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SPD tied with conservative alliance

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People cast their votes for Germany’s Parliamentary (Bundestag) election at a poll station in Berlin, Germany on September 26, 2021.

Abdulhamid Hosbas | Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

German election exit polls indicate that the Social Democratic Party and the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union bloc are tied after one of the country’s most significant votes in recent years.

Voting took place all day Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time, in polling stations around the country although a large proportion of voters opted for postal ballots this election, given the coronavirus pandemic.

The election is significant because it heralds the departure of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is preparing to leave office after 16 years in power.

Recent German elections had failed to throw up any real surprises with Merkel’s re-election relatively assured. But this election race has differed by being wide open and too close to call, even up to the last days before the vote.

The Green Party enjoyed a bounce in popularity and took the lead in the polls at one point in April to then be overtaken by the Social Democratic Party, which has managed to hang on to a slight lead in recent weeks.

Merkel’s ruling conservative alliance of the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union had failed to galvanize Germans, and around 40% of voters were reported to be undecided as to who to vote for in the week ahead of the election.

What’s certain is that the next government will be a coalition, given that no party has won a majority of seats on its own.

Experts have spent months speculating on what form a coalition government could take and negotiations, which could begin on Monday, are likely to take weeks and potentially months.

The CDU, and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, have dominated German politics since 1949, when the parties formed a parliamentary group and ran in the first federal election following World War II.

In recent years the party has fallen out of favor with younger German voters who are prioritizing green policies and want to see Germany invest in and modernize its creaking industries and infrastructure.

This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.

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Stranded assets show the need for rapid energy transition, Carney says

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Former governor of the Bank of England (BOE) Mark Carney speaks during a news conference in London on March 11, 2020.

PETER SUMMERS | AFP | Getty Images

The likelihood of fossil fuel assets being rendered worthless underscores the need to decarbonize the world’s economy as quickly as possible, according to Mark Carney, the U.N.’s special envoy on climate action and finance.

His comments come in the runup to COP26, one of the most important climate summits ever held. The U.K. will host U.N.-brokered talks in Glasgow, Scotland from Oct. 31 through to Nov. 12.

Speaking to CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick for the Sustainable Future Forum, Carney, the former governor of the Bank of England, said it was essential to “retool the plumbing” of financial markets so that every financial decision can take climate change into account. This includes steering lending away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy alternatives.

“We need to mainstream this transition to net zero if we are going to get to where the world needs,” Carney said in an interview aired on Thursday.

As part of this effort to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Carney referenced the U.N.’s Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, or GFANZ, that is seeking to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Chaired by Carney, this global coalition of leading financial institutions is responsible for assets of more than $90 trillion.

A bulldozer parked near a coal mound on the grounds of the Peabody Energy Francisco coal mine in Francisco, Indiana, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021.

Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

When asked whether he had had to compromise his own views on fossil fuels to get more companies on board with GFANZ, Carney replied: “No, well absolutely not. What we’re doing is ensuring that those who are closer to the action, if you will, in the energy sector and making those determinations of which projects, are consistent with a 1.5 degree [Celsius] transition.”

“We have a combination of things in the world right now and we see it playing out in the U.K. and playing out in Europe most acutely,” he continued. “We have both too many hydrocarbons, enormous stranded assets, whether it’s in coal, three-quarters of coal, half of gas, roughly the same of oil, we have too many fossil fuels. And we don’t necessarily have enough of fossil fuels in the right place.”

“That all screams transition, being transparent about transition, supporting those generation mechanisms that will help get us to ramp up and allow us to ramp up net zero power as quickly as possible.”

The term “stranded assets” refers to assets tied to fossil fuels that are no longer able to generate an economic return because of changes associated with decarbonizing the economy.

Carney, as governor of the Bank of England, first warned about the “potentially huge” risk to investors from stranded assets in 2015, saying vast reserves of coal, oil and gas could become “literally unburnable.”

‘It’s about energy in the right place at the right time’

Politicians and business leaders are under intensifying pressure to meet the demands of the climate crisis by delivering on promises made as part of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement.

The accord aims to limit global heating to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and preferably to limit warming to the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

To achieve these goals, delivering on climate finance is expected to be a core issue at COP26.

The United Nations Environment Programme’s annual production gap report, published on Wednesday, found governments were collectively on track to produce more than twice the levels of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with global climate targets. It described fossil fuel production as “dangerously out of sync” with goals set in the Paris Agreement.

To be sure, burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, is the chief driver of the climate crisis. Yet, while more countries have set net-zero emissions goals than ever before, some of the largest oil, gas and coal producers have not yet outlined how they plan to drastically scale down fossil fuel use.

Earlier this year, the influential International Energy Agency concluded in a bombshell report that there should be no new oil, gas or coal development if the world was to reach net-zero fossil fuel emissions by 2050.

