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First Move with Julia Chatterley
Djokovic Seeded No. 1 For Australian Open Amid Visa Saga; UK PM Under Pressure After Lockdown Party Apology; U.S. Factory Inflation Rises To Almost 10 Percent In December; Fed Vows To Pull Economic Support To Battle Inflation; Britain's Prince Andrew Could Face Civil Sexual Abuse Trial; Japan Extends Strict Border Rules To Combat Omicron; API Calls On Congress To Implement Policies To Address Climate Change; Avatar Tech Company Giving Superstars A Metaverse Makeover; Chinese Woman Stuck In Lockdown With Blind Date. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired January 13, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Live from London, I'm Julia Chatterley. This is FIRST MOVE. And here's your need to know.
Djokovic delay. He's in the draw for the Open, but will he be allowed to stay?
Party platitudes. Boris Johnson's apology fails to end the PR crisis.
And price punch. U.S. inflation measures keep hitting multidecade highs.
It's Thursday. Let's make a move.
A warm welcome once again to FIRST MOVE. And what a week it's already been for global newsmakers.
For Boris Johnson, a boozy party triggers regret, and the latest poll numbers making him sweat.
Novak Djokovic's own lockdown laments, still a reason to fret? Will the Australians prevent him playing even one Open set?
Despite hours of talks, the Russians maintain their Ukrainian threat.
And Fed Chair Jay Powell a second term he will get into soaring inflation, he will be saying a firm yet.
Sorry Russian speakers. I apologize for that.
To global stocks quickly. Well, there's no sure bet. That said, today, U.S. futures and Europe looking pretty good with tech looking to build on three
days of gains. We've got to remember that for all the rate hike talk, financial conditions are still incredibly loose particularly on a relative
basis. That means investors will still buy the dip and wait to see if the talk becomes more like action which means in a sense, strong growth
environment where big businesses are doing well, and half robust corporate profits allows them to shield them, I think, from less Fed support too
which should arguably be good for stocks. But remember, Mohamed El-Erian's warning to us this week, the Fed risks a real market accident if it pulls
support too far and too fast.
Now, before the bell today, more inflation data with U.S. factory level prices rising almost 10 percent year over year in December, although that's
actually a touch lower than expected. This after the hottest consumer price read in 40 years in December. You remember that data from yesterday. Rays
of hope though, in China for both consumer and producer prices there easing in the month of December.
And from rising prices all over to the ongoing drama down under. We begin the drivers once again in Australia. The number one seed. Novak Djokovic is
in the door for the Australian Open, but will he get to play? The champion tennis player still awaiting a decision from the Australian immigration
Paula Hancocks is still in Melbourne for us too and following the story.
I have to say, Paula, optically, the further we go, it gets more and more difficult for the government to make a decision. Now, they're going to
eventually if they decide to do this, pull the number one seed from the Australian Open. What do we think the delay is here? Do they simply just
want to make sure that case is watertight, that decision is watertight?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that would make sense, Julia. We do know as well that Novak Djokovic, just a couple of days ago when he
admitted to the errors, he'd made on his travel declaration and also having - having been in public and done a media interview whilst positive with
COVID-19. He did give -- his lawyers gave more documents to the government, explaining his situation, we understand. So potentially that's taking a
little longer. They're going through those documents as well. But we really don't know exactly why there is such a delay. We do know he is still
considering it. We do know the immigration minister Alex Hawke has the power to revoke that visa.
Now Prime Minister Scott Morrison today was asked about it as he is every day. He is able to be asked about it. And he said, it's up to Alex Hawke.
He said, the policy is in place, and he hopes that his government will uphold that policy, pointing out once again that you have to be vaccinated
against COVID-19 to come into this country, or you have to have a medical exemption as to why you cannot be vaccinated, a medical reason for that.
So, certainly, Scott Morrison is making his opinion clear. Also pointing out there's a difference between the visa and the vaccination requirement.
So, even if you have a visa early on, that doesn't automatically mean that you will be allowed into the country. You have to have those vaccination
requirements as well.
So, this is just dragging on at this point as we are just a few days away from the start of the Australian Open. The draw has been done. We have seen
that Novak Djokovic was number one seed. He's part of that draw, playing against a fellow Serb in round one.
So, from that point of view, it looks like any other Grand Slam. Of course, it is anything but, because it could all change for Novak Djokovic who is
every day, still going to the court, still training in order to try and retain his title.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. I mean, it's going to be incredibly noisy, and distracting I think either way for him and for everybody else when this
decision finally comes through. And of course, there is no time limit on the time that the immigration minister can take as you've said, to make
I mean, I'm speculating, but I would have to assume that an unofficial deadline would be Monday when the matches actually begin. Is there any
speculation, and I'm sure there's plenty, Paula, that actually this decision will come perhaps by the end of this week, if not, this weekend?
