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One of the key characteristics—and potential vulnerabilities—of the European energy market is its dependence on imports. The European Commission has drawn up a list of 195 key energy infrastructure projects, known as Projects of Common Interest (PCI), to create a more competitive energy market and alleviate this dependence. Some of these projects could considerably improve the competitiveness and reliability of Southern European energy markets.

A creative solution to a quarrel over maritime borders could serve the interests of Lebanon and Israel


Recent oil and gas developments in the eastern Mediterranean have brought back into the spotlight the issue of an ongoing maritime border dispute between Israel and Lebanon that has created uncertainty among prospective foreign investors over the potential for a new conflagration in an already unstable region. 

The disagreement centers on an 854-square kilometer stretch of sea both countries claim as part of their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Years of international mediation efforts, led by the United States, to resolve the dispute have yet to bear fruit. 

These tensions have been revived as Lebanon and Israel move forward with the development of their oil and gas sectors in the eastern Mediterranean.
The world continues to wait nervously for US President Donald J. Trump’s promised decision, one that could have global implications for decades to come—will the United States pull out of the Paris climate agreement?

Agreed to by 197 parties in 2015 and entered into force one year later, the Paris agreement set forth the first truly global climate deal. Participating countries have submitted concrete greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets with the aim of strengthening the global response to climate change and keeping global temperature increases well below two degree Celsius. However, Trump vowed to withdraw the United States from the accord.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, speaking at the Atlantic Council’s Istanbul Summit on April 28, urged the United States to end its support for Kurdish rebels in Syria and to extradite a cleric Turkey says orchestrated a failed coup attempt in July of 2016; he also accused some European countries of harboring terrorists. 

Erdoğan’s remarks offered a preview of his upcoming meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington on May 16. The Turkish leader had been unsuccessful in his efforts to convince former US President Barack Obama to drop his support for the Kurdish militias who have proven to be one of the most effective forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Syria. He was optimistic that he could open a new, and very different, chapter in the US-Turkey relationship with Trump.

US support for the Kurds could be a sticking point in that relationship. In April, Turkey conducted a series of airstrikes against the Kurdish militias. These operations potentially put Turkey and the United States on a collision course.

Describing the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the YPG’s political arm, the Democratic Union party (PYD) as the “aborted children” of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)—a group that both the United States and Turkey consider a terrorist organization—Erdoğan said these groups will, sooner or later, “bite the hand that feeds them.”

Energy sector reform will continue with or without the United States, said former Mexican official

Though recent political tensions threaten the stability of US-Mexico relations, Mexico’s ongoing energy sector reform will continue without US partnership, if necessary, according to Mexico’s former deputy secretary of energy.

“Mexico’s energy reform does not depend on the United States,” Lourdes Melgar, who now serves at the Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies, said at the Atlantic Council on March 16. “If the United States does not want to have business with Mexico,” Melgar cautioned, “I think they’re missing the picture, because Mexico has options.”
We are entering a new era of clean energy disruption. This transformation will have a global impact, including on energy security, climate change, economic development, that will have repercussions for geopolitics and international relations.

More and more governments are realizing the importance of renewable and sustainable energy resources. Hydrocarbons will continue to play a role in industrial processes, but will gradually fade out as a transportation fuel. Electric engines and batteries for cars have been developing rapidly, as a result, electric cars have become an attractive and economically feasible option for the public, with an unprecedented increase in sales in the past couple of years.
US President Donald J. Trump’s new actions intended to expedite approval of energy and infrastructure projects were hailed by industry groups and decried by environmentalists.   If those actions are implemented in ways that cut regulatory or procedural corners, they likely will slow down infrastructure development by increasing the risk of successful court challenges and trade disputes.

If the agencies reviewing Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines do not take the time to provide justifications for their recent decisions on those projects—influenced by Trump—courts may invalidate pipeline approvals. Implementing explicit local content requirements for steel in pipelines could embroil the United States in trade disputes.  Further, the administration’s memorandum to expedite federal infrastructure review and permitting creates uncertainty about the application of a more carefully thought out process Congress established in 2015. 
Despite the tentative March 13 agreement between the European Commission and Gazprom on the liberalization of gas markets in Central and Eastern Europe, it is still premature to declare an end to the Russian energy giant’s dominance in the region. In its statement of promises, Gazprom pledges to remove destination clauses in its long-term contracts barring the re-exporting of excess gas imports, to renegotiate pricing to reflect spot hubs in Western Europe, and to drop its refusal to allow virtual gas transfers along the Gazprom-dominated transit pipelines. However, Gazprom’s behavior would depend on the political will of its clients to directly challenge it amid its allegedly receding market power in Europe amid greater competition, liquidity, and supply sources.
In recognition of International Women’s Day 2017, and under the banner of #BeBoldForChange, the United Nations (UN) is calling upon all actors to strive for equal representation of men and women in the professional world. UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka emphasized this focus in a message entitled: Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030,” where she outlined an agenda for gender equality in the workplace.

However, anyone who has attended a meeting or two in the energy sector must have noticed that this is a sector dominated by men. As energy minister in the Icelandic government from 2013-2017, I attended several meetings, both at home and abroad. I led business delegations, attended ministerial meetings, conferences, and exhibitions; time and again the rooms were usually filled with men. On average, one in ten participants in these meetings was a woman. The inequality was even more visible if the events were smaller and only attended by top management. One of the most striking examples is when I led a twenty-two-member business delegation from the Icelandic geothermal industry to Nicaragua in 2014. I was the only woman in the delegation.
With commitments to clean energy and combatting climate change wavering under the new US administration, leadership in renewable energy is quietly shifting away from the United States across the Pacific, where China is rapidly building its dominance.

US President Donald Trump has been clear about his support for fossil fuels. Though his stance on renewable energy remains ambiguous, his comments about withdrawing from international climate agreements and his championing of the coal and oil industries suggest that the Trump administration may not be especially supportive of domestic wind and solar industries. While Trump may find the domestic advance of renewables hard to stop, the United States risks ceding its international leadership role in clean energy to China.


    

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