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Russia targets Ukrainian cities in pre-dawn missile attack

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Russia unleashed a missile attack on cities across Ukraine before dawn on Thursday, killing two people and wounding at least 20 others, Ukrainian authorities said.

The country’s air force said it shot down 36 of the 43 Russian cruise missiles that were fired “in waves” from 10 strategic aircraft at 3.46am local time.

Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s electricity grid operator, said the Russian bombardment marked the first major “enemy attack in six months” on power infrastructure and caused “partial blackouts in Rivne, Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv regions”.

The attack came hours after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke at the UN General Assembly in New York and urged countries to strip Russia of its UN veto and back his peace plan to end the Kremlin’s “genocidal” war.

Sirens wailed across Kyiv in the early hours of Thursday, and alerts sent to residents’ phones urged them to seek shelter before explosions from Ukrainian air defence units intercepting Russian missiles rocked the capital.

Debris falling across three districts in Kyiv injured seven people, including a nine-year-old girl, according to the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko. He said a two-storey building, two vehicles and a gas pipeline had been damaged, and power had been temporarily knocked out in one area.

“Kyiv survived another night attack by Russian barbarians,” said Klitschko. 

An attack on a residential building in the southern city of Kherson killed two civilians and wounded at least five, said regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin.

Ukraine’s interior minister, Ihor Klymenko, said a missile strike in central Cherkasy damaged a hotel and engulfed it in flames, wounding seven people. Rescuers pulled one person from the rubble and were working to find others, he added.

Three Russian missiles destroyed an industrial facility and a two-storey warehouse in the western Lviv region, while six strikes in Kharkiv damaged civilian infrastructure, local authorities said.

Hours earlier, Zelenskyy denounced Russia’s “criminal and unprovoked aggression” against Ukraine and scolded the UN Security Council for its inaction, calling for Moscow to be stripped of its veto powers in the body. Russia, China, France, the UK and the US are permanent members with veto power.

“The veto should not be used as a weapon by those obsessed with hatred and war,” he said in a speech on Wednesday to the UN Security Council.

Zelenskyy said the UN was in “a deadlock” over Russia’s war against his country, which has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced millions more and badly damaged Ukraine’s economy.

“Humankind no longer pins its hopes on the UN,” said Zelenskyy. “Ukrainian soldiers now are doing at the expense of their blood what the UN Security Council should do with its votes — they’re stopping Russia and upholding the principles of the UN.”

Zelenskyy on Thursday is set to visit President Joe Biden at the White House and meet military leaders at the Pentagon and members of Congress. He is expected to thank them for the $75bn of financial, humanitarian and military assistance given to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion last year, while pushing for more help, including an additional $24bn currently being considered by Congress.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive launched in May has dragged on longer than Kyiv and some of its western backers have hoped.

Ukrainian forces trained and armed by Nato countries have struggled to make a decisive breakthrough against heavily fortified Russian defensive lines across the roughly 1,000km front line.

Ukraine’s limited progress in recapturing occupied territory in the southern Zaporizhzhia region and eastern Donetsk region have come at a high loss of soldiers’ lives and military equipment.

Meanwhile, Kyiv has stepped up attacks on Russian military targets inside Russia and Ukrainian territory under Moscow’s control using domestically produced unmanned aerial and aquatic drones to degrade its enemy’s ability to wage war.

Ukraine claimed its forces had conducted a successful air strike early on Thursday on an airbase in the occupied Crimean Peninsula that Russia has used to support its full-scale invasion.

A Ukrainian intelligence source speaking to the Financial Times said: “Strikes by the Security Service and the Naval Forces hit the target and caused serious damage to the occupiers’ equipment.”

Additional reporting by Roman Olearchyk in Kyiv

#Russia #targets #Ukrainian #cities #predawn #missile #attack

New Thai PM vows to end free use of cannabis

New Thai PM vows to end free use of cannabis

THAILAND’S new prime minister (PM) vowed to restrict the use of marijuana for medical purposes after thousands of weed shops opened across the country since the nation became the first in Asia to decriminalize cannabis a year ago.