HANCOCKS: There was plenty of speculation the decision was going to come today. It was going to be Thursday. There was no way it was going to be
later than Thursday. And Thursday has now come and gone. So, the speculation is now the decision will come Friday because surely it has to
come before a weekend. Surely, it has to come before the Australian Open.
But quite simply, this decision does not have a deadline. Of course, the optics would be not good at all for the government if they allowed the
Australian Open to start with Novak Djokovic playing, if he manages to play a game, and then to make the decision to revoke that visa. But the fact is
the optics haven't been great already for the Australian government, or for the world's tennis number one player or for Tennis Australia. Nobody is
coming out of this looking squeaky clean. Nobody has done well out of this entire debacle.
And you make an interesting, and I think important point, Julia. The fact that it is distracting for all the other players. They're not being asked
about their form, their hopes, their chances in the tournament. They're being asked what they think about Novak Djokovic.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. That's actually a really great point. Get back to the sport. Mistakes have been made all around. A decision needs to come.
Paula Hancocks, great to have you with us. Thank you.
The UK prime minister is facing fresh calls to quit after he admitted attending a drinks party at No. 10 during lockdown. He said, he believed
the garden gathering to be a work event. Prime minister canceled a public appearance today after a member of his family tested positive for COVID.
Salma Abdelaziz joins me now.
We don't want anyone to catch COVID, but I have to say, I think this would probably the most welcomed COVID case the prime minister ever met to avoid
having to make a public appearance.
Salma, let's take a step back here because I'm in London. So, I'm seeing a lot of the speculation that's being made, and the suggestion and being
asked about whether or not he is going to be either removed as prime minister or resign. So, can you just talk us through what the process would
be if indeed there were going to be some kind of confidence vote or he perhaps would be in some way removed as leader of the party, and the prime
minister of the country? What's the process?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Julia, absolutely. It's the day after the big apology. And now, I think Prime Minister Boris Johnson in isolation is
thinking about next steps, strategy, right?
So, what are our options here? Well, the options are, he could be you pushed out, he could step down, or he could try to ride it out.
Let's start with the beginning one, resigning. The prime minister taking action himself, putting a resignation out himself. That's always a
possibility except with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, we know that he is someone who holds onto power. He rides out storms. He has survived scandal
after scandal. I would put that in the absolutely unlikely, if not, impossible category.
Then you have the possibility of being pushed out. Now that would require a mutiny from conservative lawmakers, from his own lawmakers. 15 percent of
Conservative MPs would have to submit letters to what's called the 1922 Committee. This is a body that oversees Tory leadership. That come out to
about 54 MPs. It's a significant number. And so far, we only know of two confirmed MPs who have written a letter.
But here's kind of the twist to this. The 1922 Committee keeps everything secret until they've reached that threshold of 15 percent. So, it could be
that we don't know the whole story there. But overall, what we're seeing is that the prime minister's cabinet is backing him. Is, yes, there are MPs
calling for his resignation, but by no means has it turned into a huge rebellion, into a huge mutiny that could trigger a no-confidence vote.
And that leaves the last option. Riding out the storm. This is something that prime minister has been able to do time and time again, scandal after
scandal. But here's the thing with this one, Julia. This is a scandal that appears to keep on hitting the prime minister over and over again. Remember
where it started.
First, it was just reports of a Christmas party. Then there was a leaked video of Downing Street staff laughing about a Christmas party. Then there
was a picture of Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself at an alleged garden party. Now, we have an apology of him being in place and there's still that
dizzying array of allegations spanning from summer 2020 to winter of 2020. There is a lot there that could potentially pop up again, be yet another
hit for the prime minister.
So right now, you are looking at a prime minister who is increasingly vulnerable, increasingly weak. Remember, he had the lowest popularity
rating since he took office. He has had the biggest Tory rebellion against him in parliaments since he took office.
The question is, can he hold onto power? And the final question here I'm going to ask is, who would take his job if he did step down, Julia?
CHATTERLEY: Yes. Good question. We shall reconvene on that. I say down, but not out.
Salma Abdelaziz, thank you for that.
So, Boris Johnson in a political message you were hearing there. And Central bankers under inflationary duress. Just released numbers show U.S.
prices at the factory level rising almost 10 percent year over year last month. The biggest monthly gain in all of 2021. This, of course, comes
after a hot read on consumer price inflation yesterday.
