanises your business, inviting support and constructive feedback instead of criticism. While vulnerability can be daunting, the benefits of openness outweigh the risks. Acknowledge mistakes and share your plans for improvement.

3. Highlight SDG-Aligned Projects and Initiatives

Collective actions from governments, civil society, and businesses are essential for achieving the SDGs. Highlight the projects and initiatives your business undertakes that align with these goals, whether it’s sustainable farming, improving healthcare access, or promoting gender equality. These efforts showcase your commitment to making a tangible difference.

4. Share Impact Data and Beneficiary Testimonials

Providing concrete examples of the positive impact of your efforts can be incredibly persuasive. Share impact data and testimonials from those you have helped to illustrate the significance of your work. Whether it is gratitude expressed in a thank-you letter or statistics demonstrating the community benefits, these stories underscore the value of your commitment.

5. Ensure Consistency with Your Values and Goals

All communications about your SDGs efforts should reflect your company’s values and goals. This coherence reinforces a unified message that resonates with your audience and clarifies your mission. Ultimately, aligning your SDG communications with your organisational ethos strengthens your brand identity.

6. Regularly Update Clients on Your Progress

Measuring and sharing progress is crucial. The SDG goals, specifically, are to help create a better world for everyone. That’s why it is important to demonstrate to your clients that you take your commitment to creating a better world seriously by regularly sharing both successes and areas for improvement. Share your progress (good and bad) with them. Transparency and ongoing communication are essential for building trust and keeping your clients engaged with your efforts.

Are you looking to achieve your sustainability goals with legal precision? I am available as a specialist legal counsel. I can ensure your business not only meets but exceeds its sustainability targets.

© Lawrence Power 2024

Flight Disruption – The Most Expensive IT Glitch in History?

A staggering £100m is the estimated cost to airlines for the flight disruption caused by a computer glitch at NAT. Unreliable flight data appears to have been the cause of the widespread disruption that has affected thousands of passengers. More than 1000 flights departing UK airports were cancelled over a three-day period. There has also been a knock-on effect on businesses and workplaces around the UK, with people being stranded abroad and unable to return to work after their holidays. This follows the recent disruption caused by wildfires in Greece.

Passengers are quite rightly asking for compensation for the delays caused by the IT glitch. Many people have suffered incredible inconvenience and stress because of the delays. Though, in this case, it does seem inappropriate and unfair for airlines to have to foot the entire bill, although they will obviously fulfil their duties to passengers. The IT failure is clearly something outside of their control and is an extraordinary circumstance. The airlines do owe a duty of care to passengers and have to provide accommodation and re-routing. They should not however have to bear the cost of compensation for delay under Article 7 of Regulation 261. This is because a failure of the air traffic control system is something the airlines have no control over whatsoever.

Passengers whose flights are cancelled should be given the choice of rerouting, a refund or return. Where flights are delayed, passengers have a right of assistance, including meals, refreshments, accommodation, and transfers. Airlines have to reimburse passengers for their reasonable costs, such as hotels and meals. The airlines, in our experience, are generally willing to reimburse passengers. Airlines do face claims from passengers for luxury hotels and expensive meals as well as consequential losses which cannot be justified and, in those circumstances, unfortunately such claims do sometimes end up in Court. We have a great deal of experience defending such claims.

Airlines are likely to have to pick up a massive bill through no fault of their own. It will also take a few days for flight schedules to return to normal. Other businesses will also face disruption, with employees unable to return to work on time after their holidays. It is fair to say that airlines are victims here too, and they can ill afford these additional costs following hard on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a situation where the government should step in and compensate airlines for the air traffic control failure.

© Peter Causton 2023

The World Is “Heading In The Wrong Direction”, Says Scientists

We at Whitestone are able to report that the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has reported that the atmospheric levels of all three greenhouse gases have reached record highs. In 2021, carbon dioxide concentrations were 415.7 parts per million, methane was 1908 parts per billion and nitrous oxide was 334.5 parts per billion. These are 149%, 262% and 124% of pre-industrial levels. These figures are set to be presented at the Cop27 UN climate conference in November and the WMO is in Sharm El-Sheik to attend the conference. [1] 

