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Quest Means Business

Happening Now: Zelenskyy Meeting With Biden In The Oval Office; Kremlin To "Monitor Very Closely" Biden-Zelenskyy Meeting; Source: US Intel. Puts Russian Casualties At 315,000; Israel Recovers Bodies Of Two Hostages In Gaza; Biden Says Netanyahu Needs To Change Tactics, But It's Difficult With Hardline Government; Lawmakers Back U.K. Prime Minister's Controversial Rwanda Draft Bill; Division Over Fossil Fuels Delays Climate Summit Agreement; Call To Earth: Giant Sequoias; Major Power Outage Disrupts Kenya Airport Operations. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired December 12, 2023 - 15:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: There's an hour to go before trading stops on Wall Street on a Tuesday session. This is the way the market --

look, this is very similar to yesterday, isn't it? It shows bon ami or at least goodwill. People think things are getting better. There is a Fed

meeting, of course, around the corner for tomorrow, but those are the markets.

And the main events that I must bring to your immediate attention. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is at the White House after trying -- and

some say failing -- to convince US Republicans to pass more funding for the Ukrainian war effort.

President Biden tells Democratic donors Israel is beginning to lose support around the world. And the COP climate tour is supposed to be finished, but

there's still no agreement on a final deal, and so it continues.

We are in New York. It is Tuesday, December the 12th. We're live here. You better believe it. I'm Richard Quest, and yes, I mean business.

Good evening. Ukraine's president is in Washington today, making a direct plea for continued US support. Volodymyr Zelenskyy is at the White House.

He's just been meeting President Biden here a moment ago. Biden speaking alongside the Ukrainian leader.

He said withholding aid to Ukraine would be a Christmas gift for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Zelenskyy met earlier with members of the US

Senate. Congress has not yet authorized the $61 billion for Kyiv that Mr. Biden has requested.

Senate Republicans blocked the security bill from advancing last week. They say they won't vote for it without more money to secure the southern US

border. Lawmakers are struggling to compromise, and Ukraine is basically caught in the middle. The real danger is that Congress goes off for

Christmas without a deal, and leaders on both sides are speaking out.


MIKE JOHNSON, US HOUSE SPEAKER: What the Biden administration seems to be asking for is billions of additional dollars with no appropriate oversight,

no clear strategy to win, and none of the answers that I think the American people are owed.

CHUCK SCHUMER, US SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: If he gets the help that he needs, he will win. On the other hand, he made it clear, and we all made it

clear that if we lose, Putin wins. And this will be very, very dangerous for the United States.


QUEST: Kevin Liptak is at the White House. Now, what can they do? The power of the purse is with Congress. The arguments are well-known and well-

rehearsed. So in your view, what can they do to squeeze that money out of Congress?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, it's not clear that Zelenskyy is able to do everything. To be frank, Richard, he's come to Washington to

make this appeal to lawmakers. But at the end of the day, what is going to unlock this new aid for Ukraine is some agreement on tightening the rules

on the southern border. And that is not something that President Zelenskyy has any control over.

And right now, Republicans and Democrats are at an impasse. Certainly, President Biden in that Oval Office meeting that just happened a few

moments ago tried to reassure Zelenskyy. He told him that he didn't want him giving up hope on American aid coming through. But it's not at all

clear what the backing of those assurances is.

And when you heard from Republicans today on Capitol Hill, they made clear that there would be no aid -- forthcoming aid for Ukraine unless they can

come to some agreement on the southern border. And so I think over the next three days, they will certainly continue these talks. And it's possible

that President Biden is more forthcoming about what he would concede to when it comes to the southern border.

But until that happens, this aid is not going to be passed through Congress. And that has led .

QUEST: Right.

LIPTAK: . to some very dire conversations and some dire questions -- Richard.

QUEST: So, right. Kevin, you're on -- you're at the White House, but you know the arguments backwards. So I'm comfortable putting it this way.

If you say to Republicans, look, if you don't get -- I understand you want to tie this to the southern border, but if Zelenskyy doesn't get the money,

he could lose against Putin. What do those Republicans say? Should -- do they stick two fingers up? They say, well, then you -- if it's so

important, you better give us the money for the southern border. I mean, surely, they don't want Zelenskyy to lose.