Now the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, told "Quest Means Business," Wednesday, inflation won't be easy
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, IMF: Nobody made the connection that multiple factors are pushing prices up, like labor markets have
changed, climate shocks got made. Food more expensive in many places. All of this combined made inflation sticky, and we are where we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHATTERLEY: Christine Romans is back with us, having been rudely interrupted discussing this yesterday. You have forgiven me, thank you.
We were just engaging in what I thought was a very important conversation not only about high prices today, and you can discuss what's driving that,
but also the expectations. People's expectations of where inflation is going to be in the next 6 to 12 months. And that's far higher than what the
Federal Reserve thinks and what investors think too. And we know the Federal Reserve watches that incredibly closely.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, because perception is so important here because perception can drive consumer
ROMANS: And the consumer patterns. And it's so interesting to me that people feel so pessimistic here, two years, almost three years now starting
into COVID. There is a COVID exhaustion that I think colors their optimism overall about the economy.
Also, when you see these higher wages and you see job gains and you see good things happening in the economy, it is the daily grind of paying for
more everything that really saps that optimism and eats into the benefits of higher wages. So, that is something psychologically, I think, that is
really weighing on American consumers. And you can see that certainly in so many of the polls.
There's a lot of discussion here in the U.S. about what the Biden administration can do about it. If you look at the front page of some
right-leaning newspapers today, you'll see them calling it Biden inflation. But I would remind everyone, this is a worldwide trend we're seeing in
higher prices, factory level, and consumer level prices. And it's the Federal Reserve who has the task to try to tamp down a high inflation.
The Fed seems to think it's going to be able to get things under control over the next year -- year and some months beyond that. But people, when
you look at the surveys of people, aren't quite so sure. And I do think that it is that COVID exhaustion, Julia, that is coloring everyone's
expectations of just - of just about everything.
When you look at the producer prices from today as I sure -- I'm sure you were too, looking for any sign of a peak, because that is the big question
right now. When will we know the peak prices are in here you know? And of course, if we knew the answer to that, both of us would be on a Caribbean
Island right now that we owned. We don't know the answer to that question. I don't think anybody does.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. Peak bottleneck and peak prices. We're waiting for that Caribbean Island moment. You raised so many great points there. And I was
just trying to decide which one to - which one to talk about. And you raised a great point I think as well about the Biden blame that's going on
The way that my father used to help me understand inflation was he used to describe it as too much money chasing too few goods.
CHATTERLEY: You chuck a whole lot of money into a system with the kind of bottlenecks that we've seen, and you do create inflation and rising prices.
Do you think they have to hike four times to your point of that? Who has to respond here this year in order to do it?
ROMANS: I mean, isn't money still relatively easy right now? I mean they're still - they're still pulling their foot off the gas from all of this
quantitative easing. And then they have to start tightening. So, I'm not sure how that's going to playout. I do know that if they make a mistake,
it's dangerous territory.
To your point about too much money chasing too few goods. Two things here happening at once, right? This unleashed consumer demand at a time that the
stuff isn't actually there in many cases. So, the pandemic in two different ways, both by screwing up the supply chains around the world and by
unleashing all of this demand from people for the same things at the same time has really, really fed into this in a way I don't think we could have
Also, we have not had inflation -- meaningful inflation in - in the U.S. economy, in a generation, right? You got to go back to the `70s and the
early `80s and that was really bad, right?
And so, I think that people, when they harken back to inflation, they think of those bad old days and the early `80s and just what it took to - to
fight that inflation and that's another reason psychologically where they're so scared about the big "I" word.
Christine Romans, always great to talk to you, and thank you for making me smarter. Thank you.
ROMANS: Happy New Year.
CHATTERLEY: To you, too.
OK. Let me bring you up to speed with some of the other stories making headlines around the world.
Prince Andrew is facing the possibility of a civil trial in the United States on accusations of sex abuse. Virginia Giuffre claims she was 17
years old when Jeffrey Epstein forced her to have sex with his friends, including the prince. On Wednesday, a New York judge denied a motion by
Prince Andrew's lawyers to dismiss the lawsuit.
CNN royal correspondent Max Foster joins us now.
Max, great to have you with us. This broke -- this news broke during the show. So, it was a little bit of a scramble. So now that we have had 24
hours to digest, I just wanted to ask you what the next six months looks like both for Prince Andrew and of course the royal family. And do we think
this firmly draws a line under any hope of a return to perhaps royal duties of some form and charitable patronage too?
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's very difficult in terms of returning to royal life. So much damage has been done to Prince Andrew's
reputation, and will only continue to be done if this continues as it is. Even today, there was a letter from many military veterans to the queen
asking the queen as commander of the armed forces to take away Prince Andrew's title. So, a real ground swell of opinion against Prince Andrew
moving back into public life, even though he hasn't even been found officially guilty of anything yet.