The government will seek to “rectify” its cannabis policy and rampant sprouting of dispensaries that freely sell the drug within a six-month time frame, Srettha Thavisin said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin on Wednesday in New York.

“The law will need to be rewritten,” Mr. Srettha said. “It needs to be rectified. We can have that regulated for medical use only,” he said, adding that there can’t be a middle ground for recreational use.

While Mr. Srettha said there was a broad agreement among the 11-party coalition he heads about the need to restrict cannabis use, how exactly his administration will proceed remains unclear.

Mr. Srettha’s Pheu Thai Party promoted a hardline anti-drug campaign ahead of the May election and vowed to undo the landmark policy to decriminalize cannabis. It’s now in a coalition with Bhumjaithai Party led by Anutin Charnvirakul, who has vowed to press ahead with a plan to reintroduce a cannabis bill in parliament that seeks tighter monitoring of the industry but opposes classifying the plant as a drug again.

An ongoing regulatory vacuum, following the move to declassify marijuana as a narcotic, has led to a mushrooming of nearly 6,000 dispensaries all over the country. They sell everything from cannabis buds to oil extracts containing less than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol — the psychoactive compound that gives users a “high” sensation.

Thai farmers are also allowed to freely grow cannabis after registering with the nation’s Food and Drug Administration. Local dispensary owners have also complained about unbridled imports and depressing prices.

Mr. Srettha’s government has vowed to “eradicate” drugs from Thai society, with the prime minister saying he will “decisively reduce” the menace within a year while presiding over an event to destroy drugs that were confiscated by authorities earlier this week.

Thailand is considered the main conduit for drug trafficking along Southeast Asia’s vast Mekong river valley, with enforcement agencies perceived to often turn a blind eye. Southeast Asia’s organized crime economy, including the illicit trade in drugs and wildlife, was worth an estimated $130 billion in 2019, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes.

“The problem of drug has been widespread lately, especially in the northeastern and northern parts of Thailand,” Mr. Srettha said. “And we don’t need another issue added on top of that.” — Bloomberg

#Thai #vows #free #cannabis

Canada high commission in India to ‘temporarily adjust staff presence’ after alleged threat to diplomats

The High Commission of Canada in India said on Thursday that it has decided to “temporarily adjust staff presence” in the country after claiming its diplomats received threats on social media.

The High Commission of Canada in India said: “Our High Commission and all consulates in India are open and operational and continue to serve clients. In light of the current environment where tensions have heightened, we are taking action to ensure the safety of our diplomats. With some diplomats having received threats on various social media platforms, Global Affairs Canada is assessing its staff complement in India. 

“As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India. In the context of respect for obligations under the Vienna conventions, we expect India to provide for the security of our accredited diplomats and consular officers in India, just as we are for theirs here.”

Canada and India have been in a diplomatic row over the killing of a Khalistani separatist leader in the North American country.

Meanwhile, the Indian Mission in Canada on Thursday suspended visa services till further notice citing operational reasons, according to BLS International. BLS International Services Limited is an Indian outsourcing service provider for government and diplomatic missions worldwide. The company manages visa, passport, consular, attestation and citizen services.

As per BLS International , interested visa applicants have been advised to keep checking the BLS website for further updates on the issue. “Important notice from Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice. Please keep checking BLS website for further updates,” the BLS website said.

Interestingly, the ticket had reappered on the BLS International website  after briefly disappearing.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations of ”potential” involvement of Indian government agents in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June unleashed a diplomatic row with India rejecting the charges as ”absurd” and ”motivated” and kicking out a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa’s expulsion of an Indian official.

India on Wednesday advised all its citizens living in Canada and those contemplating travelling there to exercise ”utmost caution” in view of growing anti-India activities and ”politically-condoned” hate crimes in the North American country, as the diplomatic row over the killing of a Khalistani separatist leader threatened to snowball into a major confrontation.