LIPTAK: No, but I think you are starting to hear an argument from some conservative Republicans, particularly those aligned with President Trump

that Ukraine will have to eventually cede some territory to Russia if this war is ever to end.


They see the war as a stalemate at the moment. They don't see an argument that Ukraine is making that it can regain any territory going forward. And

they say, instead of sending $60 billion to Ukraine for a strategy that isn't necessarily proving itself on the battleground, that they will have

to sit down at the negotiating table with President Putin at some point, and that that will inevitably have to include .

QUEST: Right.

LIPTAK: . some territory being handed over.

And so, that is the argument you're hearing from some Republicans here in Washington. Whether or not the Biden administration can get behind that, I

think, remains unclear. But certainly, this war is at a very uncertain moment.

And a part of the discussions in the Oval Office today are inevitably going to include some kind of strategic reset if Ukraine is able, you know, to

gain American support going forward. They will have to prove that it has an endgame in mind because, certainly, the American support is waning now. A

very good indication that it won't last forever.

QUEST: Kevin, I'm grateful. Thank you.

The Kremlin says Moscow will monitor this meeting between Biden and Zelenskyy very closely. The spokesman there, Dmitry Peskov downplayed this

significance. He said, "US funding for Ukraine does not help Kyiv on the battlefield."

Matthew Chance is in Moscow. The political infighting that we're seeing in the US, are Russians enjoying all of this political division over here?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I think, Richard, they must be. I mean, they would like nothing more for this whole western

and US backing for Ukraine to fall over and to fall apart because of a domestic American political issue.

Although I think they're probably mindful of the fact that, you know, that the majority of support, it seems, at the moment still in the US Congress,

is in favor of backing Ukraine. It is being held up, as Kevin was saying, on this issue of the southern border, which it could be a compromise. Who


But look, yes, I mean, the Russian media, for instance, loved to paint Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, as a ridiculous figure going

against Washington, beating a path to Washington, capping hand, begging for money. That's the only way they say he is able to survive.

The Kremlin, as you mentioned, has said, look, you know, we're monitoring it carefully, which they wouldn't be if they weren't concerned about it, by

the way. But they're saying it's not going to have an outcome on -- in terms of how this conflict plays out. It's not going to have an outcome on

the battlefield.

But I think, you know, behind that bravado, Russians know and Russian officials particularly know that the tens of billions of dollars that's

being sort of bargained for, at the moment, will have a big difference -- will make a big difference. The billions of dollars of aid that have

already been given to Ukraine have resulted in absolutely devastating losses for the Russians on the battlefield -- tens of thousands, perhaps

hundreds of thousands of men have taken out of action, killed, or injured.

And yes, Russia can sustain those casualties perhaps. They've got a big population more so than Ukraine can, but there are still losses. And the

Kremlin knows very well that eventually there's going to be a political price that it will have to pay for those losses, Richard.

QUEST: Matthew Chance, in Moscow, I'm grateful, sir. Thank you.

Congress received a declassified intelligence report that suggests Russia has paid a staggering cost, as Matthew was outlining it. Source familiar

with the reports says it puts Russian casualties at 315,000 troops. I'm going to say that number again -- 315,000 troops killed or wounded, 87% of

the fighters who entered Ukraine.

Now, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh looks at the fierce resistance that they're facing.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Out of Kherson City, past the bridge, the Russians invaded and left on, you reach

a new phase of hope and anxiety in this war. Down on the edge of the Dnipro River, on whose isolated right bank, lone groups of Ukrainians are making

rare advances into Russian occupied land. But it's tiny tools, hand-rigged donated drones and small gains.

The U.S. is stalling on the big money Ukraine needs to make the breakthrough the West wants. And you can feel the anger at that here. It is

relentless work.

(UKRAINIAN SOLDIER speaking in foreign language.)

PATON WALSH (voice-over): "I think it will be very difficult without American help," he says. Our supplies are also ending, so we need theirs.

"We've had days so busy, we launched 15 to 20, and I got 10 minutes rest between flights," the pilot says. I never imagined this would be my war.

It's the PlayStation generation headsets directing cheap single-use drones on a one-way flight into Russian lines.