He does have various courses of action available to him, and none of them are good. So, the first one would be to appeal this latest ruling that the
case can't be thrown out of court. I think that's according to the legal experts, very slim chances of him winning that appeal. The other options
are, ignore the case and then it potentially goes to a default judgment and potentially damages having to be paid by Andrew. That will be a blot on his
career. That will be a blot on the royal brand as well.
He could engage with the process and the case in which case he'll effectively have to hang out his dirty laundry in public as one lawyer
described it to me. Very difficult. Also, it will be overshadowing the queen's Jubilee celebrations this year. No doubt about. So, none of those
options are particularly good.
The best option is probably some sort of settlement according to the legal and royal experts I have been speaking to. So, Prince Andrew would come to
sort of an agreement with Virginia Giuffre. It would no doubt be for huge amounts of money. We question where that money will come from.
But also, her lawyer was on the BBC last night suggesting that isn't a financial settlement isn't her priority here. She really wants a day in
court. And she wants to represent many people who have been in a similar situation to her. So, it does sound as though she wants this go to trial.
So, none of the options good for Prince Andrew, but the least worst option it does seem might not be available to him for a very difficult situation
for him, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. And I agree with you. No good options for the royal family too.
Max Foster, thank you so much for that.
OK. Still to come here on FIRST MOVE.
Booster shots before Suntory time. The CEO of the Japanese drink giant and why he thinks the third shot is key to recovery.
And the genie definitely out of the bottle when it comes to the metaverse. We speak to a CEO making celebrity's wishes come true in the virtual world.
That's all coming up. Stay with us.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to FIRST MOVE.
New COVID infections in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, hit a four-month high on Thursday. Earlier this week, Japan extended an entry ban on foreigners
until the end of February as it battles in Omicron surge. And last month, the CEO of one of the nation's biggest companies caught for the rapid
rollout of boosters, only around 1 percent of the population has received a top up shot so far. And he joins us now.
Joining us is Takeshi Niinami. He's the CEO of Suntory Holdings.
Tak, it's always great to have you on the show. Happy New Year.
TAKESHI NIINAMI, CEO, SUNTORY HOLDINGS: Happy New Year. Good to see you, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Talk to me about your point about top up vaccine shots. Do you believe this is the best way to ensure recovery?
NIINAMI: Yes. It's one of the best ways. Nothing is better than the booster shots which are now underway. The second thing is we have to expedite the
COVID treatment pills to the patients who got infection, but the reality of our country is like this. The number of daily COVID cases have been growing
rapidly, but the fatality rates are far lower than the Delta virus.
For example, today we have zero death. And just five to six serious cases. So, the situation is not as bad as at the time with the Delta variant. So,
we have to be calm, and we have to reinvigorate the consumptions as soon as possible. That's what I'm urging. The government not to reintroduce another
state of emergency. And again, we have to expedite the booster shots which is still a low percentage as you explained.
CHATTERLEY: But your point I think is very important in terms of the relative degree and severity of illness that we're seeing. And I look at
some of the comments that you were making before the Omicron wave hit. And I saw that your business, you're seeing around 70 to 80 percent of the
levels of demand that you were seeing pre-pandemic. So, the recovery was coming back. You were seeing a significant improvement in your operations,
and in demand for your products.
NIINAMI: Exactly. In Japan, we saw the huge pickup of business in consumption, especially on premise around the time of Christmas. So, we
have been so much hopeful that we can have the good year, but Omicron came in, and then the government took a very harsh action. So, I feel Japan is
taking the overall in overly causes actions to tackle Omicron variant.
So, it's concerning because we expect a lot to this year in this country by leveraging the pent-up demand because a household has accumulated as much
as $300 billion as their saving accounts. So, consumers in Japan have a lot of cash, and they want to use it. So that's a lot, strong hope.
CHATTERLEY: OK. I'm reading between the lines. We have to learn to live with this virus. Are you saying that your advice as a top business leader
based on what you're seeing is they're being too restrictive, and perhaps some of the controls that they've put in place are simply too much?
NIINAMI: Yeah, I think they're too much, but we have to be based on the scientific data and the experience of other countries.
NIINAMI: But seemingly, Omicron is not as lethal as much as Delta. So, we have to see that there as soon as possible. And then for example, we should
ease the border control. Especially for business because we - we shut down the country. More or less, we don't accept the people from the (INAUDIBLE).
It's not good for Japanese economy.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah, it's a very important point. Something else, of course, that will help the demand recovery story is wage increases. And I know the
government is pushing businesses like yourselves to raise wages by 3 percent or more. Is that something that you can do at Suntory? Do you think
this is something the economy can withstand -- wage increases of those kinds of levels?