When asked whether he was at odds with the IEA’s views on there being no room for any further fossil fuel development, Carney replied: “As I said before, there are stranded assets, we need a smooth transition, it’s about energy in the right place at the right time. Certainly, we do not need additional and need to steadily reduce our contribution from fossil fuels.”

“But, getting specific gas from a specific location to get people off coal for a period of time can be part of the transition. This is about mapping from global statement to local action consistent with that,” he added.

Carney said this was part of the reason why the financial sector had to be involved in setting clear climate targets, “including ones for winding down stranded assets.”

“If you’re going to push me then I’ll say explicitly, it’s about looking at the net, what is the net contribution from fossil fuels, [it] clearly has to go down significantly, and ultimately, wound down. And that’s the key, but these are complex energy systems,” Carney said.

“We used to run the banking system without adequate reserves, we found out that didn’t work very well. It’s not a good idea to run the energy system with very limited amounts of storage and there needs to be some adjustments to that. That is on the margin in a broader and critical trajectory of reduction of fossil fuels.”

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‘I feel like I’ve been underinvested in it’

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Peter Thiel

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and Palantir, has said he feels like he’s underinvested in bitcoin as the world’s most popular cryptocurrency climbed to an all time high of just over $66,000 per coin.

Speaking at an evening event in Miami on Wednesday, just hours after bitcoin hit a new record price, Thiel reportedly joked that “you’re supposed to just buy bitcoin” before adding “I feel like I’ve been underinvested in it.”

His comments, which were reported by Bloomberg, came after several other billionaires including Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey have shown support for the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin’s price has been incredibly volatile over the last few years and many have warned that it presents a big risk to investors.

Thiel went on to say that his only hesitation when it comes to investing in bitcoin was that he thought “the secret was already known by everybody,” according to Bloomberg. “I think the answers are still to go long” on bitcoin, Thiel added, before saying “maybe it still is enough of a secret.”

At a separate event on Monday, the billionaire said the stratospheric price of bitcoin is one of the clearest indicators that the current political system is unstable, according to The Information.

“I don’t know that you should put all your money into bitcoin at $60,000 a bitcoin right now,” Thiel said.

“But surely the fact that it is at $60,000 is an extremely hopeful sign. It’s the canary in the coal mine. It’s the most honest market we have in the country, and it’s telling us that this decrepit … regime is just about to blow up.”

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Twitter buys Nick D’Aloisio’s free chat app Sphere

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Jack Dorsey creator, co-founder, and Chairman of Twitter and co-founder & CEO of Square arrives on stage at the Bitcoin 2021 Convention, a crypto-currency conference held at the Mana Convention Center in Wynwood on June 04, 2021 in Miami, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

LONDON — Twitter announced that it’s acquired a chat app called Sphere, which was co-founded by British serial entrepreneur Nick D’Aloisio.

Incorporated in 2016, Sphere started out as a real-time question and answer app that involved micropayments before it pivoted to become more of a group chat app.

Between 2017 and 2019, it raised around $30 million from investors including Index Ventures, Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky, Tinder co-founder Sean Rad and Sequoia venture capitalist Mike Moritz.

“It’s really important and necessary in order to achieve impact to partner with the right companies at the right time that have similar visions and ideas,” D’Aloisio told CNBC on a call.

Roughly 500,000 people used the first version of the app, D’Aloisio said, but he declined to comment on the latest user numbers.

The terms of the deal, which was announced Wednesday and will see approximately 20 Sphere employees join Twitter, have not been disclosed. But D’Aloisio claimed “everyone is happy.”

Sphere said in a blogpost that it will be “winding down” its standalone product in November as a result of the acquisition. “Obviously Sphere was our own thing and that’s no longer relevant to what Twitter is trying to achieve,” D’Aloisio said.

The entrepreneur added that he and his team will work alongside Twitter employees to try to take the “vision” they had at Sphere and “integrate that into various parts” of Twitter.  

Nick Caldwell, vice president of engineering at Twitter, announced the acquisition of Sphere via his company’s social network.

“The Sphere team’s expertise and leadership’s passion for finding ways to help people connect will help accelerate our Communities, DM, and Creators roadmaps,” he said.

D’Aloisio sold his first start-up, a mobile news app called Summly, to Yahoo for $30 million in 2013 when he was 17 years old. He spent two and a half years as a product manager at Yahoo before becoming an “entrepreneur in residence” at Airbnb, where he worked with Chesky.

He started Sphere while studying computer science and philosophy at the University of Oxford, which is where he met his co-founder, Tomas Halgas.

Over the years, Twitter has acquired several other U.K. start-ups with the best-known one being TweetDeck. It has also bought artificial intelligence firms Magic Pony Technology, Fabula.ai and Aiden.ai.

 

 

 

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