The headlong rush in many parts of the world to replace oil with biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel) illustrates how the best of intentions can run afoul of the law of unintended consequences. While positive effects have been elusive — and, in fact, are unlikely with current policies — starvation and malnourishment are becoming worse among the poorest of the poor. The European Union has announced that it wants to replace 10 percent of its oil consumption with biofuels by 2020. President George W. Bush announced last year a goal of replacing 15 percent of domestic gasoline use with biofuels over […]

MIAMI — A post-Fidel Castro Cuba, led by Fidel’s younger brother Raúl, appears poised to open itself up to limited foreign investment under the close supervision of the communist island’s military, which controls much of the economy, according to experts. The island nation’s energy resources hold particular economic potential. During the last 19 months, in which Raúl Castro has acted as Cuba’s “interim leader,” little has changed for average Cubans, who continue to face shortages of food and basic necessities. However, the 76-year-old brother of Cuba’s long-time “Commandante” has sought new deals with resort developers from Canada and Europe in […]

WARSAW, Poland — Minutes before a 6 p.m. deadline on Feb. 12, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin resolved the latest dispute between the two countries over natural gas debts — averting a shutoff of supplies to Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine now have the opportunity to create a more transparent and direct system of energy trading. What are the implications of this latest dispute for EU-Russian energy relations? On Feb. 7, Gazprom had presented Ukraine with an ultimatum — pay a past due bill of $1.5 billion, or Russian gas supplies would be cut off. As part […]

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A U.S.-backed gas pipeline that would reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies received a fillip earlier this month when German power giant RWE joined the project, but questions about where the Nabucco pipeline’s supplies will come from persist. “Nabucco has got the cart before the horse. It’s all driven by an increase in demand for gas in Europe and the drive to diversify supplies away from Russia,” said Andrew Neff, senior energy analyst in Istanbul, Turkey, with Global Insight, a London-based think tank. “Putting infrastructure in place has become a political animal more than a commercial venture.” Still, RWE […]

Many of us can recall when it was hazardous for tourists to drink tap water in much of Europe. Although times have changed and most Europeans (and tourists) now take clean drinking water for granted, an estimated 120 million people — one person in seven — on the continent do not have access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, according to a recent analysis by the United Nations Economic Commission on Europe (UNECE). This makes them vulnerable to water-related infections, such as cholera, dysentery, E. coli, viral hepatitis A and typhoid. To remedy this situation, UNECE produced the 1999 […]