NIINAMI: I think 3 percent is quite possible for companies like us, and we have to negotiate that with our labor union. So, I can't say now, but I'm
very much positive about going forward into pick up economy especially consumption.
And in that sense, I'm so concerned about inflation which hasn't got in our country for 33 years. So, we have to think about inflation scenario. If
inflation on rate is above 2 percent, we definitely increase at least 2 percent of the entire wage level in this country. So that we can avoid
(INAUDIBLE). So, we have so much concern about the new stage of our economy based on the current world, the demand, you know, which is very strong, and
Japan is not an exception.
CHATTERLEY: Yes. Makes sense to me. Now Suntory wouldn't exist -- Suntory's products wouldn't exist without water. And I know you're incredibly focused
on your sustainability targets too, and in recent days, you've announced an acceleration of your water intensity use targets. And you saw that you beat
your last targets by 10 years quite frankly. So, I think the message is you need to be more ambitious, and you are. Talk me through your new targets.
NIINAMI: Yeah. Well, it is a forecast that about 40 percent of the population of the world suffer from water shortages in 2050 due to climate
change and the population growth. And water is one of nature's greatest gift. So, we decided to upgrade our water intensity by 50 percent and
replenish more water than we used in the plants globally by 2050.
As a matter of fact, we have been working on this almost for 20 years by setting up a local water shed conservation which is called a natural water
sanctuary, and education for children. The first point is we need to replenish more than double the amount of water we used in Japan that we
completed this month.
So, we are moving toward the international and the global expansion like we started in the United States, India, Mexico, and France, working with local
communities and universities to achieve the upgraded - our target. So, we are already underway. So that -- we want to raise awareness in the world
that water shortages will come, and we have to be careful. We have to take action together. So, we want to lead this initiative.
CHATTERLEY: Sir, hat's off to you. We all need to be doing more of this in our personal lives as big businesses and small businesses, and stronger,
more accelerated targets are the right way to do it. Great to chat to you, sir. As always, the CEO of Suntory Holdings.
NIINAMI: Thank you, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Stay safe, and we'll see you soon. Thank you.
The market opens next.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to FIRST MOVE. Live from London this week.
And the U.S. stock markets are back up and running. Tech trying for a full straight day of gains quite a turnaround after briefly falling into 10
percent correction territory in Monday's trading session. All this despite another hot read on U.S. factory level inflation today.
Oils rise also playing into inflationary concerns. Crude, little change today as you can see. Brent though remains close to three-month highs.
Russian supplies also adding to the fears in that market. Some in the options market betting, we'll see $100 a barrel oil too, in the not-too-
And many Americans of course feeling pain at the pump. The average U.S. price for regular gas is now $3.30, up more than 40 percent from a year ago
according to AAA. The American Petroleum Institute says rising prices are in part, due to policies aimed at restricting production of U.S. oil and
In its 2022 outlook, the API also cites the challenges Europe faces with alliance on nations like Russia for fuel on why U.S. energy independence
must be protected.
Joining us now is Mike Sommers, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.
Mike, always great to have you on the show. Happy New Year. Much of what we're talking about on a daily basis cuts to the core of what you were
talking about in your 2022 outlook, and that is that the American public actually are more frightened of rising prices and inflation than they are
of COVID at this moment, and fuel prices are a huge part of that.
MIKE SOMMERS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE: Absolutely, Julia, and great to be with you again.
I do think we have major concerns about some of the policy issues that are being pursued by this administration, which while at the same time, they're
asking for more oil production. All their policies are actually pointing to dampening production in the United States. In fact, just this week, they
came out with a new policy to restrict production in Alaska at the National Petroleum Reserve. So, from the beginning of this administration, really to
just this week, all of their policy signals are for the United States producers to stop producing oil and natural gas here at home.
CHATTERLEY: I mean, you can understand what they're trying to do because they're trying to shift the investment and their money into renewables. The
challenge and we've talked about this in the past, is a timing mismatch. If you underinvest in one that you require in the short to medium term, then
it doesn't matter how much you're investing in the future. You're going to have a crunch in the short to medium term in terms of prices.
SOMMERS: Well, that's exactly right. And so often, Julia, what we've actually found is that when you're making an energy transition, and we have
been going through energy transitions throughout world history. When you're making an energy transition, it is much less about transition and more
We're going to be using more oil and gas as populations grow and energy needs grow than we do today, and we need to continue to make those
investments, and unfortunately, there is historic underinvestment going on in the oil and gas sector right now which could lead to future price
shocks. And that is a real concern that investors should have, and that consumers should have as we look at pump prices and natural gas prices,
which are at historic levels in Europe in particular.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah, and this is an important point, and I think that the difference in -- as I've discussed in the introduction, energy independence
in the United States versus some of the challenges that Europe faces with where they get their energy is an important point. But I want to get back
to what you said because I'd like to quantify if we can. And I'm sure you guys have done the work.