Concentrations of methane between 2020 and 2021 have had its biggest year-on-year jump within 40 years, puzzling scientists. Scientists countered the blame on fracking as industrial emissions did not show a similar sharp rise. Instead, the theory is that activities of microbes in wetlands, rice paddies and the guts of ruminants are the cause. The rising temperatures have caused the ideal conditions for microbial methane production. Professor Petteri Taalas, WMO secretary general, has stated there are “cost-effective strategies available to tackle methane emissions, especially from the fossil fuel sector, and we should implement these without delay,” he added, “However, methane has a relatively short lifetime of less than 10 years, and so its impact on climate is reversible.” [1] 

Professor Taalas did point out the urgency of slashing carbon dioxide emissions, calling it “the main driver of climate change and associated extreme weather”. The rise in carbon dioxide levels between 2020 and 2021 is larger than the annual growth rate over the past decade. [1] 

The Global Carbon Project initiative found that between 1990 and 2021, global carbon emissions rose by more than 60%. This statistic comes despite scientists first predicting the global warming phenomenon more than a century ago and UN climate conferences now taking place for some 30 years. [2] 

Carbon dioxide comprises of about 80% of the increase in greenhouse gas-caused global heating. Professor Taalas stated that the rise in carbon dioxide emissions has the ability to “affect climate for thousands of years through polar ice loss, ocean warming and sea level rise.” [1] 

So far, countries comprising 91% of the global GDP have pledged to reach net zero by 2050. We have seen most of these pledges being made in the past two years. The impact may seem limited for now but Henning Gloystein, director of energy, climate and resources in the Eurasia Group, argues that could soon change. “Net zero moved from being a rich country fad to a global trend in the second half of 2021,” Gloystein stated. “There is a lot of legitimate criticism that net zero isn’t enough to drive change – but even if it isn’t, I think we will soon begin to see economies change much more rapidly as they chart their decarbonisation pathways.” [2] 

With time “running out”, according to Professor Taalas, a transformation of “our industrial, energy and transport systems and whole way of life” is crucial – and notably, “economically affordable and technically possible.” [1] 

At Whitestone we will continue to build our Climate Change Team to deliver the legal infrastructure that compliance and regulatory departments can utilise to improve their own compliance with The Paris Agreement. 

©  Robert Pidgeon – Whitestone Chambers 

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/26/atmospheric-levels-greenhouse-gases-record-high?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other  

[2] https://www.energymonitor.ai/policy/net-zero-policy/cop27-how-countries-compare-on-carbon-emissions-and-pledges 

Coradia iLint: The Worlds First Fully Hydrogen-Powered Passenger Train Service

Alstom, an organisation that strives to provide sustainable foundations for the future of the transportation industry, has created the first fully hydrogen-powered passenger train service that runs on the line in Lower Saxony, Germany. Alstom first presented the Coradia iLint at the InnoTrans 2016 Berlin. Then, in 2018, the trains entered into commercial service in Germany. The deal cost the German railway LVNG 93 million euros. 

The Coradia iLint trains only emit steam and condensed water allowing it to replace the diesel trains the usually ran on the line. Moreover, the train operates with a low level of noise. Bruno Marguet, an executive with Alstom, stated: “You don’t smell the diesel smoke when you’re in the station… there aren’t diesel emissions from [nitrogen oxides], which are harmful for health.” [1] 

Notably, the Coradia iLint’s range of 1,000km gives it the ability to run all day on the line using a single tank of hydrogen. A hydrogen filling station has been set up on the route between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude. The trains can reach a maximum speed of 89mph, according to Alstom. 

Carmen Schwable, a spokeswoman for LNVG, stated that they “will not buy any more diesel trains in order to do even more to combat climate change”. [1] 

Stephan Weil, the President of Lower Saxony, called the news of the train line a “model for the rest of the world” and “a milestone on the road to climate neutrality in the transport sector.” [2] 

Alstom has made agreements to use the Coradia iLint at other locales such as 27 trains in the Frankfurt metropolitan. As well as spreading across Germany, Alstom is also set to start running trains on lines in regions in Italy, France, Polan, Sweden and Austria. 

The rollout of the train line comes in light of European sanctions on Russia, including European countries like Germany detaching themselves from relying on Russian oil and gas imports. 

At Whitestone we say while the introduction of the Coradia iLint is a great step towards sustainable transportation is Europe, the European rail network still relies heavily on trains that are not electrified in the long term. For example, Germany has more than 4,000 diesel-powered cars. There is, nevertheless, progress in switching the country’s reliance from diesel to green energy: the country’s rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, stated that it was developing a hydrogen-powered train in 2020. As well as this, the development of the Coradia iLint was supported by the German Ministry of Economy and Mobility, and funded by the German government as part of the National Innovation Program for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP). 