PATON WALSH (ON CAMERA): It's just saying that the weather's cleared up, the fog was just settled over the river, and the Russians are very aware of

this threat. And you can see them now trying to find a target.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): This keeps the Russians off the roads by day and helps Ukraine take ground. Now, they maneuver towards a Russian checkpoint,

killing here somehow remote, yet also intimate.

Another prize target emerges, their Russian equivalent drone unit hiding in a red roofed house worth sending two drones at. The first, as it closes in,

taken out by jamming. The second picks it up.

At night, another unit elsewhere near the city takes over. Thermal imaging help them find Russians hiding in the woods across the river near Krynky, a

village where Ukraine has a valuable foothold. This unit, too, were hunted and used a cheap device to spot the frequency used by a Russian drone

passing above.

This operator dons a new cloak as he launches a drone off the roof. See how it reduces his heat signature, probably invisible to the Russians above.

The night in battered Kherson City is no respite for civilians. Sirens, yes, but also a series of Shahid Russian attack drones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lights off, lights off.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): They close on us. The motor wind lower as it passes over our heads. Anti-aircraft guns pierce the blackout. There really

is little life to be enjoyed here. And what's left to Russia is that the news, there are rare food handouts. They're fast gone.

The shelling is relentless. A woman injured here the night before, her neighbor knocked off her feet.

(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I don't drink, but yesterday I drank a bottle of wine. We all have our guardian angels. We women here are


PATON WALSH (voice-over): Kherson, liberated last year, is still in the grip of the war. And unless they push the Russians back, a dark and bloody

normal awaits.

PATON WALSH (on camera): In the summer, we saw kids out here playing and it's not just the bitter winter that's forced them indoors, it's the fear

of artillery strikes at any time with a protective wall now built around the children's playground. The sense really of a city getting ready for a

bit more of life underground, some of it in bomb shelters.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Especially here, at the maternity hospital, still open for tiny miracles, and readying this basement to be their new ward.

Built by the Soviets for a nuclear war, it's now a shelter, because the floors above have been hit again and again.

But there are sparks of life here, even if this is the view Yevgenia (ph) had when she gave birth just seven hours earlier.

(YEVGENIA speaking in foreign language.)

YEVGENIA (ph) (through translator): It's not scary. We've got used to the shelling. I've been here since the start of the war and occupation. We'll

only leave if the heating goes off.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Kira (ph) conceived in spring, when an end to the war was imaginable, but born into a city lost to Russia's slow grind to


Nick Paton-Walsh, CNN, Kherson, Ukraine.


QUEST: Now, after meeting with President Zelenskyy, the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Ukraine would win if it got the help it needed.

The US has given about $75 billion of aid since the invasion. And the Kiel Institute says that (inaudible) includes around $46 billion in military


A growing number of Americans think US has done enough. A recent survey showed that 45% of Americans wanted Congress to send more money. That is

down from 62% shortly after the invasion.

And then we got Gerry Connolly who serves on the House of Foreign Affairs Committee. He joins me now from Washington.

Congressman, thank you for your time, of course.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VA: My pleasure.

QUEST: The reality is that left to its own devices and a battling Congress with Republicans saying not yet and tied to this, it's only going to feed

the (inaudible) for the lack of support to help Ukraine further, and eventually Ukraine loses.

CONNOLLY: I think it's imperative the United States and our allies stay in solidarity with Ukraine to the end. We can't waver, we can't get

discouraged, we can't set arbitrary milestones for the Ukrainians.


We can't entirely control their performance in the battlefield or what Russia does in response or initiates. We've got to stand with Ukraine to

see this through.

QUEST: Right.

CONNOLLY: And I believe that passion.

QUEST: Right. But your Republican counterparts want to tie the aid to the southern border or whatever else it might be, and seem prepared to accept

there'll be no aid for Ukraine unless they get what they want.

CONNOLLY: This is a growing and disturbing pattern on the part of my Republican counterparts. Remember, they also tied Israeli military

assistance in the supplemental to an unrelated domestic issue, namely, the budget and financing of the Internal Revenue Service. What does that have

to do with the Hamas attack on October 7th and the need to resupply Israel? Nothing.

Likewise, Ukraine. What does securing our southern border have to do with this life and death existential struggle in central Europe?