The dust has settled now on COP26. Even if we assume that all the commitments that have been made there are fulfilled, do you have a sense of
how much oil and gas that we're going to need in the coming years anyway? Even if all the commitments are fulfilled?
SOMMERS: Yeah, in fact, the International Energy Agency has done that themselves. And if we meet every commitment -- if every country meets every
commitment of the Paris Climate Accords, almost 50 percent of the world's energy is still going to come from natural gas and oil in 2040. And that
means we need more investment in this sector. We need to make sure that consumers are protected from price spikes like we're seeing right now.
And that means investments, not just in the United States but throughout the world. And unfortunately, that investment continues to go down. We want
to make sure that it continues to go up so that consumers are protected, while at the same time, we need to be reducing emissions. And that's a top
priority for us as well.
In fact, the American Petroleum Institute came out with a policy just last year on how you can continue to invest in American oil and gas, while at
the same time, reduce emissions. And we have a good record.
In fact, in the power sector just in the last 15 years, we have been able to reduce emissions by 40 percent. And most of that is because of a fuel
switch that has gone on from coal to natural gas. We want to be able to continue to export that environmental progress throughout the world.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. I mean, we should be doing this on a global basis. I think that's part of the point, if we're all trying go out in different
directions. We're sort of fighting against each other. There will be those. And you get plenty of criticisms saying, look, you're talking your bog,
you're resisting because you represent an industry that's dirty, and it's not doing enough to transition, and it gets loads of subsidies. You have
had all the criticisms in the past.
I would argue, why can't we do both? Why can't you or API say, fine, we are going to transition to a zero-carbon world, we just have to go there in a
smart manner and that's simply going to take some time, and we have to get the investment right. Is that not part of what you are saying? I'm just not
sure you're heard.
SOMMERS: Absolutely. In fact, if you look at what actually is going on in Europe right now where they have these historically high gas prices,
they're somewhat insulated by them even being higher as a consequence of U.S. liquefied natural gas going to Europe right now. The same is true in
The world is really supported and insulated in some ways because of U.S. LNG production which has really had explosive growth in the last decade. We
need to make sure that there are multiple suppliers for the world's energy needs. Increasingly, that supplier of choice is the United States.
But we have to continue to invest in those suppliers and invest in this industry so they can supply lower carbon energy in the form of liquefied
natural gas to the rest of the world. We're actually seeing right now that Putin is turning off the gas to Europe right now. And we need to make sure
that we have multiple suppliers to all countries so that they have access to lower carbon natural gas, which is really leading the world in
environmental, and making sure the world can meet its environmental commitments.
CHATTERLEY: And your point about -- that was the International Energy Agency chief saying that actually Russia is restricting them for political
reasons ahead of course the talks with NATO over Ukraine. Very quickly, we have about a minute.
Mike, can your industry and sector clean up quicker? Can it get cleaner quicker?
SOMMERS: Well, you think about what we've done already. In fact --
CHATTERLEY: I'm asking if you could get quicker. I know what you have done. I'm asking if you can accelerate this. Throw me a bone.
SOMMERS: We're working on that every single day.
CHATTERLEY: You got it.
SOMMERS: In fact, this is the industry that's pioneered carbon capture, utilization storage technologies. We want to continue to make investments
in carbon capture. We're seeking to partner with the federal government and the Biden administration and other world governments to make sure that we
can continue to cut methane emissions in particular. But carbon capture has to be part of the solution as well.
We were encouraged by what we saw from the bipartisan infrastructure bill and new investments in carbon capture. And we want to continue that
progress as well.
What we asked for in the annual API State of American Energy, was to continue to be able to partner with this administration and with Congress
to make those investments. We don't want to have an adversarial relationship with the Biden administration. We want to work with them on
meeting the climate goals while at the same time addressing the energy needs not just of the United States, but of the world.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. We have to work together.
Mike, always interesting to chat. Come back soon please because I wanted to talk to you about cybersecurity risks for you guys if we don't run out of
SOMMERS: Let's do it.
CHATTERLEY: I have been told to be quiet. So, I have to say thank you and let you go and come back soon.
SOMMERS: Thanks, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Mike Sommers, thank you. President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute there.
OK. Still ahead. Reality goes virtual. We speak to the head of a company teaming up with stars like Shawn Mendes and Rihanna to give rock and roll
and metaverse makeover. That's next.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to FIRST MOVE.
