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UK inflation hits almost three-decade high as living costs soar

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The cost of living in Britain is forecast to increase even higher in April owing to a tax hike and further planned increases to domestic energy bills, analysts say.

The annual rate of inflation in Britain has risen to a near 30-year high in December, stoking fears about a cost-of-living squeeze as wages fail to keep pace.

Inflation accelerated to 5.4 percent in the 12 months through December, up from November’s 5.1 percent, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday.

Last month’s annual figure is the highest since March 1992, when inflation stood at 7.1 percent.

“Food prices again grew strongly while increases in furniture and clothing also pushed up annual inflation,” said ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner.

The Bank of England (BoE), whose chief task is to keep inflation close to 2.0 percent, is now expected to raise rates again at its next meeting in February amid easing concerns over economic fallout from the Omicron coronavirus variant.

On Wednesday, the pound hit a near two-year peak versus the euro on increased expectations of another rate rise, while the European Central Bank has yet to follow the BoE in tightening monetary conditions.

READ MORE: Explained: Europe caught in highest inflation in nearly 30 years

Surging costs

Economies worldwide are battling decades-high inflation that is forcing central banks to lift interest rates, including the BoE which last month raised its key borrowing cost — to 0.25 percent from a record-low level of 0.1 percent — for the first time in more than three years .

The cost of living in Britain is forecast to soar even higher in April owing to a tax hike and further planned increases to domestic energy bills, according to analysts.

National insurance, paid by workers and employers, is being increased to help fund social care for the elderly. Analysts expect more painful tax increases to foot the vast bill for Covid.

In addition, electricity and gas prices are set to rocket higher when the UK government shortly lifts a cap on energy bills amid record-breaking wholesale costs.

“With consumer prices rising at their fastest rate for three decades and wage growth slowing, Britons are being squeezed ever harder by the cost of living,” said Jay Mawji, head of trading provider IX Prime.

Consumers and businesses are struggling with surging costs, ongoing pandemic turmoil and supply chain problems.

At the same time, real wages in November fell on the year for the first time since mid-2020, official data showed on Tuesday.

“More pain lies ahead in the form of tax rises in April and a likely 50-percent jump in energy bills,” said IX Prime’s Mawji.

READ MORE: US consumer prices hit four-decade high in December

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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G7 countries pledge to end fossil-fuel financing abroad

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The pledge still allows for some “limited” exceptions of fossil-fuel financing so long as they are consistent with the 2015 Paris pact to curb global temperature increases.

Japan for the first time joined fellow members of the Group of Seven industrialised nations in pledging to end public financing for fossil fuel projects abroad by the end of the year to help combat global warming.

“We commit to end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022,” G7 energy and climate ministers said in a joint statement following talks in Berlin on Friday.

The term “unabated” refers to projects that do not employ techniques to offset some of the pollution caused by carbon dioxide emissions.

Ending subsidies for the international fossil fuel energy sector was already part of a series of commitments agreed to by around 20 countries at last year’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Six of the G7 club of rich nations were among the signatories at the time  Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and the United States – but Japan had resisted until now.

“It is good that Japan, the world’s largest financier of fossil fuels, has now joined the other G7 countries in making a shared commitment to end overseas fossil fuel financing,” said Alden Meyer, senior associate at climate policy think tank E3G.

READ MORE: COP26: Several nations pledge to end overseas fossil fuel finance

Friday’s pledge still allows for some “limited” exceptions of fossil-fuel financing so long as they are consistent with the 2015 Paris pact to curb global temperature increases. But Meyer said countries wishing to do so would face “a very stiff bar to clear”.

At their G7 talks, ministers also committed to largely end the use of fossil fuels in their electricity sectors by 2035, despite heavy tensions in the power market over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We further commit to a goal of achieving predominantly decarbonised electricity sectors by 2035,” they said.

READ MORE: UN: World to be hit harder by disasters in coming years

Clean energy transition

To achieve this, member states promised to ramp up “the necessary technologies and policies for the clean energy transition” and accelerate the phase-out of coal.

The pledge was welcomed by environmental campaigners, at a time when the war in Ukraine has sent energy prices soaring and Western countries are scrambling to wean themselves off Russian imports.

“In a very difficult geopolitical situation, the G7 are united behind an end to fossil fuels by 2035 in the power sector. This is significant progress,” said David Ryfisch of the Germanwatch environmental group.

Speaking at the closing press conference, German Energy Minister Robert Habeck welcomed the pledges made by G7 nations, saying they sent a “strong signal for more climate protection”.

As well as a pledge to stop bankrolling fossil fuel projects abroad by the end of the year, Habeck highlighted the club’s agreement to ditch all “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” by 2025.

READ MORE: Erdogan: Turkey signed $3.2 billion green climate fund deal

Source: TRT World 

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FSM adds two barges to its fuel carrier fleet

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Fuel Supplies Maldives (FSM) has added two new barges to its fuel carrier fleet.

FSM had contracted an Egyptian company in 2019 to build four new barges to add to its fuel carrier fleet. Two of these barges were brought to the Maldives at the end of last month.

Speaking to PSM News, Managing Director of FSM Mohamed Qasam said the new barges have joined the fuel supply operations of FSM. Qasam revealed the new barges are able to carry 260,000 litres of fuel at a time. He said the new barges have greatly increased the capacity of the company’s fuel supply operations in the country. He added two more barges are expected to arrive in the Maldives within the next two months.

The two new barges added to FSM’s fleet have been named MV Hunike and MV Bureki. The two barges join a fleet of 18 barges used to supply fuel to the atolls.

In addition, FSM also operates a fuel tanker, capable of carrying 8.5 million litres of fuel.

Source: psmnews

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New blockchain Luna 2.0 set to launch after collapse erases billions

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Many cryptocurrency exchanges such as gate.io, Bitfinex, FTX, Huobi, and Bitrue will support the new blockchain, says the creator of the network.

A new blockchain called Luna 2.0 is set to launch on Friday to replace the current Terra Luna crypto network after the latter’s collapse erased billions of dollars to hurt millions of investors.

Terra Daily, which provides daily news about the network, announced on Wednesday on its official Twitter account that a proposal “to rename the existing network Terra Classic (LUNC), and rebirth a new Terra blockchain (LUNA) has officially passed!”

Do Kwon, the creator of the network and CEO of TerraForm Labs, also said on Twitter that many cryptocurrency exchanges will support the new blockchain Luna 2.0, such as gate.io, Bitfinex, FTX, Huobi, and Bitrue.

The price of cryptocurrency Terra Luna plummeted in recent weeks, trading at $0.0001578 around 0820 GMT on Thursday, from $92.31 a month ago.

Its sibling UST, which was initially designed to be pegged one-to-one with the US dollar, was at $0.09079 at the time.

Terra Luna’s price collapse is estimated to have caused crypto investors to lose around $40 billion, also sending a shockwave across the global crypto market that saw more than $1 trillion evaporating in just six weeks.

READ MORE: What are stablecoins and how did they trigger a crypto market crash?

Source: TRT World

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