QUEST: Right, I get your point, I get your point. But let me put this in a moment of reality. If that's what they are doing and you are enabled to

proceed, I mean, it's one of those wonderful cases where everybody says, oh, it's a shame the house fell down, but nobody really looks at, well,

that's because you didn't paint it and you took away the foundations. Meanwhile, everybody complains afterwards when Ukraine has lost.

CONNOLLY: That's obviously an unacceptable outcome. And President Biden has indicated he's willing to make reasonable concessions on the border if

that's what it takes to secure ongoing military and economic assistance to Ukraine. I obviously would follow his lead.

But the fact that we're conflating two unrelated things is an increasing pattern on the part of the Republicans. It's disturbing because it leads to

the kind of uncertainty you've just put your finger on. Are we going to continue to support Ukraine is a question that's now arises in a serious

way because of the machinations .

QUEST: Right.

CONNOLLY: . of the Republican (inaudible).

QUEST: And I'll preface my question with, you know, I'm a US citizen and be -- I lived in and out of the United States most of my adult life. Does

anything ever get done at the congressional level without horse trading, without some form of sorted deal that you end up with a suboptimal outcome

that just because everybody is determined to hold on to their own little vestiges of power?

CONNOLLY: Well, it's a time-honored tradition this sort of horse trading in American politics, that's true. But the answer to your question is, yes, we

can also do it without that, especially the sorted part.

If you look at the last Congress, just a year ago, it was one of the most productive congresses in American history. We passed far-looking visionary

legislation on infrastructure investments, far-looking visionary legislation on the environment, far-looking visionary legislation on

foreign policy, including aid to Ukraine.

We were able to put together those coalitions with a very narrow majority - - a majority no bigger than the one the Republicans now enjoy. And yet, we got a lot done. So, it can be done.

Horse trading is part of the process, but it need not always be part of the process, and it certainly need not be sorted.

QUEST: Congressman, I'm grateful. Thank you for your time today. Thank you.

CONNOLLY: My pleasure, thank you.

QUEST: Israel opens a new border crossing, but not as a point of aid for Gaza. I thought that (inaudible) this border crossing was, to put more aid

in. Well, we'll explain why or what in a moment.



QUEST: Israel says it has recovered the bodies of two hostages during a military operation in Gaza. Now, it believes there are 135 hostages still

being held in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, the Israeli military says it is encircling the last two Hamas strongholds in northern Gaza. And it

says Hamas fighters there are short of weapons and food. The IDF also claims it's destroyed a rocket launch post, as well as weapons, factories

in the area.

In Washington, President Biden says the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs to change his tactics, but it's difficult with his hardline

government. He also said, international support for Israel's military campaign are beginning to wane amid heavy bombardment.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said Tuesday that President Biden and him often disagreed about the future of Gaza would look like. Nic Robertson is with

me from London.

Nic, let's take this in little chunks, if we may. This idea that the support for Israel might be waning outside. I would say, at one level, yes,

but the core Jewish communities may internally criticize, but they're not going to lose support.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, I mean, I think what President Biden is getting to here, and this is what Prime Minister

Netanyahu mentioned earlier on in the day is that, you know, it's what happens after Hamas is defeated. Obviously, there's a real question about,

can they actually fully be defeated? But Prime Minister Netanyahu is framing it that they will be defeated, and the difference with the United

States is what to do the day after.

And that's clearly framed in what President Biden is saying that Prime Minister Netanyahu needs a more moderate government to have a two-state

solution, which is the sort of durable way forward for a long-term resolution that not only President Biden supports, but actually, all of the

United States partners in the region support and are increasingly trying to put pressure on the United States, on President Biden, to put pressure on

Prime Minister Netanyahu to come around to this way of thinking.

Obviously, as you say, this is not where he's at the moment. It certainly not where his government is at. But, you know, I think this is indicative

of the fact that we're hearing discussions of a time limit being requested, perhaps stronger language than that of Israel over how long it can continue

fighting in Gaza. And certainly, from diplomatic -- from diplomats I am talking to, we're talking about end of year, early January for that

timeframe to run out, which begs the question of what comes next?


And I think President Biden is framing what comes next at the moment. And these differences, the support the United States has given Israel up until

now, Prime Minister Netanyahu was thanking President Biden for that. But in essence, there will be a difference in the ways here.