The CEO of Alstom, Henri Poupart-Lafarge, stated: “Emission free mobility is one of the most important goals for ensuring a sustainable future”. [2] 

[1] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/hydrogen-powered-passenger-trains-are-now-running-in-germany-180980706/  

[2] https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/coradia-ilint-hydrogen-trains/index.html 

© 2022 Whitestone Chambers 

Supersonic Travel Set To Return In 2029

After a near-30-year hiatus, supersonic transatlantic travel is set to return. American Airlines, the world’s biggest airline, has announced a deal to purchase up to 20 Overture aircraft from Boom Supersonic. The deal has an option to extend the order to 40 aircrafts. The Overture jets are expected to start production from 2025. From 2029, the aircrafts are set to carry 65 – 80 passengers each on routes such as from Miami to London and Los Angeles to Honolulu. 

A statement released by American Airlines, said that the Overture jets will give them “an important new speed advantage”. The new high-tech jets, dubbed as the “son of Concorde” has a cruising speed of Mach 1.7 (1,300 miles per hour). Compared to most commercial aircraft, the “son of Concorde” will travel twice as fast cutting a six and a half hours journey between London and New York to three and a half hours. As well as this, a flight between London and Miami would go from nine and a half hours to less than five hours. [1] 

David Kerr, American Airline’s financial officer, stated that they “are excited how Boom will shape the future of travel both for our company and our customers.” [1] 

American Airlines’ deal is not the only deal Boom Supersonic has been engaged in. Just weeks before the news, Boom Supersonic revealed that it has a separate deal with US defence contractor Northrop Grumman to develop a military version of the Overture. Moreover, United Airlines ordered 15 jets last year, Virgin Atlantic reached a deal in 2016 and Japan Airlines have placed order for Boom Supersonic’s yet-to-launch jets. 

Boom Supersonic’s Concorde was retired back in 2003 by British Airways. In July 2000, the project was shelved after a fatal crash at Charles de Gaulle airport. In addition, ticket costs became a problem for flight demand. City and Wall Street banks did not want to pay £7,000 a seat to transport executives across the Atlantic even if it was faster. Expected prices for the upcoming Overture jet seats have not been released yet however, Blake Scholl – chief executive of Boom Supersonic – stated that tickets would be “affordable”. Scholl stated, “I started this because I was sad that I never got to fly on Concorde. I waited but no one was doing it, so I decided to. Ultimately, I want people to be able to get anywhere in the world in five hours for $100 (£83). To get there you must improve fuel efficiency, but step by step supersonic air travel will become available for everyone.” [2] 

A major issue with supersonic travel is the extra fuel required to travel at higher speeds as the airline industry is already responsible for around 5% of global warming. The industry has been committed to reducing carbon emissions. Boom Supersonic has stated that flights will fly on “up to 100% sustainable” aviation fuel. The company prioritises “circularity by repurposing used tooling, recycling components on the shop floor, and leveraging additive manufacturing techniques that result in less manufacturing waste and lighter, more fuel-efficient products”. As well as this, the company has aims to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2025 and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. [2] 

Scholl stated “We are proud to share our vision of a more connected and sustainable world with American Airlines.” [1] 

[1] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/08/16/worlds-biggest-airline-orders-30-son-concorde-supersonic-jets/ 

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/aug/16/american-becomes-third-airline-to-place-order-for-boom-supersonic-jets 

© 2022 Whitestone Chambers 

New Bill Set To Double The Pace At Which The American Economy Has Been Decarbonising

Annual emissions could be cut by as much as 44% by the end of the decade as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act 2022. Analysis shows that the Inflation Reduction Act would be the most significant climate bill passed by Congress and would double the pace at which the American economy has been decarbonising. 

The Inflation Reduction Act was agreed by Senator Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Regarding the climate aspect of the Bill, President Joe Biden stated that “It addresses the climate crisis and strengthens our energy security, creating jobs manufacturing solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles in America with American workers.” [1] 

Estimations of the climate effect of the Bill were conducted by Energy Innovation, Rhodium Group and the REPEAT Project predicting around a 40% drop in emissions by the end of the decade.  

[2]

The Executive Director of Strategy at Energy Innovation, Anand Gopal, stated that “I was sceptical of it when we started doing the model […] But now I’m convinced that this is a really meaningful action by the United States on climate in this decade.” [2] 

As seen by the graph below, the Bill is only the beginning of tackling Biden’s 2030 climate goal. Contributions by states, cities, companies and the Environment Protection Agency are still necessary to reach these goals. 