Imagine the thrill of getting up close to some of the world's biggest stars from the comfort of your own home. Yes, that's the goal of Avatar
Technology company genies which has teamed up with some of the world's largest businesses including music company Universal to give pop icons like
J.Lo, Shawn Mendes, and Ava Max their own metaverse personas.
Fans will be able to engage with the stars across NFTs, non-fungible tokens, gaming and other platforms and it's all the brainchild of one man.
And that man is Akash Nigam. He's the CEO and founder of Genies, and he joins us now.
Akash, fantastic to have you on the show. This is very exciting. First and foremost, give me the vision. Why did you think this was the moment to
create this kind of avatars and let people explore a different kind of world?
AKASH NIGAM, CEO AND FOUNDER, GENIES: I mean, listen. We have been building avatars since 2016. So, I would say we haven't been chasing a moment. We
have been building for this moment for quite some time, and really studying. I think the younger demographic and really what they're trending
towards which is really trying to express an authentic version of themselves. And a lot of the social media and platforms today really get
away from that, right?
Like the founding philosophy of the Internet is to be exactly who you want to be, and places like Instagram and TikTok and Twitter, and so forth,
where you have to use your real-world persona, and you have to be able to showcase a different facade, that maybe doesn't match what exactly what
your insides represent. Get away from that philosophy. And so, we hope that avatars can be that safe haven and allow you to express yourself from every
different segment of your imagination and serve as your emotional surrogate.
CHATTERLEY: There's so much in there that we're going to explore.
But one of the first things when I was reading this, I was like, hang on a second. If I have an avatar of myself or one of these superstars, very
different, has an avatar of themselves, who actually owns - who has the ownership rights of that? And I know you have a big announcement to make
today about how this part is going to work. So, just talk me through this.
NIGAM: I mean, this is probably the biggest announcement that we've made as a company since inception. And really, I think marking the milestone of
probably one of the first times a centralized organization is now relinquishing control and ownership of its avatar, and of its products to
allow users and talent to own their avatars and their products for the very first time.
So, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, a user like myself or yourself, you create an avatar with Genies. If you create digital goods with wearables, and
wearables with Genies. If you create a virtual space that we're going to roll out soon as well.
Interactive experiences, any of these creations, the user and a talent now own for themselves, they can commercialize it as they see fit. They can
create a virtual business. They can host concerts and shows. They can create a digital, wearable business and fashion line. Whatever their heart
desires, they now own, and that's the path to the future and we wanted to be able to pioneer that.
CHATTERLEY: So, you're going to allow people to have this avatar. They can go monetize it however they like. What's your part in that other than
taking initial payment? I'm assuming for creating the avatar, and you'll go on to build a sort of bigger world as part of a bigger metaverse. But do
you take a cut of the money as they continue to monetize?
NIGAM: I mean we don't even take any type of cut up front, you know. We're big believers that right now the successful companies are going to be the
ones that create tools that empower individuals and humans to create their own universes and their own ecosystems. So, right now, you're seeing this
common theme or this trend where the incumbents are translating their web to properties and creating these closed, virtual web tree ecosystems and
that kind of gets away from the point.
The point of decentralization is about freedom. It's about being able to empower individuals and creators to be able to own everything that they
create in this digital and fantastic world, which they're currently getting ripped out on right now.
And so, we're going to be taking a cut by our smart contract as we develop it over the next couple of years, but it's nothing really outside of the
norm of what you current currently see with current NFT projects that exist today.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. It's about resetting the economics of creativity, and I think owning that yourself, and being able to monetize.
Akash, the part -- the reason why you built this company is very fascinating to me too, as a founder, and I know you've raised a lot of
money in order to continue to build this. Because I think for non-Gen Z people. They look at this and go, but why would we want be part of a
metaverse, digital world. We want to get out there and do the things that we did.
And to you it was very personal and that you - you used to have a social anxiety. You suffered from depression and this was a way for you to be who
you were in a digital sense and be honest about who you were.
Can you explain that for me? Because I think do this sort of changes people's view of what the digital world represents, at least to some
NIGAM: Yeah. I mean, look. Listen. I grew up on the internet. So, I know the negative connotations. Look, there's amazing benefits that come with
it, right? Like ability -- the ability for me to connect with as many people as possible, but the negative connotation is that there's a lot of
social pressures. There's a lot of posturing, and it's just difficult to exist within social circles, and you get inhibited by the world pressures
and some of the social status that you are trying to accrue over time.