QUEST: Nic Robertson back in London (inaudible). Glad to be home after some sterling work. How long were you away?

ROBERTSON: Oh, about six and a half weeks, I think.

QUEST: My word. Well, splendid stuff. And we -- I want to say we enjoyed your report. You know what I mean. You pull together the report of your

time there and the .

ROBERTSON: You're very kind, thank you.

QUEST: . the way that (inaudible).

ROBERTSON: It was a good team.

QUEST: Well, we'll show that again over Christmas. I feel we need to. Thank you. Nic Robertson.

Now, the World Health Organization is warning diseases like chicken pox and meningitis are now spreading across Gaza. 162,000 cases of diarrhea have

been reported amongst children under the age of five, and the US says Israel should open the Kerem Shalom Crossing to ease up bottleneck on aid

trucks, trying to get in there.

On Tuesday, the crossing started inspecting the trucks, but they can still only enter Gaza through the Rafah Crossing. It sounds rather strange.

Luckily, Alex Marquardt explains.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: This Kerem Shalom Crossing opened earlier on Tuesday for Israel to inspect aid trucks

for Gaza. You can see here, trucks coming in from the Egyptian side to be inspected by the Israelis.

Now, this will, in effect, double the amount of aid allowed into Gaza, but it does not necessarily mean that more aide will actually get into Gaza.

Israel has been very strict about inspecting all of the aid that goes into the Gaza Strip. Until now, there has been only one inspection point. This

is now the second one.

Once these trucks are done being inspected, they will then go back out to Egypt and go up to the Rafah Crossing, which is where all of the aid has

been crossing into Gaza since this war began. But there is no guarantee that all the trucks can actually get in because of the bottleneck at the

Rafah Crossing. That crossing is not built for a huge number of trucks.

And then we've seen a real catastrophe on the humanitarian level in the southern part of Gaza, with hundreds of thousands of people who have been

displaced desperate for aid with no shelter, no food, and the heavy fighting that has made aid distribution so difficult.

A major question now is, when will Israel allow aid to flow directly from Israel through this crossing into Gaza? For now, I'm told that is not on

the table, that it's a decision that the Israeli government has to make. And for now, they have not approved that.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, at the Kerem Shalom Crossing in Israel.


QUEST: Major power blackouts are, again, hitting Kenya and other obstacles on an economy that can barely afford the disruption. Chief Executive of

Kenya Airways joins me on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.



QUEST: I am Richard Quest. More QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight, as you'd expect.

Argentina's new leadership is (INAUDIBLE) agenda to repair its broken economy. When we get the details of that, we will bring it to you.

Nationwide blackouts are affecting Kenya's biggest airport. The CEO of the flight carrier Kenya Airlines is with me.

(INAUDIBLE) caught with the news headlines, because this is CNN and here, the news always comes first.


QUEST (voice-over): British lawmakers voted in favor of Rishi Sunak's Rwanda bill in the last hour. The draft bill is part of the government's

controversial plan to send some asylum seekers back to Rwanda. It has now passed its first parliamentary hurdle.

College university president Claudine Gay will keep her post. She is facing intense scrutiny over her recent congressional testimony on anti-Semitism,

with some lawmakers and journalists calling for her removal.

It follows the UPenn's president resigning, after criticism of her testimony in the same day.

Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for an attack on a Norwegian tanker in the Red Sea. Yurina Stravenda (ph) said on Monday that

the missile strikes started a fire which the crew managed to put out. No reported injuries. Norway's defense minister spoke about the attack to

CNN's Isa Soares.


BJORN ARILD GRAM, NORWEGIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: Global civilian shipping is a cornerstone of international trade and global economy. And it's absolutely

no reason that we should see an attack used as a tool for possibly escalating ongoing war. So we certainly condemn this.


QUEST (voice-over): After presenting four weeks of testimony, Donald Trump's defense team is resting their case in his New York civil trial. The

prosecutors are now set to call two rebuttal witnesses and the attorney general is seeking at least $250 million in damages in the case.


QUEST: The COP28 climate summit is in overtime after the delegates in Dubai failed to reach an agreement by Tuesday's deadline. We shouldn't get too

excited by that. That is not unusual, going into extra time.