In a strongly-worded advisory, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi referred to ”threats” targeting Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community that oppose the ”anti-India agenda”, and asked Indian nationals to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada which have seen such incidents.

#Canada #high #commission #India #temporarily #adjust #staff #presence #alleged #threat #diplomats

Kraken Service Provider Dragged To Court By Australian Financial Regulator

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has initiated civil proceedings against Bit Trade, the provider of the Kraken cryptocurrency exchange in Australia, for disregarding design and distribution requirements for one of its trading products.

ASIC Targets Margin Trading Product On Kraken

According to an official statement published on September 21, 2023, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission has brought civil charges against Bit Trade in the Federal Court.

The financial regulator alleged that the company “failed to comply with design and distribution obligations for the margin trading product it offers.”

ASIC’s design and distribution obligations are a mandatory requirement, introduced in October 2021, for companies that offer financial products in Australia. These specific obligations require firms to design financial products that meet customers’ needs and distribute the products in a targeted manner.

According to the Australian regulatory commission, Bit Trade’s margin trading product is a “credit facility” as it offers customers “credit for use in the sale and purchase of certain crypto assets on the Kraken exchange.” ASIC described the product as a “margin extension,” which allows customers to receive an extension of credit of up to five times the value of assets they use as collateral.

The Australian financial regulator claims that Bit Trade failed to make a “target market determination” for the margin trading product before offering it to Australian customers. It added that at least 1,160 Australian customers had used Kraken’s margin trading product since the design and distribution obligations became law, losing approximately 12.95 million Australian dollars.

ASIC also mentioned that it notified Bit Trade of its failure to comply with the design and distribution obligations in June 2022. However, the regulator alleged that the company continued to offer the product to Australian customers on the Kraken exchange without making the necessary evaluations.

ASIC Continues Clampdown On The Crypto Industry

Similar to its United States counterpart, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission has been quite tough on companies and entities operating in the cryptocurrency industry. ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court, in fact, called the latest action against Kraken’s provider an important “message and reminder” for the industry.

Court said in a statement:

These proceedings should send a message to the crypto industry that products will continue to be scrutinized by ASIC to ensure they comply with regulatory obligations to protect consumers. ASIC’s action should be a reminder of the importance of complying with the design and distribution obligations so that financial products are distributed to consumers appropriately.

Kraken is only one of the numerous crypto companies to have faced regulatory scrutiny from the Australian financial watchdog. In August, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission filed a lawsuit against cryptocurrency exchange eToro for allegedly violating the design and distribution obligations. 

Meanwhile, in July, Bitcoinist reported the regulator’s raid on the Australian offices of Binance – the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange – as part of ongoing investigations into the firm’s operations. Prior to this action, ASIC had already revoked the exchange’s operational license in Australia.


The cryptocurrency total market cap on the daily timeframe | Source: TOTAL chart on TradingView

Featured image from Leadership News, chart from TradingView

#Kraken #Service #Provider #Dragged #Court #Australian #Financial #Regulator

Nio, Chinese EV Maker, Unveils Smartphone Expected to Win Over Half of Customers

Chinese electric car manufacturer Nio has launched its own smartphone, the first such device from a high-end Chinese electric car brand. The Android device is priced between $900 and $1,000, making it roughly $150 cheaper than a comparable Huawei phone.

Nio CEO William Li expects at least half of the company’s users to purchase the smartphone, particularly those already using flagship Android phones or iPhones. The device comes with a special button that acts as a key for the user’s Nio vehicle and offers enhanced car connectivity. While resembling a typical smartphone, it allows for a seamless transition between phone and vehicle use, making it more convenient for users. Nio’s goal with the smartphone is to increase its revenue per user and enhance the overall user experience.

The device is available to all consumers in China, not just Nio car owners. Li noted that the Nio smartphone app has 600,000 active daily users, more than the number of Nio car users. The launch comes as Nio has seen an increase in monthly deliveries, with around 20,000 deliveries in August and July. However, the company does not currently plan to release the smartphone in Europe until the market grows larger. Nio is focused on developing local car services in the European countries where it operates.