[2]

What the Bill does do is boost America’s influence in international climate negotiations, enabling them to encourage other countries to follow in their footsteps and rapidly decarbonise. Gopal stated that, before, the US had “very limited credibility” when it came to international climate negotiations such as the UN climate forums. The passing of the Bill means “that is going to change”. [2] 

The predicted success of the Bill comes from making clean energy cheap, as stated by Jenkins. Biden stated, “It lowers families’ energy costs by hundreds of dollars each year.” Generous subsidies will be made to spur clean electricity production while creating programs to tackle bottlenecks on deploying that electricity, such as America’s inability to build an interconnected and blackout-proof grid. [1] 

The Bill can be divided into two categories: 

  1. Policies that will drive greenhouse gas pollution out of the US economy during this decade mainly through a new set of tax credit that will apply to any form of zero-carbon power production. These policies also focus on the most carbon intensive side of the economy, transportation. New electric cars, SUVs, pickups and vans will be subsidised by up to $7,500. 
  1. Policies that aim to reduce emissions after 2030 mainly through focusing on the most polluted sector, the industrial sector. Incentives will underwrite new factories, encourage clean-energy manufacturing and the push to net-zero. These policies hope to turn the US into the global leader in the nascent geothermal hydrogen and carbon-removal industries. 

While it is good to recognise that these are all estimates that fail to take into account external factors such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this does not undermine the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act. For example, Rhodium gave a carbon pollution cut estimate by 2030 of between 31% – 44%. Therefore, in the worst-case scenario, there will still be an estimated 31% cut and the US will still have cut a large portion of emissions from the power and transportation sectors. 

In a statement, Biden said “The House should pass [the Bill] as soon as possible and I look forward to signing it into law.” 

[1] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/07/statement-by-president-biden-on-senate-passage-of-the-inflation-reduction-act/ 

[2] https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2022/08/manchin-climate-bill-carbon-emissions-2030/671049/?utm_source=apple_news 

© 2022 Whitestone Chambers 

The Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022: Updated Registration Requirements For Overseas Entities Holding Land In The UK

What is the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 (ECTEA)? 

The ECTEA was passed to combat economic crime through introducing transparency around the ownership of overseas legal entities that hold registered title to land or property in the UK. Transparency is achieved through the establishment of a new public Register of Overseas Entities (and their beneficial owners) to be kept at Companies House. The register will publicise who actually owns property and land in the UK. 

We are still waiting for the passing of the secondary legislation required to implement the new procedures. 

How does the ECTEA work? 

The ECTEA applies to any overseas entity: 

  1. With title to registered freehold or leasehold property in the UK acquired since 1 January 1999 in England or Wales, or since 8 December 2014 in Scotland. 
  1. Wishing to purchase such UK land in any part of the UK. 
  1. Intending to dispose of such UK land, or which has disposed of such land since 28 February 2022. 

Overseas entities who come under this new legislation will have six months, from the implementation of the new register, to complete their registration. The start of this six-month transitional period will be determined under the anticipated secondary legislation. 

Once registered, overseas entities will not be required to renew statements in the register on an annual basis. 

Overseas entities will need to do the following information to register: 

  • Details of the property involved. 
  • Any registrable beneficial owner(s) of the entity or confirmation that there are no registrable beneficial owner(s). A registrable beneficial owner is defined as a person: 
    • Directly or indirectly holding 25% or more of the shares or voting rights of the overseas entity, or 
    • Who can affect or change the composition of the board of directors of the overseas entity, or 
    • Who otherwise has the right to exercise significant influence and control over the overseas entity. 
  • In cases where a registrable beneficial owner is a trustee, overseas entities will need to include the identity and location of each beneficiary, settlor or grantor of the trust. Former trustees of a trust are also included. 

Failure to comply with the ECTEA can result in criminal transactions of: 

  • Fines up to £2,500 a day. 
  • Prison sentences of up to five years for officers of overseas entities. 

Additionally, failure to register before the end of the transitional period can result in the HM Land Registry placing a restriction on titles to land and properties registered to overseas entities. This may include restriction to an overseas entities’ ability to transfer, let or charge their interest. 

Next steps 

The ECTEA legislation can be found here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2022/10/contents/enacted 

© 2022 Whitestone Chambers