But perhaps it is the gap between the parties. Many have criticized Monday's draft deal, which failed to include a call to phase out fossil

fuels. Saudi and other producers have been resisting that language.

Bob Ward is a policy director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate at the LSE.

Look, they know that fossil fuels are going to be wound up.

Why are they fighting tooth and nail over a minor linguistic difference in a communique that will be read once and forgotten thereafter?


BOB WARD, POLICY DIRECTOR: Well, it will not be read once and forgotten thereafter. It will be a commitment made by all the countries.

We saw earlier in the week a letter from OPEC to its member countries. They are warning of the dangers of a agreement at this U.N. climate summit to

phase out fossil fuels. They are clearly worried about it. They expect there to be action.

What we have inside of these countries and true in the United States as well, because it is the world's largest coal producer. There are those that

think it's in their short term financial interest to resist action on climate change, to pull back regulation and policy as long as possible.

But what it is doing is putting the rest of the world at risk, because we are now seeing more clearly than ever the growing impacts of climate change

that have been widespread consequences for lives and livelihoods around the world.

QUEST: But it is always difficult. Except for this first early COPs, where core targets and Paris was set, it's difficult to see that this communique

means much when -- you see the argument. Everybody knows what they need to do. They just can't get reelected or stay in government or made

profitability. But they actually do it.

WARD: Well, the Paris agreement in 2015 did have a big impact. It has led lots of countries to add. And countries are acting. They are just acting

quickly enough and strongly enough.

The significance of this year's summit is the first so-called global stocktake. People are looking at the actions taking place. They have

recognized it collectively as not enough. It will inform what the pledges they are supposed to bring forward in two years' time.

That will have to be based on action. It is very clear that we are not on target to deliver on Paris. What that means is that there will be

widespread damage across the world. Nobody will be immune to it. It will damage economies and damage lives. That is why it is so important.

QUEST: Whenever I see the -- I get the feeling that the companies involved, companies, not governments, companies are sort of having to do a lot of the

heavy lifting, the private sector. They might not have the funding yet to do what is required from the public sector. But actually the hard work is

being done by the private sector.

WARD: The hard work is being done by the private sector because they can see the benefits. There's huge investment opportunities here for the

private sector, particularly in emerging markets and developing countries to invest in the growth of new green energy and other opportunities.

What they want is governments to be able to be better at designing policy to invest with confidence and not face chopping and changing of policies.

That is what is the biggest (INAUDIBLE) to investments.


WARD: -- places because you don't stick with it.

QUEST: Let me just ask you, if you take the minor, my words, not yours, linguistic differences between phasing out fossil fuels and the reduction

in fossil fuels, is it your fundamental gut feeling that actually they are all on the same page?

That the fossil fuels have to go, it's only a question of how and how fast?

WARD: I think that there are lots of governments and there are lots of campaigns around the world for whom climate change is a battle with the

fossil fuel industry. They are the biggest driver of emissions for greenhouse gas emissions.

And they are also regarded as a major obstacle to policy. That is why this has become an existential battle between those that worry about fossil fuel

companies and those that are profiting from the fossil fuels industry.

QUEST: If you were a gambling man, if you were, where is the next COP going to be?

WARD: They've already agreed. It's going to be in Baku in Azerbaijan next November.


WARD: Another company -- another country that relies on fossil fuels. But we have to have them on board.

QUEST: But come on --

WARD: -- the energy is supplied by fossil fuels.

QUEST: -- it was a shabby business when Russia vetoed it being held in a European country. I am guessing that Bonn was the default option, that

being the headquarters of COP.

So Baku has come to the rescue -- excuse me -- and Russia has clearly allowed that to take place. But arguably, sir, Dubai's energy



QUEST: The people who run it are more sensitive to political pressure than the ones in Baku.

WARD: Well, every -- I think every fossil fuel producing nation is beginning to feel the pressure now. And it is very interesting that, here

in the United Arab Emirates, which is a member of OPEC, I think that Saudi Arabia will find it more difficult to wreck a deal.

It will have widespread regional consequences if it causes an embarrassment for the host nation.

QUEST: Very grateful, sir. Thank you, Bob, we appreciate it.

WARD: Thank you, Richard.