The company is investing heavily in research and development, spending approximately $500 million on R&D every quarter. It is also investing in battery charging infrastructure and developing a mass-market brand called “Alps,” with plans to release a vehicle under this brand in the second half of next year.

Despite challenges and competition in the Chinese electric car market, Li believes Nio’s business investments will help create barriers to entry and ensure its long-term success.

#Nio #Chinese #Maker #Unveils #Smartphone #Expected #Win #Customers

Canada Reduces Number of Diplomats in India Over Safety Concerns

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(Bloomberg) — Canada’s High Commission will reduce the number of diplomats in India due to security concerns as a diplomatic row escalates over murder allegations made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“In the light of the current environment where tensions have heightened, we are taking action to ensure the safety of our diplomats,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India.”

Article content

No further details were given. 

BLS International, which runs India visa application centers in Canada, posted an online notice saying that visa services were suspended indefinitely due to “operational reasons” from Sept. 21. 

India’s Ministry of External Affairs didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The diplomatic spat erupted when Trudeau claimed that Indian government agents assassinated a prominent Sikh leader on Canadian soil. India has called the allegations “absurd,” and both countries expelled senior diplomats from the other side.

New Delhi has issued warnings for its citizens living and studying in Canada to exercise caution in areas where there are anti-India activities and “politically condoned hate crimes.”

Ties between the nations are at their lowest point in decades due to tensions over demands by some Canadian Sikhs for an independent homeland. Canada has the largest Sikh population outside of India’s Punjab state. 

Officials in New Delhi have long accused Canada of serving as a haven for Sikh separatists and doing little to protect India missions and consulates from protests carried out by these groups.

(Updates throughout)

#Canada #Reduces #Number #Diplomats #India #Safety #Concerns

Former Deutsche Bank Investment Banker Pleads Guilty to Crypto Fraud 

According to the DOJ, Russell defrauded at least 29 investors from the scheme of around $1.5 million.

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that Rashawn Russell, a former Deutsche Bank investment banker and registered broker, has confessed to participating in a fraudulent crypto scheme called the ‘R3 Crypto Fund’.

According to the September 19 announcement, the 27-year-old financier pleaded guilty to the crime before Judge Sanket J. Bulsara at a federal court in Brooklyn.

He also pleaded guilty to another crime, an identity theft scheme where he was charged with illicitly acquiring credit cards and other access devices in the names of third parties.

Russell Defrauds 29 Investors for $1.5 Million

Russell operated the R3 Crypto Fund, a Ponzi scheme promoted to investors as a digital asset investment entity. The former Deutsche Bank employee ran the scheme between November 2020 and August 2022, where at least 29 investors fell for the scam.

Leveraging his background as a banker and licensed financial broker under the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, he enticed investors with the promise of guaranteed, substantial returns on investments through his R3 Crypto Fund.

Throughout the scheme, Russell consistently misled investors by furnishing them with false information regarding their investments. He even resorted to fabricating documents to support his claims. He also manipulated images of his bank balance to gain investor’s trust.

On one occasion, when an investor sought to withdraw their crypto holdings, Russell failed to transfer the funds and instead sent a counterfeit confirmation of the transfer.

According to the DOJ, Russell defrauded at least 29 investors from the scheme of around $1.5 million. However, most of the funds he collected from investors were never used to invest in crypto as claimed.

Instead, Russell misappropriated the money for personal gain, including gambling and repaying earlier investors who had fallen victim to his scheme.

Russell Could Spend 30 Years in Prison

The second crime Russell pleaded guilty to occurred between September 2021 and June 2023. According to the DOJ, the 27-year-old broker fraudulently obtained more than fifteen credit cards and other access devices in the names of third parties without their permission.

The former Deutsche Bank employee obtained these devices, intending to use them to complete unauthorized transactions.