And so, you know, I've always felt comfortable behind a keyboard, right? So, if I was in school, when I was growing up in middle school or high
school, I would be kind of nervous to maybe talk to a girl, or I'd be kind of nervous to go you know show off in front of friends or communicate with
friends or whatever, but as soon as I got home, and I got onto AIM, and I got behind my username, I became the most outgoing and gregarious character
that there was. And I was able to showcase again kind of my true personality.
And I think that the avatar kind of takes that a step further, right? All of a sudden, you're not limited by just photo, video, and text. You're able
to create this manifestation of yourself in this very fantastical art form, and I think there's also this common misconception and notion that the
avatar is supposed to completely replace your physical being.
Unless Elon comes out with like, Neuralink V5 and we're reincarnated as avatars permanently, -
CHATTERLEY: And I have 6 layers -
NIGAM: Yeah, exactly.
Our physical body is always going to remain. And that's the cast. The avatar is not here to replace the human. It's here to amplify the serotonin
releases that you might experience in the real world. And that happens in social media. And I think a balance is required.
With social media, for example, if I get a like on Instagram, that's the same - you know that's the serotonin release that I would get if I got a
compliment at dinner in the real world.
OK. Well, avatars all of sudden, you can interact, and you can virtually experience things. So, it takes that like button, again, 10 steps along the
path, but you have to be able to balance it too, and it's about amplifying the best experiences and then being able to extract again your authentic
self in your side.
CHATTERLEY: It's going to be fascinating to watch your progress. Come back and talk soon, because as always, I have about 20 more questions to ask
you, and we've barely scratched the surface. But we shall reconvene.
Akash, thank you so much for coming on the show.
NIGAM: Thank you so much.
CHATTERLEY: Great to chat to you.
OK. Next on FIRST MOVE.
From a blind date to no end date in sight. The Chinese couple whose first encounter wasn't quite as brief as they expected. That's next.
CHATTERLEY: And finally, on FIRST MOVE.
COVID lockdowns have tested even strongest of relationships. But in China, two people have really risen to the occasion when this lady went to meet a
blind date for dinner at his home. Neither of them thought it would immediately turn into a longer affair.
A sudden lockdown under China's zero-COVID policy means she has been stuck at his house turning the first date into a potential date with disaster.
Selina Wang has more.
Selina, there are so many things that I love about this story. The fact that her parents think she's getting old and she has to be set up on 10
different dates. But what do you do in this kind of situation? You go on social media, and you talk about it.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Julia. And it's become an absolute viral sensation. We've seen these sudden snap lockdowns in China because of
growing COVID outbreaks lead to all sorts of disruptions including for romance. And for this woman, a quick get to know you dinner turned into
living with the man for days on end.
It happened in Zhengzhou which is the capital of a central province in China on January 6th. She was set to meet her blind date for a meal. After
the meal, she got ready to go home, but then suddenly, the neighborhood went into lockdown, and she could not leave.
Now China regularly locks down communities even when just a single COVID-19 case was found. So, the woman started documenting her experience on social
media. She was posting videos of her living with him, of him cooking meals for her. He was sweeping the floor, posting videos of him working on his
laptop, and they have gone absolutely viral in China, even becoming a top trending topic on Weibo which China's Twitter-like platform.
She even gave an interview to state media in which she said she was in Zhengzhou ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday and her family had set up
with several suitors to meet with while she was there. But it turns out her videos have also led to some embarrassment. She said in a later post that
she had taken down the original video because her date was receiving some calls from friends. Now as of Thursday, it's unclear if she's still at the
Zhengzhou, the city that she's in now has reported now more than 100 COVID cases. They've shut down nonessential businesses. This is as we see China
doubling down on that zero-COVID strategy through these lockdowns, mass testing, contact tracing and surveillance, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Oh, but Selina, we have to discuss how she described him. I mean some of these quotes absolutely brilliant. During quarantine, I felt
that apart from being reticent, like a wooden mannequin, everything else about him is pretty good. He cooks, cleans the house and works although his
cooking isn't very good. I mean, I thought she was going to find true love. She basically calls him an inarticulate wooden mannequin who can't cook.
WANG: It's -- she gave some pretty harsh commentaries, very honest, -
CHATTERLEY: It's fantastic.
WANG: -- it sounds like she wasn't pulling any punches, but I want to read this other - this other quote she had said. She said, quote, "Right now,
I'm still at the man's house." This was on Monday, Julia. She said, "He's an inarticulate and honest person, and he doesn't talk much." And then she
ended with this, Julia. "Thanks for your attention. I hope the pandemic will end soon, and that single girls can find a relationship soon."
CHATTERLEY: Welcome to the world of the modern woman. Date 1,171.
Selina Wang, thank you.
That's it for the show. Stay safe. "CONNECT THE WORLD" with Lynda Kinkade is next.