In a moment, I will take you to the Sequoia National Park for a closer look at the race to save some of the world's largest living organisms.




QUEST: An estimated 170 million trees died across California between 2010 and 2021. The cause was drought, fire and an influx of pests fueled by, in

part, by high temperatures. Well, today on Call to Earth, we visit the states of Sierra Nevada Mountains, where the race is on to save the most

massive trees in the world.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): When people see these trees, they feel connected to them. They are so big, they are so beautiful. And I think most

people feel like they are immortal.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are one of the largest living organisms on Earth, giants that can live more than 3,000

years and they are under threat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): In 2015, that was the first fire that we had, where we saw a significant number of large sequoias actually killed.

And then the whole thing kind of went off the rails with the 2020 Castle fire. That single fire burned about 10 percent of all living large sequoias

on Earth.

WEIR (voice-over): By the end of the 2021 fire season, experts we spoke to say up to a fifth of the population was lost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): And when the scientists and fire managers started talking to each other and park managers about this, a handful of

people said, wow, it seems like we need a call to action.


And that is how the Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition was born.

WEIR (voice-over): The coalition includes a range of members from nonprofits and academic institutions to state, federal and Native American

tribal agencies.

ANTHONY AMBROSE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ANCIENT FOREST SOCIETY (voice-over): We are trying to get a better understanding of how vulnerable these trees

are to drought and how fire and drought make them vulnerable to beetle attack.

WEIR (voice-over): Sequoias require up to 4,000 liters of water a day and understanding where they get their water during drought and fire is


WENDY BAXTER, PROGRAM MANAGER (voice-over): We climbed up our study trees over the course of the year. We do this multiple times. And we collect

samples of their sap wood, where the water is getting transported up through the tree.

We compare the isotopic signature in that sample to the samples that we collect from soil and from the stream water and from precipitation, to see

where the trees are actually getting their water from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The trees are absolutely mind-blowing.

Cool, so I will start off at the very top here. The diameter is 9.0.

WEIR (voice-over): Through these measurements, they've also discovered previously unknown challenges facing sequoias. The group's efforts also

include, surprisingly, starting their own fires.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): So giant sequoias have a complicated relationship with fire. Without fire, you don't get seedlings like this.

But it has to be the right kind of fire, which, in this system, is frequent mixed severity fire.

So fire that comes through every 7-30 years and burns out mainly on the ground and burns up the needles and the small branches and then creates

little openings like this that have a lot of sun.


WEIR (voice-over): But the coalition says, prescribed burning might not be enough. So they are also creating a genetic bank of giant sequoia cones.

LINNEA HARDLUND, FOREST ECOLOGIST (voice-over): In the past, there's never really been a need to replant because we haven't had these large,

continuous patches of high severity wildfire within these groves. And when you have really large, high severity patches like that, there are very few

remaining mature trees to disperse seed.

WEIR (voice-over): More than just a majestic sight to see, sequoias play a critical role in the forest ecosystem. And with a little help from us, they

might just stand a fighting chance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): It really does put things into context and gives you a different perspective on our lives here on this planet and

what is important. I just hope that these trees persist into the future.


QUEST: Splendid.

Let me know what you are doing to answer the call. The hashtag is, of course, #CallToEarth.




QUEST: Swimming outages in Kenya are disrupting the country's biggest port in Nairobi. On Sunday, much of the country was paralyzed by a total

blackout, the third major outage in as many months. Kenya's transport minister is calling for an investigation. He's calling it possible acts of

sabotage and cover-up.

Meanwhile, Kenya's power company says it was a sinister disturbance. Whatever the cause, it is a major problem for Kenya's airways. CEO Allan

Kilavuka is with me now.

Good to see you, sir. I think just to remind you, I got this magnificent, you probably can't see it because I'm showing this magnificent blanket,

which I am now displaying to all concerned, when I was on the inaugural flight to New York, which I suppose was in happier days.

The reality is that the airlines not made a profit for as many years as I can remember. Your fleet size is relatively small, even though you are

undergoing a fleet renewal.

And it begs the question, besides the warm, toasty feeling that Kenyans have, what role does the airline have?