Due to the weight of his crimes, the DOJ said he could face up to 30 years in prison when sentenced. Russell has also been mandated to return the $1.5 million stolen from the 29 investors as part of the plea bargain.

Commenting on the case, United States Attorney Breon Peace said Russell took advantage of the growing interest in crypto to defraud his victims.

“Russell leveraged investor interest in cryptocurrency markets to perpetrate a scheme to defraud clients who trusted him. The swift conviction in this case underscores this office’s commitment to holding bad actors in the digital asset market accountable,” he said.

The case was handled by the Business and Securities Fraud Section of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York in collaboration with the Department of Justice, Criminal Division, and Fraud Section.


Cryptocurrency News, News

Chimamanda U. Martha

Chimamanda is a crypto enthusiast and experienced writer focusing on the dynamic world of cryptocurrencies. She joined the industry in 2019 and has since developed an interest in the emerging economy. She combines her passion for blockchain technology with her love for travel and food, bringing a fresh and engaging perspective to her work.

#Deutsche #Bank #Investment #Banker #Pleads #Guilty #Crypto #Fraud

Poland refuses to send more weapons to Ukraine as trade dispute escalates

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Poland will no longer send weapons to Ukraine, Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said, in an escalation of tensions between Warsaw and Kyiv that threatens the west’s unity in supporting the country as it battles Russia’s invasion.

The threat is the latest salvo in a trade dispute that revolves around Poland’s refusal to accept imports of Ukrainian grain, in contravention of EU rules, as Morawiecki’s ruling party steps up nationalist rhetoric ahead of next month’s elections.

Last weekend Poland, alongside Hungary and Slovakia, unilaterally extended an import ban on Ukrainian grain, even after Kyiv promised to ensure its exports would not harm EU farmers. That provoked a backlash from Ukrainian officials, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Asked whether Warsaw would still support Ukraine militarily, Morawiecki replied on Wednesday evening on the Polsat television channel: “We are no longer transferring any weapons, because we will now arm ourselves with the most modern weapons.”

Morawiecki’s comments signal a remarkable U-turn from a government that had previously been a linchpin of the EU and Nato’s united front in support of Ukraine, as one of Europe’s closest allies of both Washington and Kyiv.

But on Thursday some senior government officials in Warsaw immediately sought to play down the consequences of the prime minister’s comments, insisting Poland remained committed to helping Ukraine win the war and that no decision had been made about long-term deliveries of weapons.

“At the moment it is as the prime minister said, in the future we will see,” deputy prime minister Jacek Sasin told Polish Radio Plus.

Warsaw has consistently urged the west to provide more weapons and financial support to Ukraine and to increase sanctions and political pressure on Russia.

The threat to block future arms shipments could also derail efforts by the EU to agree a €20bn Ukraine weapons fund for the next four years, which requires unanimity among the bloc’s 27 members and is already being opposed by Hungary.

Western officials sought to play down the remarks as an emotional response to the tensions over the grain dispute and the domestic Polish political context, and would not herald the end of Warsaw’s support for Kyiv’s war effort.

“I just don’t see any evidence of that throughout the bureaucracy in Poland. There is a firm commitment to stay the course,” said a senior US official in response to Morawiecki’s remarks. “I don’t think we will see a dramatic shift in alliance unity.”

One EU official said: “It changes nothing at this stage . . . as always with Poland there is usually a huge gap between their public statements and real actions. The real problem might come if they decide to block the [EU weapons fund] which they haven’t so far and I doubt they would.”

Poland is preparing for a fiercely contested October 15 election, in which Morawiecki’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party needs the backing of its rural electorate to win a third term in office.

Another participant in the grain blockade, Slovakia, is holding an election on September 30 whose frontrunner, Robert Fico, wants to stop aid to Ukraine.

#Poland #refuses #send #weapons #Ukraine #trade #dispute #escalates

Oil companies cautious about drilling as energy transition looms

Oil companies cautious about drilling as energy transition looms

CALGARY — Government policies to fight climate change are discouraging oil companies from investing heavily in new production even as they turn in record profits – a dynamic that could spell tight supply and high prices as clean energy alternatives seek to fill the void.