ALLAN KILAVUKA, CEO, KENYAN AIRWAYS: First of all, have a good day, Richard, thank you for inviting me for this interview. So Kenyan airs plays

a pretty critical role, not just in Kenya but in Africa.

We are one of the larger carriers in Africa. We fly to 25 countries across Africa and to most of the continental destinations around the world. So we

are critical because we make sure that Africa is connected to the world and the world connects to Africa in a seamless fashion.

We also encourage to grow the cargo, because cargo is important for trade. Now you mentioned the famous starting point, Richard, the blanket. I cannot

see it, unfortunately.

But that is five years ago and that particular route has been extremely important for us because we are the only carrier which flies from East

Africa directly to North America.

QUEST: But wouldn't you benefit hugely from the complete deregulation of air routes in Africa?

You've got a hodgepodge of a -- you've got yourselves, obviously, which is established. South African, which, who knows?

You've got a whole hodgepodge of other carriers, many of whom are only alive by dint of government money. And I am just looking at a map of Africa

and I'm looking at your route structure now.

Wouldn't you be better if air travel was deregulated in Africa and you could become a pan-African airline with multiple hubs, exactly as the

United States or the E.U.?

KILAVUKA: That is exactly correct but more important than the deregulation of the airspace, what is more important is reduction of cost of operations.

Operating in Africa is very complex, as you probably know, Richard, already.

The cost of operating in Africa is extremely high, probably twice more than any other continent. So we need not just to liberalize (ph) but, more

importantly, to reduce costs of operating.


QUEST: OK, so -- well, hang on, hang on. You say reduce costs. So you've got two types of costs, fuel costs, capital costs of the aircraft, not much

you can do about those.

But you are talking about costs of operations, airports in remote parts of the country. It costs more expensive to do this and the infrastructure is

so poor and, and, and, the corruption that an airport that gets built and a runway that gets built costs five times more than it might have cost

somewhere else.

KILAVUKA: Yes, so exactly the point. Costs of operating is extremely high, much higher than any other place that you operate in an Africa, in the

world. And then you have an infrastructure deficit or poor infrastructure.

We need to train more people, so that is where the problem is, much more than freeing up the airspace. That is where we need to start.


QUEST: So let me go to a heresy for you, if I may. If we bear in mind that SAS is about to become part of Air France-KLM. SWISS has been part of the

Lufthansa group. Iberia and BI part of the Spanish IHE.

Wouldn't you be better off -- I know -- I can hear people in Kenya frothing at the mouth about to throw something at the television.

But wouldn't you be better off selling yourself to a private airline or another air carrier and being part of a bigger group?

At Emirates, at Etihad or Qatar and doing it that way than trying to -- your 40-year old planes, sir, you cannot make an impact in global aviation

at the size that you are.

KILAVUKA: No, I think, I mean, I'm not sure about, you know, the airlines you mentioned.

But what is more important is what you said, which is important, is consolidation. We definitely need to scale up, not just as Kenya but as

African airlines. So what are the (INAUDIBLE) since I took this role is consolidation of the African airlines industry.

So we need to come together, like you say, pan-African airline group, come together as different airlines and scale, develop more scale to grow from,

you know, it's 40 odd aircraft, to double that number or triple that number. And Africa is a large continent, OK?

So and then to get to reducing costs of operating, and then scaling up or possibly dating (ph) of the airline industry, those two things together

would definitely help to alleviate the problem and make us more viable, that is for sure.

QUEST: Sir, I'm grateful and I'm looking forward to being on one of your planes again whenever the financials of the company. The warmth on board is

excellent and beyond measure. Thank you, sir.

We will take a Profitable Moment after the break.



QUEST: I need to keep this brief, tonight's Profitable Moment.

When the war in Ukraine began, the United States said it would be there for the long haul, would provide the necessary measures. Indeed, did the E.U.

and others. And now the horse trading has begun and there are questions about the amount of aid and whether it will be paid and how it will be


The Ukrainians that are fighting for their lives deserve better than the horse trading in Washington.

Yes, I will say it straight out. The U.S. made a pledge to Ukraine, to provide the necessary support. And now it's got caught up in ugly, domestic

political issues, all of which is part of the shabby U.S. political system that (INAUDIBLE) the end of the year.

And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Richard Quest. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it is profitable. Thanks, everyone.