Crude oil prices have surged above $90 a barrel and some analysts predict they will nudge above $100 by year’s end. But instead of spending big to boost output, companies are boosting dividends or buying back shares to reward investors.

Environmental groups say slowing production growth could accelerate a move to renewable energy and curb carbon emissions. However, lack of drilling investment could exacerbate energy shortages in poor countries and fuel inflation, company executives warned at the World Petroleum Congress in Calgary this week.

“If we don’t maintain some level of investment in the industry, you end up running short of supply which leads to high prices,” Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods said. He said oil and gas reserves are depleting at 5-7% annually, and output will decline if companies stop investing to replace them.

“The current transition shortcomings are already causing mass confusion across industries that produce and or rely on energy,” said Aramco CEO Amin Nasser. “Long-term planners and investors do not know which way to turn.”

Global upstream investment is expected to reach $579 billion in 2023, a modest increase from the annual average of $521 billion between 2015 and 2022, according to consultancy Rystad Energy. That period encompassed the 2014-15 oil price crash and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oil and gas investment peaked in 2014 at $887 billion.

Investment looks “flattish” during the next two to three years, and may start to drop in 2026, as electric vehicle adoption and government emissions policies start flattening oil demand, said Aditya Ravi, Rystad’s senior vice-president of upstream research.

The International Energy Agency warned last week that oil demand will peak by 2030.

Uncertainties about government policy are a bigger factor restraining investment, said Alex Pourbaix, executive chair of Canadian producer Cenovus Energy.

“If you want to add 100,000 barrels a day of production, you’re going to spend billions and billions of dollars,” Pourbaix said in an interview. “In terms of any real meaningful investment in large projects, that’s probably going to have to wait for some more clarity on the government front.”

The Canadian government has not finalized subsidies for projects to capture and sequester emissions and is developing a cap on oil and gas emissions.

Major consumers, including the United States and the European Union, have also adopted ambitious policies to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources as they seek to deliver on emissions reduction pledges made under the Paris Agreement, a global pact to fight climate change.

Deloitte recently reported that investors holding $2.3 trillion of equity in the global oil and gas industry

are changing expectations about growth markets for energy faster than company executives.

About 43% of surveyed investors, for instance, emphasized battery storage as their key area for investment.

Chris Severson-Baker, executive director of the Pembina Institute climate think-tank, said it was encouraging that oil companies were reining in spending on growth as it should curb emissions, but the transition to lower-emitting energy was moving too slowly.

“We’re going to get to a certain point this decade where the adoption of renewable energy, electric vehicles and heat pumps is going to start persistently eating away at demand,” he said.

Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Secretary General of the African Petroleum Producers’ Organization, said policies that discourage investment hurt poor countries the most.

“We are being intimidated into running away from fossil fuel investment,” he said.

The United Nations estimates that close to 2 billion people will still rely on unsafe and polluting fuels for cooking by 2030, down from 2.3 billion currently.

Not all oil companies are reducing spending on production. State-owned Oil India Ltd plans to boost exploration spending within India, a country that relies on oil imports, from $1 billion this year to $10 billion in five years.

“We don’t have an option. Investment is a need,” said managing director Ranjit Rath. “If you don’t invest with the current price, you will miss the bus.”

Greater oil production could provide the revenue to pursue net-zero aims, Rath said.

Brazilian state-owned oil producer Petrobras aims to increase its operating share of production 18% to 3.2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in 2032 from 2.7 million boepd this year. The company would move faster if not for problems securing equipment to build floating production storage and offloading vessels, said Carlos Travassos, Petrobras’ chief engineering technology and innovation officer.

The emphasis on shareholder returns suggests oil companies are working on a short time horizon instead of looking towards future growth, said Yrjo Koskinen, professor of sustainable and transition finance at University of Calgary.

“They claim oil and gas will be around for decades and maybe that’s the case. But they don’t necessarily behave that way.” — Reuters